How to beat Zhang Liang, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty's first boss

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
(Image credit: Koei Tecmo Games)

The first boss you face in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is Zhang Liang, but don't let that fool you into thinking that taking him down will be easy. In fact, he's arguably the most difficult foe you'll face in the entire early game, and essentially acts as a wall that players have to break down by embracing Wo Long's offense-focused combat mechanics.

If you're struggling to defeat him, the tips, tricks, and strategies in this boss guide will help you approach the battle with the right mindset and give Zhang Liang the beatdown he deserves. Once you understand what Wo Long wants you to do, you'll defeat this boss in no time.

Wo Long: Zhang Liang Phase 1

(Image credit: Windows Central)

The first phase of the fight encourages you to dynamically shift between offense and defense, as Zhang Liang punishes both turtling and recklessness. This is something you'll need to do throughout the rest of the game, so this is essentially a brutal tutorial for Wo Long's combat. Here's are some tips that will help you get through the initial stage.

  • Avoid turtling and constantly holding block. Zhang Liang will rapidly wear down your guard if you do this, and even if you endlessly deflect his attacks, you'll never get anywhere without retaliating with attacks of your own.
  • Focus on deflecting Zhang Liang's attacks, then following up with some of your own afterwards. Aside from dealing damage to the boss' HP bar, this regains Spirit you may have lost defending yourself and chips away at Zhang Liang's.
  • When you have high Spirit, try to land a Spirit attack after deflecting one of the boss' moves. This shrinks his Spirit Gauge and makes it easier for you to deplete it, which leaves Zhang Liang open to a Fatal Blow critical hit.
  • Don't get greedy; be ready to deflect again after landing a few strikes. Being aggressive is important, but so is pivoting back to defense when you see the boss winding up retaliatory attacks.
  • The first Critical Blow to watch for is a melee charge from medium range. Wait until Zhang Liang is about to run into you, then dodge into him to deflect it. As a reminder, Critical Blows are unblockable attacks that glow dark red, do heavy damage to you, and reduce your Morale Rank by one when they land. However, deflecting them does big Spirit damage and leaves your opponent open to counter-attacks.
  • The second Critical Blow the boss can do is a close-range wallop that the boss winds up for a second. Wait until the windup is over to deflect the attack. If you try to deflect too early, you'll just perform a dodge and then get hit by the move.
  • After landing a Fatal Blow on Zhang Liang, hit him with a follow-up Martial Arts attack while he's recovering. This is a great way to deal extra damage, and since it takes a few seconds for the boss to get up after being hit with a Fatal Blow, it's also very safe to do.

Eventually, you'll deplete Zhang Liang's health bar and get him to the scarier (and quicker) Phase 2.

Wo Long: Zhang Liang Phase 2

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

(Image credit: Windows Central)

In Phase 2, Zhang Liang enhances himself with supernatural demonic powers and becomes much bigger than he was before. As different as he looks, though, the process of battling him is largely the same as it was in Phase 1. Here's how to beat the fight's second stage and finish off the first boss of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty.

  • Phase 2 begins with a large area-of-effect sweep attack. Stay away to avoid it, or alternatively jump over it. Trying to deflect the attack isn't recommended, as the parry timing on this move is quite difficult to master.
  • Zhang Liang attacks faster in this phase, so only go for a hit or two between deflects. Staying alive is more important than maximizing damage in Phase 2, so mitigating damage as much as you can is crucial.
  • When the boss thrusts his weapon into the ground, get ready to dodge forward or to the side. By doing so, you can deflect or sidestep the column of rock spikes that he sends at you directly afterwards.
  • When the boss points his weapon at you and pulls it back, dodge into him when he thrusts it towards you to deflect. This attack hurts badly if you don't deflect or at least block it, so make sure you do.
  • Watch for a Critical Blow from afar where Zhang Liang winds up a punch with his monstrous hand, and deflect it by dodging towards the attack. The timing window for this deflection is very generous, and you'll instantly cut Zhang Liang's Spirit Gauge in half by landing it. Then, you can follow up with several attacks and a Fatal Blow once you've fully depleted his Spirit.
  • At about half health, the boss will roar and create an area-of-effect explosion around him. When you see his body glowing crimson beforehand, stay away so you don't get hit.
  • At this point, Zhang Liang will send an additional rock spike column at you after the first one, so be ready to dodge or deflect twice. He won't always do this, but it's best to be prepared just in case.
  • The boss also gets a much deadlier Critical Blow in which they charge and launch a flurry of rapid swings at you. Try and deflect the initial part of the combo if you can, but if you can't, focus on trying to parry one of the additional strikes to regain the initiative. Alternatively, you can also try to dodge spam out of the way, which is the safest way to survive the attack.
  • Once your Divine Beast is charged and ready to cast, using it will instantly win you the fight. The best way to charge the Divine Beast meter is to deflect Critical Blows, so I recommend trying to do so as much as possible.

Ultimately, as long as you maintain a healthy balance of offense and defense while dodging or deflecting Zhang Liang's Critical Blows, you'll defeat him and emerge victorious.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is available now on Xbox, Windows PC, and PlayStation systems. Notably, the game can be played via an Xbox Game Pass subscription, and is one of the best Xbox games of 2023 so far for fans of intense high-octane melee combat.


Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is Team Ninja's latest Soulslike, and may also be its best. Between its high-octane melee combat, stellar level design, and excellent presentation, it's a must-play for any fan of the genre.

See at: Microsoft | Steam (GMG)

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.