I’ve been playing Hyrule Warriors for about 12 hours straight. I’m not sure if it’s because I enjoy it so much as it has given me something to do today. It’s fun, but does it really stand out?
If you don’t know, Dynasty Warriors, and games bearing the “Warriors” moniker are at their core hack n’ slash games of pretty epic proportions. You play as the super natural human of your choosing, and you (quite often) singlehandedly topple waves upon waves of meager drones. (If you’re good enough, hundreds, possibly thousands per map/mission.) You do this under the premise that you are playing out some part of history. Which is all well and good, it IS a game after all. Hyrule Warriors is no different. Except you play as Zelda characters, and you fight classic Zelda enemies.
Surprisingly, Zelda + Dynasty Warriors actually works out pretty well. Being based on Hyrule lore makes it interesting to fans of the series, and it is indeed a new(ish) tale, but the novelty does wear off pretty quick, reality will sink in and soon enough you will realize that you’re basically just playing a re-skinned DW game. If you like DW, that shouldn’t be a problem. If you don’t, well, this game doesn’t really offer anything else. At all.
Legend Mode is the Story Mode of the game, you play out a bunch of missions that, together, tell an overarching story. Some missions restrict you to only using certain characters, and some give you your pick of any character you’ve unlocked (it varies, but often you unlock a character when completing a mission in which they fill an important role – either for or against you.) That’s really all there is to say about it… I might be a bit biased, but when was the last time a Zelda game had a truly abysmal story to it? The story is pretty darn Zelda-y, so there’s not much to say about it.
In terms of the areas, many of them will be familiar. In fact, most of them should be.
There are some other modes, like DW staple “Free Mode”, which allows you to use ANY character you’ve unlocked on ANY mission you’ve already completed. It also lacks story progression (which I should think is a bit obvious). Besides that, it’s exactly the same as Legend. Its purpose is to farm for weapons and materials to power up your characters.
There’s also Adventure Mode, which at first confused me a little. Basically, you’re given a map that throws back to the original Zelda. It is divided into squares, and you basically move around it like a board game. Each square is its own battle. There are items and things you can get as drops, but the core gameplay is the same here, too. Its primary purpose is also to power up your characters.
Lastly, there’s Challenge mode. As the name would suggest, these are battles with specific, and challenging, conditions. Besides the superficial challenge, the core gameplay is the same.
I’ll be honest here, I am definitely trying to drive the point home that this game does not actually have a lot to offer. It is a Zelda-skinned Dynasty Warriors game. That isn’t to say it isn’t fun, becaus it is. It’s just not fun in the same way Zelda games typically are. There is definitely something immediately satisfying about being able to actually cut a path through a seemingly endless (and infinitely respawning, depending on whether or not you choose to capture keeps or not) horde, though.
On the technical side of things is where this game impressed and annoyed me the most. Surprisingly, and I am being sincere, I haven’t noticed the game slow down that much at all, which is something I’m pretty sure every single “Warriors” game suffers from. It is more surprising that this game is so fluid despite being on the Wii U (We Nintendo fans often get the short end of the stick in terms of hardware and performance…),
though the game WILL slow down more noticeably if you’re playing strictly on the gamepad. I’m not sure if this is an inherent issue because of the wireless nature of the gamepad, or if the framerate is somehow capped on it. Either way, it’s still not too bad. It seems to happen the most immediately after a cutscene or unpausing. The number of enemies on the screen doesn’t seem to affect it at all. Overall, this game performs well, unless you’re playing co-op…in which case the player stuck using the gamepad will be forced to play in a lower resolution (edges are noticeably more jagged, and the game looks fuzzy), and the frame rate seems to suffer a bit too. Still, the fact that they managed to have one player play on the gamepad screen and the other on whatever display the wii u is hooked up to is actually impressive to me. No split screen! If only Mario Kart offered this too. One annoying quirk though is if you go to the Bazaar (where you can beef up your characters a bit) after the second player opts-in, and then exit, it boots you all the way back to the campaign select, something that doesn’t happen when there isn’t a second player.
The music in this game is great. Hard Rock remixes of classic Zelda themes with a symphonic flare? Yes please. If that’s not your kind of music, you can select the one least offensive to your tastes to play during any mission, which I thought was kind of neat.
With all that said, I probably could have summed up this game’s review by asking these questions:
1) Do you like Zelda?
2) Do you like Dynasty Warriors?
If you answered ‘yes’ to one or both of those, you’ll probably get some enjoyment out of the game. This isn’t by any means like any Zelda game you’ve played before, but a Warriors game based on and taking place in the Zelda universe(s) works surprisingly well. I doubt there’s long-running series potential here, but for a one-off this game works. It’s fun, but it’s the mindless and immediately satisfying sort of fun that can only really come from button mashing hack n’ slash games. It probably won’t entertain you forever but at the very least it should hold you over until we actually get a first party Zelda game on the Wii U. (2015, I hope..!) If you can’t wait that long, fret not, Smash comes out soon.
Immediately satisfying, and performs well, but like all “Warriors” games it really lacks any long-term substance. You can buy it through Amazon, through the Nintendo eshop, or pretty much wherever you can buy games.