If you were to quiz me about the story taking place all through Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, I would probably flunk the test as for me, the game feels like a whole bunch of incredibly well made cutscenes stitched together in between the action levels, which is where the game truly excels. Team Ninja once again delivered a satisfying albeit confusing as all hell story-wise new spin on the Souslike formula, much like they did with the excellent Nioh series, which as far as everyone knows, is now over.
The Battle of Zhongyuan is the first bit of DLC that’s coming out for Wo Long. It brings a new battlefield to take part in, as well as a new weapon type, the cestus, a martial arts bare knuckle fist weapon much akin to Nioh 2’s, and as fun as if not even more than the one that came before it. While I was positively brimming with excitement at the thought of having more bosses to test my skill at with this DLC, its new weapon far and away proved to be the best thing about it.
Don’t get me wrong, the entirety of this one-to-two hour DLC – it all depends on your skill level, really – proved to be quite a challenge and a refresh of the core gameplay from Wo Long I had already started to get rusty on simply due to having not played the game in the months since our co-op review and putting it down.
Not only did I get back to the level I was at back when I stopped playing, I got noticeably better, mostly because of the new weapon and my knowing how good of a time it would be having mained a similar combat style in Nioh 2. The quirk this time around with this melee weapon is the use of spirit gauge in favor of continually powering up your attacks.
It’s a trade-off with not having a whole lot of defense that I’m more than willing to take, even more so considering how enjoyable I find Wo Long’s countering system, which comes into play even more when you have barely enough clothing to keep you from getting 1-hit by the DLC’s bosses.
Then again, before I was able to actually play The Battle of Zhongyuan, I had to get through three of the main game’s stages since story-wise, this DLC takes place right after the tenth mission, Tyrant’s Final Banquet, where *spoilers* Dong Zhuo finally bites it with the unlikely help of Lu Bu. Thus sparking The Battle of Zhongyuan, where the other powers at play see an opening to invade the fallen leader’s vast domain.
It’s always a blast being part of the forefront in any of Team Ninja’s game’s battlefields, especially in Wo Long, where your allies and foes are all larger than life characters that are incredibly powerful by themselves, and even more so when they are taken over by the dark powers at play. With that in mind, even if you haven’t yet started this content it’s possible to imagine what’s in store in it, but even so, there are a few surprises worth keeping hush hush so you can enjoy them as I most certainly did.
In comparison to Team Ninja’s previous DLC efforts with both Nioh games, this first DLC for Wo Long pretty much follows the same playbook by providing smaller and more confined levels and satisfying boss fights, as well as extra twists to the gameplay of the game in form of the new weapon, which to me is already worth the price of admission.
Those looking to truly expand the core Wo Long experience outside of simply learning to use the cestus might find themselves slightly disappointed by The Battle of Zhongyuan, but it is what it is, the first part in a series of DLC packs, so it’s best to temper your expectations when coming into this.
Knowing that this is only a section of a larger content plan makes the pill easier to swallow, especially with how short your run might be when playing this DLC, since the spaces you get to explore in it are much more condensed than the base game’s.
It’s something that’s compensated by having much tougher enemies in your way right off the bat, at level 12 instead of the usual 1, with you having to erect standards as usual in order to build your strength to an acceptable amount before facing off against the bosses.
The Battle of Zhongyuan is a competent start for what we hope will be a worthwhile trilogy of more contained story levels that complement the main game’s own campaign, much like was done with Nioh and especially with Nioh 2. So far, though, those wanting some radically different content to tear through after being done with Wo Long proper will most likely be turned off by how quickly The Battle of Zhongyuan is to get through.
If however you’re of the sort of player like me who loves to comb through the entire game again just because of an interesting addition to your arsenal, you might find that the strongest piece of content in this DLC lies elsewhere entirely, making it very worth your while to pick this up to complement Wo Long as a whole.