Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty immediately throws players into the gauntlet with its first boss, and although you might feel disheartened now, don’t worry: Defeating Zhang Liang isn’t easy for most.
I consider myself a gaming veteran of incredible proportions, especially when it comes to Soulsborne and titles of its ilk, yet this first boss took me eight tries before I emerged victorious. This isn’t an uncommon situation for Team Ninja, as I also faced similar trouble against Nioh’s first boss.
No number of how-tos can completely subvert the ultimate difficulty of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, as you’ll need to be somewhat competent to win. But there are plenty of helpful tips that can make this experience less frustrating for you.
Aggression will make things easier
While games like Dark Souls or Elden Ring expect the player to be patient as they exchange blows, Wo Long offers an advantage to those who are more aggressive in combat. Yes, you can steadily chip at Zhang Liang’s health while remaining on the defensive, but not only does that increase room for error, but the mechanics themselves favor those who are aggressive.
This is comparable to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, where bosses have alternative meters beyond their health bar that will go down faster if the player is attacking them in quick succession. In both Sekiro and Wo Long, when that meter is full, you can execute a powerful strike that will take out a substantial amount of the enemy’s HP.
My best runs against Zhang Liang are the ones where I would not let up my assault, to the point where I was able to get through certain phases at an alarming pace due to how generous critical blows can be.
Know when to parry and when to dodge
You might have noticed the slight awkwardness of the dodge and parry function occupying the same input, but they’re drastically different mechanics, both of which feature distinct uses. Zhang Liang has certain moves that you should absolutely parry, indicated by when you see a red shimmer around the enemy.
Parrying red blows also takes a decent chunk out of the enemy’s posture and health bar, so it’s a great way to make the fight more approachable. Parrying most of Zhang Liang’s attacks in general is a good idea, but a few will be impossible to deflect, like his tornado attack in the second phase. Just dodge that one!
Parrying is also vital to chip at the enemy’s posture meter, which, as stated in the previous tip, will make it easier to execute those critical blows. It’s far better to be fast and aggressive rather than reserved and patient in this game, but it doesn’t mean you can just spam attacks. You must parry and dodge when the game asks, otherwise you will die.
Balance heavy and light attacks
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty already explains this within the tutorials, but if you’re anything like me, you might not be the best reader when it comes to intrusive tooltips. So understand this carefully: Light attacks increase your Spirit Gauge, heavy attacks or special moves reduce your Spirit Gauge. Getting hit while Spirit Gauge is low will result in the player being stunned for a long while. This is very bad!
You want to ensure your Spirit Gauge is always in the positive by utilizing a healthy number of light attacks, and try your best to only use heavy attacks or special moves when you don’t anticipate the enemy will go on the assault. But you can also gain Spirit Gauge by deflecting attacks successfully, which means even if you’re in the negative and are about to get hit a ton, you can get through it successfully with good timing.
Check your inventory and experiment with different weapons
While this may seem obvious, it’s a system that I completely ignored when I first went through Nioh. I was three bosses into the game and got my butt whooped by Nue so badly that it seemed as if I didn’t have a chance in hell to defeat them. That’s when I went into my inventory and realized that I had tons of new armor and weapons that would increase my power, alongside providing electricity resistance to make that boss a lot less frustrating.
Moral of the story is that you should absolutely check your inventory and make sure you have your best gear equipped. Alongside that, don’t be afraid to experiment with different weapons and see which one suits your playstyle the best. Not only can doing so make your journey a little easier, but it’s a lot of fun to try out new armaments.
If all else fails, you could go back into the rest of the level and explore carefully, looking for additional gear you might have missed and gaining some experience from the enemies so you can attain a few more levels. But those levels aren’t the world. Yes, they are absolutely useful, but practicing and understanding the mechanics of the game is significantly more important.
By the endgame of Nioh 2, I will never forget being 100+ levels below the recommendation for the main story because I had little to no interest in grinding out the side content, but I made do by getting better at the game itself. Simply believe in yourself, calm down, rethink the systems, experiment with new ideas and gameplay styles, and you will kick Zhang Liang’s butt!