Hyrule Warriors

Hyrule Warriors is out and the reviews are rolling in, and now it’s our turn to look and see whether the game lives up to the hype and whether or not it’s the game for you.

Visiting Hyrule like you never have before

We’ve been covering the game pretty extensively, but for those who don’t know, it is a crossover between the Legend of Zelda and Dynasty Warriors series. The gameplay is heavily action focused and primarily taken from Dynasty Warriors; most of the time there are hundreds of minor enemies on the screen at once and several dozen are able to be dispatched in a single combo.In true Dynasty Warriors fashion, this lets the player feel like a badass one-man army as they mow down wave after wave of enemy troops.

While most of the enemy hordes can be dispatched fairly easily, there are powerful commanders within the enemies ranks as well, and fighting them requires skill and timing as you learn their techniques and attack patterns. While some of these commanders are well known common enemies from the Zelda series, such as ReDeads or Darknuts, the most interesting ones are the fights against the playable characters, such as Ghirahim or Zant. In most missions, the enemy army will be lead by one or more NPC controlled playable characters, who serve as some of the game’s biggest challenges.


Most levels involve the same general set up: you pick a character and start off with one or two allied commanders and a few minor troops. You go throughout the level capturing keeps and defeating rival commanders, all the while mowing down scores of enemy troops. It’s more complicated than it sounds though, as at the same time they’re attempting to capture your keeps and take out your allied commanders, thus you have to stay on your toes, playing defensively as well as offensively.

Still Zelda at Heart

It’s not just Dynasty Warriors with a Zelda themed coat of paint though, the game incorporates several mechanics from the Zelda series. There are several bosses which are taken from the Zelda games and, like in the games, you have to figure out their attack patterns and beat them using the weapon you got in the level you first encounter them in. They add a degree of challenge and provide a nice contrast to the common enemies which are easily swatted aside. Aside from just fighting bosses items such as bombs or the boomerang can be used overcome obstacles and explore hidden areas.


Explore you will, because in both Legend and Adventure Mode there are plenty of secrets and hidden goodies to be found. In most missions, the game’s hidden treasures are most often found via capturing keeps or finding Gold Skulltulas. While capturing keeps is a major part of the game, most missions will have a few keeps that are out of the way and unnecessary to capture for the sake of the mission; often going out of your way to capture these will cause chests to appear, letting you get new weapons, or hidden Pieces of Heart.

Gold Skulltulas will appear in some levels after you’ve killed 1000 enemies; they only remain in the level for a limited time and are usually hidden and have to be hunted down. Killing the Skulltulas provides illustrations, which aside from being just pretty artwork help to upgrading the in-game potion shop.  This exploration is fun and helps to break up the combat which might otherwise become monotonous. Also, some rewards and Skulltulas will only appear when using specific characters, which is a great way of encouraging the player to use characters they normally wouldn’t. Plus Each character feels distinct and fun to play as with each having fighting styles that are both aesthetically and mechanically unique along with animations and moves that highlight their particular fighting styles and personalities.

Likewise, there are tons of little references to the Zelda series strewn throughout the game which are sure to delight longtime fans. Navi’s famous “Hey, listen!” returns in both tutorials and spoken during gameplay by Link’s new fairy Proxi who talks for him. Cuccos appear as either stage hazards, or recruitable allies, depending on the level. Most characters have weapons that call back to the older games in the series, such as Link being able to get the White and Magic Swords as upgrades to his default weapon, or even the 8-bit Wooden Sword from an update.


There are two main modes to the game Legends Mode, Free Mode and Adventure Mode. Legends Mode acts the game’s story mode, where you go through the story chapter by chapter, using the characters that are available in that particular chapter. Free Mode is the story without the character restrictions, so if you want to have Ganondorf team up with the forces of Hyrule to drive out Cia’s monster hordes, or have Sheik and Zelda fight together on Death Mountain, this is the mode for you. You still have to play the missions in Legends Mode, before you can unlock them in Free Mode though.

Story Mode

The story is in many ways different than your standard Zelda fare. It starts out in a familiar enough fashion: with an army of monsters marching to invade Hyrule. Naturally Link is called up to defeat these hordes, only this time, Zelda and Impa join in the fighting as well. The story primarily revolves around these three, along with series newcomer Lana. While many other playable characters are introduced, none of them get as much focus as the main four, mostly being featured in their own introductory chapter and the chapter directly afterwards, and then largely being shifted out of focus in favor of Link, Zelda/Sheik, Impa and Lana.


The story especially focuses on Link, giving him him a good deal of focus and plot significance. While this is understandable, as he is the series hero, I think it’s to the game’s detriment. As per usual he’s a silent protagonist; this is fine for most of his games, where he primarily is meant to serve as a conduit through which the player can experience the game world. In Hyrule Warriors though, where there are 12 other playable characters (15 with the recent update) each with a personality and voice, such a stand-in for the player isn’t really necessary. Link simply comes across as the least interesting among all the playable characters. Thus, the focus he gets, both plot and gameplay wise, seems a little undue at times, where there are more interesting characters who could get development (or new weapons) instead.

As a whole, the plot itself isn’t terrible, though it feels more like an excuse to bring all of the series’ most famous characters together, rather than a story in it’s own right, not that it really needs to be anything else. Eiji Aonuma described it as more of a celebration of the Zelda series, rather than a proper entry, and at that it succeeds wonderfully. Despite this, it contains fairly touching moments and surprising and fun twists. Although it also had it’s share of cringe-worthy moments as well as plot points that made no sense, of course that’s pretty standard for any plot dealing with time travel. Still it’s good to see so many fan favorite characters that have been out of focus in the series for so long.


Adventure Mode

While Legends Mode is rather short, I managed to finish it in only a few hours, Adventure Mode is really where the meat of the game is. It takes the grid shaped map from the original Legend of Zelda and has you move around it completing challenges. Each square on the grid from the original game serves as a challenge, by beating the challenge you unlock the squares next to the one you’re on. This also where you unlock most of the game’s rewards. Secret weapons can be found in Adventure Mode, as can several of the unlockable characters along with heart pieces. There’s also a small online component to the mode, but I didn’t get a chance to test that.

While it provides many different challenges and unlockables along with potentially hours of gameplay if you try for all the hidden goodies, it also reveals on of the game’s glaring flaws: repetitiveness. While during my playtime with the game, I never find it anything but enjoyable, but I did start to notice a large degree of repetition in the settings and challenges. While the exact parameters and characters differ, most missions have pretty much the  same goals, capture the enemy’s keeps, wipe out their troops, defeat their commanders, sometimes fight a boss. Sometimes they mix it up with the quiz levels, or levels where you just have to take out a certain number of enemies in a short amount of time and thus avoid commanders and bosses, but these are in the minority.


While the bosses provide an excellent challenge at first, they quickly become stale as well. There are six large bosses in the entire game, and in the story mode alone, you’ll encounter all but two of them at least twice. Adventure Mode is where it really starts becoming ridiculous though, as bosses appear with alarming regularity, sometimes two or three at once. King Dodongo, Gohma and Manhandla all serve as particularly common repeat offenders and you will see them many, many times before you are done with Adventure Mode. While they provide interesting fights at first, the novelty quickly wears thin, and they soon become more a time consuming hassle than anything else.


Multiplayer is fun and adds a few more layers of depth to the game as you work together with your partner to complete the mission objectives; although I did notice a bit of slowdown. When the players are separated, it takes a a few moments for the enemies to appear on screen, and when the players are too close together there was a slowdown when several things were going on at once. Sadly, the game is local multiplayer only.

Last Thoughts

All in all, I recommend this game for all fans of either Zelda, Dynasty Warriors or just action fans in general. It’s a fun and exciting action game and while it did have flaws I found the game’s good aspects made up for them. Hyrule Warriors is fun and enjoyable, and provides an interesting take on the Zelda mythos and a wonderful celebration for the series.


+ Action is exciting and fun
+ Exploration is fun and there’s a good incentive to explore
+ Game is full of nice references for fans
+ Lots of interesting, fun to play as characters


– Can get Repetitive
– Somewhat bland plot
– No online play

Score: 8.5/10