Hyrule Warriors review: The legend of dynasty

Hyrule Warriors takes Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors mechanics and mixes it with The Legend of Zelda. But is this fusion yet another Zelda spin off time will forget? Check out our review.

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The Legend of Zelda series hasn't received many true spin-offs, aside from Link’s Crossbow Training several years ago and that questionable Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland. The vast majority of Zelda titles have been completely new stories within the Legend of Zelda world across multiple timelines. Koei Tecmo's team-up with Nintendo to introduce Dynasty Warriors mechanics to the classic series left me wondering if this combination could work. From what I’ve seen leading up to Hyrule Warriors’ release, everything looked rather interesting, but is this hybrid an experience fans of either series can enjoy?

This is a Zelda game

Even though Hyrule Warriors doesn’t have “The Legend of Zelda” in its title, it holds its own as a real Zelda game. The story focuses on a sorceress named Cia, who is responsible for maintaining the balance of the Triforce, as she becomes infatuated with Link, a humble Hylian soldier-in-training. Cia’s obsession with Link eventually transforms into jealousy towards Zelda, which causes her to become corrupt. Cia uses her minions to wage war against Princess Zelda and Hyrule itself by opening the Gate of Souls: portals that connect the current world with other moments within Hyrule’s timeline. She uses these portals to call forth an army of monsters in an attempt to overthrow the kingdom.

The portals serve as a way to bring together some of the series’ most iconic cast ever assembled in a single Legend of Zelda title. You’ll be able to battle against and with some well-known characters from Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. Some obvious choices are playable, such as Link and Zelda, although there are definitely a number of pleasant surprises. If you haven’t been keeping an extremely close eye on Nintendo's promotion, then you’re going to be in for a surprise or two.

Hacking and slashing

When you first fire up Hyrule Legends, you’ll be presented with a number of game modes: Legend Mode, Free Mode, Adventure Mode, and a Challenge Mode that comes in a day-one patch. Legend Mode allows players to follow the main story of Hyrule Warriors, while Free Mode allows you to play as any unlocked character to fight across any of the battles that have already been completed. Adventure Mode pays homage to the original The Legend of Zelda as you fight across a large 8-bit 16x8 map that’s filled with a variety of challenges, items and enemies to defeat. And finally, Challenge mode has players completing various challenges with any unlocked character. As of this writing, only one challenge is available.

Inside the game proper, you'll usually divide your time between killing or protecting specific characters, overtaking bases, and completing various objectives--sometimes all at once. Sometimes dialog presented on the bottom portion of the screen adds to the chaos, making it very difficult to keep tabs on what you’re doing in the game. A message will pop up in the middle of the screen to instruct you what you should be doing next once the dialog finishes, but it's hard keep up with the game’s story when you’re fighting thousands of enemies at once.

I found the learning curve steep, as it's easy to get swept up in hacking and slashing away at enemies without realizing a base is being conquered somewhere else on the map. Expect a lot of trial and error early on as you start to learn the intricacies, such as what certain color highlights on the minimap stands for and where your commanders are located when they’re requesting your assistance. 

Wide World of Zelda 

Each playable character has their own strengths and weaknesses as well as multiple weapon options. Weapons fall into one of several elemental categories, with the game recommending which characters and weapons would perform best in certain levels. Completing the main storyline will unlock most playable characters, while the remaining characters can be accessed by playing through Adventure mode.

Even with such a large roster, Hyrule Warriors does an excellent job of giving a sense of empowerment to each character. Most attacks will be able to defeat tens of enemies at once, and some others can down 100 or more. Players can perform basic attacks, strong attacks, special attacks and unleashing Focus Energy to unleash a barrage of attacks on your enemies. While players will be able to defeat most enemies with ease, more difficult enemies and bosses will require a bit of strategy that goes beyond simply mashing the attack button. These enemies will lower their defenses depending on their attack, which will then cause a weak point gauge to display over the enemy. Attacking while this gauge is displayed will cause it to decrease its value, and once the weak gauge is completed, you’ll be able to perform a set of very powerful attacks that will either defeat the enemy entirely or take a large chunk of their health away.

Characters can improve their abilities either by leveling up through combat, equipping new gear found on the battlefield or by visiting the Bazaar. The Bazaar uses a combination of materials found from defeated enemies and rupees to offer various improvements to each playable character. You’ll be able to equip characters with badges that can offer a number of features, such as improvements to their defenses and having the ability to drink potions during battle. The Training Dojo gives those characters who aren’t used as often the ability to level up for just a few rupees, although the more vast the level gap is, the higher the amount of rupees required. The Smithy can help make already impressive weapons even better by combining abilities from one weapon to another. The last Bazaar menu is the Apothecary, which offers various potions to give your characters a boost in the following battle for the price of materials and rupees.

Mash-Up Done Right

Hyrule Warriors offers an intriguing blend of both the Zelda and Dynasty Warriors series, making for an experience that fans of either series can thoroughly enjoy. It stays true to the Zelda series’ lore, sights and sounds, and combines it with the fast-paced, button-mashing action the Dynasty Warriors series is so well-known for.

Final Score: 8 out of 10


This review is based on a downloadable Wii U code provided by the publisher. Hyrule Warriors will be available in retail stores and on the Nintendo eShop on September 26, for $59.99. The game is rated T.

Senior Editor

From The Chatty

  • reply
    September 17, 2014 7:00 AM

    Daniel Perez posted a new article, Hyrule Warriors review: The legend of dynasty.

    Hyrule Warriors takes Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors mechanics and mixes it with The Legend of Zelda. But is this fusion yet another Zelda spin off time will forget? Check out our review.

    • reply
      September 17, 2014 7:09 AM

      FUCKIN A! I'm so stoked for this. The story sounds interesting, and as much as I love Zelda, it will be nice to shake loose the series' conventions of playing conservatively and, instead, charge onto the battlefield throwing bombs and shooting fire every which way. There seems no better playground in gaming suited for a rip-roaring good time.

      • reply
        September 17, 2014 7:15 AM

        I hope it's great, forgot all about this one.

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          September 17, 2014 7:24 AM

          Ever since it was announced, all I've wanted was a beat-em-up in the Zelda universe. The wife and I are really looking forward to digging into this one.

    • reply
      September 17, 2014 7:34 AM

      So, it'd Dynasty Warriors without the annoying parts, with Zelda stuff thrown in. Nice.

      I only recently checked into what it was (Up to now, I actually thought it was going to be a Smash-esque fighting game). Looks fun.

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        September 17, 2014 7:37 AM

        It is. I started playing it for review purposes, but now that I've spent all this time with the game, I actually want to play it more than Destiny.

    • reply
      September 17, 2014 7:35 AM

      I was sold on this game when they released the video that included Link lobbing dozens of bombs a second at a hundred goblin baddies.

      Every other video I've seen after that has been even more epic.

      Cannot wait.

      • reply
        September 17, 2014 7:38 AM

        Doing that over and over again never gets old.

      • reply
        September 17, 2014 8:17 AM

        I know the video you're talking about, and it sold me on the game too.

        Zelda is my favorite IP in gaming, and one thing I love about it is that it encourages thoughtful, intellectual play. However, there have been countless occasions where I just wanted to go wild with Link's iconic arsenal. Hyrule Warriors appealed to me because it looked like the game that would finally let me unleash all those cool weapons without worrying about resource conservation.

        • reply
          September 17, 2014 12:23 PM

          You hit the nail on the head with your comment. You cant do everything you wanted in your comment in Hyrule Warriors.

    • reply
      September 17, 2014 7:41 AM

      Shit, I might finally have to get a Wii U. Hope there's a good bundle sale around black friday.

    • reply
      September 17, 2014 7:42 AM

      Well I'm sold on it. I was actually pretty cynical about it because I haven't enjoyed the Dynasty Warriors series in a long time but this sounds like it adds enough to make the series feel fresh again.

      • reply
        September 17, 2014 7:46 AM

        For me, I think part of the reason the Dynasty Warriors games never clicked was due to the downright absurd premise that was taken entirely too seriously.

        Hyrule Warriors takes the same premise but appears to have fun with it, and that's why it has my attention.

    • reply
      September 17, 2014 7:43 AM

      I don't think I can ever be convinced that a dynasty warriors game could be good.

      • reply
        September 17, 2014 10:44 AM

        That's what I said, but after I tried it out at GameStop Expo, I became very open to changing my mind. It was shockingly fun.

      • reply
        September 17, 2014 12:24 PM

        I thought the same thing as well. Until I played Hyrule Warriors, that is.

    • reply
      September 17, 2014 7:55 AM

      I always found Dynasty Warriors to be fun once in awhile. I think they fatigued everyone by releasing a billion of them and Samuari Warriors and 22 sequels for each. I've successfully avoided the series for a long time and this could be a lot of fun with all the Zelda parts.

      Is there Co-op?

      • reply
        September 17, 2014 8:15 AM

        Yep one plays on the tv and the other plays on the gamepad.

    • reply
      September 17, 2014 8:11 AM

      "This is a Zelda game" that seems hard to believe.

    • reply
      September 17, 2014 8:17 AM

      how's the co-op? to me, that's a killer feature. Some can play using the gamepad and the other the TV. You can each move around the battles independently. That sounds so awesome.

      • reply
        September 17, 2014 10:55 AM

        Kills the visuals and fps according to other reviews. Hopefully they patch that.

    • reply
      September 17, 2014 9:31 AM

      I can't decide if I'm psyched or stoked

    • reply
      September 17, 2014 10:31 AM

      I wasn't planning on getting this at release but now I really want it. Thanks, Daniel!

      • reply
        September 17, 2014 12:27 PM

        My pleasure, Skankcore. Please come back and tell me how you're liking it once the game is released. I'm curious to hear what others think of the game!

    • reply
      September 17, 2014 10:35 AM

      Good news for the game it seems, can't wait to play it!

      • reply
        September 17, 2014 1:14 PM

        Neither can I, but I have stupid work to do.

        Wait - I work here.

        Uh.. nevermind. Carry on!

    • reply
      September 17, 2014 10:42 AM

      Is there going to be a playable demo?

      • reply
        September 17, 2014 1:20 PM

        I would hope so, although I think most Wii U kiosks should have Hyrule Warriors to play. Just don't forget to bring a tub of Purell.

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      September 17, 2014 10:43 AM

      Cool

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      September 17, 2014 10:56 AM

      As someone who never played a DW game, is it pretty much 3D Gauntlet + capture the flag??

      • reply
        September 17, 2014 11:02 AM

        It's a button-mashing frenzy. Each level gives you goals to accomplish, but you spend most of your time unleashing every weapon at your disposal against droves of brain-dead enemies. It's awesome, especially at the end of a long day when you're in the mood to play, but don't have the energy for, a more cerebral game.

        • reply
          September 17, 2014 12:19 PM

          There is a deep satisfaction in gathering and exploding a huge pack of enemies in Diablo 3. I expect this scratches a similar itch.