While the new trailer for Team Ninja’s highly anticipated Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty contains actual gameplay for the first time, there’s still a lot we don’t know about Team Ninja’s new Soulsborne title. Most notably, after making two installments of the Nioh series, the team decided to go in a somewhat new direction – and we wanted to know how it differs.
IGN sat down with producer Fumihiko Yasuda and development producer Masaaki Yamagiwa to find out how Wo Long is different from the developer’s popular past series. The most obvious thing that sets Wo Long apart from Team Ninja’s previous efforts is its setting, and it seems that this new location will differentiate Wo Long from Nioh in multiple ways.
“Being set in China, we were able to create locations of much greater scale than in Nioh, which was set in Japan,” Yasuda says. “Even something like a castle is much bigger than before, and exploration has become more vertical because the player character in Wo Long can jump,” he adds.
While Nioh’s combat was based around ninja skills and samurai swords, Wo Long’s combat is all about Chinese martial arts.
“Gameplay-wise, the biggest difference is an emphasis on speed,” Yasuda continues. “There’s no stamina gauge like you had in Nioh, so you’ll constantly be confronted by a multitude of situations in which you need to react immediately. You can choose to play more aggressively, but there are also a lot of new ways to evade enemy attacks.”
The absence of a stamina gauge and the faster-paced combat reminded us of FromSoftware’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, but Yasuda and Yamagiwa tell us that for them the increased tempo seemed only natural for a game focused on Chinese martial arts.
Yamagiwa says that movements of actual Chinese martial arts practitioners were implemented through motion capture, but that these were adjusted to match the game’s fictitious action.
The new trailer shows the player character using a wide array of weapon types, ranging from a spear to a longsword and a dual sword. Both the weapons’ designs and attack patterns are noticeably different in flow when compared with Nioh’s more grounded action.
“There will be more than 10 weapon types to choose from in the final game,” Yamagiwa says.
Systemwise, Wo Long’s biggest game changer might be its Morale ranking system. In Wo Long, both the player and enemies have a Morale rank. If the enemy is of a higher rank than you, it will be more difficult to defeat them. The player can raise their rank by defeating enemies, while dying will result in a degradation. Rankings of enemies are also affected by confrontation with the player. Yamagiwa says that this new dynamic is a fundamental aspect of Wo Long’s level design.
“New Wizardry Spells will be unlocked when you reach a higher rank, which work like magic spells,” Yamagiwa tells us. “Divine Beasts can be summoned to aid you during battle as well,” he continues. “In the trailer you can see the Vermilion Bird being summoned, which is one of China’s legendary beasts. You will befriend more of these divine beasts as you progress through the story.”
As implied by Bruce Lee’s famous quote “Don’t think, feel,” Chinese martial arts are all about intuition. It seems as though Team Ninja aspires to faithfully incorporate that philosophy into Wo Long.
For more on Wo Long, be sure to read our exclusive Summer Game Fest interview.
Esra Krabbe is an editor at IGN Japan.