It was introduced at the Xbox conference not only as Team Ninja’s next action project, but also as Phil Spencer’s commitment to the Japanese-style video game. This is everything we know about Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty.
Despite being presented at the Xbox conference, it didn’t take us long to find out that Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is a cross-platform development that will also come to PlayStation consoles. And it is that almost everything in this new production is still a mystery. Especially in terms of its way of playing, but, from what its developers have commented, it will have the DNA of Team Ninja with a high level of challenge, something similar to what we already found in Nioh, the previous production of the studio. The main difference is that, if in Nioh we travel to a Feudal Japan in the Sengoku period full of Yokais, here we will travel to China at the end of the Han Dynasty. Something that, in a way, has its logic since Team Ninja forms part of Koei Tecmo, the creators of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Dynasty Warriors sagas. Therefore, setting his new game in the Three Kingdoms was something that married very well with the company’s philosophy.
But, as much as they are inspired by this period of history, they do not forget the fantastic elements. Its official synopsis reads that we are “an unnamed militia soldier fighting for survival in a dark fantasy version of the Later Han Dynasty, where demons ravage The Three Kingdoms. Players fight against deadly creatures and enemy soldiers using a game of swords based on Chinese martial arts, trying to overcome adversity by awakening the true power within. Which means that we can expect from Wo Long the same magical elements full of creatures and nerve-wracking final bosses as in his previous works. Personally, I hope that it achieves a somewhat more cohesive narrative structure than the Nioh cinematics were, so that we can follow the path of our warrior with a little more progression. Team Ninja is perhaps not the greatest exponent in terms of narrative, I know, but given its interest in showing and transforming the historical facts of Japan and now also China, I think a more solid and revised narrative would do well.
Unleashing the power within
Team Ninja is perhaps not the greatest exponent in terms of narrativeIf in Nioh we were a samurai, here the combat style will be inspired by Chinese martial arts. In the trailer we have only seen our character brandishing a sword, but let’s remember that Team Ninja is an expert in using different types of weapons that we get as we progress in the adventure, so it would not be surprising if we can handle several at the same time time or even, honoring some of the most famous Chinese martial arts, we do not use any at all.
All this will translate into a mechanic that drinks from the Souls formula. And yes, it is well known that Team Ninja has its own formula, but it is its creators who, in an interview with IGN, call this Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty a soulslike, so it’s not just us saying it , but what its own producers say: Fumihiko Yasuda and Masaaki Yamagiwa, the latter also producer of two FromSoftware works together with Sony’s Japan Studio, such as Bloodborne and Déraciné.
We don’t know much about Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty’s combat yet, as the trailer has focused more on the cinematic elements without any gameplay or interface to help us get an idea of how it will play, but the description of the game speaks of “battle styles based on the Five Phases”. The Five Phases is a theory that originated from observing the cycles of nature and appeared during the Zhou dynasty. They represent Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water and that here will serve as inspiration for combat.
How can this be translated into a fighting mechanic? The truth is that we can only speculate. The correlation of the different phases may be telling us about opposites, so that we have to counteract the phase of a rival with another to which it is weak. Something like a “rock, paper and scissors”, but with five elements. It is also possible that, as was the case in Nioh, it opens the options for us to five different “positions”. In Nioh we had three: low, medium and high posture, which were due to the degree of speed and strength of each of our attacks with each weapon. In addition, it seems that this time the developers wanted to focus more on a faster change dynamic between attack and defense, allowing us to quickly go from one state to the other.
Another of the doubts that we would like to solve is what the world that we travel in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty will be like. According to its producers in the IGN interview, now the territory is even vaster, since China is huge compared to Japan and that opens up opportunities. When I interviewed Team Ninja twice for Nioh 1 and 2, they told me that the decision to make separate levels with a map and a loadout was based on the need to show the different regions that make up the Japanese territory and that, therefore, , a single cohesive world did not achieve such an effect.
So I see Wo Long as a bigger challenge in this regard for those who would like Team Ninja to explore another more interconnected style of level design. As China is a larger area, much more different scenarios and biomes can be nurtured, but the question remains: will we continue to have a game structured by missions and with a map that distributes them?
However, already within the levels, it seems that we will have substantial differences. As we have seen in Sekiro and Elden Ring, accessing a jump button in conditions supposes a drastic change in the design of the scenarios, and this is what we will see in Wo Long, which will have a much more vertical structure than Nioh, although with a linear development, as its producers affirm. It also looks like there will be changes to the gear system, they say, as one of the most discussed aspects of Nioh, the constant upgrading and changing of gear, won’t be as constant here nor will enemies have a massive tendency to drop items.
The more we know about Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, the more we want to see it in motionThere is no doubt that Wo Long has many surprises and mysteries in store. The study speaks of a correlation between the deaths of the enemy and the player, as if one intrinsically affected the other through a new mechanic that, at the moment, is unknown to us. What it does seem is that it will influence the balance of power between our character and the enemies. Is it a way to make us more or less powerful depending on how many times we die? The producers assure that it will be a difficult and challenging game, but that they have created new ways to face this challenge, which, in some way, seems to us as a way of giving accessibility to those who do not see themselves with sufficient skill, without resort to simply implementing an “easy way”.
The more we learn about Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, the more we want to see it in motion. The wait will not be excessively long, since not only will the game arrive in early 2023, but the studio has accustomed us to several beta phases that allow us to test the game before its launch, and it is very possible that Wo Long will too. offer them. When the time comes, we will be there to clarify all these doubts and mysteries.