About 20 minutes into Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, you’ll face your first boss fight. And it’s brutal.
Aside from driving home just how masocore Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is, it also serves as a crash course in many of the game’s systems. They’re just not really explained well. And that, frankly, is going to be a lot of your experience early on with Wo Long — overwhelming systems that you don’t understand. Yet.
Our Wo Long beginner’s guide will help you figure out what’s going on, based on our roughly 20 hours of experience with the game (a shocking amount of which was just failing at the same boss fights over and over). We’ll help you understand the game’s Battle and Marker Flags, where and how you can travel, how equipment works and how much it slows you down, and how to think about your Spirit gauge.
Think of Wo Long as a linear soulslike
Unlike other soulslike games, there’s not much looping and grinding in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty (unless you want to). We described it as more of a long walk punctuated by periodic ass-kickings. The story plays out across a series of areas, called Battlefields, that are pretty big, but your path through them is mostly linear. (There are branching paths and you’ll be rewarded with loot for exploring them, though.)
That linear path will lead you through a series of boss fights — those periodic ass-kickings we mentioned. Learn to love them.
As you travel through a Battlefield — and usually right before every boss fight — you’ll find Battle Flags and Marker Flags.
- Battle Flags are where you’ll restart when you (repeatedly) die. They’re where you’ll level up and learn new Wizardry Spells, and also where you’ll rest to refill your Dragon’s Cure Pot (health flask)
- Marker Flags look similar, but work differently. They refill your health, but not your Dragon’s Cure Pot. More importantly, they increase your Fortitude which is like Morale, but different.
Let’s talk about Morale.
Understand how Morale and Fortitude work
To oversimplify it, Wo Long’s Morale system is a measure of how many baddies you’ve killed without dying. It’s more nuanced, of course, but that’s the core idea.
A character’s Morale (both yours and your enemies’) figures in to how powerful that character is — higher Morale equals a tougher fight. When you kill enough baddies, your Morale goes up. When a baddie kills you, your Morale goes down and theirs goes up — making the next time you encounter them a little bit harder.
When you are killed, you’ll also lose half of your Genuine Qi (your leveling up currency, kinda like souls in Dark Souls games) to whoever or whatever killed you. That baddie gets a flame icon around their Morale (the number over their head). For you to reclaim your Qi and your Morale points, you have to face them again and get your Revenge.
The way to prevent yourself from losing too much Morale is to raise your Fortitude. Fortitude is the lower limit to your Morale — your Morale will never fall below your Fortitude, and raising your Fortitude past your Morale will raise your Morale to match.
Your Fortitude increases every time your raise a Marker Flag. However, it resets each time you travel to a new Battlefield or Sub Battlefield. Speaking of which…
Sub Battlefields are side missions
At a Battle Flag (not a Marker Flag), you’ll have the option to travel. This is how you’ll replay previous sections of the game, find a replayable tutorial, and play through side missions.
These Sub Battlefields are smaller, shorter fights compared to the main Battlefields. They’re good to take on, though, because they get you new gear and new upgrade materials as rewards.
We broke down Wo Long’s confusing equipment system here, but let’s talk about equipment weight.
Gear and equipment weight are more important than you’d think
There are no classes in Wo Long, so you’re free to create your own based on how you level up — determined by which Five Phases Virtues you put points into when you level up — and the gear you decide to equip.
Gear has a whole system of upgrades and rarity. The most important part to understand early, though, is your Equipment Weight rating — basically, your character’s encumbrance. (You can increase your Max Equipment Weight by increasing your Earth Virtue when you level up.)
When you’re picking out armor, you’ll see a tiny icon just below and to the left of the picture. This is a marker for light, medium, and heavy armor. There’s a little gauge below the helmet icon with one, two, or three chunks filled in to indicate that.
There’s also an equipment weight displayed at the bottom of the equipment’s card. Confusingly, the percentage shown here is not the percentage of your max capacity. Instead, it’s how much this piece of equipment contributes to your current load. For the percentage of your max capacity, you’ll have to look on the Status screen.
The amount you’re carrying turns into a stat you can find on your character’s Status menu tab. You’ll see the max weight of equipment you can carry, the percentage of the max weight your current armor is, and a letter grade. The letter is your Agility stat — A is about 0-30% of your max, B is roughly 30-70%, C is 70-100% or so, and D is anything over 100%.
Aside from how quickly you move, that Agility stat determines how fast your Spirit drains. And Spirit is a big deal in Wo Long.
Spirit is the most important gauge
In Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, think of your Spirit as a combination of a stamina gauge and a mana gauge. Both your character and every enemy have Spirit Gauges.
You’ll lose Spirit when you get hit or dodge, and you’ll spend Spirit to cast Wizardry Spells or perform Martial Arts. You’ll gain Spirit when you land regular melee attacks or when you successfully deflect an attack. Getting hit with some attacks shrinks the upper and lower limits of a character’s Spirit gauge.
When a Spirit Gauge is drained to its lower limit, that person (or demon) will be stunned for a few seconds, opening them up to a powerful attack. Your goal is to avoid that happening to you, and, more importantly, make sure it happens to your enemy. Those attacks when they’re stunned are invaluable in boss fights.
Managing your Spirit gauge while you deplete your enemies’ is key in Wo Long. And the best way to do it is by deflecting.
Deflecting is just as important as attacking
Wo Long’s deflect is a lot like a parry in other games. You hit the B/circle button just before an enemy’s attack lands and it redirects the attack. This is different from simply guarding against an attack — something you can also do, but it’s less useful.
As opposed to guarding, that simply drains your Spirit gauge, deflecting both shrinks and damages the attacker’s gauge. And that is how you control fights — that’s why we brought it up so much in the first boss fight guide.
Other games have (perfect) parry mechanics that give you an opening to attack. Wo Long’s deflect takes that to a whole new level.