Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Xbox Series X Review

Even without a gripping story, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is a wild ride from the beginning to the end.

By Rayan, Posted 04 Mar 2023

Dark Souls' success has pushed the Soulslike genre to the brink of mainstream recognition, making it difficult to find new games that dare to break from the mold. On the other hand, Team Ninja has figured out how to modify the recipe that successfully blends Western-style Soulslike action with Eastern-inspired mythology. Following the footsteps of Nioh, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty captivates with its refined, intense fighting and intriguing setting. If you're familiar with Team Ninja's other games, you'll know they're masters at making punishingly difficult video games, and Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is right on top of that list. While the Soulslike veterans will enjoy it endlessly, those unfamiliar with the genre will likely make a fool of themselves more than once or twice.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, Xbox Series X, Review, Soulslike, RPG Game, Female Protagonist, Screenshots, NoobFeed

Despite some apparent influence from Team Ninja's other games, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty managed to maintain its own identity. But don't expect everything you liked in Nioh to be replicated in Wo Long. The similarities between Wo Long and its inspiration, Nioh, are superficial at best, with the game instead providing a playthrough vastly distinct from any other Team Ninja title. Wo Long's main selling point is that it features a deflecting mechanism distinct from other Team Ninja games. Unlike in many other games, where dodging is a high-risk option best used infrequently, Wo Long's fighting is built all over deflecting enemies' strikes. Apart from this significant deviation, Wo Long relies on a grim fantasy that draws heavily from Chinese folklore and features many horrific and demonic creatures.

The world of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is an exquisitely discovered dark fantasy version of Three Kingdoms-era China, sometime around the year 184 A.D. The events occurred shortly before the Three Kingdoms era, widely considered among the bloodiest in Chinese history. Cao Wei, Shu Han, and the Eastern Wu state all fought for control of the abandoned provinces of the once-powerful Han dynasty.

The impending collapse of the Han Dynasty will create a power vacuum that rival states would exploit. The first two chapters create an exciting blend of story and fantasy by frequently re-introducing historical facts, such as the Yellow Turban rebels' living and undead ways. The story is relegated to the background. Even so, it's nice to see different takes on famous Dynasty Warriors figures like Cao Cao, Lu Bu, and Guan Yu in settings other than the series' signature mass battles.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, Xbox Series X, Review, Soulslike, RPG Game, Female Protagonist, Screenshots

Despite the grimmer tone of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty's plot, the game's first few chapters are remarkably realistic. While historically unimportant, you are a faceless soldier thrust into the conflict between the Three Kingdoms and the Yellow Turban uprising. Given the fantasy's dark tone, your mission is to stem the tide of demonic Qi from washing over the land and fueling the conflict. The uprising of the Yellows and the extensive slaughter that followed formed a backdrop for the following collection of Qi, which is thought to be the internal energy of humans.

Several times during the game, you'll notice that certain characters consume a glowing pill-like item that gives them superhuman strength but also severely corrupts them. Just like in other games of this type, the story is superficial at best because only the most dedicated fans will dig deep enough to grasp its deeper meanings.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty begins with a small intro and takes you immediately to choose your character. You'll use a character editor that, while not perfect, is quite comprehensive. Since the game's context is crucial, the protagonist is a non-speaking character designed to your specifications; this allows you to feel more connected to the various factions and live through the wars themselves. Once this initial, essential step is completed, the game will immediately have you in the thick of things, with a minor in the way of introductions or a tutorial.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, Xbox Series X, Review, Soulslike, RPG Game, Female Protagonist, Screenshots, NoobFeed

While you will be guided through the game's controls the first time, we use certain moves or skills, as is customary at this point. Soon, however, you will be given the option to try out a more in-depth tutorial from the travel menu to access a territory that acts as a tutorial, cramming all the game's foundational knowledge into one place.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty stands out as an action RPG like Soulslike, blending the familiar and the new. The gameplay takes cues from various martial arts for its styling. Since Wo Long prioritized deflecting, the stakes are higher if you don't do your dodging right too. The Morale counter of your character is one of the main focuses of the game's combat system. This counter rises as you capture flags, and defeat enemies, particularly those eliminated with a knockout blow or martial art moves.

Another is the game's relationship between the protagonist and the supporting characters. The spiritual energy meter functions similarly to the stamina meter in Sekiro. Still, its value changes positively or negatively depending on the player's fighting prowess, damage taken, the shield's strength, and the weapon's lethality. The amount of energy being transported is influenced by this. To replenish it, you must successfully avoid and deal damage to your opponents during their attacks.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, Xbox Series X, Review, Soulslike, RPG Game, Female Protagonist, Screenshots, Character Level

Combat in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is absolutely fantastic and, at the same time, very realistic. It's a bit more intricate than Sekiro's, but it's still very satisfying to play. The pairing/deflecting is the first step in exploring its many facets, which comprise a significant portion of the game. During combats, each of your actions fills up two separate bars. There are a lot of matched pairs in one of them, which means you can use a stunning attack.

The second is an attack bar that, when fully charged, can unleash devastating Fatal attacks. Each type of weapon, including heavy or light, one or two-handed, possesses a unique set of statistics, both active and passive skills, and, most notably, different levels of damage. Switching between weapons is necessary depending now your play style, of course, and the speed of damage you want from each.

Apart from blocking and deflecting, there are two attack types; normal and strong, and most importantly, a wide range of martial art moves. Then there is the Fatal attack/critical hit that comes after you break an enemy's guard. While this is all we must work with, achieving a Fatal attack against an enemy is more complex than it first appears. Filling this bar is a matter of successfully parrying or evading your enemy's regular or charged attacks. While each enemy has its unique tempo and attack pattern, it's not easy to constantly deflect all the strikes without paying focus. Many boss encounters in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty are essentially skill tests, and the only way to succeed is to master the game's deflect and fatal strike mechanics.

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Spirit attacks deal spirit damage to foes, while basic attacks fill your spirit meter gauge by doing normal attacks or deflecting enemy strikes. You need to fully charge your spirit gauge before unleashing particularly powerful blows. Still, you can otherwise rely on your natural prowess in attacks, dodging, and deflecting to carry the bulk of the burden. It's possible to dodge most attacks, but you can't keep mashing the button, and that's why learning the basics of deflecting will help immensely in almost every battle. Once mastered, it allows you to effectively deflect all of your opponent's attacks and land a finishing blow when your enemy's spirit gauge is empty.

The various weapon types have unique move sets and specific uses depending on the situation, but it all comes down to how you master the spirit. These are a few ways in which the spirit operates. Some choices drain your energy, while others boost your spirit. For instance, attacks that hit their target grant spirit, while countermeasures that don't deflect drain it.

Your character starts in the center of the bar and moves to the left or right; if it's favorable, special attacks do more damage; if it's detrimental, the character essentially staggers. This factor's importance in determining a battle's outcome becomes apparent over time, while two additional mechanisms, morale and spells, are introduced simultaneously.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, Xbox Series X, Review, Soulslike, RPG Game, Female Protagonist, Screenshots, Flags

The Morale mechanism is a game changer for Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. Morale starts from zero and goes up to 25 on each map you venture. If you attack enemies with higher morale than yours, you're likely to take more damage; the same goes for the enemies. Your morale will remain zero if you constantly die or take hits from enemies. While by venturing into the regions and locating benchmarks and indicator flags, you can keep it from going to zero. Planting flags increase the starting Morale requirement for subsequent levels.

If you're having trouble defeating a boss, it's a good idea to go back through a level and plant as many flags as possible. The flag benchmarks are also checkpoints. You can regain lost morale by exacting vengeance on the enemy who defeated you, just as we can regain lost experience points when you return from the dead. While your morale can be lost, unlike in traditional Soulslikes, you only lose half of these points and don't drop a level every time you die.

You can plant two distinct kinds of flags, and the available numbers vary depending on the difficulty level. Any larger flags will allow you to gain experience and heal up. Enemies patrol these larger flags, and you can tell which ones by looking at the icon that appears under their health bar. There will be times when you have to take out a smaller leader before you can place your flag, and other times when the flags are in plain sight on the way to the main boss. Some of the others may require a bit of exploration to find. However, these flags, typically smaller, do not serve as checkpoints. Planting one of these flags will restore some of your health and increase morale, but unlike the larger types, it won't also restore any of your healing supplies.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, Xbox Series X, Review, Soulslike, RPG Game, Female Protagonist, Screenshots, Spells

Magic and martial arts are great ways to add strategy to fights; despite a few exceptions, no enemy seems unstoppable. When you combine a damage increase with a killing blow, you can watch your once-terrifying enemy crumble. While weapon-based martial arts are excellent, they require precise aim and timing to be effective because your enemies can easily dodge or evade your attacks. There are diverse martial arts styles available, with each weapon type having its own unique set of techniques.

You'll need to use up much of your spirit bar to unleash one of these devastating special attacks, but the payoff is well worth it if well-timed. Furthermore, immaterial magic attacks like lightning or fire can be dispelled, making it possible to simultaneously target a large group of enemies. Additionally, a fully charged Divine Beast Gauge allows you to call upon a summoned version of the beast you've equipped to help you in battle.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty features not only traditional melee combat but also a variety of other options. Wizardry Spells, ranked and swapped out according to the Five Virtues, are also included in the game. Wizardry Points are used to purchase spells gained as your character ages. You'll gain access to power points that can be spent on upgrading your spells. These points will be distributed equally across all of your virtues, giving you the flexibility to learn spells at the level you've attained for each virtue.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, Xbox Series X, Review, Soulslike, RPG Game, Female Protagonist, Screenshots, Virtues

While spending more and more points to advance in the Wizardry Spells tree is necessary as your character levels up, it gets complex as you do so. Whereas progressing through some skill trees typically necessitates allocating more and more points, Wo Long operates a little differently. Gaining access to new abilities directly results from increasing your skill point total; some abilities remain inaccessible until you increase your level in each of the Five Virtues. Then again, until you reach the middle stage of the game, spells won't do much to help you win battles.

The ability to call on the assistance of two NPC generals at once is a nice touch in this work; these NPCs have good health pools and attacks. Since you aren't expected to be a lone gun for hire, as in most games of this genre, you'll have a bit more leeway when facing overwhelming odds. When playing online, you don't have to use the NPC heroes if you want to play co-op. You can also order them to attack, and their abilities come in handy to temporarily weaken an enemy.

In addition to helping you out by attacking and distracting the enemy, they also have a passive effect, causing you to gain more spirit when attacking or lose less spirit when performing certain actions. They also gain experience and level up, and when we reach their level cap, you receive their equipment as a reward. Furthermore, you can also call on other players to assist you in co-op play while in the middle of a level. You can also choose from three online game modes, both cooperative and competitive.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, Xbox Series X, Review, Soulslike, RPG Game, Female Protagonist, Boss Fight, Screenshots, NoobFeed

Boss fights are often where the game shows its true colors, and with constantly increasing difficulty, boss fights in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is undoubtedly the most exciting part of the game. The game gives historical icons like Lu Bu and their more bestial antagonists the threatening existence you have come to expect from them. Each chapter has a final boss, and you can fight other side bosses at the end of side quests that still pose significant difficulties. Learning the bosses' attack patterns and lightning-fast reflexes is helpful, yet some bosses can be surprisingly hard to beat.

Sadly, however, apart from the main bosses, most enemies and the large beasts will ultimately feel too similar, even after the differences between the various weapon types. Once you've played the game for 10 hours, besides the chapter bosses, you'll hardly find any new variation in fighting enemies. It'll take around 40 hours to finish; however, if you want to explore every nook and cranny of the game's vast world can do so endlessly.

Much effort was put into the visual design of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, as the game's environments and enemies are unique. There are two modes to select from depending on your preference, Prioritize Resolution and Prioritize FPS. Each character's design, modeling, color, or animation looks very realistic and is one of the game's highlights. Sadly the same can't be said about the game's environments.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, Xbox Series X, Review, Soulslike, RPG Game, Female Protagonist, Zhao Yun, Screenshots, NoobFeed

Everything looks great from a distance, and the visuals are generally high-quality in motion, but the textures are often simplistic up close. None of the textures are particularly compelling when closely observed, and it's unclear whether or not that's due to poor quality or a lack of definition. There are, however, no frame drops or glitches, no matter which mode you pick.

Considering that Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty was developed by Team Ninja, it will inevitably be compared to the Nioh games. The game, on the other hand, can stand on its own thanks to its distinguishing characteristics. Character development and the game's features, like martial arts, spirit, and morale, were nicely combined. The game features some of the most epic boss fights and has clever, narrow combat that will test your parrying skills.

Seasoned Nioh fans will have to pick up their paces to adjust to Wo Long's combat system. Even without a gripping story, Wo Long is a wild ride from the beginning to the end. The story and visuals suffer more than they should, but it's still a solid role-playing game. Not everyone will relish Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, but those willing to take on the challenge will have a fantastic time.

Also check out the Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty – Top 10 Tips & Tricks | Best Early Game Guide

Azfar Rayan (@AzfarRayan)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Team Ninja, Koei Tecmo
Developer(s): Koei Tecmo, KOEI TECMO AMERICA Corporation
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Fighting, Action, adventure, Hack and slash
Release Date: 2023-03-03

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