There are a lot of tough jerks in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. I’m talking warriors like the infamous Lu Bu (Dynasty Warriors fans know), demons such as the four-horned cow monstrosity Aoye, electric dragons, fiendish porcupines, and so many more you’ll probably want to dig your own grave instead of engaging in the game’s many difficulty fights. While I do believe Wo Long is the most approachable Soulslike to date, you’d be hesitant to believe that when you slam your head into the wall that is the first boss: the General of Man, Zhang Liang.
Read More: Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty: The Kotaku Review
Wo Long is the latest from Team Ninja, creators of other solid Soulslikes including the Nioh games and Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. Set in a fantastical ancient China during the Three Kingdoms period, you play as a militia soldier tasked with scouring the historical setting to end a peasant rebellion fueled by anger and drugs (literally). But before you face down the big-bad Taoist in Black influencing the revolt, you have to cut up the generals and warlords he’s recruited. This includes the game’s first boss, the giant spiked-club-wielding Zhang Liang who can put you through a miserable ringer if you don’t know what to do. Luckily, though the game doesn’t do a good enough job at informing you of this, the General of Man is much easier than you think.
Like most Wo Long bosses, Zhang Liang is a two-phased encounter. A fight that occurs about 30 minutes into the game’s de facto tutorial section, after making it to the end of the Village of Calamity level, you’ll battle him on a moonlit mountaintop lined with beautiful white flowers and various stone pillars. Liang is something of a skill check as he strikes hard and attacks relentlessly. He doesn’t care that you’ve only barely learned the controls; Liang’s here to body you, all in the name of the Yellow Turban Rebellion…and power, of course.
He’s also got lots of defense and, despite his stature, is pretty quick on the field. If you’re not careful, he could end you in one combo during his first phase alone. However, if you keep up the pressure, guard and deflect when possible, and land those crucial fatal strikes once his spirit’s broken (alongside leveling up your morale ranking before the encounter), then you’ll make short work of Liang’s first phase. But it’s the second phase that puts you to the real test, and the one that players the internet over have been having a hard time with lately.
Once you deplete Liang’s health bar, he’ll take the performance-enhancing drug Elixir, which deforms his left arm into something snake-like with blood-filled crystals. The use of Elixir signals the second phase. You should prepare for hell as your opponent gains new, unpredictable attacks and hits harder than before.
Like the first phase, attack relentlessly and deflect when the opportunity arises, especially when he unleashes his critical blow. After you’ve shaved off about 50 percent of Liang’s health, the Blindfolded Boy, a major character who accompanies you for only this first mission, will mention something about the jade talisman he gave you during the intro sequence. This trinket houses your divine beast, an ultimate attack that summons a legendary animal to aid you in battle by either performing an AOE attack or imbuing your weapons with an element such as electricity or fire. And it’s this ultimate that quickly ends the fight, as using the divine beast triggers a cutscene of Liang getting munched on.
Despite there being a little on-screen prompt for it, it’s totally possible to miss the Blindfolded Boy’s divine beast callout in the middle of the heated battle. The message, “Summon Divine Beast when Divine Beast gauge is full,” is so simple, you’d think he was referring to something else entirely. In that way, Wo Long almost expects you to know how to call upon the divine beast off the rip, an impossible expectation since you’re only just getting used to the mechanics.
Hell, even Team Ninja had to tweet out how to use the move because the game itself does an atrocious job of telling you to use it when it’s available. But what you’re really looking for during this and every fight is a glowing icon in the cluster on the bottom right side of the screen. The moment you see something glowing there, that means you can summon your animal bestie. So as soon as you can, spam that shit—triangle and circle on PlayStation, B and Y on Xbox—and you’ll win this encounter, turning Liang into dragon food. Delicious.
That’s it. You don’t actually have to kill Liang by tediously draining his health bars. You just reach his second phase, cut him down to about half health, then sic your divine beast on him to eat his ass. It’s easy to walk away from Wo Long thinking Liang is a tough enemy who will indicate how hard the rest of the game will be. However, Liang serves as the purest of introductions as the divine beast will come in clutch during every boss you face off against. So, summon it often.