wuthering waves review
Screenshot by Siliconera

Review: Despite Its Luster, Wuthering Waves Remains Dull

Wuthering Waves is a visual delight of a game, making full use of Unreal Engine. But even in Version 1.1, it’s still got lots of growing to do before it can live up to its fun concepts.

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At launch, many people complained about the confusing, jargon-filled first act. My problem with how Wuthering Waves starts has less to do with the number of proper nouns and game-specific terminology, and more to do with the lack of direction. In Fate/Grand Order, you know that you’re the last Master humanity has. Even though you aren’t qualified or trained to tackle on the Singularities, you have no choice but to do so. Genshin Impact starts with your chosen protagonist’s twin going missing after fighting a goddess. Then the Mondstadt arc introduces you to a fairly stereotypical plot about saving a town from a corrupt, dangerous dragon. They’re simple stories, but there’s nothing wrong with that if you want to pull in as many players as possible.

wuthering waves review version 1.0
Screenshot by Siliconera

In Wuthering Waves, we are the Rover, who awaken with no memories and the mysterious power to absorb Tacet Discords, or monsters. While you do visit the first city of Jinzhou to figure out some answers about yourself, the plot feels like it loses track of itself fairly quickly. The scavenger hunt Sanhua and Jinhsi make you go on felt so long and tedious, especially for a group of people I have no reason to trust or care for. Near the end of the launch patch, there’s a war scene that would feel impactful if I cared about the characters or world. In an Avengers-like sequence, playable characters work together to defend Jinzhou. Yet it came across more like Suicide Squad. I just don’t know these people enough to give much of a damn.

Kuro Games did have to rewrite the plot due to feedback from the closed beta, though. So I’m willing to believe that this was a major issue in why the story isn’t very engaging. You’ll see throughout this review that those dratted rewrites are the likely cause for a lot of problems.

wuthering waves version 1.1 storytelling
Screenshot by Siliconera

The thing with F2P gacha game stories is that they need some time to hit their stride. This could be due to growing familiarity with the world (thus needing less exposition), or simply that the writers need several patches’ worth of time to cook. Fate/Grand Order was boring until Camelot, for example. But the market for F2P gacha games is not the same as it was in 2016. In 2024, there is a veritable treasure trove of free gacha games to enjoy that there’s no need to sit through a poor story (if that’s what you’re looking for). Those who dislike gacha games have an even wider selection to choose from. Surely those people wouldn’t be reading a review about a gacha game though, right? Gacha games need to hit that initial impression if they want a foothold in this over-saturated market, and Wuthering Waves is just not doing it for me on almost all counts.

I was hoping Version 1.1 would improve on the storytelling, but perhaps the rushed fixes delayed development. At the beginning, Abby asks Rover, “Hey, do you remember that dream you had?” and then summarizes it. This was news to me, despite the fact this scene takes place literally two seconds after a conversation with Chixia and Yangyang. When, pray tell, did I have this dream? This “tell, don’t show” method is incredibly lazy and it’s worse because the dream sounds legitimately cool. Why couldn’t we have seen it? “Show, don’t tell” is one of the most rudimentary rules of writing. It’s not a good sign that they’re relying on this form of storytelling so early in their game.

The translation for Wuthering Waves Version 1.1 is much better than 1.0. Version 1.0 was rife with obvious MTL, as well as multiple problems that showed a lack of quality assurance. For example, the same character would have their name be different in the exact same thing. Dashbon turned to Dashi Bang whenever he jumped away while Minghu turned to Minghe in a dialogue option. Commas and periods appeared outside of quotation marks, as well as other little grammatical errors like using the wrong “its.” In 1.1, the characters’ dialogue feels more natural and approachable. There are still issues with the map and character information not using the same names for farming locations, as well as very awkward phrasing in the Items menu. But considering all the issues Kuro Games had to fix since launch, this is something it’ll hopefully iron out in time.

Something that genuinely makes the game enjoyable is the combat. I did not like it before 1.1 because I have a very low tolerance for a camera I don’t have complete control over. Even after turning off any option that could move the camera, it would sometimes pan on its own or lock onto the furthest enemy from my character. After Version 1.1, the game plays like a dream in battle. It’s more fun to wander around the game’s map and kill whatever I see than to progress the story or complete side quests. The fast-paced battle system with so many rotation and combination possibilities is super addicting. I will say that even with the improved camera, depending on the terrain, it can get a little wonky. Anywhere with elevation or hills or just too many bushes can be frustrating.

wuthering waves review changli
Screenshot by Siliconera

Another thing I do like is the visuals. Changli is the only character whose design I like, but everyone has such a beautiful character model. The Unreal Engine and the developers’ skill when it comes to things like sculpting and shading make the game look fantastic. I’ll note that for a while, there was an issue with my screen bugging out in Version 1.1 only when fighting the Mourning Aix. This was a consistent issue since the Version 1.1 patch launched until today, when it suddenly fixed itself. I’m assuming Kuro Games implemented a hotfix of some kind, which is very nice. Kuro Games is very responsive to feedback and criticism, as we’ve seen in the past. And for the most part, it moves fast to get rid of the most annoying or gamebreaking bugs.

A trend I do worry about is in how Kuro Games (or, let’s be real, Tencent) seems to prioritize a small yet loud subset of entitled male gamers. Frankly, the zipper in front of Scar’s crotch was ugly. People made fun of it for a reason. But the zipper existed in his character design for years before the game even came out. Yet Kuro Games removed it, apparently at the behest of Chinese incels. This change was not a welcome one in the general community. Plenty of videos on Bilibili also mourn the loss (in both a legitimate and a joking way).

scar's design
Sadly, I have no footage of pre-redesign Scar. Or at least, it doesn’t pan down enough to show his pants. Screenshot by Siliconera.

There were a lot of things subpar about Wuthering Waves prior to launch and in the first patch. Many people filed pretty reasonable complaints. But incel players tend to be loud. The inexperience of the team shows here in that it’s taking a lot of feedback and implementing changes, but it’s not always taking the time to think of the best way to do so. While the complaints about the story weren’t all from the incels back during the beta and technical tests, the characters changing from being kind of rude to nonstop gassing the Rover up does make them easy scapegoats for the rewrites. Perhaps the character designer felt hurt by the crude nickname the fandom gave Scar’s zipper. But the sudden change to a beloved (for better or for worse) part of his design, again, makes it seem like pandering to those loud players.

My general view of Kuro Games and Tencent right now is they’re putting a Bandaid on a lot of open wounds in Wuthering Waves. These measures are fine in the short run, but I worry they’ll damage its reputation in the long run. A free 5-star as compensation for the disastrous launch was probably the only way to shut players up long enough for Kuro Games to code hotfixes. But a gacha game fandom is like a toxic boyfriend. Give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile.

Screenshot by Siliconera

It’s unfortunate because Kuro Games feels really sincere in wanting to provide a fun experience for its players. It didn’t have to give the Japanese Amazon gift cards after the Verdant Summit fiasco. But it did. It didn’t need to give everyone so many rewards for something out of the developers’ control (the rushed schedule). But it did. It seems to me that the decision to use UE4, as well as the tight development cycle it’s in as a result of Wuthering Waves being a F2P gacha game, are causing a lot of issues. Despite my general misgivings and dissatisfaction towards Wuthering Waves, I sincerely hope them the best.

Wuthering Waves is readily available on the PC and mobile devices.

Wuthering Waves

Wuthering Waves is a story-rich open-world action RPG with a high degree of freedom. You wake from your slumber as Rover, joined by a vibrant cast of Resonators on a journey to reclaim your lost memories and surmount the Lament. Windows PC version reviewed.

While Wuthering Waves has improved since its lackluster launch, its weak story and lingering managerial issues persist to hamper it.

Food for Thought
  • Call me cynical, but the lottery idea for the 30 million downloads getting changed to EVERYONE getting 10 pulls felt like a marketing ploy. It makes them sound like they're listening to the fans when they're just changing it to something they should've done in the first place. I just can't imagine anyone thinking it's a good idea to hold a lottery for 10 STANDARD PULLS for a 30 MILLION download milestone.
  • The camera in 1.0 ticked me off because I have control freak tendencies in these kinds of games and it moving on its own when I didn't want it to made even the combat in this game a slog. I'm really glad 1.1 fixed that.
  • The music in this game is dreadfully weak for a game that's so focused on sound. I hope they get whoever did the Punishing Gray Raven soundtrack to work on this. Also everyone sounds the same when they walk which is a little ridiculous.

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Stephanie Liu
Stephanie is a senior writer who has been writing for games journalism and translating since 2020. After graduating with a BA in English and a Certificate in Creative Writing, she spent a few years teaching English and history before fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a writer. In terms of games, she loves RPGs, action-adventure, and visual novels. Aside from writing for Siliconera and Crunchyroll, she translates light novels, manga, and video games.