Ever since Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty made an appearance it has been heavily compared with Sekiro. There is a multitude of reasons for this resemblance, but we ought to compare Wo Long Fallen Dynasty with Team Ninja’s previous souls-like entry i.e. Nioh 2. Both these games somewhat share a DNA in more than one aspect hence this comparability needs to be further explored by new and old players of Nioh.
Wo Long and Nioh 2 are quite similar in terms of their world design, reliance on a historical setting crossed with mythical legends, loot, combat, and much much more. However, in every aspect mentioned before, Wo Long tries to incorporate its own identity which separates it from the world of Nioh 2.
Let’s get the obvious difference out of the way first. While the Nioh games were set in Japan, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is set in China. Like Nioh, it heavily uses dark fantasy elements layered on top of the historical timeline. The game takes place in the Three Kingdoms era of China.
The setting of course is going to impact other facets of the experience as well. For instance, the combat is built around Chinese martial arts which means it’s going to place a much greater emphasis on speed, legends of the Chinese lore will bleed into the character, world, and enemy design.
As you may already know the gameplay front is where Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is going to differ the most from Nioh.
Basic movement and traversal are going to have their unique flow thanks to the fact that, unlike Nioh, Wo Long has a dedicated jump button. From combat to level design, this added mechanic is going to impact gameplay in a variety of ways.
This simple addition will result in a level design that will feel quite different from Nioh in some crucial ways. One among them is a greater focus on verticality with players now being able to jump. The environments will now be more layered and allow players to explore in a more vertical sense.
It also allows you to sneak across rooftops, perform diving attacks, execute jumping attacks, and do all sorts of crazy antics.
There is a greater focus on exploration in Wo Long. Just like the Nioh games, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is sticking to an area-based structure rather than an open-world design. The game features much more open environments, bigger locations with huge vistas, unique landscapes, and massive castles.
The overworld hub houses all of your main missions and side missions. Levels here are linear with branching paths that allow for a bit of exploration but again it always leads you back to your main path of progression. The levels are a bit smaller in Nioh and lack the amount of deviation from the main path that Wo Long provides.
The tl;dr is that the combat in Wo Long Fallen Dynasty is faster and more free-flowing. This is probably a comparison that you’ve seen often enough already but it bears repeating nonetheless if Nioh is Team Ninja’s Dark Souls Wo Long is their Sekiro and that’s going to be reflected in the pace of combat.
Everything from players being encouraged to be much speedier and more aggressive with their attacks to being able to dodge incoming attacks in a variety of ways, especially now that you can jump while countering and deflecting attacks will also be a core part of the experience.
The biggest reason for combat in Wo Long being much much faster-paced is the lack of the stamina bar. Ki i.e. stamina was a key mechanic in Nioh and its sequel as it tends to be in the vast majority of soul-like games but Wo Long is dropping that mechanic with the game being focused first and foremost on Chinese martial arts.
Team Ninja stated that they decided to remove the stamina too as to allow players to get into a zippier rhythm of action of attacking and dodging and to lend that aforementioned free-flowing feel to combat. This is very true to the whole Sekiro inspiration of the game.
Replacing the stamina gauge with the Spirit Guage in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is something that puts a very unique spin on the idea. Players will have to keep an eye on their Spirit Gauge which is essentially one of the game’s primary ways to encourage players to be more aggressive in combat.
Spirit Guage gets filled through constant successful attacks while blocking and getting hit takes away the chunks from the said meter. It is essential to find the right windows in which to move in and attack enemies with flurries or blows. Using special martial arts attacks also consumes spirit so you’re going to want to make sure you’re keeping that gauge filled up.
The Morale Ranking System is one of the biggest changes Team Ninja has made in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. In a nutshell, the system dictates how powerful you and your enemies are and what kind of match-up it will be between you and a foe.
Both you and every enemy in the game will have a morale rank that will dynamically change based on your gameplay actions. Defeat enough enemies and you can level up your morale rank at a Battle Flag (which is effectively a Dark Souls bonfire or a Nioh Shrine) which in turn will also reward you with new spells.
If however, you die, you run the risk of knocking down your morale ranks. If you run into an enemy that has a higher morale rank than you, you’re going to be in for a tough battle unless you decide to grind and increase your rank before taking on the hostile.
The loot in Wo Long seems to be more streamlined. The Nioh games have a reputation for going a bit overboard with their loot systems and given how needlessly excessive the constant barrage of loot could feel at times, that criticism isn’t hard to understand.
Wo Long players still have a variety of options in terms of loot and the game places a lot of emphasis on build diversity but Team Ninja’s tweaking of this system makes it feel a little bit less cluttered and a little bit more accessible.
Both these games are open to 3-player multiplayer and have a PvP side as well. However, the one edge Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty has over Nioh 2 is the ability to form an offline party. The game does not support couch co-op, but NPC allies can join players in each chapter of the adventure.
Players can even take both human and AI partners along on the mission. This is a significant change for souls-likes since it allows players who are unable to connect online to still receive aid with their missions.
Wo Long is also coming to the Xbox platform. Nioh and Nioh 2 are both still PlayStation console exclusives and next year’s Rise of the Ronin (upcoming Tema Ninja game) is going to be one as well but sandwiched between them Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is going to be a rare occurrence of a fully multi-platform Team Ninja game.
The action RPG is available for Xbox series X and S and Xbox One. Not only did it launch for the Xbox consoles it is also available via GamePass from day one. So Xbox fans who wanted to get a taste of Team Ninja’s souls-like offerings but have never had the opportunity to are going to be able to dive right in with Wo Long.
Nioh 2 and Wo Long Fallen Dynasty on the surface look like two peas in a pod, but there are enough nuances in their core and overall design that they compare apples to oranges. Nioh is more methodical with its combat while Wo Long is insanely fast. One could easily argue that Wo Long is the fastest souls-like in the market right now.