Hyrule Warriors is very much a Dynasty Warriors game.
If you’re a huge The Legend of Zelda fan but have grown tired of Koei’s tactical action series, Hyrule Warriors isn’t for you. But if you’re a newcomer to the Dynasty Warriors series, or someone who still enjoys it a bit, there’s a good amount of fun to be had with this mash up.
The story is pretty much what you would expect from a game with ties to The Legend of Zelda series.The balance of the triforce is in danger once again and Hyrule is being invaded by hordes of monsters. The land is being drowned in darkness, but this time it’s led by the Sorceress Cia. Link is tasked with stopping her and is aided by a handful of new characters as well as returning favorites from the Zelda franchise (like Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword).
The game’s story is told through a series of battles which take place in iconic environments from the series. For instance, you’ll have to defend Hyrule Field early on but later battles will take you to the Palace of Twilight as well as one notoriously difficult temple from the series’ past. Each battle has a sixty minute time limit as you progress through hordes of hundreds of enemies, capturing strategic points on the map, leading to a face-off with a boss character once certain battle conditions have been met.
Each playable character has a primary weapon which can be switched out for another depending on which element (fire, water, electricity etc.) is recomended for that level. Secondary weapons like bombs, boomerangs and arrows are also part of your arsenal and can be upgraded for a short period of time through pickups. The bomb upgrade for example lets you hurl huge bombs capable of knocking out dozens of enemies at once.
While plowing through hundreds of enemies with Link and the Master Sword is pretty damn fun (believe me, it really, really is), just like in the Dynasty Warriors series, engaging such a huge number of enemies leads to combat feeling repetitive at times. Sure, there is a pretty large set of characters that you unlock (each with their own primary weapon), but you’ll likely repeat the same three to four combo maneuvers with each character over and over. And over and over. And over and over. Not that there aren’t more combos available. You’ll just end up favoring the most useful ones as needed.
At times, it becomes a little confusing as to what or where you should be focusing your efforts during battle. Your allies are barking orders or recommendations on what to do next on the lower half of the screen as you’re busy dealing with hordes of enemies. Those areas highlighted on the map briefly can be missed easily. Thankfully, while playing on the TV a list of tasks is shown on your GamePad. This is sorely missed when you’re using your GamePad as your main screen though.
Hyrule Warriors does do a good job of of bringing back a number of classic enemies that Zelda fans will instantly recognize. It also incorporates some familiar bosses as well. Longtime fans will know exactly which weapon is needed to take them down.
A local co-op mode for Hyrule Warriors is also available. One player can use the GamePad as their main screen while another can join in using a Wii U Pro controller or Wii Remote + Nunchuk combo on the TV. While local co-op is always nice, this is just another missed online opportunity for Nintendo. With the number of unlockable characters and battle areas, not to mention the amount of strategy involved in higher difficulties, you would assume that you could play a game like this online with your friends in the year 2014. Unfortunately, you would be incorrect.
Hyrule Warriors can be a lot of fun. The inclusion of Zelda characters and environments certainly help freshen up the Dynasty Warriors experience. Still, the problems with that series are still evident, no matter how much you love you some Zelda. If you can accept this going in, then you should walk away having a fun time with the game. If you expect another classic, must-play entry in The Legend of Zelda series, then you’ll be sorely disappointed.
SCORE: 7.5 out of 10
A code for Hyrule Warriors was provided to Pixel Related for review