Meet Zhang Liang, Wo Long’s Gatekeeper and First Boss
Every Soulslike worthy of the title has a tutorial boss. They test your patience, resolve and growing understanding of the game. Most important, they start to solidify the muscle memory you need to play the game. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty‘s first boss — he comes before the game’s opening credits roll — is Zhang Liang. He’s a beefy dude with two phases. I’m an experienced Souls player, but Zhang Liang kicked my ass for a while. We’re here to save yours. Here are 4 tips that might help you beat the big guy.
Approach Each Phase Differently
You have two tasks in Zhang Liang’s first phase (aside from not dying). You need to be unrelentingly aggressive and constantly on the attack, and you need to deflect. While the developers have added a few frames to the deflect window since the demo, getting the timing will still take some serious practice. This phase also teaches you to watch your spirit bar for each character. When your orange side fills up, you’re open to a stagger. Likewise, when Zhang Liang’s spirit is depleted, it’s your chance to beat him down with your special attack, martial arts or magic. Again, your goal is to keep attacking, not giving him a chance to fight back. Faster weapons help in the first phase.
The second phase is probably initially more challenging, until you learn the move set. There are at least two viable strategies. One is to keep distance in general, and wait for him to unleash an unblockable attack. Deflect it, and you get pulled in towards Zhang Liang, where you can so some serious damage. The other strategy is to deflect his regular attacks and get in a few hits while you can, before sprinting away. This keeps chipping away at his spirit. No matter which strategy you use, try to avoid the walls. The camera doesn’t like them, and it’s easy to get pinned and staggered.
Pro tip: when deflecting, also block (left shoulder button). If you miss the deflection you at least save a few points of damage.
Switch Weapons for Each Phase
By the time you reach Zhang Liang, you should have a handful of weapons. If not, keep farming the low level soldiers and undead right before the boss, as they will drop weapons. While all the weapons are viable against Zhang Liang, we recommend using the Bronze Dual Swords or White Wooden Cudgel in the first phase. Both have fast attacks that you can use to keep Zhang Liang on his heels. For the second phase, either keep using the Cudgel or switch to Polearm Podao for its extra damage. Polearm Podao is great for phase one, too, but it’s slower and a little trickier to use when deflecting.
Don’t Forget Magic and Martial Arts…and your spirit animal summons
In the heat of a dual with Zhang Liang, it’s easy to forget you have some extra tools at your disposal. While everyone’s early magic spells might be different, you’ll probably have some fire, lightning or poison spells loaded to your arsenal. Poison has a damage-over-time effect but it’s negligible. Fire has a pretty good knockback effect. Additionally, your weapon comes with at least one martial arts move that does extra damage. The downside of both magic and martial arts is that they use spirit, and if not timed correctly, leave you very vulnerable to a counter attack.
In the second phase of Zhang Liang’s attack, pay attention to the part of the UI that shows your martial arts move. After you score three or four deflections and counter attacks, you’ll see that your spirit animal has appeared and can be used as a finishing move. In fact, you have to use it to trigger the end of the fight and trigger the cut scene that follows.
The Daily Grind
Anyone who’s played a Soulslike knows that grinding for XP, loot or consumables is just a fundamental mechanic. If you’re having trouble with Zhang Liang, you can farm the soldiers leading up to him for Qi and weapon drops, then level up your character. Killing those mobs over and over (without dying yourself) also boosts your Morale.
Zhang Liang is a formidable first foe, because of course you’re relatively weak, your Blind Boy companion isn’t much help, and you’re just learning Wo Long’s specific timing. Keep at it, and you’re rewarded with the opening credits and the actual start of the game. Best of all, the next few bosses are actually easier.
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