E3 2014: Hyrule Warriors Takes The Legend Of Zelda Into Uncharted Territory

Out of all the partnerships Nintendo could have made, one with the developers of the Dynasty Warriors franchise seemed unlikely. After all, none of Nintendos IPs ever seemed like they could fit with Dynasty Warriors’s style of gameplay. Yet that’s exactly what Nintendo did. The publisher has teamed up with Tecmo Koei to create Hyrule Warriors, a combination of The Legend of Zelda and Dynasty Warriors. Surprisingly, it’s actually fun.

Hyrule Warriors 01
This is a Dynasty Warriors game. You have your huge map, an army of rushing enemies, and ridiculously cool looking combos to perform. It just so happens that this game takes place within the world of The Legend of Zelda, but the world doesn’t feel slapped on. Tecmo Koei has worked with Nintendo to make Hyrule Warriors feel authentic to the series roots. Classic Zelda weapons like the Fire Rod, Bombs, and Boomerangs can be found in the world and equipped. The classic cutscene and music that plays when a treasure chest is opened is lovingly recreated for Hyrule Warriors. Finally, you get to play as some of the greatest characters in The Legend of Zelda universe.

Gameplay is typical Dynasty Warriors with players executing light and heavy attacks to create flashy combos capable of decimating an entire army. I was only able to play as Link and Zelda, but there were many more character slots on the character select screen. Both character’s movesets feel natural and true to their character, and feel satisfying to use. I did ask Nintendo what kind of other playable characters to expect, to which they said that there will be many fan-favorites. I also asked about the potential of guest characters from different Nintendo franchises. That they couldn’t answer.

Hyrule Warriors 02
The addition of Dynasty Warriors style combat is both a positive and negative addition to the game. Hyrule Warriors is very fast and gets players in the action right away, something that traditional The Legend of Zelda games don’t. However, the focus on action leaves the game with little exploration, puzzles, or charm that fans come to expect from the franchise. I think that Hyrule Warriors will be great for roping new players into the franchise, but could cause some frustration from longtime fans.

Hyrule Warriors is not the best looking game. The main character models and textures look good enough, but the world is empty and lacks detail. Enemy models and textures are repetitive, and don’t have the attention to detail that characters like Link and Zelda have. However, graphics aren’t the point of this game. Hyrule Warriors is all about pushing as many enemies on screen as possible, and allowing the player to finish them off with flashy combos. With that in mind, Hyrule Warriors accomplishes what it sets out to do.

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This may not be the game dedicated Zelda fans want, but it is a fresh new take on a beloved franchise. Hyrule Warriors is fast, fun, and impresses with its authenticity towards The Legend of Zelda. Whether the game will turn out good remains to be seen, as the Dynasty Warriors franchise is not well known for quality. As things currently stand, Hyrule Warriors is a fun diversion as we wait for the next The Legend of Zelda game to hit the Wii U.

Hyrule Warriors is out September 26 exclusively on Wii U.