Team Ninja’s latest foray into masocore action games brings us to Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. Remember Ninja Gaiden and Nioh? Did you enjoy how excruciatingly painful those games could be at times? Remember how unfair and challenging the smallest fight was? What about all the progress you'd lose from the slightest misstep and calculation? Oh, and let's not forget how it felt to get pummeled by the same boss a dozen times! If these things spark joy in your heart, you’re in the right place. If not, carry on!
Here’s everything you need to know about Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, including details on its release date, gameplay, setting, and more.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty release date
It will also be on Xbox Game Pass on console and PC day one. Considering this is a huge game, this is pretty exciting. Anyone looking to get absolutely beaten and bruised in another Nioh-esque game will get to do so without needing to buy it.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty gameplay
While players of Nioh will immediately recognize elements of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, the game is introducing a huge new mechanic that will take your frustration to a new level. This system is called Morale, which is assigned to the player, enemies and bosses.
Your Morale increases as you grow to be more successful in combat and exploration, making the player stronger and giving them access to new forms of magic. But whenever you die, your Morale is reset back to your current Fortitude score, which is determined by locating Marking Flags and Battle Flags throughout a level. For example, if your Fortitude is at +3 and your Morale is at +5, dying will only bring it down to +3.
If you die at the hands of an enemy, their Morale will increase by +1, thus making them stronger. I’ve had plenty of moments in Nioh where I’d encounter a new type of foe and died a few times before getting a hang of their moveset. Now, the consequences for death are far greater, which makes the situation significantly more frustrating. It’s a lot more than losing your spot in the level or some experience; it’s now as serious as becoming significantly weaker after getting killed by a foe.
Attaching severe consequences to death and incorporating them into the base experience of going through each level will make failure all the more frustrating. On one hand, I’m worried that it’ll just become too much to handle, but I’m similarly excited to see how it’ll impact the intensity of every battle. Knowing there’s more to death than just returning to a checkpoint will contribute a continuous atmosphere of anxiety within every moment of exploring this game, and if done correctly, I may end up loving it.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty also features a Spirit meter, which can be most effectively increased through a careful balance of offensive and defensive maneuvers. Deflecting or using light attacks causes this meter to raise. Using heavy strikes or magic abilities, on the other hand, incites the meter to decrease. This will essentially prevent you from spamming your strongest abilities.
You can also deflect right before being hit to avoid taking damage and reposition yourself within the encounter. Not only can this break an enemy’s Spirit, but it increases your own Spirit. If you’ve played Sekiro, you probably get the general gist of what this looks like.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty character creation
Yes, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty features in-depth character creation. I was initially worried the game would be akin to the first Nioh and focus on an immutable main character, but we actually get full control of who we’re playing. And to be honest, Nioh 2 had the best character creator I’ve seen in a video game. I fell in love with my playable character, so I’m really glad Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is continuing this trend.
Beyond customizing the looks of your character, players can select between five base builds called Phases. These are fire, water, earth, wood, and metal, and they determine your armor, magic, weapon and stats, so it’s best to choose carefully.
Both Nioh games featured an extensive magic system that operated through a skill tree, allowing the player to specialize in whatever they wanted, but it seems like Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty’s approach is a little less free form. The Wizardry spells you get from increasing your Morale entirely depend on the Phase you picked at the character creator. From what we know so far, it seems like there isn’t much of a way to attain magic outside of the class you choose from the start of the game.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty trailers
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty was revealed at the Xbox & Bethesda Showcase back in June, receiving a quick cinematic trailer that set the tone of the series. During the Xbox Tokyo Game Show a couple of months later, we got our first look at gameplay.
This cinematic trailer opens with a vibe that is unmistakably Nioh-esque. I initially believed it was Nioh 3 when I first saw it, as the way Team Ninja visualizes corruption and animates violence is so particular that it was easy to recognize their style. But as the camera pans out towards this huge city with traditional Chinese architecture and a dragon soaring up towards the sky as lightning strikes down towards it, I was beginning to doubt myself. And as the trailer progresses, we see the main playable character engage in a series of intense cinematic battles against curious foes before the title screen drops.
This gameplay trailer showcases bone-chilling encounters throughout a series of diverse environments, highlighting how fast and fluid a combat exchange looks like. In one moment, we see the player rush up to a couple of enemies, deflecting an attack from one of them while the other glows red, preparing a lunge forward before the player leaps over him and kicks him in the back. In another exchange, we see the player running towards an enemy who does a whirlwind attack as the player jumps over them and steps on their head, causing their attack animation to get canceled. We’re also shown a few bosses, from a giant corrupt peacock to a monstrous bull with tentacles coming out of its sides.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty setting and missions
Whereas Nioh took us to Japan in the 1500s to 1600s, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty places the player in the middle of a fictionalized version of China’s Three Kingdoms period. In particular, it’ll take place during the Later Han Dynasty in a world overwhelmed with demons. Akin to both Nioh games, player’s explore the world through a mission system.
You won’t be seamlessly traveling through the environments like in Dark Souls, which is a bit of a bummer, but it seems to be a key facet of Team Ninja’s continued design considering even Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin was designed this way.
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Self-described art critic and unabashedly pretentious, Momo finds joy in impassioned ramblings about her closeness to video games. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies from Brooklyn College and five years of experience in entertainment journalism. Momo is a stalwart defender of the importance found in subjectivity and spends most days overwhelmed with excitement for the past, present and future of gaming. When she isn't writing or playing Dark Souls, she can be found eating chicken fettuccine alfredo and watching anime.