By Ash Shaver
Web Editor

Male Rover and Female Rover, as depicted in the “Choose your character.” screen. Photo by Ash Shaver.

Wuthering Waves by Kuro Games’ is one of their most anticipated launches since Punishing: Gray Raven. It is advertised as a free-to-play game with cross-platform compatibility, and as an open-world action RPG with a focus on skill-based combat with an interesting narrative.

With the themes focused around sound, as well as numerous aspects drawn from Chinese culture, Wuthering Waves takes both and combines them into a post-apocalyptic world for players to explore.

Announced in May 2022, Wuthering Waves has had a lot of eyes on it. It’s been compared countless times to the leviathan in the cross-platform gacha sphere, Genshin Impact. Now, with the release of the game on May 22–almost two years after it was announced–the public can get their hands on Kuro Games’ newest offering.

Both rovers, backlit by the setting sun. Photo by Ash Shaver

Players are greeted with a sign-in screen with two characters: the female and male Rovers. They are given the opportunity to pick which character, and can grant their Rover a name. The character will be with them until the end of their journey, so it was up to them to pick who they want.

From there, they are met with a pre-rendered ‘cutscene’ featuring the Rover they pick, and an individual most would call a ‘goddess’.

From this fantastic opening, you’re dropped into another cutscene: one that introduces the characters yours will be around until further notice. This is where the first issue comes to light.

The Rover, Yangyang, and Chixia, from left to right. Photo by Ash Shaver.

Yangyang and Chixia, the two who find your Rover, give significantly different impressions. Chixia acts cheerful and full of energy. Yangyang, however, feels stilted and breathy. Her delivery is flat compared to the other characters she’s introduced with.

This is a pattern that shows up with the rest of the voice acting. There are several scenes later in the story where the line delivery is flat, or doesn’t match with the tone of the scene.

I remember sitting up more in my chair when the Magistrate of Jinzhou, Jinhsi and Sanhua, her bodyguard, were introduced, as their voicework was incredibly solid compared to the delivery of Yangyang and Chixia’s lines.

When the villain Scar shows up, I was awake and at attention because Shai Matheson’s performance blew every other voice actor out of the water.

The second issue, and one that continues to occur throughout the early part of the story, is that many terms are dropped on you at once. And they’re not entirely consistent, either. This issue does fade out further into the story, but the first act is filled with simply too much information for a player to easily take in.

There are also times where the voice lines don’t match the subtitles. The text size is consistent, but it’s so long it doesn’t fit the box and ends up not being visible on the screen.

There are also issues where dialogue plays as you’re walking to and from locations. Those pieces of text are simply too long; they get cut off because the player arrives at their designated point before the character finishes talking.

But further into the introduction you face your first enemy encounter: a creature named the Crownless. This is where Wuthering Waves shows its hand.

The combat is smooth and it’s introduced in a way that’s easy to pick up. It’s clearly meant to be a system that requires skill instead of using the character with the highest stats.

I’ve fought enemies triple my level and won because I used the mechanics to my advantage. Even in the video above, I was able to negate most of the damage the Crownless could cause just by dodging and timing my attacks.

Once that fight finishes and more term-heavy conversations occur, you’re introduced to the game’s second main system: the Echos. Echos are, according to the story, remnants of the enemies you’ve faced, and they function as your gear system.

The Rover holding their terminal up, with a selection of Echos shown. Photo by Ash Shaver.

I like this system, as it doesn’t require a time-gated resource in order to farm them. All you need to do is run around the open world and fight the enemies you encounter. All of them have their own set of stats they can randomly roll, which means there is a grinding aspect to the game.

There is also a secondary level feature called a “Data Bank.” The Data Bank is leveled by hunting down these Echos and collecting them. The more unique or higher-level Echos you collect, the more the Data Bank level rises.

A level 9 Data bank. Photo by Ash Shaver.

The higher you get the Data Bank Level, the more bonuses you gain. Echos have rarity levels–green, blue, purple, and gold. Gold Echos are the ones that provide the most stats, and you’re only able to access them if you get your Data Bank to a high enough level. You also get more stamina points as you unlock higher stages.

Intriguing and easy to understand systems aside, it does take about two hours’ worth of game time in order to get access to the Convene system.

The other defining aspect of Wuthering Waves, the Convene (or gacha) system, happens to be one of the more generous compared to others in its field. They give a starter banner with five discounted ten-pulls and a guaranteed five-star starter character. After that, they give you a banner where you can select which five-star character you want to pull for. And until 2025, they give new players a free five-star starter character selector. That’s three free high-rarity units for new players to start off with.

The rates themselves feel quite common for the gacha sphere, with a base 0.8% chance to get a five-star character. You are guaranteed to pull one within 80 pulls. Though, the average drop rate is 1.8% if the guarantee is factored in. You also have a 50% chance to not pull the rated-up five-star when you get one, but it does guarantee the next one you pull is the one on the banner.

A photo of the Convene system, featuring Jiyan’s banner. Photo by Ash Shaver.

Despite Wuthering Waves’s rough first steps, it proceeds to continue into a story that matches their other game in terms of writing.

Wuthering Waves’ social media and development teams have been fast to respond to any gameplay flaws that have popped up since their launch two weeks ago, and they’ve been working hard to listen to player feedback.

I find that, while compared often to Genshin Impact, it doesn’t feel anything like that game. Its system isn’t reliant on using high stats and elemental type reactions; it only really cares for which damage type you’re using against an enemy. Wuthering Waves also has a skill requirement to it, heavily reliant on using your resources wisely and timing your attacks. It reminds me more of Tower of Fantasy, and I’ve heard of people comparing it to Devil May Cry.

There is one final issue I’ve noticed throughout playing it: it’s not a game that runs easily on non-gaming devices. I first attempted to play through the game on my non-gaming laptop, which ran perfectly fine up until I was given control of my Rover. They slid across the screen, animations failing to play. My device simply couldn’t handle it.

My phone, however, is capable of running it. It doesn’t run at the same quality as my main computer, but it is still playable. Here is a video of me facing the Crownless in its overworld boss form on my phone.

So do keep in mind that if you are to play Wuthering Waves, there are some system requirements that need to be met.

If you’re someone who isn’t very familiar with gacha games, don’t worry. Even though Wuthering Waves is still in its 1.0, it has significant promise when it comes to not requiring adhering outrightly to meta. You might not be the best of the best and top of the leaderboards, but I’m confident you’ll be able to clear most content without having to spend a dime.

Overall, I’m excited to see Wuthering Waves’s future. I have faith in Kuro Games’s teams, and I am expecting to see them continue delivering the game and story quality they’re known for.

Ash Shaver

Web Editor for The Clackamas Print. They/Them

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