After about 40 hours of hellish action and sitting around level 95, I’m stuck on Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty’s last boss. I guess that makes sense. This is the end of the game, after all, so of course the finale would be difficult. But reaching this point was perilous for one specific reason: Despite being one of the most approachable Soulslikes, those dual-sworded assassins in Team Ninja’s latest RPG keep kicking my arse, and I hate it.
Read More: Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty: The Kotaku Review
Wo Long comes to us from Team Ninja, the developer behind the Nioh games and Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. Starting in 184 AD and taking you through the historic Three Kingdoms period, Team Ninja’s newest action-adventure tasks you with ending a peasant revolt helmed by the Taoist in Black, Yu Ji. As the steroid-like drug Elixir proliferates on the battlefield, you’ll encounter all manner of foes, from ruffians like Zhang Liang to zombie soldiers and everything in between. You’ll face off against plenty of wild foes, but none of them strike fear in my heart as much as those stupid assassins.
In Wo Long’s early levels, most of your clashes will involve hardened grunt soldiers and roided-up demon animals. There are a few tougher warriors sprinkled throughout, intelligent and persistent enemies who know the game’s mechanics as well as you, performing copious dodges, critical blows, and deflects that illustrate their battle prowess. These can prove hard exchanges if you’re impatient or spammy. However, slowing down to understand the game’s controls will prove that even the direst of foes, including the infamous warlord Lu Bu, can go down like chumps. It’s not until the second or third main battlefield that you start seeing my dreaded assassins standing in wait, hiding behind an environmental object or biding their time in a building’s ramparts.
These dudes are the worst for a variety of reasons. They don’t immediately aggro when you walk past, so they can stab you in the back before you know you’re in a fight. They’re incredibly fast and have long, painful combo strings that are difficult to predict and frustrating to deflect. And despite their light armour, assassins can take a bit of a beating. These dual-sworded jerks are a nuisance to fight even one-on-one, as they dart around the battlefield, sprinting in to slice you up before flipping out to throw darts that afflict you with a status effect like heaviness (which slows your movement) or poison.
Worse still are the moments when you fight multiple assassins at once. Because they’re highly skilled fighters, battling against two or three of them by yourself is an insane challenge that could lead to heated gamer moments.
I remember one instance late in the game when, after dispatching some wolves, I approached a tree-lined pagoda thinking it was safe to just waltz in. As I walked a stoned-covered pathway toward the red, multi-tiered building, my greatest nightmare — two assassins — descended from the branches. They sent me to my grave shortly after, and did so repeatedly every time I dared approach their prized pagoda. No matter how many times I tried, deflecting this attack and dodging that one, the assassins turned me into minced me for the wolves.
It got so heated that I think I gripped my PS5 controller too hard; now it makes a strange rattling noise whenever I pick it up. Something had to be done about these assassins terrorizing my Wo Long playthrough. So, what did I do? I called in all the reinforcements I could and we went in on them. No one can stop my gang — not even those terrifyingly formidable assassins.
I still have to put an end to the Yellow Turban Rebellion by eviscerating the Taoist in Black, and that one, final boss he’s sicced on me, but at least I can rest easy knowing that my hated assassins are largely dead now. That is, until I double back to grind out a few levels in preparation for the final fight again. Maybe my nightmares aren’t completely over, but with the homies that have sworn to get my back, I’m not so scared to face them. Though I’ll totally admit I’m traumatized; I don’t want to see the glint of those dual swords ever again.
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