Hyrule Warriors was announced during the 18th December Nintendo Direct, and even when it was first shown I was skeptical. I mean, how could a series known for its exploration and puzzle solving, combined with excellent dungeon design, maintain the same atmosphere when some of the elements that make the Zelda series what it is are removed? Let’s find out!
Hyrule Warriors is a unique collaboration between Tecmo Koei, Team Ninja, Omega Force and Nintendo. The basic gameplay of Hyrule Warriors boils down to controlling the battlefield, by capturing bases known as keeps to assist your allies. All the while keeping your main base safe because once that’s gone, its game over. Stages in Hyrule Warriors are based on three main Zelda titles: Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. Unfortunately, there is very little mention of Wind Waker in the game.
Graphically, the game looks amazing the detail on offer here is incredible. The framerate can dip slightly when there is a lot of action happening onscreen, but this rarely happens. The soundtrack is a mix of grandiose symphonic pieces and hard hitting heavy metal with symphonic elements; overall, the soundtrack is very good.
Hyrule Warriors has three main modes: Legend mode is the main story mode and has you stepping into the boots of a pre-determined character and progressing through the story. Legend mode takes around ten hours to go through and is filled with very impressive CG cutscenes easily on par with the Legend of Zelda tech demo shown way back in 2011. My main gripe is that the cutscenes are not voiced, which leaves them feeling a little hollow. The storyline is actually rather good, considering Omega Force’s last attempt at an original story was One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2, which was abysmal.
There is also a free mode that lets you take any unlocked character into any stage: perfect for strengthening your warriors.
Adventure mode is where the meat of the game lies. Adventure mode is set on the very first Legend of Zelda world map but is filled with tiles. On each tile is a challenge, and when you fulfill the challenge you unlock the tiles around it. Some tiles have hidden rewards that require the use of certain items to unlock, such as using a candle on a tree, which reveals a reward that may be a new weapon or a heart container. The challenges start off pathetically easy but soon ramp up into a ferocious struggle .
Challenge mode does exactly what it says: it is certainly a challenge. The basic premise is to battle a continuous stream of foes, unlocking rewards until you are defeated. I have yet to make any real progress on this mode, mainly due to its difficulty.
The character selection is a little bit on the small side for a Tecmo Koei game, but each character feels unique and has different battle mechanics. For example, Ganondorf has a gauge below his health that charges as you use his strong attacks. Once filled, you can unleash an attack that can wipeout a keep in one move. Each character has their own progression and can be upgraded using material found in the battlefield to make badges that unlock extra combos or make your character more resilient to damage. Weapons also contain skills that are beneficial to the battle, from enhancing some of your attacks to increasing the chance of finding rarer, more powerful weapons.
Hyrule Warriors is so much more then a simple reskin of a Dynasty Warriors game, and Tecmo Koei clearly respect the Zelda franchise; the amount of content and fan service in Hyrule Warriors is absolutely staggering. If you are looking for a game to keep you entertained for a long time, then Hyrule Warriors will deliver that and more.
+ Incredible amount of content -Minor dips in framerate when action ramps up
+Fast paced chaotic fun -Wind Waker is practically forgotten about
+Adventure mode will absolutely devour your time – Enemy AI could be better
+Character progression is incredibly satisfying
+Each of the thirteen playable characters feels unique