Following in the footsteps of the excellent Nioh 2, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty takes Team Ninja’s distinct brand of Souls-like to Ancient China, bundling mythology and real history for a wild romp in the iconic Three Kingdoms era. In typical Team Ninja fashion, Wo Long’s combat is punishing, often to the point of frustration.
If you’ve been having trouble coming to grips with Wo Long’s combat, you’re in luck. We’ve put together this list of beginner tips to survive Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty that is sure to help you master the intricacies of its ultra-quick battle system.
Tip #1: Demo Progress Carries Over
Play through the Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty demo before you jump into the game properly. All progress you make in the demo is transferable to the main game.
The game only asks you to import demo data once. If you missed it, you’ll have to go into your console settings and delete the game data. Take care not to delete your actual game save!
Tip #2: Pick Two Elements and Stick With Them
There are four elements in Wo Long and every piece of equipment has its own elemental affinities. As you play through the game, you’ll be tempted to immediately equip every new piece of gear you come across, but you can make the game a lot easier by just focusing on two elements.
It doesn’t really matter what your primary element is, but you should pick a secondary element that counters the first’s weaknesses. For example, if Fire is your first element, you should pick Wood as your secondary element to compensate for Fire’s weakness to Water.
Tip #3: Get Beefy with the Wood Element
If you’re having trouble getting used to the parry system, you can beef up your character with the Wood element. Equipment that scales with Wood gives you more HP, so you can tank more hits in every encounter. Wood also makes your spells last longer, making buffs more effective.
Unless you’re really struggling to stay alive, you shouldn’t make Wood your primary element. Wood doesn’t offer much in terms of damage output, so enemies can take a while to whittle down. Just a few points in Wood go a long way to making you more durable in fights.
Tip #4: Speed > Strength
The hardest part of combat in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is nailing the timings of your strikes, parries, and dodges. Beginners should always prioritize weapon speed over strength. Sure, a stronger weapon takes off more HP with a single hit, but faster speed gives you leeway to make mistakes or whiff strikes and still have time to dodge or parry out of a bad spot.
Tip #5: Don’t Spam Dodge!
Just press the dodge button once when you’re parrying or dodging. Dodging itself is near-instant, but there’s an animation and recovery time every time you do it, so spamming the dodge button almost guarantees you’ll catch a blade to the face.
Learn to observe new enemy patterns before jumping into a fight. Watch for slow attacks and take note of any obvious tells before they strike. Your skills will improve much faster with this approach.
Tip #6: Parries & Fatal Strikes for Boss Fights
Parrying is hands down the most important mechanic in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. To parry, press the dodge button right before an enemy attack lands. This will block their attack and open up their defenses for a counter combo or a Fatal Strike.
When you’ve successfully parried, your lock-on icon will turn red. This means you can perform a high-damage attack called a Fatal Strike. Fatal Strikes are your bread and butter in fights against tougher enemies and bosses. Wait for a strike, parry, then follow up with a Fatal Strike to chop off a huge chunk of their health pool. Rinse and repeat until you’ve won!
Of course, this is all easier said than done. Still, with practice and patience, you’ll find mastering the parry adds a new level of satisfaction to the combat in Wo Long.
Tip #7: Pay Close Attention to Your Weight Limit
Speaking of parries and dodges, you can’t do either if you’ve exceeded your weight limit. So much of Wo Long’s combat revolves around this single button, so going into a fight above your weight limit guarantees a bad time. Toss out your unused items and gear!
Tip #8: Watch Your Spirit Gauge
The Spirit Gauge is a critical part of combat in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. Unfortunately, this mechanic is poorly explained in the game.
Essentially, the Spirit Gauge consolidates the magic and stamina bars of other Souls-likes into a single bar. It starts in the middle and moves left or right as you perform certain actions. Parrying enemy attacks, for example, moves the Spirit Gauge right, while simple blocking moves the gauge left.
The further right the Spirit Gauge is, the more powerful your Spirit Attacks (your Y or Triangle attack) are. When the Spirit Gauge is completely to the left, a single hit will momentarily stun you.
Learning to manage your Spirit Gauge is absolutely key to getting better at Wo Long. The position of your Spirit Gauge should influence how you behave in a fight. Generally, when it’s low, you should play more cautiously, poking and dodging to bring it back up. When the Spirit Gauge is high, you should go all out with your Spirit Attacks after a parry.
Tip #9: Use Your Companions to Buy Time
We can’t overstate just how important it is to sit back and observe patterns at the start of a new fight. Don’t jump in and try to figure things out as the attacks are flying in. Wait and watch until you’ve identified the important skills and strikes, then move in when you know which attacks you can parry and dodge.
Your companions are great for buying time at the start of an engagement, especially against tougher enemies like bosses. Let your companion engage the boss at the start while you land pot shots with long-ranged spells. Pay close attention to any big wind-ups or special animations that indicate a skill or attack that you can dodge or parry.
Tip #10: You Can Respec for Free Later
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty comes with deep customization options that let you build your character however you want. Although some builds make the game easier than others, you can get through the whole adventure with almost any build. If you’re worried you’ve gone down the wrong path with your build, don’t fret, because you can respec for free later on in the game.
That just about covers the biggest tips any beginner should know when jumping into Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. Even with these tricks in hand, you’re bound to run into trouble when playing. (It’s a Souls-like—it’s supposed to be hard!) Stick with the game, take it slow, and apply these tips whenever you can. Eventually, you’ll be dodging and parrying like a true master.
Oh, and, if you’re playing on Xbox, be sure to head over to OffGamers here whenever you need an Xbox Live Gift Card.