Ever since Wo Long made an appearance it has been compared to Sekiro for a multitude of reasons. Team Ninja has already put a spin on the Dark Souls formula with their Nioh series and now they have set their eyes on Sekiro’s deflection-based combat.
If we do a Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Vs. Sekiro comparison, the most prominent resemblance you can spot is the deflection/parry-based combat where timing is key. There are many other factors such as story, combat flow, build dependencies, etc. that can be compared.
As much as they are similar, both these games have enough idiosyncracies to put them in their leagues. But sadly, if you try to imitate the big boys like From Software you are bound to be compared with the best in the business. Let us compare Wo Long and Sekiro then you make the decision which one is better.
Lore of the Land
Both these games are based on eastern mythology intersecting with historical eras.
Sekiro is set in a fictionalized version of Sengoku era Japan which is known for its warring states and samurai culture. The Wolf i.e. the protagonist is hell-bent on finding his little master while the world around him is embroiled in political conflict.
The game follows a similar story delivery as most FromSoft games do. There are a handful of cutscenes to set up the story but most of the lore is either presented by talking to the NPCs or reading item descriptions. The way it blends Japanese mythology, history, and the character’s story is quite fascinating if you are down for this peculiar way of storytelling.
Wo Long is based on Chinese mythology mixed with the final days of the Han Dynasty. Again, this era is known for its political unrest and mighty Warlords, which you do get to meet in the game albeit in an overly dramatized fashion.
However, here you are not a specific character but a nameless soldier who gets caught up in the high-fantasy shenanigans of the world. The blend of history and folklore in this game is quite intriguing and might send you down a Chinese history lesson rabbit hole. There are tons of cutscenes introducing new characters and the story in general. The way these are produced is very reminiscent of an anime.
What to call it? Posture or Spirit
The most prominent reason why both these games are getting compared is the implementation of the posture system which was popularized by Sekiro way back when. There is no typical stamina bar in these games like other Soulsborne entries but a posture meter that encourages you to stay close and trade blows with your enemies rather than dodge around. Both games have different execution of this mechanic though.
In Sekiro it is called Posture. It facilitates the players who try to keep their enemies at an arm’s length, learn their every move, and react accordingly with different kinds of defensive moves like parry, Mikiri counter, and jumping before incoming sweep attacks.
As you do these maneuvers or fail at them, your or your enemy’s posture meter will start to fill up. If yours goes up, you will start to stumble a bit and become open to powerful attacks.
If the enemy’s posture gets high, their movement suffers and once the meter is filled you can go in for a lethal finishing move regardless of their health. It starts to feel like a rhythm game once you get the hang of it and is an excellent rendition of this unique mechanic.
Wo Long has the Spirit system. Unlike. Sekiro’s single-bar, this mechanic has both positive and negative sides depicted by blue on the right side and orange on the left respectively. Nonetheless, it works likewise to that in Sekiro where you have to deflect incoming attacks and land successful hits.
Where it differs is that you can use this build-up meter to execute powerful special attacks and spells. Also, the deflect windows are much more forgiving in this game which takes away the rhythmic value of the FromSoft game. You are not just depending on your skills in this game.
Both these games have great emphasis on blocking and deflecting/parrying. It seems like the primary way of dealing major damage to enemies and bosses boils down to the way you use these mechanics. Normal attacks are not the main damage source in these games.
Putting on the Exploration Hat
Both these games handle exploration, map, level design, and traversal very differently.
Wo Long has a very classic mission/chapter-based structure. There is a huge map menu with missions dotted around where you have to select the mission and play it from start to end. There are clear entry and exit points to each level with very little deviation from the main path.
Side missions will be played on the same levels but with a bit of a variation in their size, enemy placements, and objectives. It is a very streamlined experience that doesn’t bode well for players who like to check every nook and cranny of a level. Although the levels themselves are visually appealing.
Sekiro follows the tried and tested FromSoftware level design. You are thrown into the world and the branching paths ahead can take you to a multitude of locations. There are some optional areas that the most inquisitive of players will get to.
Every enemy encounter can also be approached as you want. There are usually multiple ways of entering an arena ranging from going in swords flailing or taking the hidden route to thin the herd first. The game rewards your curiosity.
On top of that, the inclusion of the grappling hook provides an unprecedented level of verticality in a game like this. You can Spiderman your way onto the roofs and scout the location to plan out your path. Wo Long only has a jump mechanic which does provide verticality but nowhere near to that of Sekiro.
Times of Tribulation Ahead
Not to sound like Captain Obvious, but man these games are hard! You don’t go into games like these hoping to have an easy time. They will push your patience to its limit and will demand you to persevere.
They both have challenging gameplay which requires careful timing and strategy to succeed however there is a difference in how each game approaches difficulty.
Wo Long features a Morale System that allows players to influence the difficulty of battles somewhat using this dynamic system. This system takes into account various factors such as the player’s level, equipment, and the number of enemies you have faced to determine the overall difficulty of a battle.
It is up to the player’s discretion whether they want this system to work in their favor or against them. Each enemy has a morale level above their head and if your is below it then the lowest of grunts can punish you. While staying above it can make most encounters relatively easier which includes bosses as well.
This system can make or break the game for most as it feels like an artificial difficulty rather than an organically progressive one.
Speaking of organic difficulty, Sekiro is the master of it. Dubbed by many as the easiest of FromSoft’s creations, this game is still not for the faint of heart. It relies heavily on your skills rather than the level you are on. You HAVE to perfect your parry and deflect skills. You HAVE to learn enemy patterns and exploit openings. There is just no other way.
Sekiro is a challenging game but once you get into the rhythm of the dance of the clashing swords, the game becomes a breeze. This is coming from someone who ended the game multiple times (not to brag) so your mileage will vary.
Although Sekiro does have an instant revive mechanic in place so you can happily die now and then unlike Wo Long where every death will put you back to the last checkpoint.
The Wolf or The Sheep
The protagonist of Wo Long is an unnamed warrior who is on a mission to stop the evil sorcerer from unleashing chaos in ancient China. The player can customize the character’s appearance and abilities to suit their playstyle.
Players who like to create their characters with zany designs or put themselves in the game can make good use of this character creator. However, do not expect below the surface level here in terms of personality. The protagonist is more of a blank slate that the player can fill in with their interpretation if there is any to say.
On the other hand, the protagonist of Sekira is a Shinobi named the Wolf who is on a mission to rescue his young Lord from a powerful Samurai Clan. Wolf is a set character that you can not change anything about. The only form of customization here is his Prosthetic left arm. The Wolf is portrayed as a stoic and reserved man who is relentlessly loyal to his master and cause.
The Lone Wolf vs The Pack
Sekiro is a single-player game which means that players must rely solely on their skills and patience to progress through the game. This allows for a more immersive and personal experience where players can fully invest themselves in the game’s story and pump themselves up to face the net challenge ahead.
On the other hand, Wo Long offers both cooperative and PvP multiplayer options. You can team up with friends to take on challenging bosses or engage in thrilling battles against other players online.
The multiplayer options add an extra layer of depth and replayability to the game as players can team up to tackle challenges that may be too difficult to handle alone or compete against others to test their skills and strategy.
It is up to you if you prefer a lone wolf or a pack hunting-together lifestyle!
Mastering the Prosthetics or the Elements
At the very start of Sekiro, your arm gets amputated and replaced with a Prosthesis. This arm has a bunch of functions that you unlock throughout your journey. There is a giant axe in it, a flamethrower, a grappling hook, and many more defensive and offensive capabilities. It is like the perfect swiss army knife for a shinobi.
However, the limited number of prosthetics and the single weapon in your arsenal is the only thing you can play around with. There are no traditional builds that you can conjure up using these rather simplified tools at your disposal. You have to choose the right tool for the job in essence.
In opposition, Wo Long is build heaven! There are tons of weapons with varying stats and playstyles, upgrade paths up the wazoo, drowning in elemental spells, random loot spewing out of every enemy, and armor to not only provide the best protection but look sexy while slaying as well.
There are boatloads of customization you can tweak to make the character play as you wish. The loot and stat system does get overwhelming at times but if you were ever into looter shooters at one point, you will definitely like the raining gear here.
There is an element-based system here with the typical fire, ice, and earth-type spells and equipment you can use. Each element has its advantages and disadvantages and most enemies are either weak or strong against one. It is safe to say, you won’t be bored by the depth of Wo Long’s character and equipment customization.
Sekiro and Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty share a matching DNA but there are enough nuances in each to make them stand on their own two feet rather than be bogged down by any inferior imitation labeling. They both scratch very acquired itches and do a great job at that.
Personally, I prefer Sekiro’s more intimate single-player design and rhythmic combat to Wo Long’s over-the-top action. But to each their own.