Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty from Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja has finally been released after players got a taste of it last year through a limited-time demo and through last week’s final demo. While some expected or hoped we would see Nioh 3, I’m glad that Team Ninja tried something different with Wo Long. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is a new action RPG masocore experience from Team Ninja set in the Three Kingdoms era. I sampled an early build of it earlier this year for preview, but have now played the final build of the game on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X. My experience with the console versions is only the opening hours, but I’ve put in over 40 hours into the PC version through the Steam and Microsoft Store releases for my Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty review.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty setting
Unlike the Nioh games, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty has a dark fantasy setting based on the Three Kingdoms involving demons, Chinese martial arts, famous characters that I’ve learned about thanks to my initial taste of Romance of the Three Kingdoms years ago, and a nameless warrior who you play as. Given the setting, I’m glad that Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty features a Chinese audio option, but I will get to that in a bit. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty’s story and how the characters have been portrayed are quite nice. I know the story is usually not a focus in these games from Team Ninja, but it is well done here through the end across its many parts and battlefields.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty gameplay – martial arts, exploration, and more on the battlefield
Early on, I thought Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty would just be Team Ninja’s take on Sekiro, but it isn’t really like that. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty combat feels like it is blending in different ideas to make players more focused on aggression, while also being more streamlined than Nioh 2. This will be a good or bad thing depending on what you’re after. I adore Nioh 2, but ended up clicking with the combat in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty from the get go. The balance of spirit, deciding when to use martial arts or wizardry spells in a battle, and when to back off is something you will need to start doing from the start.
I loved how Elden Ring gave the player a lot of freedom with how to tackle its challenges thanks to the open structure. With Wo Long, it is still a very linear experience, but the Battle Flags, morale, and fortitude system make it so that spending a bit of time before taking on the big challenges in any area will make things more manageable. Wo Long is still a mission-based game. When you take on a mission, the map always points to the destination with a red line. Getting there isn’t straightforward, and while you can try and go straight for the boss, spending time exploring, learning the surroundings, and increasing your morale rank will go a long way.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Morale and Fortitude
Morale is like a multiplier that affects how much damage you take and what abilities you can use. You also have fortitude which is the minimum morale rank you have on a specific mission. You can raise this by interacting with Battle Flags, Marking Flags, and more. Some flags aren’t just there in the open waiting for you to come by, and require you to defeat a leader nearby. Finding every Battle and Marking flag in a mission to raise your fortitude will make things much easier for you in a specific mission. The UI near the map always displays the total number of flags in a mission and how many you have found so far. Speaking of exploration for Battle or Marking Flags, Wo Long lets you jump, and this has allowed for more interesting level design compared to the Nioh games in ways, but don’t expect a huge improvement in that regard.
Below your health gauge, your spirit gauge is always visible. This decides how many or what martial arts, spells, and spirit attacks you can perform. Once it drops too low, you will be vulnerable and sluggish, usually ending up dead if this happens during a boss fight and you’re too close to the boss. You earn spirit by using normal attacks and deflecting enemy attacks. Deflecting and dodging are a huge part of Wo Long’s combat. Your level also affects things, and you can level up from the Battle Flag menu once you have enough Qi accumulated by taking on enemies or consuming specific items. During the review period, I couldn’t test the online aspects of Wo Long, so I will not be covering that in this review.
Barring the technical issues, Wo Long’s difficulty curve is all over the place when it comes to bosses. Some mid game bosses ended up being too easy while earlier ones took me too long. I even replayed some of them later on to check, and still found some bosses harder than later ones. This balance also carries over to mission rewards. I did enjoy most of the bosses though, even with the difficulty spikes. One specific multi-phase boss will likely become infamous with the community once more people reach that point in the story.
If you enjoy photo modes in games, Wo Long has a decent implementation letting you customize the image with filters, stickers, adjust characters, and more. Check it out in the screenshot below from when I was testing the game on Steam Deck.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty voice acting and music
Wo Long has three voiceover options: English, Japanese, and Chinese. I played through most of the game with English, but ended up swapping to Japanese and Chinese later on to see how I felt about those voices. Given the game’s setting, Chinese makes the most sense, but I still wanted to see how the other voiceover options were. The English voiceover feels a bit lacking in Wo Long when it comes to certain NPCs and specific characters. While not bad, this felt like a step down from Nioh 2. You can change language settings from the title screen only and not during a mission.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty PC performance – frame rate and resolution support
The limited demo from last year had me a bit concerned about playing on my laptop, but I ended up liking Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty a lot despite the PC version not running too well for me. This laptop, which just about meets the minimum requirements, still gave me trouble when rendering at 50% scale at the 720p 30fps target. Nioh 2’s PC version ran and looked a lot better on the same laptop. Wo Long doesn’t feel like a generation above Nioh 2 with its visuals to warrant this drop in performance, but that’s how it is right now.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty on Steam Deck at launch – is it worth playing on Valve’s handheld?
Having played Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty on Steam Deck right from an early preview build, it has improved quite a bit on Valve’s portable system, but isn’t ready for prime time yet. Right now, videos are fixed (when I use Proton Experimental bleeding edge) and the game boots up and controls fine, but performance is not good. Even setting it to 720p 30fps and the lowest settings with 50% resolution scale doesn’t result in a stable 30fps. It keeps freezing or sometimes even crashing during busier moments. I couldn’t replicate the crashes in the same locations but I did have a few crashes while running Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty from the internal SSD on my Steam Deck. If you enjoyed Nioh 2 on Steam Deck and were hoping to play Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty on it, I’d recommend waiting for updates.
One other issue I ran into while testing it is the external controller wouldn’t work on Steam Deck when docked. I hope this can also be resolved in updates. Team Ninja says Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty on Steam Deck is unsupported, but it remains to be seen if that changes thanks to Valve or Koei Tecmo pushing out fixes. While DLSS is coming, I hope FSR is also on the horizon for Wo Long on Steam. It will make things a lot nicer on Steam Deck.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty on PS5 and Xbox Series X – DualSense features, graphics modes, and more
I had PC code for my main Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty playthrough. I did also get access to the PS5 and Xbox console versions of the game and wanted to highlight them in this review. The Xbox version is a Play Anywhere title that supports Quick Resume on Xbox Series X. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty on PS5 has support for DualSense haptic feedback which is very well implemented. This is also present in some cut-scenes. It also includes PS5 Activity Cards support showing you your progress in a specific mission and overall. I didn’t have enough time with the console versions to reach some of the mid game locations to compare performance, but I was mostly happy with the prioritize frame rate mode on both systems. Both platforms run the game massively better than the first demo last year for sure. I’ll be revisiting the game through its updates on all platforms to comment on whether anything has improved or been fixed in the future.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty review
Barring the PC port itself, my main issues with Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty have to do with how it seems to lack the polish that Nioh 2 had. This might be because Team Ninja was working on shipping it on multiple consoles and PC at the same time versus prior masocore releases, but the game itself is well worth your time even in this busy release season. The prioritize frame rate mode on PS5 or Xbox Series X is how I’d recommend playing it right now if you have the option until the PC port works better. I would definitely recommend trying out the demo to see how it runs for you before buying the full game. I like Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty a lot, and have already started a new playthrough on Steam as I also try and finish on PS5 to be ready for the DLC there. If you have Xbox Game Pass, this is probably my favorite day one new game addition to the service alongside Hi-Fi Rush.
I’ll be covering the PC port itself in a separate feature in the near future to also see if it has improved on Steam Deck or in general through its release on Steam and the Microsoft Store.