- Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is Team Ninja’s latest project set in Ancient China. It has some crucial differences that set it apart from the Nioh games.
- The game’s choice of setting gives it the distinct advantage of telling a much more engaging story compared to the Nioh games. However, the main draw of these games is not the story itself.
- The current state of PC ports and Team Ninja’s last project is a definitive cause for concern. However, the ports of Nioh serve as a beacon of hope.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, Team Ninja’s latest project, is just around the corner. Founded in 1995, the studio has mainly been known for the Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden franchises. Its primary focus has always been to deliver action-oriented experiences, and they have indeed delivered.
The studio is a division of Koei Tecmo and has an extensive history. While known for the myriad entries in Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden series, it’s also worked on other games. These range from things like Final Fantasy Dissidia NT to Fire Emblem Warriors. There was also Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance 3, which was released in 2019.
And, of course, we can’t forget the chaos that surrounded their latest title — Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. But while its games carried a charm and put its name on the map, it got a huge boost in 2017. This was the year when we would get a new entry inspired by the work of FromSoftware. The title was called Nioh.
The Nioh series is extremely close to my heart, and it’s got a pretty hefty background. The game had been stuck in development hell since the days of PlayStation 2. Being in that situation for so long, you’d basically expect the worst. An example of such a project would be Final Fantasy XV, but that game sold well for various reasons.
While Nioh got the studio’s name out there even more, Team Ninja is now on the verge of releasing a new project. I’m excited to see how this goes since it’s shaping up to be something that will surpass Nioh, and I’m going to explain why that might happen.
Elevating The Combat
Nioh definitely bore a degree of similarity to Souls but it spared no effort in setting itself apart. This was due to its combat system which was refined to the utmost degree.
It achieved excellence in gameplay by introducing a multi-stance combat system with different attack patterns and respective pros and cons.
Gauging your situation and making use of all three stances was part of the core gameplay. Added to that was the Ki Pulse mechanic, a total opposite of what we saw in Soulsborne games. Being able to recover your stamina and continue the offense was several steps above Bloodborne’s aggressiveness too.
The build diversity, along with weapon skills and tools, added a whole bunch of layers to the combat. And how can I forget Living Weapons? That stuff broke the game during the first months until it was nerfed into the ground.
Nioh 2 improved upon all of that and added new mechanics, something that was acknowledged by the players. Team Ninja has achieved something special in terms of gameplay. Something other developers would be hard-pressed to do. It’s about finding your own spark and mastering it.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is dialing it all to 11. The combat is extremely inspired by Sekiro and Ninja Gaiden. You won’t be losing any Ki while attacking, but you do have somewhat of a posture bar now that works in a similar fashion to Sekiro.
With fast combat, having a dedicated jump button, and excluding Ki, this title is doing something to set itself apart. And to be honest, it seems to be going well so far.
The World Of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty & Nioh
This is another aspect of the two games that I want to focus on. Nioh was set in the Warring States period also known as the Sengoku Jidai. Similarly, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty takes place during the Three Kingdoms period in Chinese History.
Whether a game takes place in a fictional representation of a real-life historical period or not doesn’t impact its narrative. You can still tell a compelling story with interesting characters. One can argue that choosing such a setting does put some limitations in place, but fiction can be what reality can’t.
The Nioh series had a proper story, but it wasn’t something one could write home about. It was there, and it made sense. Plus, it was accessible enough not to impact the game’s real enjoyment factor—combat. It was simply there to carry you from start to finish, and it did that well enough.
While Nioh never exactly focused on the story that much, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty seems to be doing just that. We have gotten multiple trailers of the game showing its lore. The official Twitter account of the game also tweets tidbits of information.
You can say that this is normal for a game that’s about to release with the whole marketing aspect. However, the core narrative of this game seems stronger than either of the Nioh titles.
While the game itself follows a linear design, having a stronger narrative will add more value to the experience. Considering the game is based on a 14th-century historical novel, it has a stronger footing than Nioh.
Of course, both worlds are special. But Wo Long has a distinct advantage in terms of story and lore. How that ends up in the final product is to be seen, though.
New King Of Character Creators
We’ve seen a whole bunch of different character creators in the last decade. Some of the most prominent examples are Elden Ring and Code Vein. The latter wasn’t super in-depth, but it felt pretty ambitious for an anime RPG, something you can’t say for most games in that space.
In my opinion, Nioh 2 has single-handedly bested the competition in terms of customization options and versatility. The system’s greatness can be judged by the variety of characters created by the community.
And how can you forget the ability to share your character designs with others via a code? An absolute win for everyone. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is aiming to meet that level of quality as it rightfully should. I’m also hoping that it exceeds it, and looking at how polished it was in last year’s demo; things are looking grand.
No one would ever say no to being able to dive deep into character creators to make that perfect personification in their role-playing video games. The official Twitter account tweeted that the game’s demo will go live on 24th February, and I’ve got that day marked on my calendar.
Fingers Crossed For The PC Port
With everything we’ve seen so far, along with the demo experiences, it’s safe to say that this game will be Team Ninja’s greatest achievement yet. The studio has a tendency to craft top-class action games. The experience it’s gathered in recent years has surely contributed to that.
I honestly hope that this extends to their PC port for Wo Long as well. The game is going to launch on March 3rd. If Stranger of Paradise is any indication, I’m definitely concerned about what’s to come. However, the state of their Nioh ports gives me hope.
With prime examples like Square Enix‘s Forspoken and WB‘s Hogwarts Legacy setting a standard for bad ports this year, I’ve got my fingers crossed. But with that said, I’m looking forward to seeing this game succeed and everything else Team Ninja brings in the future.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty launches on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PC, and last-gen consoles on March 3rd, 2023.
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