Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

Posted:  Mar 02, 2023
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Disclaimer: This is an initial impression of the game. Our review and recommended settings will be updated when we've completed a full and thorough analysis of how it performs on Steam Deck. Check back soon for our full analysis!


Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty was provided to us by Koei Tecmo to review. Thank you!

From the developers of Nioh comes a new action RPG that will test your skill and resolve. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is a new souls-like game from Team NINJA putting you in the role of an unnamed militant in a dark fantasy world. Taking place during the Han Dynasty in China, you will face off against deadly monsters and soldiers using a multitude of weapons, magic, and divine beasts. Attack, dodge, deflect, and demolish your foes and level up at various resting points while getting new weapons and gear to help you increase your morale rank to become even more powerful. Will you be able to overcome the odds and rise from being a nobody?

I have played a lot of souls-like games recently, but Wo Long has hit all the right spots for me. The fast-paced combat, the setting, the story, everything just clicked. I loved the different weapon types and mixing them with strategic spell casting to maximize the damage I inflict. The enemies are devastating and the game is as tough as many souls-like games are. It might be easier than others as I was able to deflect attacks more than other similar games, though I still died more than not, but I really enjoyed it. But now, we get to take a look at how it plays on the Steam Deck.

Before I go into performance, I want to make note that I was told the game was not considering making the game playable on the Steam Deck during development. This means that there aren't many optimizations included specifically to help the game run on Deck. There could be patches that release later on to make the game more playable, but there has been no confirmation yet.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty - Baseline Performance

So to start, I decided to try Wo Long at its out of the box graphics and it is not reasonably playable. The game defaults to its "standard" settings, which I would consider as "Medium" with 100% render scale. This ran the game around 20 - 25 FPS for the majority with some dips below and a couple of big stutters. Going to max settings only made this significantly worse with performance going below 20 and not remotely playable. There are some compromises to be made, but if you're willing to take a hit to visual quality, and put up with some performance issues, Wo Long can be played on Deck.

The Optimization Dynasty

To start, I had to find the source of what's causing the issues. The RAM usage is under 13gb and the CPU usage is under 70% most of the time, but I noticed that GPU usage is generally around 95% - 97%, meaning that's where the hitches are coming from. To combat this, I started by dialing down the visual quality all the way to the lowest possible, which definitely helped with performance. Combine this with turning resolution scale to 60% and prioritizing FPS over resolution and the game is able to hit 30 FPS.

While these images here look not so great, it looks significantly better on the Steam Deck screen. We will still show them regardless, of course, but it will look better on your device.

While playing with these settings, I did encounter some framerate instability and stutters when running through different places or looking at large-scale areas. I wanted to see if I could reduce resolution and that would help, but since in-game didn't have options below 1280x720, I had to force the resolution through Steam's preference settings for the game. After trying multiple, I settled on 800x500, which turned the game into one that fit the entire screen. This also got rid of the major stutters and a lot of the framerate instability I was seeing before, while sticking below a 19.5W battery drain (make sure the internal and external resolution box is checked).

Even though Wo Long is hitting close to 30 without any forced resolution, the framerate bar is much more erratic. This will present itself as noticeable stutters when moving around.

Menu Issues When Forcing Resolution

While forcing the resolution is necessary for the most stable framerate, it comes with an odd price. If you force a resolution down from the native 1280x720, you will not be able to navigate down all the way in menus. This really isn't a huge issue throughout most of the game's menus, but it will prevent you from creating your character. For Wo Long, I would recommend playing the game at 1280x720 to start, creating your character, and then after loading in and you can move around, quit the game and change the resolution to 800x500 on Steam.

If you're curious about other resolutions, well the lower one, 640x400, prevents you from accessing even more of the menu and while the one above, 1024x600, let's you access the entire menu, it also creates a horrifying reflection effect among the ground. This effect is present at 640x400 as well, but not at 800x500.


Cutscene Freezes and Other Random/Weird Issues

Have I been able to play the game and generally not feel like my timing or experience was disrupted? For the most part, yes. While the game would be amazing running at 40, Wo Long is a brand new game that has decently high minimum specs. I would consider the performance in this case a pretty massive win. I did still encounter weird issues from time to time though.

The biggest one I have seen so far was actually during the first boss. I fought him...over 50 times (because I am not good at souls-like games) and while 49 of those times felt perfectly fine at 30 with some very minor framerate drops to 28 or 29, which I didn't feel, 1 time stood out. During the second phase of the boss, after I had landed a critical strike, the game went down to an average 15 - 18 FPS. This was super odd since I had never experienced this issue before and, when I died, the framerate went right back up to 30. I never experienced that phenomena again, but I think it should be brought up.

There are also some freezes/stutters during some cutscenes and running around some areas, but these are more minor with the changes I made. The framerate will sometimes go down to 29 while running around and combat can sometimes make it dip to 26 if there are a bunch of enemies on screen, but since I am playing at 30 FPS, it wasn't that impactful.

There are reports of crashing that came from the demo, and while I did experience one crash before I changed my settings, I have not experienced another yet.

CryoUtilities and UMA Buffer

Due to how heavy the game is, I decided to try playing with CryoUtilities and the UMA Buffer changed to 4gb to see if these would help. For those who don't know, CryoUtilities is a suite of tools aimed to help games run better on the Steam Deck. It isn't an end-all solution, but it can be a massive help to some games. Unfortunately, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty isn't one of those games.

Due to it being GPU heavy, using the recommended settings for CryoUtilities and changing the UMA Buffer didn't impact performance at all. Playing through the same spot with each gave me near similar results with almost no change. I tested using CU alone, the UMA Buffer alone, and both of them together, but none had an impact on the performance.


Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is an addicting game and one I personally enjoy more than other souls-like games so far. I would consider it tied as my second favorite with Sekiro, and yes, Elden Ring is at the top. I love the Three Kingdoms setting, the story is interesting, and the fast-paced combat isn't as punishing as others before it. It is still plenty hard, don't get me wrong, but I felt a deep sense of gratification being able to deflect and time my attacks so beautifully. If you have a desktop computer that can run this game, and you enjoy souls-like action RPGs, get this game.

On the Steam Deck, there are a lot of compromises to be made to play this one. That being said, I was able to play it with the same skill as on my desktop PC without my experience being compromised. Yes it is 30 FPS, the visuals are downgraded, and there are some minor stutters and freezes, but these evened out a lot during gameplay. With Steam Deck compatibility not being in Team NINJA's mind during development, I am happy it is playable to an extent. If you are willing to look past these faults and give them a chance to patch, and for the shader cache to come out, Wo Long will be a unique and enjoyable experience on the portable platform.

This review is still characterized as a first look as there is more I need to play of the game and make sure these settings still hold up. So far, it has been, but I will need to keep going before making a full assessment. I also want to give the shader cache a chance to help with performance, which will take a couple days after release. Seeing as how much I am enjoying the game, and the potential of how it is working now, I am staying optimistic. If you're wondering if you can play Wo Long right now on the Steam Deck, I would say yes you can, but there will be sacrifices.

If you enjoyed this first look, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back.

SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is one of my top 3 souls-like games and shines with its combat and setting, and if you are willing to compromise and deal with some initial issues, the game can be played on the Steam Deck.

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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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