Wuthering Waves Review: A Combat Juggernaut in Gacha Gaming

6
Beebom Score
Wuthering Waves features a stellar combat system with dodge counters and parries, making slaying enemies in the overworld an absolute blast. The open world is beautifully crafted, with a good number of activities and rewards evenly spread across the map. The game also suffers from bad performance optimizations and has a poorly crafted story. Fortunately, the game is free to play and the combat alone is worthy of my recommendation.
Pros
A stellar combat system with dodge counters and parries.
Beautiful open world with great movement mechanics.
Features the least gacha-like elements compared to most other gacha games in the genre.
Cons
Badly optimized performance, with constant FPS drops and stuttering.
Poor storytelling and voice acting overall in the initial story act.
It's a gacha game.

Good action combat open-world games have always been hard to find in the Gacha gaming. In a genre focused on character design and getting players invested with characters to maximize the pulls, most gacha games rarely focused on making fluid action combat systems in an Open World, until Genshin Impact burst into the scene.

Three years down the line, we finally have another action combat Open World game that is not just a copy of Genshin Impact or from Hoyoverse. Wuthering Waves is a breath of fresh air with completely new combat dynamics presented in a beautifully crafted open world with the least amount of bad gacha mechanics I have seen in this genre. After playing the game extensively since the global release, with plans to continue playing for a long time, here is my review of Wuthering Waves.

Most Fun Combat System in Gacha Gaming

The combat in Wuthering Waves is undoubtedly the best aspect of the game. Wuthering Waves features fast-paced combat, while not becoming too overbearing, with tons of combo, different play styles, dodge-counters, and parrying.

From the start of the game, I was hooked on the combat system. The combat in Wuthering Waves may look complicated at first, but it is quite simple at its core. First, you have the basic attacks, the Skill attack, and then the Ultimate attack. Adding to these base three, Wuthering Waves introduces Intro and Outro skills, and Resonance Forte skills.

Intro and Outro Skills Are Simple Yet Ingenious

Wuthering Waves intro and outro skill
Image Courtesy: In-game video clip (Captured by Sanmay Chakrabarti)

Each character in the game has an Intro and Outro skill, which they use when they swap in or swap out. The Intro and Outro skills can do simple damage, buff the characters, or provide healing. This incentivizes players for simply swapping characters, while not breaking the flow of the fight.

This makes the combat much more attacking-minded, incentivizing players to pick Sub-DPS characters capable of doing good damage with their Intro Skill. Danjin for one has an incredible Intro Skill that I love to use in every fight.

Dodge Counters and Parrying Have Never Been More Satisfying

Wuthering Waves Combat
Image Courtesy: In-game video clip (Captured by Sanmay Chakrabarti)

Other than the Intro and Outro skills, I absolutely love the dodge counters and parrying in Wuthering Waves. Parrying doesn’t have a separate button, and players simply need to use the attack button at the right moment to parry the enemy. To sum it up, parrying feels satisfying while being extremely easy to understand.

The dodge-counters are just equally satisfying, especially with characters like Calcharo and Danjin. Players can effectively dodge every enemy attack in the game while punishing them with dodge counters. Each time I failed to dodge or parry, it wasn’t because of the game’s system but my timing.

Echoes: The Best Twist to the Artifact/Relic System

Wuthering Waves Echo Combat
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot

Another great thing about the Wuthering Waves combat is the Echo system. Echoes are basically the equivalent of artifacts or relics in Genshin Impact and Honkai Star Rail, which adds main and sub-stats on characters. But, there’s one big distinction. The echoes allow players to turn into the monster (of the echo) and use their abilities for a brief period.

Every Tacet Discord or monster in the game has an Echo that players can use, the only exception being human enemies. Each Echo has a different attack and buff, which creates a wide range of different builds for characters. In Wuthering Waves, you are not stuck with the Set effects to build characters, you can try experimenting with different Echoes to find the best one you like for your playstyle and character.

Wuthering Waves Has One of the Fairest Pity-Systems

The worst trait of any gacha game is the underhand tactics many games use to make invested players do more banner pulls, in order to earn a profit. Normally, I don’t have an issue with microtransactions in games that are completely free to play, like most gacha games, but some of gacha specific mechanics in such games can be hard to get behind.

Wuthering Waves, however, appears to have the least gacha-like elements out of any game in the genre. The pity system in Wuthering Waves, which is how players get guaranteed banner pulls after a certain number of failed attempts, appears to be the fairest system I have seen.

Wuthering Waves free 5-star Character
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot

The pity system allows players to get the guaranteed featured weapons from limited banners on the 80th pull. On top of that, after failing to pull the 5-star featured character on the banners, players are guaranteed to get a featured character on the next 5-star pull.

It doesn’t end there, players are guaranteed to pull two 5-star standard characters in the beginner banners, and one of them can be selected by the user. On top of that, players can choose to pull the specific 5-star weapon from the Standard Weapon banner at all times.

Gorgeous Open World Worth Exploring

Wuthering Waves Beautiful Open World
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot

The open world of Wuthering Waves is a great mix of puzzles, activities, secrets, and rewards. There are a ton of things to do at every nook and cranny, and being able to collect echoes from just defeating any overworld Tacet Discord, makes that much more enjoyable. I couldn’t stop myself from slaying everything in the vicinity, mainly because the combat felt extremely good and I was rewarded sometimes with the echoes of the monsters.

Bell Borne Geochelone Boss Wuthering Waves
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot

Adding to combat challenges, some special enemies drop great rewards. Enemies like the Chasm Rider or Spearback Bear are extremely strong compared to your character levels and can knock your characters with just a few hits. However, these enemies also take massive Dodge Counter and Intro-Outro Skill damage, making the fights high-stakes and extremely fun.

It took me 7 tries to defeat the Spearback Bear with Danjin by simply Dodge Countering all its attacks, and the 5-star echo drop rewarded at the end was definitely worth it.

Other than combat, the open world of Wuthering Waves also features a wide range of puzzles, parkour challenges, and rewards. Exploring the topmost part of the massive cliff is almost always worth it as there can be a 4-star weapon or another reward waiting at the top. Also, no mere words can properly describe my love for wall running in the game. It makes parkour challenges and exploration so much simpler, and not feel like a chore.

Wuthering Waves Storytelling Was a Hard Skip, Literally

Wuthering Waves side missions are a waste of time
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot

Now, let’s touch on some of the weaker elements in Wuthering Waves, particularly the story of version 1.0. The main storyline felt like a chore, with very poor voice acting at times and weirdly put-together story sequences, which didn’t make sense most of the time. The side missions were a degree worse in storytelling, making me lose complete interest in most of the ones I played.

But so far we have only played the initial arc of the story and it can only get better from this point, I hope. Compared to Genshin Impact, the starting storyline is not too far off in quality, if you ignore the poor voice acting and weird story transitions. We all know how good the Genshin Impact’s story becomes in the following updates, so I can hope the same from Wuthering Waves.

Scar Wuthering Waves
Image Courtesy: In-game screenshot

The silver lining of the Wuthering Waves storyline was the incredible performance of Scar. His design, talking animation, and dialogue delivery (English Dub in my case), felt on point and I hope that this level of detail continues with every other characters in the story later on.

A Tale of Performance Issues and Compensation Rewards

Wuthering Waves bug fixes
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot

Wuthering Waves did not have a good launch at all, with hundreds of bugs and issues, particularly frame drops and high pings. The game was hardly playable on the first two days on PC and Android, giving barely 30 FPS and constant frame drops and stutters. Other than that, the game failed to run on some devices due to launcher bugs or other unknown issues. To sum it up, it was not a great launch.

Fortunately, Kuro Games did patch most of the issues within the first two days, solving a big part of the FPS drops and stuttering issue, while also compensating players with a free 5-star character of their choice and banner pull currencies. The compensations have been good enough so far and the player base hasn’t alienated. I felt it was a good gesture from the developers.

However, not all the issues were fixed with patches, and performance on PC particularly is not optimal, even though it’s in a much better state than the launch.

My PC Setup:

CPU: Intel i3 8th Gen
GPU: NVIDIA RTX 4060
RAM: 8×2 DDR4 RAM @ 3200MHz
SSD: WD SN570 500GB
Monitor: 1080p and 144hz

During my playthrough at launch, the game was barely giving me 40 FPS, often dropping to 15-20 FPS, making the game feel unbearable to play. After the initial patches, the game runs much better now, averaging 45 FPS. However, it is far from optimal, still dropping to 25-30 FPS occasionally.

The Nvidia DLSS support barely made any improvements on my RTX 4060, which can comfortably run most modern games seamlessly.

Is Wuthering Waves Worth Playing?

Yes, I recommend Wuthering Waves to all action combat and open-world lovers, despite its performance issues, as it features stellar combat and a beautiful open world. On top of that, the game is free so nothing is actually stopping players from giving it a try.

The combat is good enough to attract gamers from other genres as well. Adding great movement mechanics and a beautiful open world with tons of things to explore, the game is easily worth the time.

However, the storytelling still needs a big improvement and performance needs to be optimized further with the coming updates. But as a live service game, Wuthering Waves is going to have a long lifeline, so a ton of time to better itself. The developers are also responsive to the community, which bolsters my faith in the game’s future a lot.

Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot
Beebom Score
6
Wuthering Waves features a stellar combat system with dodge counters and parries, making slaying enemies in the overworld an absolute blast. The open world is beautifully crafted, with a good number of activities and rewards evenly spread across the map. The game also suffers from bad performance optimizations and has a poorly crafted story. Fortunately, the game is free to play and the combat alone is worthy of my recommendation.
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