Wulin Waizhuan: A Nostalgic Journey Through a Beloved MMORPG

Cover - Wulin Waizhuan - Seven Heroes Town

If memories had a scent, it would be the fragrance of mothballs; sweet and reassuring, like clearly remembered happiness; sweet and melancholic, like forgotten sorrows.

Eileen Chang, "Changing Clothes"

The Beginning

It all started when a friend recently asked, “I haven’t played games in a long time. I’d like to find a game to play.”

As I reminisced about my gaming days, the only online game that left a strong impression was “Wulin Waizhuan”. Before that, it was “Legend”, although I had played “MapleStory”, “Dungeon Fighter Online”, and others. However, the time spent and the impressions left by these games were less significant compared to the former two. Of course, this doesn’t include single-player games like “Warcraft” or “Battlefield”.

This sparked my nostalgic feelings, so I looked into the recent developments of “Wulin Waizhuan”. To my surprise, it’s still being updated! I also noticed many old players wanting to return, but the game’s complexity has increased significantly since I quit, with more professions and even a demon race added.

I started playing during the open beta in 2006 and quit in 2009. A lot has been updated since then, but the core gameplay remains largely unchanged. Most of the new content seems to be related to microtransactions.

After some research, I discovered that there’s now a single-player version available, which includes core content up to the “Wulin Waizhuan - The Scholar and the Warrior” expansion pack.

The Experience

After comparing options, I decided to revisit the game through the single-player version. In hindsight, this was the wisest choice, because the game content has become incredibly monetized! The difficulty of progression through microtransactions has increased many times over since I quit!

Magistrate Lou, Long Time No See

Wulin Waizhuan - Seven Heroes Town - Start

Accompanied by the familiar BGM, the familiar Seven Heroes Town once again awakened my buried memories.

Magistrate Lou, long time no see.

Changes in Game Operation Strategy

The operational approach has changed significantly. It’s evident that the current game focuses mainly on high-level players. Much of the low-level content has been simplified, making progression through this stage very quick. New content is concentrated in the high-level stages, where the process is relatively longer, and dungeons are also high-level content.

This approach aligns with the current player ecology of the game. After all, there are very few new players now, so focusing on the later stages makes sense. They’ve also thoughtfully provided some guidance for returning veteran players like me who are revisiting the game out of nostalgia. So, at the start of the game, you’re given two paths: a leveling path and a story path.

The leveling path is for quick leveling up, allowing you to progress through very simple quest dialogues to raise your level and integrate into the mainstream ecosystem. I didn’t choose this one.

The story path is the so-called main quest line, which was previously known as the “Hero Quests”. I chose this one.

Equipment and Refinement

Wulin Waizhuan - Seven Heroes Town - Refiner

For my first experience, I chose the new profession: Scholar, with a fan as a weapon, which even comes with special effect animations. It looks quite good. I directly refined my fan to +15, which already has a red special effect.

Refinement is essentially gambling. If refinement fails, the weapon disappears completely. At the time, there were protection charms (weapon level drops but doesn’t disappear on failure) and luck charms (increases success probability). Generally, charms were needed for refinement above +4.

Equipment refined to +4 starts to have a green light effect. +4 is considered the entry-level for white equipment, as white equipment has very low attributes, and without refinement, the effect when fighting monsters is poor. When refined to +6, you can start taking on group-level monsters, which greatly increases the efficiency of monster grinding for leveling up.

Because the success rate of refinement is probabilistic, there are all kinds of “superstitions”: the old man in Minhuang Desert has a lower failure rate, certain times of day have higher success rates, refining low-level weapons a few times as “sacrifices” before refining high-level weapons…

Under these superstitions, I’ve even seen +7 “Newbie’s Sword” (level 1 beginner weapon) as a sacrifice.

White equipment wasn’t the first choice at the time. There was the “Tiangang” set, which had higher base attributes. At the same refinement level, its attributes would be better. However, “Tiangang” was bound equipment that could only be used by oneself and couldn’t be resold to other players like white equipment, so a trade-off was needed.

I was a Spearman with the “Tiangang” set at the time. At level 32, I already had the “Rainstorm Pear Blossom Spear”. The profession had high defense and HP, which was very satisfying. For PK and boss fights, there were Dark Thunder Break, Blood Coagulation Break, and Wind Prohibition Break, with good debuff effects. It was the players’ first choice at the time.

Main Quests (Hero Quests)

Although the story path isn’t as simple and crude as the leveling path, this path has also been greatly simplified, giving more experience.

One of my previous impressions was that in “Wulin Waizhuan”, every 10 levels was basically a stage, and equipment was changed every 10 levels too. If you only did the “Hero Quests” for the current stage, it wasn’t enough to get you to the next stage. This was especially noticeable at level 30.

So after completing the level 30 hero quests, there was still a big gap before the level 40 Branding Tower quest opened. That’s why everyone had to enhance their equipment to grind “Demonic Cult Disciples” and “Salt Smugglers”, and even fight each other to compete for spots.

But in the current main quest line, I was already level 20 before even finishing the Five Tyrant Hill quests. The later stages are similar, until the process enters “Fire Island”, where it starts to slow down.

Complaint: The “Fire Island” quests are really long. The number of single-type monsters starts at 100, and there are many material collection and coordinate-triggered quests that require running all over the country. Moreover, Fire Island needs to be reached through the NPC in “Eight Mile Village”, as ordinary teleport masters can’t reach it. It’s not easy to get to the island.

Level 1 - Seven Heroes Town

Wulin Waizhuan - Seven Heroes Town - Tongfu Inn

When the BGM of Seven Heroes Town started playing, it was as if I was back in the scene of playing in an internet cafe with my buddies. Calling them to quickly get online, then forming a team to do quests. I once teamed up with someone to grind hugging rabbits for an entire afternoon, just for a level 20 hammer.

Seven Heroes Town has many hidden quests. There were always quite a few at Zhang Daxian’s place, including using light skills to jump on flags, finding cats, and suddenly being teleported to the Five Tyrant Hill mine pit. It was very interesting, and Tongfu Inn was also a convergence point for many quests, which left a deep impression.

Level 10 - Five Tyrant Hill

Wulin Waizhuan - Five Tyrant Hill - Falling Star Valley

The Falling Star Valley in Five Tyrant Hill was simply a nightmare. There were too many irritable miner bosses there. You couldn’t win in a fight, and it was extremely difficult to escape. You either had to frantically use potions or die and lose experience.

But later it became a good place for farming materials. At that time, materials like “Light Wood” could only be dropped by low-level monsters, so it became very popular. As a result, I had a friend who specifically created a low-level casual character, refined +5 clothes, and went there to farm materials. Low-level casual characters had AOE skills like Purple Qi Coming from the East, and when they were about to level up, they would intentionally die to lose experience, keeping their level fixed just to drop materials. If the level was too high, the drop rate would be low.

Level 20 - Apricot Forest

Wulin Waizhuan - Apricot Forest - Village Chief

The BGM of the Apricot Forest map is truly beautiful to listen to, and the style is also aesthetically pleasing. The houses even have curling smoke, making it so peaceful and harmonious, except for the big monkeys 😠.

Wulin Waizhuan - Apricot Forest - Big Monkey

The big monkeys are still my lifelong enemies 😱. They run fast and hit hard. If you’re not careful, you’ll be ambushed and killed. Every time I had to recover HP by running, I had to run far away.

Wulin Waizhuan - Apricot Forest - Forgetfulness Lake

Revisiting the art style of Apricot Forest, it should be the most beautiful of all the maps.

Level 30 - Eight Mile Village

Wulin Waizhuan - Eight Mile Village - Salt Smuggler

Starting from Eight Mile Village, it’s no longer possible to rely on main quests to level up to 40, so refining equipment to take on quests and grind monsters becomes an inevitable choice.

This area is excellent for grinding monsters, a must-fight place for grinding. Especially after level 32 when Spearmen get their AOE skill, of course, you have to invest in equipment.

Countless salt smugglers and demonic cult disciples fell under the Rainstorm Pear Blossom Spear, and I also spent countless moments of my youth here.

Wulin Waizhuan - Eight Mile Village - Demonic Cult Disciple

Generally, you need at least +5 “Tiangang Set” to come here. My current set is +20 equipment, with effects that are already glowing white. I’ve even hidden my treasure wings and such, making me look like a ball of light. The equipment design is not visible at all, and you can only switch to fashion outfits to see anything.

Level 60 - Imperial City

Wulin Waizhuan - Imperial City - Prime Minister

The Imperial City is also the place for the third class change. As soon as the map switches, there’s a very grand BGM. The Prime Minister and Hero Guo are also high-frequency NPCs. Note that there are two NPCs on the roof, paying homage to the Forbidden City’s peak 😂.

Wulin Waizhuan - Imperial City - Golden Dragon 2

The two golden dragons in the Imperial City really shocked me at the time. Combined with the grand BGM and the numerous NPCs, it was very easy to get lost at first.

Wulin Waizhuan - Imperial City - Golden Dragon 1

Looking back now, it’s just ordinary. Without all those players with flashy effects filling the screen, I am ultimately just a traveler.

Level 90 - Minhuang Desert

Wulin Waizhuan - Minhuang Desert

Minhuang Desert was the last map before I quit the game. At that time, there were many max-level players PK-ing outside Minhuang Desert to pass the time. Now, apart from the desolate BGM, everything has returned to tranquility. I wonder if those giant desert stone monsters feel bored when that huge moon rises.

Here is my translation of the provided Chinese text into English:

Main Quest Storyline

What exactly is the main quest storyline of “Wulin Waizhuan” about?

According to the version I’ve played so far, the main quest temporarily ends at the “Ruined Dragon Palace” in the “Abyss of Broken Sea”, with an NPC called “Mysterious Princess” who has the same model as “Princess Feixue”.

To summarize the main quest storyline up to this point, the core is about finding “Princess Feixue”, during which we get exploited by village chiefs of various maps to help solve their problems:

  1. Tong Xiangyu asks us to go to “Five Tyrants Hill” to investigate the princess’s disappearance
  2. At “Five Tyrants Hill”, we discover clues about the Demon Sect’s hidden weapons, which starts to involve the Demon Sect in the affair
  3. Go to “Apricot Forest” to eliminate a Demon Sect elder, finding clues about “Young Master” from a letter
  4. Go to “Eight Mile Village” to eliminate a Demon Sect expert, learning that the Demon Sect has sinister plans for “Forgetting River Village”
  5. Go to “Branding Tower” to find information about the princess, learning she may have gone to the capital. The village chief asks you to deliver a letter to “Eighteen Mile Post” along the way
  6. At “Eighteen Mile Post”, we learn the princess may have been abducted. The county magistrate’s rescue team returned empty-handed and asks you to go to the “Capital” to seek help from the prime minister
  7. In the “Capital”, we discover the prime minister is colluding with the Demon Sect to rebel. After persuading the prime minister to back down, we learn that the princess left for the grasslands with a young man in black
  8. Go to “Dawn Grasslands” to confirm the princess indeed stayed there but has already left for “Southern Frontier”
  9. At “Southern Frontier”, we finally find the Demon Sect leader and learn the truth of years past: The Demon Sect leader is actually Prince Wuji from years ago, who was framed by the second prince Wushang, fled to “Southern Frontier” and married an Asura princess, later becoming the Demon Sect leader. Second Prince Wushang successfully ascended to the throne after plotting against the emperor, which is why Prince Wuji planned to lead the Asura clan to invade the Central Plains for revenge. After persuading the Demon Sect leader to give up his plans, we learn that the young man in black with the princess is the son of Prince Wuji - the Demon Sect Young Master. The Demon Sect Young Master and the princess have headed towards the desert.
  10. Go to “Roaring Desert” and finally find the Demon Sect Young Master. After defeating him, the quest abruptly ends without any dialogue, very sudden, directly telling us to go to “Fire Island”.
  11. Go to “Fire Island” to investigate news of the princess. As the game introduces the Demon-Blooded race from this expansion, clues about the Asura Demon clan “Mingyu” - the Asura Demon clan young master - start to appear. He is with the princess and plans to incite unrest between “Fire Island” and “Ice Island”, but we uncover his plot. Through investigation, we discover that “Mingyu” has fled to “Shore of Gale”.
  12. Go to “Shore of Gale” and learn from “Captain Hao” about internal strife among the sea clans. The Demon Frog tribe is preparing to defect to the Asura Demon clan through “Secret Sea Corner”. After resolving this hidden danger, we enter “Secret Sea Corner” to investigate.
  13. Go to “Abyss of Broken Sea” to help the “Sea King” purge the anomalies in the Abyss of Broken Sea. The “Sea King” reveals that their countermeasures rely entirely on guidance from a mysterious expert behind the scenes. We then find the “Mysterious Princess” in the “Ruined Dragon Palace” of the “Abyss of Broken Sea”, and the quest ends.

Cultivation and Magical Treasures

This part is the most pay-to-win content. As a game GM who can directly generate corresponding materials, I still find it complicated and costly, feeling sorry for regular players on the official server.


It’s evident that this type of pay-to-win content follows a formulaic pattern. Consuming certain materials to accumulate experience (with probability introduced), then consuming other materials to level up (also with probability), infinitely nesting this model creates a cultivation system:

  1. Guild Realm, mandatory, because all subsequent high-level equipment has realm restrictions. To wear the highest level equipment, you must max out your cultivation! Each time consume Cultivating Pills to gain experience, use Ascension Pearls to level up when full, then use the corresponding 19 types of Ancient Painting Martial Arts Scrolls and Functioning Pills to learn skills.

  2. Peach Blossom Scripture, optional, involves cultivating 12 meridians. Cultivating each meridian requires breaking through acupoints, consuming Essence and Spirit each time, with a success probability. Finally, breaking through each meridian requires the corresponding 42 types of Breakthrough Pills, Functioning Pills, and Concentrated Functioning Pills.

  3. Xuantian Scripture, optional, but with an annoying setup: the three scriptures cannot be maxed out independently. All three scriptures must be cultivated to the current stage’s max level before continuing to the next stage, requiring Yuanyang Zhongyao Ice Soul, Jiuhun Sulian Ice Soul, and Qiankun Qihuang Ice Soul respectively.

  4. Soul Imprint, optional, similar to Peach Blossom Scripture. Consume Soul Imprint Stones to accumulate experience, then use Soul Imprint Nirvana Stones, Feather Transformation Stones, and Dream Weaving Stones for three transformations respectively.

  5. Three Sovereign Divine Artifacts, optional. The cultivation of the three artifacts is independent, only one can be equipped at a time. Consume Nine-Turn Heavenly Crystals to accumulate experience, then use Taiyi Symbol Stones to upgrade, max level 10. Each artifact can equip 8 artifact spirits, with 12 types of spirits to choose from. Each spirit can be cultivated to level 10, consuming other quality spirits to accumulate experience. Spirits are obtained by consuming Nine-Turn Heavenly Crystals to draw.

Magical Treasures

Newly added content, I’ll just give the item codes. Can only be obtained through pay-to-win, no shortcuts, no sentiment involved.

79954 Epochal Silver Dragon (+20)
79554 Predestined Gold Dragon (+20)
85000 Divine·Yang
85001 Divine·Yin
85002 Divine·Qian
85003 Divine·Xun
85004 Divine·Gen
85005 Divine·Kun
85006 Divine·Zhen
85007 Divine·Li
85008 Divine·Dui
85009 Divine·Kan
85010 Clown Nose [Human]
85011 Clown Nose [Demon]

Nonsensical Elements

[Image of the Emperor NPC in the Capital]

This NPC is the Emperor, paying homage to “Forbidden City Cop”. When I reached this part of the quest, I couldn’t help but smile.

In fact, the overall game style of “Wulin Waizhuan” is a Q-version comedic game, with many nonsensical quests and quest descriptions, and even quite a few official jokes, some of which are simply hidden.

The most classic are various BT (Boring and Tough) quests: kill 999 Huggy Rabbits, 999 Bandits, 999 Thieves, 999 Demon Sect Disciples, and so on.

Besides various BT quests, I remember the longest quest I did ultimately gave a green title “Passerby” and a Nine Blessings Tonic, which completely baffled me. Spending so much time without equipment or experience, only a title and medicine, what a loss!

From these nonsensical styles, you can sense the game designers’ thoughts on the entertainment value of the game, and players also enjoy it immensely. Many years later, these highly entertaining contents are still vividly remembered and enthusiastically discussed, which is much more exciting than the main quest content itself.

Until We Meet Again

Finally, with the power of GM, I maxed out three transformations of Shadow Dance, a full set of +20 top-tier divine equipment, various magical treasures and cultivation, becoming invincible with no opponents, quickly completing the main storyline.

I experienced the thrill of being unstoppable, but during the quest rush, every time I habitually opened the friends list and saw the empty list, I would feel a sense of loss. The game isn’t just about quests.

Those social chatting and joking times,
Those days when we couldn’t afford medicine and had to meditate, complaining and encouraging each other,
Those scenes of teaming up to run through maps to save money on teleportation,
Those memories of teammates confirming remaining monster counts, ensuring no one falls behind in quests,
Those times of running all over the world just to see the scenery, sticking together,
These are actually the most nostalgic parts of the game.

Now, everything has returned to the starting point - Seven Heroes Town.

[Image of Seven Heroes Town at the end]

Lu Xun reminisced about village theater performances like this:

Indeed, even now, I have never eaten beans as good as those that night, — nor have I seen a play as good as that night.

Lu Xun "Village Theater"

And what comes to my mind right now is precisely the opening song “Long Time No See” from the TV series “My Own Swordsman”:

Hey, brother! We haven’t seen each other in a long time, where are you?
Hey, friend, if it’s really you, please say hello!
Hey, brother! We haven’t seen each other in a long time, where are you?
Hey, friend, if it’s really you, please say hello!
Actually, everyone already knows clearly
We’ve stepped onto a path of no return
I say long time no see, where have you gone?
But you tell me, I’ve gone to the jianghu