Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty — Beginner's combat guide: Spirit, Morale, Fortitude and more

Wo Long: Fallen cutscene screenshot of the player character confront the main villain at the beginning of the game
(Image credit: Windows Central / Koei Tecmo)

Team Ninja’s latest action RPG, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, is a brutal and challenging game featuring towering demons and legendary warriors to conquer. One of its earliest and biggest hurdles to overcome is getting to grips with Wo Long’s combat system. It is very complicated with many gameplay mechanics and rules such as maintaining your Spirit Gauge during combat, deflecting enemies’ attacks, and raising your Morale Rank in order to use magic spells.

While the game does explain how the controls work, it only scratches the surface of the functionality of Wo Long’s nuanced mechanics and expects new players to figure them out themselves. However, seeing as the enemies of Wo Long are so aggressive that they won’t give players a chance to breathe, let alone learn how to play, it can potentially be an overwhelming and frustrating experience for newcomers.

Therefore, we have made a beginner’s guide to Wo Long’s combat system to help new players understand it better and decimate any foe they may come across in one of the best Xbox Games of 2023.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Combat Guide - The basics

With enough patience and practice, you will be able to overcome any demon standing in your way. (Image credit: Windows Central / Koei Tecmo)

Let’s cover the basics first. Your arsenal consists of melee weapons to attack enemies head-on, ranged weapons to deal with enemies from afar, and a utility belt filled with healing potions and support items. While using ranged weapons is as simple as pointing your weapon at a target and shooting, melee weapons are far more complex.

When wielding your melee weapon, your main method of attack will be using normal attacks and Spirit Attacks. Normal attacks deal light damage, but they can be performed quickly and be weaved into long combos. Meanwhile, Spirit Attacks deal more damage at the cost of being slow and having shorter combos.

Every melee weapon will allow you to perform extraordinary and deadly Martial Arts techniques. (Image credit: Windows Central / Koei Tecmo)

In addition, some weapons allow you to perform powerful super moves called Martial Arts. These attacks can deal significant damage to the stronger enemies, strike foes at long range, knock back crowds to escape being surrounded, and more, depending on what weapon you are using.

As for your defensive options, they consist of guarding, deflecting, and dodging. Guarding involves holding your weapon in a protective stance to block incoming damage from an enemy. However, enemies possess a technique called a Critical Blow where they start to glow red and let loose a deadly strike that can’t be guarded against. The only ways to avoid getting hurt by this move is to run out of its range, dodge out of the way or deflect it.

If you see an enemy glowing with red Qi, they are preparing a Critical Blow which must be dodged or deflected. (Image credit: Windows Central / Koei Tecmo)

Deflecting is a useful yet hard-to-pull-off defensive technique that can save your life if done correctly. This technique parries an enemy’s attacks, staggering them for a brief second to leave them wide open for a counterattack. However, the timing to deflect attacks is extremely short so you will have to practice and time them carefully.

Dodging lets you perform a short backflip away from an enemy. This maneuver lets you disengage from an enemy quickly so you can back away and heal or it can let you dodge attacks as it has some invincibility frames (a period in which a character can’t be hurt during an animation) attached to them.

All these techniques form the core foundation of your move-set in Wo Long. However, a huge majority of them rely on a unique gameplay parameter that the entire combat system revolves around called the Spirit Gauge.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Combat Guide - The Spirit Gauge

Careful management of the Spirit Gauge is the key to success in battle. (Image credit: Windows Central / Koei Tecmo)

The Spirit Gauge is a special meter located beneath your health bar which is used to perform your special moves and defend against attacks. The Spirit Gauge starts out in a neutral position in the middle of the bar and it can be filled on either side with one of two resources: Positive or Negative Spirit.

Positive Spirit is generated by hitting enemies with normal attacks and deflecting enemy strikes at the last second. You can use Positive Spirit to dodge or deflect attacks or perform Spirit attacks also Martial Arts and Wizardry spells. Some Martial Arts techniques will even be enhanced when you activate them using an overabundant amount of Positive Spirit.

Break an enemy's defences by filling them with Negative Spirit, then perform a Fatal Strike to finish them off. (Image credit: Windows Central / Koei Tecmo)

Be warned, if you start using maneuvers that use Positive Spirit too much, block attacks by guarding or if you get hit by enemies, you will start to generate Negative Spirit. When the Spirit Gauge is filled to the brim with Negative Spirit, your character will become stunned and be unable to defend themselves for a few seconds. You can rid yourself of Negative Spirit by generating Positive Spirit or wait for the Spirit Gauge to naturally reset to its neutral position.

Micro-managing the Spirit Gauge is key to your survival in Wo Long, especially since the enemies have Spirit Gauges too. If they build up Positive Spirit, their attacks will become more deadly and harder to avoid. However, if you can continually beat them down to fill their Spirit Gauge with Negative Spirit, you will be able to break their defenses and stun them once it is thus filled.

Sneak up on unsuspecting foes to deliver a Fatal Strike that will send them to an early grave. (Image credit: Windows Central / Koei Tecmo)

When an enemy is stunned, you can perform a Fatal Strike on them to deal a huge amount of damage. The damage of a Fatal Strike can be strengthened further if you use it while possessing Positive Spirit. You can also perform a Fatal Strike by sneaking up behind an enemy that hasn't noticed you yet.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Combat Guide - Wizardry Spells

Master the power of Wizardry Spells to incinerate your foes. (Image credit: Windows Central / Koei Tecmo)

In addition to your weapons, you also have access to magic powers called Wizardry Spells. These mystical arts serve all kinds of purposes such as ranged attacks, providing buffs that boost your stats and even heal your wounds.

Wizardry Spells are divided into five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. They are based on the “Five Phases” theory which involves every Phase element interacting and overcoming each other.

  • Wood spells counter Earth spells.
  • Fire spells counter Metal spells.
  • Earth spells counter Water spells.
  • Metal spells counter Wood spells.
  • Water spells counter Fire spells.

What this means is that in Wo Long, Wizardry Spells can be used to counter other Wizardry Spells and the effects they can cause depending on their element. For example, if you have cast an Earth Wizardry Spell on yourself to increase your defense stat, then an enemy will try to cast a Wood Wizardry Spell to cancel the Earth spell’s effects.

It doesn’t have to be a specific spell either. So long as the casted Wizardry Spell’s element can counter the opposing spell’s element, it will cancel all the spell’s effects on the target. This can also be beneficial as you can use Wizardry Spells to cancel harmful status effects enemies can place on you. Say for instance an enemy sets you on fire with a Fire Wizardry Spell, you can cast a supportive Water Wizardry Spell on yourself to put out the fire and gain the Water spell’s benefits.

Wizardry Spells can be used to destroy enemies and support your allies. (Image credit: Windows Central / Koei Tecmo)

Buffs and debuffs aren’t the only effects that can be canceled by Wizardry Spells. Even certain Wizardry Spell attacks can be countered. For example, if an enemy casts a Metal spell that leaves a hazardous pool that will damage you if you step in it, you can cast an aoe (area-of-effect) Fire spell attack to remove it.

Understanding the “Five Phases” theory for Wizardry Spells can give you a significant edge in battle. Not only will you be able to shut down an enemy’s spells, but you will also be able to deal extra damage to them if they possess elemental weaknesses to your spells. Though, keep in mind, you can only equip four spells at a time and the only place where you can switch them around is by resting at Battle Flags.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Combat Guide - Morale and Fortitude Ranks

Raise Battle Flags across the battlefield to strengthen your morale. (Image credit: Windows Central / Koei Tecmo)

Combat involves more than just swinging your weapons and maintaining Spirit Gauges, it also involves boosting Morale Ranks. Morale Ranks are a special parameter located above your health bar and they affect the strength of both you and your foes. Increasing your Morale Rank will let you deal more damage and take less damage from enemy attacks. Also, some Wizardry Spells can’t be cast until you reach their required Morale Rank level. 

You can raise your Morale Rank by killing enemies, offering a Dragon's Cure Pot at a Burial Flag, and planting Battle Flags and Marking Flags. Your Morale Rank decreases if you get hit by an enemy’s Critical Blow or if you are killed by an enemy.

Once an enemy kills you, their Morale Rank will increase, making them stronger and tougher than before. If you can defeat the enemy that has felled you before you die again, you can regain your lost Morale Ranks otherwise they are lost forever.

The more flags you raise, the higher your Morale and Fortitude Ranks become. (Image credit: Windows Central / Koei Tecmo)

You can reduce the amount of Morale Ranks you lose by increasing your Fortitude Ranks. Fortitude Ranks prevent your Morale Ranks from falling below a certain point. For example, if you have reached Fortitude Rank 15 during a mission, then your Morale Rank will never drop below Rank 15, no matter how many deaths or Critical Blows you suffer.

Like Morale Ranks, Fortitude Ranks can be raised by planting Battle Flags and Marking Flags. With this in mind, it is in your best interest to explore the environment during a mission and plant as many flags as possible to maintain your morale.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Combat Guide - Summoning allies

Forge alliances with the mightiest warriors of the Three Kingdoms to secure victory. (Image credit: Windows Central / Koei Tecmo)

Throughout your journey, you will encounter many mighty warriors who will fight alongside you as you trek through the war-torn lands of the Three Kingdoms. They will accompany you during certain missions and when they’re not, you can summon them while resting at Battle Flags by using an item called Tiger Seal.

These NPC (non-player characters) allies can be a major boon during most enemy encounters. When dealing with a group, the NPC allies can draw the attention of enemies away from you and they’ll chase after enemy archers/magic casters trying to snipe you from a distance.

(Image credit: Windows Central / Koei Tecmo)

You can even use the Spirit Gauge to directly command your allies to engage enemies you have targeted and perform a special technique that deals a ton of damage or gives you a supportive buff. In addition, NPC allies also have Morale Ranks which increase as you plant flags and defeat foes – making them stronger and more helpful during boss fights.

As you spend time with your companions during missions, their Oath Level will increase. Once an ally’s Oath Level reaches Lv.10, they will give their weapon and armor sets as gifts of friendship. Depending on what build you are running, the NPC ally gear sets can be extremely powerful as they offer armor set bonuses that regular armor sets don’t have. So, it would be a good idea to take NPCs with you on missions as they will make life easier for you and you will be handsomely rewarded for bringing them along.

United with your comrades, no demon will be a match against your combined resolve. (Image credit: Windows Central / Fallen Dynasty)

Although, if you wish to play Wo Long completely solo for the extra challenge, you can use an optional item called a Willow Branch in your inventory to dismiss NPC allies from the party. On a side note, if an ally’s health bar is reduced to zero, you have a brief window to revive them before they succumb to their wounds. If an NPC dies or is dismissed by a Willow Branch, you can summon them again at Battle Flags if you have enough Tiger Seals to do so.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Combat Guide - Divine Beasts

Call upon the Divine Beasts to lay waste to your enemies. (Image credit: Windows Central / Koei Tecmo)

At certain points in the story, you will gain the power to call forth Divine Beasts. These are spiritual, animal-like demi-gods that can come to your aid during your hour of need. They can give you passive stat boosts and be summoned forth to deliver a devastating attack that will obliterate foes or use a support spell that will heal you or provide you with extra strength.

However, you can only equip one Divine Beast at a time at Battle Flags and they can only be summoned once you have filled up the Divine Beast meter. Once they have been summoned, you will have to fill the meter again by attacking enemies. The Divine Beasts are a last resort that should only be used when battles are going poorly or when a boss is on its last legs, and you need to finish it off.

Are you prepared to save the Three Kingdoms?

You have a long and demon-infested road ahead of you. (Image credit: Windows Central / Koei Tecmo)

We have now reached the conclusion of our beginners’ guide to Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty’s combat system. With the lessons you have learned, you now have a better grasp of the combat system and are ready to face the demonic horrors plaguing the Three Kingdoms.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is available from Mar. 3, 2023, for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC via Windows and Steam.


Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

Set forth on a journey to restore order to a land gripped by war and chaos in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. Harness the power of Divine Beasts and master martial art techniques to vanquish hordes of demons and mighty warriors of legend.

Buy at: Xbox | Steam (GMG)

Alexander Cope

Alexander Cope is a gaming veteran of 30-plus years, primarily covering PC and Xbox games here on Windows Central. Gaming since the 8-bit era, Alexander's expertise revolves around gaming guides and news, with a particular focus on Japanese titles from the likes of Elden Ring to Final Fantasy. Alexander is always on deck to help our readers conquer the industry's most difficult games — when he can pry himself away from Monster Hunter that is!