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Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty helped me understand my limits

I couldn't beat the game, but Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty still managed to teach me something.

I’m gonna lay my cards out on the table right now. I am not able to beat Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty.

This was always a possibility, I suppose. I’m far from the most skilled video game player out there, and Souls-like games have never appealed to me personally. I figured the game would be difficult, yet for the first few hours, I felt like the challenge was appropriate.

Then I came to a wall. I couldn’t progress past a specific stretch of one level. I spent what felt like hours trying to conquer it. I don’t even know if I came close. But I couldn’t figure it out.

You need to know when to quit. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty has beaten me. And you know what? That might have been for the best, since it helped me figure out just what I’m capable of. It was educational, even if it was frustrating in the moment.

The precarious position of challenge

I previously praised the combat of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, but it quickly became repetitive.

To be clear, I only made it through about a third of the game before throwing in the towel. Before that point, I was cruising through levels on a solid enough pace. At the very least, it was consistent. The sixth level, however, threw me for a complete loop.

Simply put, I just wasn’t getting a feel for the combat. In the game’s early stages, it was comfortable; I actually really enjoyed getting into fights with enemies up to a point. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is mechanically sound, but unfortunately, the game quickly became overwhelming for me.

It’s entirely possible that I’m missing something. I’ve seen many discussions from Souls-like veterans that this game is easy for them. My initial instinct was one of complete confusion, of course. But after some time away from the game, I realized something that tends to get lost in discussions of video game difficulty.

And that is: challenge is subjective.

Conquering the beast of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

Wo Long Combat
Raids will possibly appeal to Souls-like fans, but I found them wholly unnecessary.

I don’t think anybody would disagree that objectively, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is a hard game. It is downright unapproachable to casual gamers. Anyone going into Wo Long thinking that there won’t be any challenge is either A) overconfident, or B) not very attentive to the game, it’s developer, or the feedback surrounding it.

All of that is fine. It’s also fine, of course, to realize that you can’t get past it.

Once I reloaded for what felt like the hundredth time from the same checkpoint with absolutely no sense of learning what the game expected of me, I resigned myself to letting the game go. Some may not even try. Had I not been assigned to review this game, I may not have even given Wo Long a chance because of its difficulty.

Suffice it to say, I won’t be giving a review of Wo Long anytime soon. I believe it is completely unfair to review a game you haven’t beaten — or, at the very least, seen the majority of. Perhaps if I kept at it, I might be able to chip away at the game piece by piece and maybe reach the end within the calendar year. As it stands, I have other things to do. Wo Long is not worth my time and energy.

Why should difficulty matter?

Wo Long Fire
Flame wars abound on this topic, I’m sure!

Now, for some of you, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty will deliver the perfect amount of challenge. Perhaps it’s exactly what you’re looking for in a video game. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, so long as you understand that this isn’t a universal thing.

My experience and level of play isn’t the same as yours. Yours isn’t the same as anybody else’s. It’s wholly unique to you. Team Ninja designed this game for a specific kind of player, and it can be argued that only they can find any enjoyment in Wo Long.

But here’s the thing: on the accessibility front, Wo Long does hit a lot of high marks. This is purely in the technical sense, mind you: controller options, UI and HUD customization, and graphical adjustments for lower-end computers are all there. But if you’re looking for a game that lets you set the difficulty to suit your style, look anywhere else.

And to be fair, the game doesn’t hide its difficulty from you. Nothing about the game’s marketing made me think it was going to be anything less than a tough adventure. You’ll know if Wo Long is going to appeal to you or not, and if you think you can handle the pressure, I imagine you’ll have a fun time with the game. As for me, I’m happy to realize where my bar is set.

Should you play Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty or not?

Wo Long First Impressions Character
So long, nameless warrior. I hardly knew ye…

It’s obviously difficult for me to render a solid verdict on Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty and even more difficult to recommend it. I’ve already firmly established that I wasn’t able to beat it, so I can’t say for sure that it’s a solid game all the way through. But I also have so little experience with games like this to know if fans of the genre will enjoy it.

All I can recommend is to give the demo a shot. It’s free to download and gives you enough of the early game content to get a feel for the game. If you don’t feel like it’ll be for you, there’s nothing wrong with leaving it at that. But if you find yourself enjoying it, it might be worth giving the full game a shot.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is developed by Team Ninja and published by Koei Tecmo. It is available now for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC via Steam. You can also play it via Xbox and PC Game Pass.

What do you think of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty if you’ve played it? What’s your level of difficulty? Let us know!

Daniel Hein

Daniel Hein is either A) a lifelong video game fanatic, writer, and storyteller just sharing his thoughts on things, or B) some kind of werewolf creature. We're not quite sure which yet. He also makes mediocre video game retrospectives (and other content!) on YouTube where you can watch him babble on for hours about nothing.
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