And here we are talking again about Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, after getting our hands on an unreleased demo of the title. A build this that not only confirmed the goodness of the new video game by Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo, but which allowed to verify the palpable improvements of the product compared to the latest versions tested by the press and the public. The session that Koei granted was not particularly long – it could be finished in about 15 minutes – but it offered several insights into progression and character customization, as well as giving us a further look at Team Ninja’s fascinating reworking of Chinese mythology. .
An even more action souls
The demo began in the likely opening scenario of the adventure, a wasteland upon which a prosperous imperial city once stood. Nestled among the ruins of imposing buildings and among the rubble of great military outposts were aberrations of all kinds, including undead warriors brought back to life by who knows what dark evil and ferocious animals suffering from who knows what horrible disease.
There was also time to catch a glimpse of the character creation editor, but in this Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty demo most of the customization options were locked. However, it must be said that, at first glance, the aforementioned editor seems quite rich, while highlighting a rather basic range of possibilities.
In any case, Wo Long confirms that he wants to continue on the path traced by the previous works of Team Ninja, and in particular in the footsteps of the excellent two chapters of Nioh (point your blade towards the review of Nioh and the review of Nioh 2), without however forgetting the always valuable lesson of From Software in mostly structural terms. Be careful, however, because the soulslike soul of Fallen Dynasty – at least as regards our latest contacts with the title – does not seem to want to embody the most classic essence of the genre, but to veer more sensibly towards action without forgetting some trappings. fundamentals of the reference landscape.
The cyclical conformation of the game environments, the disposition and attack patterns of the enemies, as well as the positioning of the “foci” along the maps, are just some of the elements that make up Wo Long’s basic DNA. On the other hand, the system for managing rewards, the accumulation of experience and the collection of loot from fallen enemies follows, roughly, the most canonical rules of a souls, but it is in the small details that the team – on the creative line of Nioh – has given shape to a truly intriguing and diversified playful mixture.
The Five Ways of the Warrior
The demo, in fact, allowed us to deepen in detail the combat system and fighting styles, which represent some of the most valuable elements in this reinterpretation of ancient Chinese legends. At the cost of appearing repetitive, it is worth remembering the care that the developers had placed in the combat of Nioh, respectful to the maximum of the various styles of fencing in the art of the Japanese sword. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty does something similar in relation to Chinese martial arts, the re-presentation of which is central to the economy of the deadly dances performed by our alter ego during clashes.
Everything, from weapons to techniques, to the different fighting styles, follows the historical and folkloristic frame of the Three Kingdoms period in Ancient China, and this basic mantra is evident from the very first bars of the campaign. After creating his avatar, in fact, the player will be asked to choose in which of the five styles to specialize his warrior. Each class is linked to an element which, in turn, refers to an ancient Beast of the eastern pantheon. We have tested them all: Fire is a style devoted mainly to attack, and prefers the way of the sword; those who choose Terra, on the other hand, will get a class based mainly on defense, a real tank armed with a halberd and clad in heavy armor, capable of withstanding large amounts of damage at the expense of speed.
The Lightning Bolt instead allows you to specialize in magic, with fairly modest attack and defense statistics but powerful in anathemas, whether it is throwing lightning bolts or engaging in healing spells, while the Metal style is a hybrid between offensive warrior and sorcerer, quite versatile in combat but capable of inflicting various malus on enemies through the art of poison.
Finally we find the Via dell’Acqua, which puts you in the shoes of a sinuous assassin armed with a double blade, very fast and lightning, but also quiet enough to prefer stealth, sneaking up to unsuspecting enemies and inflicting not a little damage with a surprise attack. , all obviously at the expense of defensive statistics. However, it must be specified that, while setting the starting class, players will be able to customize the statistics and orientation of the protagonist as they prefer.
The talent tree, presented in the form of a five-pointed star, allows you to spend your skill points on your favorite stats. Pushing on the attack, of course, turns the progression towards the Fire style, preferring the stealth translates into a total adherence to the Water fighter, and so on. But varying and balancing the available talents to the right point, frankly, could give life to the perfect warrior. Either way, each of these styles provides access to a number of elemental abilities, which can deal damage or temporarily boost your alter ego’s stats. The spells, combined with a series of skills that activate special combos, can be alternated with the basic offensive commands to further embellish a combat system that is already quite varied and dynamic, with different elements of freshness as regards the soulslike look.
You will in fact be equipped with a double Stamina, one focused on light attacks and the other on dodging and heavy hits. If filling the first by unleashing simple slashes puts you in an advantageous situation, on the contrary abusing parades, slips and strong attacks, will end up exhausting you and exposing you to the enemy’s pitfalls. On the other hand, cleverly exploiting the Parry or the same dodges will result in a bonus to the same Stamina. It’s a system that adds a lot of adrenaline, but also a good dose of strategy to all battles, be it minor enemies or massive end-of-level bosses.
Tra Nioh e Sekiro
That doesn’t mean, however, that Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is punishing, but not too simple either. We believe, at least as a preliminary, that Team Ninja has infused in its new creature the right mix between difficulty and accessibility. To keep these two elements together there is also a fair amount of spectacularity, an action framework that lives up to the skills of the developers and an unpublished fantasy substrate, which gives us interesting glimpses of a pantheon usually not very detailed like the Chinese one.
Finally, we add a consideration on level design. The protagonist of Wo Long is in fact equipped with a jump command, which allows him to move from the bottom to the top or between surfaces separated by any overhangs.
This detail is quite important, because it also configures the maps of Fallen Dynasty vertically, giving more breathing space to both exploration and combat: the elevated positions, as well as hiding precious loots or areas in which to plant your own war banner – a equivalent to the outbreaks of Dark Souls or the Sanctuaries of Nioh, which in addition allows you to raise the Rank of your avatar – they allow you to carry out ambushes from above to surprise your opponents and inflict considerable damage on them.
Ultimately, just in the face of what is described in these last lines, the playful dough of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty seems the meeting point between Nioh and Sekiro, in a mix that seems very tasty and fun for those who live on action RPG.