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Hyrule Warriors Review

"Something different in the best sort of way."

Hyrule Warriors is a very unique mashup, combining the gameplay of Dynasty Warriors with the world of the Legend of Zelda, and people have been skeptic to cautiously optimistic since its announcement. Dynasty Warriors doesn’t have the best reputation because some think it plays too repetitively, but it has sold continually thanks to its fanbase and addicting gameplay. But with the experience of the developers Omega Force alongside Nintendo, can the Warriors franchise expand with the Legend of Zelda name attached to it?

For the Dynasty Warriors Fan

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Just because it’s a spinoff doesn’t mean Hyrule Warriors isn’t a dumbed down Dynasty Warriors. In fact, it plays much like a normal Warriors game with perks of Zelda in it, but with a much higher production values thanks to an increased budget and more developers.

On the gameplay side of things, your combos still execute in a normal fashion with the Y and X buttons (unless you go into Zelda control method, which is vastly inferior) and you still have the Musou and Spirit Gauges (though it’s dubbed the Magic Meter and Focus Spirit respectively here). You’re still taking over bases and thinking on your feet when goals are unexpectedly changed up and reinforcements rush in to dismantle your progress. And lastly, you still level up characters to beef up their strength, though HP are only expandable via Zelda staples Heart Pieces and Containers.

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Hyrule Warriors is actually a very pretty Warriors game, and arguably the best looking one in the franchise. While it’s not a testament to the power of the Wii U, the stages are vibrant, characters are lovely detailed and many enemies are on screen with little to no pop-in, a glaring flaw in the previous console generations’ bulk of Warriors games. Thanks to the tech of the new generation of consoles, seeing games like Hyrule Warriors on Wii U and Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends on PS4 gives a very bright future for the genre because they can really handle the gameplay that the 360 and PS3 couldn’t.

Sadly, it gets much less pretty when co-op is active because the system has to output to two screens. Instead of splitscreen, a second player can either play off the GamePad or on the TV with a Wii Remote and Nunchuk or the Wii U Pro Controller. Because the amount of content is too great for the Wii U outputting on two screens at once, the resolution on the TV is lowered to around 480p, animation framerates are lowered and the infamous pop-in returns. The GamePad player doesn’t risk too much since the controller is already outputting in 480p, but having the hit in visual and technical quality versus the prettiness of the single-player is totally noticeable. What could have prevented this for everyone? Online co-op, which is sadly missing.

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If there were a massive difference in gameplay, it would be how you encounter officers. Instead of performing the same methods of laying waste to crowds of generics to the officers, it enforces a more Zelda-like approach. Implemented by Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive devs Team Ninja, using the L-button allows the player can lock on to the enemy, making a more defensive combat strategy. If you go all out, it’ll take forever to take out your opponent, but playing the defensive allows enemies to show weaknesses that can then be exploited for stronger attacks to break through. While this sort of combat was inserted to cater for Zelda fans, this actually adds a new dimension to the Warriors gameplay while perhaps improving the franchise name by changing up the straight up hack n slash format that’s, lets face it, been more or less the same since the early PS2 days.

For the Legend of Zelda Fan

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Yeah, so the game is not really a canon Zelda title, but the game is 100% catered for the fans to enjoy. Injected in the hack ‘n slash formula is a retailored Hyrule complete with its own, and may I say well-designed, Princess Zelda, Impa and a knight trainee named Link. These folks encounter a sudden invasion by a witch named Cia, her officers Volga and Wizro, and an army of familiar Zelda baddies. The campaign shifts perspectives to our heroes, and series newcomer Lana, while carrying itself out map-by-map, so don’t expect a Zelda-esque overworld.

Though the game has a fairly short and enjoyable campaign that’ll last about eight hours, the real bread and butter to the replayability and length of the game lies in the Adventure Mode. This part takes the overworld to the original Legend of Zelda and chops up each screen into a small challenge for the Warriors part. Beat the challenge in the desired ranks and proceed to unlock the adjacent screens. However, ranking up isn’t the sole purpose of playing, because beating certain challenges award you with item cards based on items in the original game that you must use to unlock new rewards. History lesson, its mostly the same secrets form the game (ex: many of the same bushes can be burned and many of the hidden doors can be blown open), but the game added new tools like Water Bombs to makes things slightly spiced up. The amount of unlockables are actually staggering compared to the rest of the game, so the amount of time that you have to invest to unlock everything will be much longer than the campaign.

Sound-wise, the game uses many iconic melodies from the Zelda series, but in traditional Dynasty Warriors fashion, spices them all up with guitars. The arrangements don’t sound bad at all and, like the game itself, is quite a nice change of pace. Sadly characters still don’t speak, but there was an audible narrator, which while a norm for Warriors, has never been for Zelda. It’s a nice change of pace that hopefully goes a step further in the next mainstream Zelda. But of course, that’s one of points of this game, right?

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Hyrule Warriors is one of the best games in the Dynasty Warriors series thanks to its larger focus and evolved gameplay. For Zelda fans skeptic of the idea, it’s totally worth the ride because the Zelda formula, like Dynasty Warriors, was getting a bit stale. No, it’s not going to remembered as some prestigious title, but it’ll be remembered as that cool spinoff that was a hell of a lot of fun. It’s a great unexpected hit 100% worth playing, especially for the fans who deserve something different from this well-respected franchise. And for those against spinoffs, remember saying that the next time you play Mario Kart 8 or picking up Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

Oh, and don’t forget a little game called Super Mario Bros., which is a spinoff to Donkey Kong.

Rating
8.6
Pros
  • Fun, Addicting Gameplay
  • Very Well Designed Characters
  • Adventure Mode is a Ton of Fun And Long
  • Fan Service Aplenty
  • Looks Great Compared to Past Warriors Games
  • Both Franchises Benefit From One Another in the Execution
Cons
  • Co-op Technical Issues
  • Campaign is a Bit Short
  • Generic Enemies Still are Meant Solely to Slaughter
  • No Online Co-op

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