Wuthering Waves Impression

In many ways during my time playing Wuthering Waves, I felt almost nostalgic for the early days of Genshin Impact.

Wuthering Waves, developed by Kuro Game, finds itself in direct competition with the likes of Genshin ImpactThe comparisons almost make themselves: both Wuthering Waves and Genshin Impact sport wide open areas to explore filled with collectibles and challenges, both games have a ranking system that determines the level of enemies the player will encounter in the open world, and both feature a wide cast of characters that the player obtains via a gacha system that encourages spending real money. These similarities only scratch the surface, with the only major changes Wuthering Waves brings to the table being the faster-paced action combat and movement system. In many ways during my time playing Wuthering Waves, I felt almost nostalgic for the early days of Genshin Impact.

Wuthering Waves takes place on Solaris-3, a world ravaged by the Lament, a series of disasters that left humanity on the verge of extinction. Solaris-3 is inhabited by both regular humans and Resonators, those with the ability to resonate with certain objects or elements. Awoken by three Resonators, the main character, dubbed the Rover, embarks on a journey to discover who they are and their relationship to the history of Solaris-3. This narrative setup does a good job of distinguishing itself from its contemporaries and doesn’t spend too much time before letting the player loose on the world.

On their journey, the player will encounter monsters known as Tacet Discords. These monsters serve as both the primary enemy and the gear system of Wuthering Waves, as the player can capture Tacet Discords and equip them as “Echoes” to a character to boost their stats. This serves as the primary endgame grind of Wuthering Waves, cut from the same cloth as Genshin Impact’s artifact grinding. The monster collecting element does add a sense of freshness to the gear system, however, as defeating enemies in the open world has a chance to drop Echoes and progress the Data Bank, which has its own rewards and upgrades.

While a lot of the concepts Wuthering Waves explores in its narrative are a bit esoteric, the narrative does a good job of balancing world-building and the core intrigue of the main character’s identity. While not groundbreaking by any means, the narrative is a decent bit of fun and has a central mystery that does a good job of stringing the player from story quest to story quest.

Wuthering Waves features a beautiful post-apocalyptic world.

The gacha system is almost exactly the same as Genshin Impact. Players will earn premium currency by roaming the world, completing combat challenges, and completing quests. This premium currency can be spent to roll on the gacha banners to obtain weapons and characters. Unfortunately, the limited nature of this currency means most players will not have the opportunity to play as every character unless they choose to spend money to obtain more of it.

Wuthering Waves deviates the most from its competition in the combat and enemy design. Every character has a basic attack, a heavy attack performed by holding the basic attack button, a skill, and an ultimate ability. Every character has some kind of unique element that interacts with the core elements of the combat system, whether it’s different combo paths depending on when the skill button is pressed or their ultimate entering the character into a state that enhances their basic and heavy attacks. These distinguishing factors make Wuthering Waves’ gacha system an even greater disappointment, as the combat system makes every character a unique experience.

Wuthering Waves makes a concerted effort to use its foundation to create a fast-paced combat system. The player can dodge every attack that enemies throw at them, but certain enemies also have attacks that can be parried. While not incredibly precise, parrying attacks is still satisfying and adds to the feeling that the player is almost always on the offensive. Certain boss encounters take this to the extreme as if the player is able to parry enough attacks, they will be rewarded with a special animation that will deal a large amount of damage. While in most cases they aren’t terribly difficult, the bosses of Wuthering Waves are spectacularly designed and utilize the base mechanics of the combat quite nicely.

Thankfully, Wuthering Waves is not a very difficult game. The ranking system scales the enemy encounters to the player’s own level, however players may find random enemies out in the open world that can deal excessive amounts of damage. In many ways, these enemies can be more dangerous than bosses since they can sometimes ignore the scaling of the ranking system. However, Wuthering Waves does not punish death very harshly, at worst returning the player to a teleport point if their whole party goes under, so players are free to explore without feeling too pressured to avoid death.

Many landscapes in Wuthering Waves are noticeably more muted than its contemporaries.

Speed seems to be the general design philosophy surrounding Wuthering Waves, as it is also at the core of traversing the environments. The player will spend their time between combat encounters running up walls and grappling between predetermined grapple points. The grappling hook can also be used to do something of a triple jump in midair, allowing the player to cross massive distances without using their glider. Thankfully, the world design of Wuthering Waves accommodates the movement system quite nicely. Most walls can be scaled without running out of stamina, meaning the player’s pace is almost never broken.

Visually, Wuthering Waves takes a much more subtle approach than its competition. While not colorless by any means, the color palette is a lot more gray compared to many other games with a similar anime art style. However, this can have the side effect of the characters feeling a bit uniform in their design, meaning players who prefer a large amount of character variety may find Wuthering Waves’ characters lacking. The music is a treat, covering several genres and matching different moments of the game and story. Sometimes the player will be treated to a wistful piano piece as they glide through the air, other times a hard rock song will be blaring in the background as the player fights a monster riding a motorcycle.

Ultimately, players will find that Wuthering Waves has a lot of content on offer and makes a few changes to the open-world gacha formula that allows it to feel distinct from its competition. With its fast-paced combat and fluid traversal system, Wuthering Waves is definitely a solid offering. 

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