Team Ninja unveiled its next big title Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty during the recent Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase, to be released in early 2023 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, PS4, and PS5. While it seemed to resemble Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors, the overall gameplay and vibe are more akin to Nioh, as revealed in a recent IGN interview.
Fumihiko Yasuda, who directed both Nioh titles, is a producer on this project along with Masaaki Yamagiwa, known for Bloodborne and Déraciné. After leaving Sony’s Japan Studio, he joined Team Ninja in October 2021. To that end, Wo Long will be a challenging game.
Set during the Yellow Turban Rebellion in the Three Kingdoms period, the title focuses on the end of the Han Dynasty in China. Yasuda notes “It was a time of war and devastation. It was a dark period in which people were constantly fighting, which is a great match for a Soulslike game. Being set in China, Wo Long is more massive in scale compared to our previous games set in Japan, which allowed us to show a more severe and dark world.
“The same can be said for the difficulty. There’s no doubt this will be an extremely challenging and demanding game, but we’ve come up with new ways to approach that difficulty. In that regard, players can look forward to a type of satisfaction that wasn’t present in earlier Team Ninja titles.”
The main character is a military volunteer (with an important role in the story) and players can customize them fully. Combat also benefits from a new Morale system for the player and enemies. Further details weren’t provided, Yamagiwa says this will “lead to new strategies within the Soulslike genre.” Interestingly, it ties into mechanics where the enemy can gain something from defeating the player.
“We wanted to create a type of strategism with adversity as its theme. You gain something by defeating a strong enemy, but the same can be said for when an enemy kills the player. The balance between strength changes whenever someone dies.”
Exploration is still level-based like Nioh but there’s more freedom thanks to one important addition: Jumping. Yasuda said, “We do have more freedom in our stage design though. Since the player character can now jump, there’s a lot more room for verticality and exploration in general. That being said, at its core, Wo Long is a linear structured game just as Nioh was. With Soulslike games becoming more and more popular, this kind of design gives Team NINJA an opportunity to display what we do best.” IGN saw some development footage from the PS5 version and noted that the areas within the level seem larger with an “almost wide-linear approach.”
Combat is much faster than Nioh with the developer wanting to provide the freedom to “seamlessly switch between offense and defense. The action is speedier than Nioh, and you can do things such as jump into an enemy and then launch over them. That being said, we did want to maintain that feeling of being in control of an actual human being, so there won’t be too many flashy jumps or wire action. In that sense, I guess you could say it is more down to earth.” Think of it as a middle-ground between Nioh and Ninja Gaiden in terms of speed. Expect to be attacking way more in Wo Long than in Nioh.
Finally, loot is getting some changes over Nioh. Players won’t have to keep upgrading their weapons and armor, and all enemies won’t be dropping items. There’s still a large variety of weapons but the team wants “the player to be able to focus on the action more easily.” Also, Three Kingdoms fans can expect the various warlords to have their weapons (though whether the player can earn them remains to be seen).
Multiplayer is also confirmed and though more details have yet to be revealed, it will be at least similar to Nioh’s. Stay tuned in the meantime.