When Hyrule Warriors was announced during a Nintendo Direct last year I was immediately set with both excitement and unease, and before my eyes fell a big red cross. This was because of one of the ideas the game was set to embrace which stood as one of the games biggest motivations, that is the Warriors brand that is wholeheartedly embraced in Hyrule Warriors. Past experiences with this game franchise left a sour taste in my mouth and made me always walk away more upset for having even played the games. On the other side of the scale though my love for the Zelda brand filled me with excitement for the possible potential of what Hyrule Warriors could offer me as a fan of the Zelda franchise, of course obviously my fandom led me to pursue Hyrule Warriors but still even as I loaded the game into my Wii U I still felt uneasy about what I was going to be offered, but no matter what I am pleased to say that I was pleasantly surprised by Hyrule Warriors.
Hyrule Warriors really only shares the Hyrule name in a small way, we see a Zelda coat of paint throughout the game and of course characters are from the Zelda Universe. But when it comes to combat and the basic offerings of Hyrule Warriors this is essentially the Warriors brand but I was glad to see a handful of puzzle solving elements added to classic bosses that remained reminiscent of the source material of the Zelda franchise. To be honest it was refreshing and left me excited for what the game had to offer me.
The story is certainly original and is sort of a far cry from the traditional stories we have seen in the Zelda franchise, in the story Hyrule is at war as the mysterious villain Cia attacks Hyrule Castle in order to gain ultimate power. As Zelda and Impa head out for war, Link a knight in training at Hyrule Castle steps out to fight alongside them and gets enlisted to go on a big journey to return Hyrule to peace along with a series of other Hyrulean warriors. Along the course of this journey Link comes across a mysterious girl, Lana, who appears to know more about the events that have befallen Hyrule then she initially lets on.
During the course of the story we also find ourselves visiting the world of the past Zelda titles Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. Our time in these worlds revolve around characters from these games and dealing with the issues that are going on in the current Hyrule. Of course I was annoyed at this situation, the story of the game is interesting and the idea of visiting these worlds of the past is good, however I do feel the ideas presented were underused and the prospect of visiting these worlds didn't go as far as it possibly could and the story pretty much just jumps over this idea. It was even more annoying that even some of the characters from these times were pretty much irrelevant story wise and for the most part the story pretty much only talks about Link, Lana and Cia and basically forgets the importance of its other characters.
From my time with the ten hour long campaign, while I came out pretty satisfied and a huge smile on my face with every victory I had, I still felt unfulfilled and that the story just lacked that use of its ideas. In the different times we only visit two locations and we also only see one or two characters which are the ones that follow on with our story, this time idea should have played homage to the experience of each of these games and offered us many characters and locations to see. I would not have honestly cared if any of the characters were playable it just would have been nice to have played with and explored those worlds a bit more with the exciting format of Hyrule Warriors.
My concerns with the times and the importance of characters was at least amended outside of the story with other portions of the game that draw attention and ask us to take it upon ourselves to fight the good fight with these additional characters.
On of my biggest concerns with Hyrule Warriors initially was its combat system or to be more precise the games combat centric gameplay, for fans of the Zelda series this is a huge departure from what makes the Zelda franchise what it is but still I would say my concerns were unnecessary. Combat comes across initially as confusing and a bit scary as you see an army of monsters marching towards you, but for the concerns that did cross my mind I was pleased with just how easy I could pick up the controller and be able to crush enemies who got in my way.
I was even more impressed with just how deep this combat system truly is, while my initial impression was to just mash light attacks and hope for the best I was even more satisfied when I worked out how to perform powerful combos which just improved as my time with the game moved on, this comes thanks to the games badge system. With this system I would happily run around slaughtering my enemies and collect the materials that many of them left for me, following this I would take my earnings and be able to keep evolving my characters and fine tune new combo attacks which helped to keep battles fresh and interesting.
Even better is just the sheer strategy the game takes to succeed and each battle is really decided based on your actions and how exactly you try to succeed. It is your choice how you choose to proceed in each mission but what is important is remaining constantly vigilant of what is going on, should you choose to attack enemy bases and raise your own army of soldiers or try to protect what you already own and hope enemies come to you while completing objectives it remains up to you.
To whoever said Nintendo consoles are for children Cia wants a word with you.
This was also the case with new characters unlocked through Hyrule Warriors, with each character came an entirely new skill set and this meant having to constantly adjust the way I play to cater for each characters strength's and weaknesses. I was also happy because this always kept me amused and I couldn't be fully satisfied with a character until I learned there skills and worked out how to make use of there abilities in battle in a way that would bring me victory.
The basic combat of Hyrule Warriors does go a lot deeper then I can put into words and the only real way to master the fights was to experiment and slowly learn how each characters abilities could help me in a situation. But all my skills and preparation was not always helpful, on many occasions my style of play led to me failing missions and losing key advantages I had made in the battlefield. This was often because I was to quick to run off to where I wanted to be and I would leave everything to crumble because of my absence, essentially every level can be compared to a chess game as you have to think three moves ahead and as well as focusing on all the little things going around the battlefield. I often also found my defeats were because I had often let a character get defeated who would help me later on leaving my forces weakened.
Though again this all changes with the game co-op option, every part of the game has a two player option and clearly is the best way to play. With co-op one player uses the television while the other plays on the gamepad. Having the second person there can be said to make battles that bit easier but it also makes things that much more enjoyable, having that second person to help cut through enemy forces and take key bases as well as adhere to all mission objectives is fun and led to some really great battles. It does not matter if you play on the story or any of the games other modes co-op is always present and it can keep things more amusing and make some fights less stressful. Easy enough to say co-op is fun and battles feel so much better when you have that other person there to join in the fight.
Though if mastering characters and fighting through hordes of enemies during the story in huge battlefields is not enough for you then there is an amazing adventure mode. In adventure mode you get to go about the map of the original Legend of Zelda game and in each square you get to face down a challenge. There are a good variety of mission types to complete and each square offers a different challenge, even further is that to progress through the map you have to often find a way to succeed with an almost perfect score which on many occasions is really difficult, but to be perfectly honest I was happy about this as the adventure mode is really where I got a challenge.
It is even better that adventure mode offers even greater reasons to get through it, throughout the adventure there are multiple occasions where you are able to unlock more weapons for each character to use and you and even unlock a small selection of other playable characters. The added benefit as well is that the mode offers the opportunity to continue to level up your characters and on many occasions it was quite necessary particularly when some squares required the use of a certain character and this can often you to a disadvantage.
The interesting thing I found with adventure mode though is that even after pouring several hours into this mode I still had not even unlocked half the map. But even if this was the case I was still having fun and the greater knowledge that there is still more to do makes me excited to keep going.
Even better is that even after putting more then thirty hours into this game I am still not bored, one of my other concerns coming into this game was that I would get annoyed with the repetitive seeming combat. However I was pleased to find that after many hours I am still enjoying myself and this in turn comes down to how the basic war style gameplay constantly evolves with the addition of new weapons and even characters keeping things fresh even that far along. The only real problem I found is that there is a limited amount of battlefields, so after a few runs through the story missions and between visiting a couple of the available modes I was sick of being in same maps.
Hyrule Warriors really only shares the Hyrule name in a small way, we see a Zelda coat of paint throughout the game and of course characters are from the Zelda Universe. But when it comes to combat and the basic offerings of Hyrule Warriors is essentially the Warriors brand but I was glad to see a handful of puzzle solving elements added to classic bosses that remained reminiscent of the source material of the Zelda franchise.
The clever thing about Hyrule Warriors is that no matter how many enemies I fought at one time I always felt that bit better then each one and this is what makes it fun, I could be surrounded by one hundred or even more enemies and still come out happily on top. But better was the fact that it wasen't easy I still had to learn correctly how to deal with the situation and that is one of the biggest things with Hyrule Warriors. For as much as I have had with each moment of the game and though I am still not bored I do thin that many of you will get bored with Hyrule Warriors quite quickly. But the point is Hyrule Warriors is good fun and a game that really must be played by anyone and if any game should get you to buy a Wii U I think this is it.