Nintendo

Hyrule Warriors Review

The Legend of Zelda mixes its Hyrulean roots with the intense, frenetic nature of Dynasty Warriors in a new mash-up title from Koei Tecmo and Nintendo. But through its addictive gameplay and impressive visuals, the traditional Zelda atmosphere seems to get a little lost in the fray.

As a long-term fan of the Zelda franchise, it’s possibly a foolish thought to believe Hyrule Warriors would offer a similar “It’s dangerous to go alone, take this!” Zelda vibe, but as a spin-off the battle-intensive, capture-the-keep title features some truly glorious moments. While it may not be to everyone’s cup of tea, particularly those who love to pour over old maps of Hyrule and discover every puzzle detail after studying the timeline rigorously, the game’s best moments come from the ridiculously good-looking move sets and combo attacks. And having never played a Dynasty Warriors game before, I was pleasantly surprised at the quick learning curve, despite its tenacity to overwhelm newcomers.

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The blue-haired beauty Lana steps up to fight with her magical tome.

Featuring a new storyline between the white sorceress Lana and her dark counterpart Cia, Hyrule Warriors ventures into three different eras in the Zelda franchise – Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. Due to Cia’s jealousy of Link and Zelda’s blossoming relationship, the sorceress becomes corrupt when a deep-seated evil takes root in her heart and is persuaded to open the Gate of Souls. In an attempt to recover the two remaining Triforce shards, Cia wages war on Hyrule with staple enemies from the series against the forces of light.

With 18 playable levels from Hyrule Field to the harsh Gerudo Desert, players will find an abundance of Zelda references in the game. Taking up a battle stance in Legend mode with a choice of three difficulty levels will let players explore the dramatic storyline, while Adventure mode can grant perks such as heart containers and special unlockable weapons. It’s in these extra elements – hunting the gold skulltulas, bombing rocks to uncover chests, and obliterating a keep full of enemies with a powered-up hookshot – that allows Hyrule Warriors to flourish as a love letter to the Zelda franchise. But it’s precisely due to the chaotic gameplay that players can never truly revel in their discovery.

If you’re new to Dynasty Warriors gameplay it’s easy to feel just a little out of your depth. The fast-paced style doesn’t lend itself particularly well to those who love to explore, so when it’s a choice between the lustrous golden skulltula appearing after 1,000 KOs and the allied base falling, you should know where your allegiances lie. But just before you get to East Boulder Keep, Argorok, or Gohma, there’s a patch of grass. It’s small, possibly only ten mere tufts, but there’s an instinctive feeling rumbling in your gut – the need to landscape. It doesn’t help there’s an achievement medal up for grabs on professional landscaping, nor does it help that so many Hylian Captains, Impa, or Midna needs saving. It’s just you versus those tufts of grass. But at least you can grab a few power-ups or special attack shards before you hypothetically fail the mission. It’s perilously frustrating yet addictively fun.

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The moon is still creepy years after its appearance in Majora’s Mask, but calling it down is erm, out of this world.

Aesthetically, Hyrule Warriors is gorgeous to fix your eyes on. The attention to detail on characters such as Link and Zelda is paramount in HD quality. But with considerable style comes a drop in swordplay accuracy. Boss enemies such as King Dodongo, Gohma and Manhandla suffer from physical woes. When repeatedly hacking and slashing at the enemy target to diminish their weakness gauge, playable characters can be knocked off-balance or even slip through a leg, chin, or belly and still miraculously land attacks on the enemy.

Other similar issues arise when trying to L-Target onto field enemies such as Stalmasters, Poes, Lizalfos, Moblins, and Darknuts. Throughout all four modes – Legend, Free, Adventure and Challenge – players will come across these mid-boss enemies, which are, deservedly, some of the best enemies to face against in the game. Unlike Stalchildren and Bokoblins, the mid-bosses require more thought than a simple slash from your chosen weapon. It’s the perfect time to whip out those combo attacks you’ve religiously learnt through badge crafting and test out the available power-ups.

But when a large amount of mid-bosses group together, fireballs are hurtling towards you, and a Hylian Captain just won’t stop screaming in the distance, the button bashing countdown clock begins and the L-Targeting becomes disorientating. Attacking becomes as mindless as many of the enemies. And it’s at these moments players may begin to realise their battlefield magic potions have a bit more kick to them than they had first thought.

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No time for bosses, better to hunt those gold skulltulas!

As a frenetic game, Hyrule Warriors often suffers from text lag within the game’s coding. During missions, players must frequently carry out story-specific events such as luring enemies into a magic circle, or halting boulder attacks to the allied base. Particularly prevalent when replaying missions, significant lag occurs when capturing a keep on the mission agenda before you’ve been given said in-game mission. Though players can merely leave and re-enter the keep for the mission’s success, it’s wearisome when the game relies heavily on replaying levels to unlock characters, weapons, or skulltulas.

Though the game slips into a tedious hack-and-slash title and takes a hit from occasional lags, Hyrule Warriors is furiously addictive and throws as many Zelda references into the playing field as it does enemies. And hey, listen, it’s not every day you get to play as the evil Ganondorf.

8/10

52 comments

    1. Agreed! This is one of the best games I’ve played in a VERY long time. I give it a 9.5/10 honestly.

    2. Just finished it last night AWESOME game, playing gannondorf simply was the best part of the game, he’s BOSS

      1. Finished it? You only finish it when you complete adventure mode, plus if you got the dlc then also the hero mode.

        Not gonna lie but I love playing as Ganondorf too.

        1. Well, I haven’t gotten around to beating Adventure Mode, but that’s mainly thanks to Smash Bros and my backlog. I guess I can understand that using the term “finished it” can be a little too bold in that case so maybe just “completed it.” I would love to go back and play Adventure Mode, but I just don’t think that I’ll really get the time. I’m sticking with Smash Bros for quite a while!

        2. True!lol btw does anyone happen to know how to get the Ball&Chain weapon for Link? Definitely looking forward to playing Link with Epona..

    3. Agreed! A very well written and fair review. I think those of us conditioned to Dynasty Warriors and knew exactly what we were getting into probably hold the game in a little higher regard, but most players will probably find the review spot on.

    1. Sort of, but some people on Google+ have not bought the game yet (myself included), so it´s nice to get more opinions,

    2. Well if you want to play the game for a well amount of time and then give a review, that isn’t bad. Better than reviewers who just play one mission then give a review to just be the first ones.

    3. I’m pretty sure he game will keep selling for a few years, and reviews will be needed by those who didn’t run out and get it on day one. ;)

    4. Yup, but it’s probably because the guys at MNN don’t get review copies. He’s probably using an actual launch day copy.

  1. I don’t know much about Zelda but isn’t it called ‘Hylian’ instead of ‘Hyrulean’? Only played wind waker hd and four swords anniversary edition, both because they were free hahaha

    1. Hyrulean is correct to use here, as they are refering to the people of Hyrule, and not the human-like race Hylians!

  2. My friend and I ran into the text issue, also the beating any certain part to quickly leads to confusing and aimlessly running around waiting for the game to recognize that we’ve already completed the mission.

  3. A shitty game for a shitty console…

  4. i need to buy the game again -___-, I have the Nintendo World exclusive bundle and I never plan on opening it.

  5. i know when silvershadowfly writes something it means bad news for me :'(

  6. This game surpassed all my expectations. Its a well done Zelda spinoff, i hope they´ll do HW sequel at somepoint.

  7. I’ve gotta admit it gets frustrating at time because it’s hard to know what to do next sometimes, but once you finish a level you can’t stop playing!

  8. Never played a Warriors game before, but this one is just awesome! With the last DLC from yesterday and Epona as one of the new weapons it got much better than I could ever think of! The Zelda fanservice is fantastic! The adventure mode absolutely addictive!! The story mode adds some new aspects, which I really love!
    I give it a 88/100! It’s really worth every cent I paid for it.
    For me Hyrule Warriors the best preparation for my personal Game Of the Year: BAYONETTA 2!!

  9. I can tell why the review has good but flawed review.

    There two noticeable issues with the game: It being a mash up of Dynasty Warriors and Zelda but being more of a Warriors than a Zelda game thus missing some of its core elements to make it familiar to Zelda fans and plus the lack of online co-op most recent Warriors games seems to have and with Bayonetta 2 sporting that feature and being a similar game of the genre.

    Other than that, I hear people enjoy this and has plenty of content to keep them busy until the next big game arrives. :)

    1. What does it being closer to Dynasty Warriors have to do with anything? That isn’t a flaw. That’s just the way it was created.

      1. I’m talking about how this game could split the Zelda fan base thus being a bit of a questionable buy for them. This game is not bad at all. Just has a couple of small glaring drawbacks like lack of online co-op.

        1. So this game can SPLIT the Zelda fanbase, but the Pokemon/Tekken crossover game can’t split the Tekken or Pokemon fan base? Lol I want to see you get out of this one.

          And don’t come with the usual Pokemon is Huge compared to Zelda Bullshit.

        2. Could split the Zelda fanbase? You apparently haven’t been paying much attention to the Zelda fanbase, Stranga. I can tell you right now the fanbase was split long before this game came along. One example of the fanbase being split is in the case of Link & Zelda’s relationship. One side refuses to believe the possibility that Link & Zelda have hooked up at least once in the entirety of series while another side thinks they have hooked up at least once. You can’t go anywhere on a Zelda community, mention the possibility of Link & Zelda getting together, & not have at least 2-3 people barge in saying “NO!!! IT CAN’T EVER HAPPEN!!! BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH!!!” lol

          But yeah. The Zelda fanbase was split ages ago.

    2. I have yet to buy this game, but I might pick it up later on down the road. They just released to much information, and spoiled the suprise of everything. They should have only showed off one, maybe two characters. They should have only showed off one boss, and one level. Instead they showed off everything. They only left a few levels to be discovered, no characters, and a few weapons. It was so ridiculous how they spoiled thier own game like that. You don’t spoil action adventure games ffs!

      1. True. They showed a little too much that made me decided to get it later down the road. Bayonetta, thank to the demo, really surprised me of what it could be and more. :3 Plus Bayonetta 2 got great reviews as well.

  10. Bayonetta 2 is a day one purchase for me. I am actually really looking forward to that game. I’m not sure if I should play through Bayonetta 1 first, or just dive right into the second one…

      1. From what the reviews are saying, while Bayonetta is great, Bayonetta 2 is everything the first game isn’t, so I personally will play the first game first. I wouldn’t want a situation where I complete the second game first, and enter the first game with the feeling that the best is behind me.

  11. This game was garbage honestly. Haven’t touched it since SSB 3DS released and I don’t plan to lol…

  12. Did not read the review, but agree with the score.
    Some publications has given the game abysmal review scores, just because the game is basically “Dynasty Warriors with Zelda skin”.

  13. Good review. As for the lag, it’s only because the characters are still talking & the story dialogue can’t keep up with how fast you complete missions. Therefore, I suggest using this time to just lay waste to enemies & build up on KOs for rupees, materials, & weapons.

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