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What The Critics Are Saying About Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

There's a lot to love about what we've seen of "Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty" so far. It combines a Soulslike gaming experience with historical figures and a supernatural twist, much like Team Ninja's previous title, "Nioh." Developer Team Ninja and publisher Koei Tecmo are largely known for working on "Warriors" titles like "Fire Emblem Warriors" and "Hyrule Warriors," but "Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty" more closely resembles a Soulsborne game, full of challenging boss battles and the constant need to "get good" in order to progress.


The latest effort from Team Ninja follows a customizable nameless warrior as they navigate through the Three Kingdoms historical period in China, attempting to get to the bottom of a mysterious new drug called Elixir. Famous generals and historical figures – as well as everyday citizens – have become enamored with the Elixir, but it began changing them, driving them to madness and opening up a connection to demonic forces. The Elixir offers plenty of opportunity for warped, terrifying bosses to challenge even the greatest warrior's martial arts skills.

But what are the critics saying about "Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty?" While the reviews weren't unanimous when it came to the story, most critics praised the gameplay itself.


The setting could be a hurdle -- or not

Mitchell Saltzman at IGN had relatively nice things to say about "Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty," though he had some strong critiques as well. In terms of the story, Saltzman noted that the historical setting of "Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty" means that some players' mileage may vary when it comes to enjoying the story. "If you're familiar with the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history you may get more out of Wo Long's story than I did," Saltzman explained. "But I think even then it won't be a highlight because Team Ninja continues to struggle with telling a memorable story with likable characters." Famous figures from history waltz in and out of the story, but few make a lasting impression.


On the flip side, Khee Hoon Chan at Polygon thought the retelling of "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" was done particularly well. "Wo Long avoids the clumsy heavy-handedness typical in games inspired by Chinese literature, where random Eastern-looking motifs are injected as a symbol of otherness," they argued. The game assumes that players can roll with the punches of a wide cast of historical characters, even if they're not familiar with the Three Kingdoms time period. By treating players as smart, capable individuals, "Wo Long" avoids some of the more problematic tropes of the genre.

The combat system lets players feel cool

Most reviews of "Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty" praised its nuanced combat system, which employs some of the basic principles from "Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice" in terms of deflection. Saltzman praised combat in "Wo Long," noting that – like FromSoftware's "Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice" – there are layers to each encounter. Each boss battle acts as both a test of skill and a puzzle. Not all enemies fall to repetitive blows, so it serves players well to take a step back and reflect on strategy. Saltzman praised the delicate balance of combat, writing, "While Wo Long is certainly tough, I never felt like I was ever stuck against a wall with no idea of what else I could try or how to overcome a particular challenge."


Alan Wen at Eurogamer similarly praised the combat system, noting that it balanced letting the player feel powerful with genuine challenge. Wen argued that the game's deflection system was simpler than what players encounter in "Sekiro," but it still added an element of strategy to each battle. Retaliating against enemies is accompanied by sound and camera effects that emphasize the cinematic nature of battle, which adds to the rush of joy one feels when landing a crucial blow.

Layers of mechanics and challenge to enjoy

With Soulslike games, difficulty always manages to become a debated topic. Most reviewers specifically pointed out that "Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty" is approachable, even for players who aren't experienced in the genre. Levi Winslow at Kotaku explained that "Wo Long" feels like the most accessible Soulslike game available, but it also presents a challenge. It's not an easy game by any measure, but not as difficult or expansive as something like "Elden Ring."


"Wo Long" doesn't have difficulty settings, but it does allow players to alter the challenge of battles by implementing the Morale system. Each level begins with a Morale of 1, but successfully battling enemies throughout the level slowly raises the number up to a max of 25. The higher a player's Morale, the more damage they can do to enemies, which means the challenge will be significantly lessened with a high Morale. Chris Carter at Destructoid commented that the Morale system is an interesting way to help players adjust the difficulty of certain encounters, but that it doesn't require too much focus to manage.

Reviewers generally enjoyed "Wo Long," even if they had some critiques. If story is your favorite part of a video game, it might be wise to research "Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty" before throwing down the money for it, but Soulsborne fans with a passion for intricate battles and strategy will definitely want to check it out.


"Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty" arrives on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Game Pass, as well as PS4, Xbox One, and PC, on March 3.