Wo Long Fallen Dynasty Complete Edition wallpaper
March 20, 2024

Delve into the chaos of the Three Kingdoms and strive to survive in our Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Review!

Team Ninja has a long history of interesting well executed fighting and action games. One of their recent~ish series, Nioh, did a great job of capturing that signature Team Ninja shine while also mirroring some aspects of the Souls games that were becoming so popular at the time. Now they’ve iterated on that design style with Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, the spiritual continuation of the Nioh type game. So while we’re still getting stuck into Rise of the Ronin, let’s take a look back in our Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty review!

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Review – Story and plot

The year is somewhere between 184CE, the land is in an uproar as the Han dynasty is overthrown by the Yellow Turban rebellion. The main character, created by the player, is a militia soldier involved in defending from the Yellow Turbans. They protect a young man from the enemy before being cut down. The boy then saves the main character from an imminent death by utilising magic, which seems to be common in this version of the three kingdoms. The main character then repays the favour by escorting him. Joining forces the first chapter begins and players get thrust into the adventure.

Wo Long Fallen Dynasty Complete Edition review cutscene

Cutscenes all feature the player character!

This continues for the first area whereupon the character will encounter the first of the Zhangs. The ones at the head of the rebellion, who are harnessing the power of Zhang Jiao’s Way of the Taiping meaning they can use special abilities to transform into horrid monsters akin to Resident Evil bosses. The game uses ample cutscenes to present the story all of which look excellent. Each boss fight is not only bookended by these cutscenes but often feature mid-fight scenes too as the boss shifts phases. It’s exciting to play and far less obtuse than a ‘souls’ franchise story. Untangling the plot and taking down the Zhangs is a dark but exciting adventure.

Wo Long Fallen Dynasty Complete Edition review support characters

Friendly support characters are really interesting to meet.

It’s also interesting to note that the game has the main character partake in all of these scenes in whatever the player has them dressed in which really makes the protagonist feel like a part of the story rather than being thrown to the sidelines when an event is happening. They may not speak but they certainly do a lot and interact with the other plot characters in interesting ways!

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Review – Gameplay

Character creation makes up an important beginning step in Wo Long. There are so many options including character height among a multitude of things like face shapes and micro details like individual eye colours for heterochromia. All of which helps players build a connection with their beautiful or monstrous character design. It’s fun having a good creator in any game and Team Ninja really nails that here.

Wo Long Fallen Dynasty Complete Edition review character creator

Character creation has tons of depth!

Difficulty is a term used a lot in discussion these days. With many games sporting a single set “difficulty” level which it expects players to adapt to. Often this can be tempered with accessibility to allow for those who need them to also enjoy the title. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty doesn’t really have any accessibility options and it definitively doesn’t have a player adjustable difficulty setting. It does however strike a pretty decent balance between frustrating enough to quit and just enticing enough to push through.

Wo Long Fallen Dynasty Complete Edition review cutscene

The game thrives on customisation with a plethora of different combinations of weapons and spells at the players disposal. Each weapon group plays totally differently offering differing reaches and combos, this in turn influences the spells the player will invest in, close range weapons pair well with long range spells or spells that incapacitate enemies for example. It’s great fun creating a build and then tweaking it for the best possible performance from the player character. Additionally, and key to the game, the weapons and spells denote only the base strengths which are then augmented by the Morale rank. Morale rank is a number assigned to how well the player is progressing in the game, this number can be increased by defeating enemies and capturing checkpoints by raising a flag (the souls bonfire of the game). It increases faster when attacking enemies who have a higher Morale rank than the player creating this nice power shuffling dynamic. Morale rank also decreases on death.

The majority of initial enemies in the title are just variants on angry man, undead man and sometimes dog which doesn’t inspire confidence for enemy variation however as the game steps up the challenge, enemies get more outlandish and the bosses are spectacular. Fighting them is fun but a single mistake can mean a quick death. Parrying and Fatal blows are a huge part of the combat and it’s where the clearest inspiration from Sekiro sneaks in. Parry well and an enemy will have a red target allowing for a quick killing blow, or high damage on a boss, that immediately benefits players who play strategically.

Wo Long Fallen Dynasty Complete Edition review environment

There is also a huge online aspect that can be tapped into which allows for both co-operative play and a very Souls style invasion system for players who want to tussle with other players. This is opt-in so players who want to go solo can avoid these easily. The online modes work well and can definitely increase the fun factor when teaming up with players who have drastically differing strategies. Online modes also feed the vengeance system, this is more asynchronous as it also happens during solo play. The vengeance system allows players to offer health charges to the downed players or the chance to take down the enemy that killed them offering greater reward as well as avenging the player who was killed. It’s fun and thematic but ultimately completely ignorable.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Review – Visuals

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is quite an interesting game in regards to graphical fidelity. It looks amazing a lot of the time with excellent characters and smooth animations but equally it has moments where the environments look quite bland and low detail. It does however run at a flawless smooth frame rate which is arguably most important given its gameplay loop.

Wo Long Fallen Dynasty Complete Edition review flag

Raising flags creates respawn and level up spots.

The locations range from areas ravaged by fighting and corruption to palaces with golden roofs which just look spectacular and really offer a great overall visual theme. This theming is also strong with the characters who all wear variations on historical armours from the three kingdoms but with a fantasy flare of course. They have nice flowy materials on their outfits too which benefits the movement adding a sort of grace to attack animations.

A game that has so much customisation would be bad if it didn’t have distinctive designs for all the customisable bits on the protagonist so luckily here there are abundant and interesting armour, weapon and spell designs. The user interface is also well designed with all options laid out clearly in menus and nice onscreen readouts of things like player health, Moral and Fatal Strike chances. Overall it’s easy to read the game at a glance and that is important when the pace is so fast.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Review – Audio

While I certainly couldn’t hum a tune from Wo Long its music again reinforces the Three Kingdoms style conflict in the title. During combat it’s a fun and intense soundtrack and during exploration it backs off to let the environmental sounds through. Environmental soundwork is somewhat limited with things like fire and background sounds not quite managing to fill out the space they ought to. That said it’s never distracting or outlandish.

Voice acting is great, the actors really put a lot into their performances lending each big boss or allied character a real hit of personality to contrast the otherwise bleak setting. For example the first soldier side character offers a lot of hopeful and energetic input while exploring and fighting bosses. Just remember to heal them if they go down!

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Review – Conclusion

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is quite the adventure. The dark fantastical take on the three kingdoms conflict is exciting to experience while also being tough as nails. The balance struck between difficulty and will to push forwards is just about right to keep players invested throughout the quite substantial runtime of the game. That coupled with the online and the excellent time that is experimenting with character builds mean that Wo Long is well really quite long!

So, why should you play Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty?

  • You enjoyed games like Nioh and other Team Ninja action titles
  • The souls-like tag is appealing
  • You love three kingdom style settings, especially fantastical ones
  • Character customisation is something that really floats your boat.

But why shouldn’t you play Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty?

  • You don’t like challenges that require multiple tries to beat
  • Action games without difficulty selectors make you sad
  • Team Ninja game design isn’t your jam.

A review code was kindly provided by the publisher for the purpose of our Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty review. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check back soon for our Rise of the Ronin review! And jump on the Qualbert Discord to chat with us about the latest games.

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