Today, March 3, the global launch of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty took place. The game was warmly received by critics, but PC users were very dissatisfied with it. We tell you how organically the latest Team Ninja game looks in the Koei Tecmo portfolio and how much, according to the developers, it has gone away from the Nioh dilogy.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

Key Facts about Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

  • The game was developed by Team Ninja, an in-house studio of Koei Tecmo. The game was released on PC and PlayStation and Xbox consoles almost three years after the release of Nioh 2, the previous project of Team Ninja.
  • The gameplay of the game is based on the traditional formula for the Souls (ideological heirs of the Dark Souls series, which includes the Nioh series), but the developers tried to introduce several innovations into the mechanics invented by FromSoftware. One of them is a system of morality that directly affects battles (we will talk about it in detail below).
  • Otherwise, the project is very close to classic soulses (for example, the same Nioh). The game allows you to create your own character, has a complex combat system, and also supports cooperative multiplayer.
  • If you do not take into account the gameplay, then the key difference between the novelty and the previous games of the studio is the setting. The scene of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is China during the Era of the Three Kingdoms (from 220 to 280 AD).
  • Wo Long translates from Chinese as “crouching dragon”. The developers chose this name because the figure of a crouching dragon, according to their idea, symbolizes a hero that no one knows about yet. This is exactly the kind of hero the protagonist is at the start of the game.
  • The game was positively evaluated by critics. Judging by Metacritic, the ratings of publications, depending on the platform, on average range from 80 to 82 points out of a hundred.

Critical evaluation of the game on PlayStation 5

  • However, the PC version of the game was unsuccessful. The main reason is the weak implementation of mouse and keyboard controls, as well as optimization problems. This has already led to a massive underestimation of the game on Steam.

Setting Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

Since Team Ninja is well known primarily for games in the Japanese setting, Wo Long may surprise some fans of the studio with Chinese aesthetics. However, the Era of the Three Kingdoms has been one of the most popular plots in games published by Koei Tecmo for decades.

It is enough to recall a series of epic Dynasty Warriors slashers, which is literally inscribed in the DNA of the publisher, or a series of turn-based strategies Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The latter is not very well known in the West. At the same time, 14 of its parts sold a total circulation of 8 million copies, and the mobile spinoff Three Kingdoms Tactics earned more than a billion dollars.

Three Kingdoms Tactics

The era of the Three Kingdoms is considered one of the bloodiest epochs in the history of China. At the same time, this period left a deep mark on the culture of the country. Partly thanks to the historical novel of the same name, written in the 14th century by Luo Guanzhong. The novel is still an inexhaustible source of inspiration for Chinese and Japanese authors.

And it is Koei Tecmo that is the main supplier of games dedicated to the era. That was ten or twenty years ago. A similar situation, given such releases as Wo Long and Wild Hearts, is observed today. The company is definitely working on popularizing this setting.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

What is the difference between Wo Long and Nioh?

Wo Long producer Masaaki Yamagiwa is no stranger to the genre. He helped with the publication of Bloodborne when he worked at Sony-owned Japan Studio.

Yamagiwa joined Team Ninja in 2021 and began working closely with studio president and producer Fumihiko Yasada, who is primarily known for working on the latest Ninja Gaiden trilogy and led the development of both Nioh.

Together they decided to take the historical setting, which Koei Tecmo specializes in, and create within its framework (but, of course, adjusted for fantasy elements) essentially a new Nioh.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

And indeed, at first glance, the games are as similar as possible. Both borrowed a lot from Dark Souls. But this does not mean that the novelty differs from the previous works of Team Ninja only in the place of action (although the developers themselves admit that, for example, the mechanics of creating a character in Wo Long is based on the one that was implemented in Nioh 2).

Character Creation menu in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

Games primarily differ in the design of fights, the pace of battles. It’s funny, but, as Yasuda admits in an interview with IGN, it was largely dictated by the setting.

According to the developers, the samurai nature of the battles in Nioh requires endurance from the player, while in Wo Long the battles take place at a much faster pace. Therefore, instead of forcing the player to choose the right moment to strike, the main thing in the new game is frequent attacks.

Those who are well acquainted with the Era of the Three Kingdoms know which warriors should use which weapons. This is reflected in the game. And what was in Nioh, when the player collects items and constantly rotates them, is not here. We wanted the Wo Long player to be more focused on grappling

Fumihiko Yasada

President of Team Ninja

As for the innovative morality system already mentioned at the beginning, it is based on the desire of developers to refresh how death affects gameplay in soulses.

The system works like this: the higher the morale, the greater the damage. Morale increases when killing enemies. If a player is killed, then he loses morale.

The player starts each new level with a moral value equal to one. What level of morality the opponents have — the user sees.

That is, in fact, morality allows the player to determine in advance the level of threat / difficulty of the battle and avoid accidental deaths (without rushing to fight an opponent whose morale is much higher).

You become stronger by defeating a strong opponent, but the enemy can also become stronger by killing a player. The balance of power changes every time someone dies,” Yamagiva notes.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

Unsuccessful start on PC

It seems that Koei Tecmo has decided to step on the same rake for the second time this year.

Just a couple of weeks ago, in the second half of February, their previous game, Wild Hearts, was released. She had problems with PC optimization at the start, and in the case of Wo Long, poor management was added to them.

Because of this, the rating of the game on Steam is “mostly negative”. Only 33% of the 3,400 users who left a review rated the game positively. Mostly “tear and tear” players from China. They are especially unhappy that Team Ninja has not corrected the management since the demo was published.

Low ratings of the game on Steam

English-speaking players are more actively criticizing optimization. “Let’s be honest, Wo Long has no optimization problems. The fact is that it has no optimization at all,” writes one of the Steam users. It seems that the problems are experienced primarily by owners of video cards built on the basis of Nvidia chips.

Despite the low user ratings, the project already has something to brag about. Online Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty on Steam at the time of writing these lines has reached the mark of 75.9 thousand players. This is the best start for Koei Tecmo on Steam in its entire history. The game also entered the top 3 online novelties of 2023 on Steam, ahead of Atomic Heart.

Online games at the time of publication of the material

It is not yet clear how performance and management issues will affect Wo Long’s box office performance. As for the studio’s previous games, the total sales of the Nioh dilogy amounted to more than 7 million. So, most likely, on consoles where the game has no problems, its developers can count on the implementation of several million copies.