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How does combat work in Wuthering Waves?

Sparkling spectacle combat looks to be Wuthering Waves' biggest asset - but how does it work?

Baizhi, Yangyang and Chixia from Wuthering Waves.
Image credit: KURO GAME

Wuthering Waves is the latest massive, open-world, anime-styled RPG to take a swing at the gacha-crown. But if there’s one genre-staple that Wuthering Waves needs to nail if it’s going to be a success, it’s dazzling, engaging spectacle combat.

In interviews, Wuthering Waves’ developer Kuro Game has made reference to its latest release “inheriting” certain characteristics from its previous projects, and this looks to be very much the case with the combat in Wuthering Waves.

That previous project is Punishing: Gray Raven, which was released in China on mobile devices in 2019, before making its way west a couple of years later. Punishing: Gray Raven then received a PC port last year in 2023, whereas Wuthering Waves will drop on iOS, Android and PC via Kuro Game’s official site and the Epic Games Store simultaneously.

Because of the aesthetic similarity of the UI and graphical style, it’s only natural to compare Wuthering Waves to other Chinese gacha-games. However, the combat in Kuro Game’s RPGs, and therefore Wuthering Waves, distinguishes itself from the slew of similar action-gacha games like Genshin Impact and Tower of Fantasy by focusing on fluidity of action and stability of frame rate instead of just spectacle.

One example of this is the Intro and Outro Skills for each character, which activate when you collect enough "Concerto Energy" during battle before switching to a different member of your three-person team made up of characters called Resonators. These Intro and Outro Skills trigger what’s called a “Concerto Effect” which is designed to make the flow of combat in Wuthering Waves more intense and exciting, with characters making an instant impact rather than benignly appearing from nowhere.

Genshin Impact’s combat was directly inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, incorporating its bullet-time slow-down on a perfect dodge and its elemental reactivity (where fire sets grass on fire but is doused by water), but also introduced many other ideas into the genre which have been iterated on by other games, including those by Kuro Game.

These include aerial combos, which were greatly expanded in both Tower of Fantasy and Punishing: Gray Raven, MMORPG-style damage numbers, and interactions between a wide roster of different characters - not just a single protagonist. All of these are present and expanded on in Wuthering Waves, as is the ability to parry enemies with the right timing. Players will also be able to create combos by tapping and holding the normal attack button, which will introduce a special charged attack that can interact with a character’s skill and ultimate ability.

The main combat system that has been filled out between Punishing: Gray Raven and Wuthing Waves though, is called Echoes. The Echoes system seems to take a leaf out of the book of monster-collecting RPGs, but really it reminds me more of Ghostbusters, where you can battle powerful foes around the world of Wuthering Waves and catch them once they’re defeated. You will then be able to call on the power of these monsters to aid your Rover and Resonators in future battles.

A monster’s Echo is like their signature ability, which you can then incorporate into your gear set. These can have both offensive and defensive utility, including both healing and movement abilities. There’s a tactical element to Echoes though too, since your character has an overall budget of 10 points for equipping Echoes and more powerful ones are a bigger drain on your resources.

You will also be able to collect weapons to equip your main character and their Resonator chums, in all of the standard gacha rarities. But they will likely have a more subtle effect than a character’s skills, abilities and Echoes.

Outside of trailers for Wuthering Waves, the best way to get a visual sense of how the combat in Wuthering Waves will feel is to download Punishing: Gray Raven for yourself.

But if you’ve already had your fill of Kuro Game’s Punishing: Gray Raven, you don’t have much longer to wait until you can dive into Wuthering Waves. Pre-registration is still open, and you will be able to join the party on iOS and Android or PC via Kuro Game’s official site and the Epic Games Store, but not Steam, on May 23rd.

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