On the finish of my Wo Lengthy Fallen Dynasty hands-on, I’m standing alongside a trusted comrade-in-arms in the midst of a dusty preventing enviornment excessive within the desert mountains. We’ve simply slain a demonic boar the dimensions of a cottage, and are feeling fairly good about ourselves as a direct consequence. Whereas my time with Staff Ninja’s final collection, Nioh, has actually come in useful, I’ve discovered Wo Lengthy a way more approachable expertise, even because it adjustments some key components to the frantic fight formulation that made its forebears such unbelievable Soulslike video games.
Wo Lengthy Fallen Dynasty will really feel very acquainted should you’ve performed both of the Nioh video games, notably Nioh 2. The emphasis is on quick gentle and heavy assaults, swift positioning, and punishing any openings the enemy is silly sufficient to offer.
As I begin out, this appears like a worryingly stripped-back model of the broad toolkit current nearly from the get-go in Nioh. Gone are the weapon stances and ki pulses, there’s no weapon familiarity to construct up, no Onmyo magic or ninja expertise to unlock. After on a regular basis I spent juggling menus and scrutinising statistics in Nioh 2, there was a particular feeling of “is this it?” as I started my means by the two-chapter preview construct.
Wo Lengthy: Fallen Dynasty does preserve some clear components of Nioh, although. It’s set through the Yellow Turban Rebel that you simply’ll little doubt bear in mind from numerous video games, if not the Romance of the Three Kingdoms itself. Nevertheless, Yellow Turban rebels are shortly joined by shambling zombies and big, demonic officers as I make my means up the desert mountain the place Chapter II takes place, and issues begin to really feel fairly Nioh-esque once more in swift order.
A key distinction, nevertheless, is my strongest transfer. It’s not some skill to unleash a strong yokai kind, though the gods do deign to assist me out in time. As an alternative, essentially the most deadly software in my belt is the dodge – mapped to the controller’s B button by default, it’s greater than a approach to merely get out of hazard. When timed appropriately, the dodge permits me to step apart and shove my opponent by his personal strike, utilizing his personal momentum to ship him stumbling to the bottom, open to a brutal counterattack.
Pulling it off feels fairly a bit like efficiently deflecting assaults in Sekiro, however right here there’s much less danger concerned. If I screw up the timing of my dodge, I merely gained’t get the deflection and can dart away unhurt – and even acquire a ways from my enemy if I double-tap. As a backup, I’ve received a conventional guard mapped to the left bumper if I must climate just a few blows.
The dodge-based deflection is vital, nevertheless, as soon as I begin operating into champions and managers. Enemies who’ve been possessed by demons will telegraph crucial assaults with a crimson flash, which once more could set off some Nioh reflexes to kick in for veterans. Right here once more, it’s an vital alternative, however reasonably than responding aggressively, the bottom line is to deflect the assault with a wonderfully timed dodge, side-stepping the assault like a studied kung fu grasp, after which letting unfastened with a vicious crucial strike of my very own.
Imperial martial arts inform character development as properly. Fairly than dumping factors into traits like energy, dexterity, and knowledge, Wo Lengthy’s stats system is constructed across the 5 components or vitality states of Taoism: earth, wooden, hearth, water, and steel. Boosting affinity for any of those ends in bonuses to related fight actions like restoration pace and the quantity of spirit I’ll use in a deflection, however additionally they open up wizardry spells that I can map to my controller’s face buttons and unleash in battle: fireballs, spears of ice, rocky avalanches, and extra.
You may specialise or generalise nevertheless you want: you’re given some extent to make use of in every faculty at sure expertise thresholds, and so they’re non-transferable. As you progress up every elemental tree, spells require an increasing number of factors invested of their particular component, so to unlock essentially the most highly effective magic, you’ll almost definitely want to pay attention your ranges into one or maybe two components.
One other attention-grabbing new system is morale and resolve. When you’ll have an general expertise degree you’ll improve as you make your means by Wo Lengthy, every particular person chapter has its personal altering dynamic between the heroes and their enemies that works like a mini degree system contained inside every chapter. As a chapter opens, enemies often have larger morale than the heroes do, and that places me at a drawback. By selecting off outlying enemies and discovering locations to plant my battle flag, I can improve my morale and shift the stability, gaining an edge over any enemies with decrease morale.
It offers a way of momentum: success builds upon success. Nevertheless, the bonus morale I’ve picked up from killing monsters and bandits evaporates once I’m killed – until I could make it again to the baddie who’s slain me and beat them in a rematch. This may be tough, nevertheless: killing heroes boosts an enemy’s morale, so that they are typically harder in spherical two.
This may very well be fairly crushing, however there’s a security internet: on demise, I solely lose morale I’ve gathered past a sure baseline, which is established by the variety of battle flags I’ve put up across the degree. The lesson right here is obvious: I wish to discover all over the place earlier than heading by the gate and taking over the realm’s boss, until I wish to struggle at a steep drawback.
By the point I’m by Chapter II, I’m relieved: certain, Wo Lengthy is noticeably less complicated than Nioh 2, however there’s lots right here to sink my enamel into. Every weapon I decide up – spears, guandao, twin swords, sabres, and extra – has its personal particular strikes to study, there are 5 magic timber to discover, and there’s at all times some gigantic, twisted monstrosity to sq. off with over the following hill. As a lot enjoyable as I’ve had with Nioh 2, I discover that half my time within the sport is spent managing my character and his stock, and for higher or for worse, that’s largely gone in Wo Lengthy.
Wo Lengthy gained’t win any magnificence pageants, thoughts you – it’s a rougher-looking sport, and the truth that the extent I’ve performed takes place within the noon desert solar doesn’t essentially do it any favours, graphically talking. Nevertheless, mixed with the cheerful presence of acquainted Romance of the Three Kingdoms characters, who all communicate with theatrical bravado, the sunny degree I’ve sampled provides Wo Lengthy a welcoming aura that might hardly really feel extra totally different than the horror film imaginative and prescient of Sengoku-era Japan that infuses the Nioh video games.
The Wo Lengthy Fallen Dynasty launch date is arising firstly of March, and it’ll be on Sport Go for PC on day one. I’m desirous to see extra, as a result of this new Staff Ninja spin on the Three Kingdoms interval has simply sufficient of that Ninja Gaiden DNA to get my outdated X and Y calluses tingling once more.