News Article

First Impressions: Hyrule Warriors Is Zelda, But Not As We Know It

Posted by Damien McFerran

Button-mashing with the Hero of Time

On paper, Nintendo's decision to ally Zelda with the Dynasty Warriors franchise makes perfect sense; Koei Tecmo's series is incredibly popular in its native Japan and Wii U owners are simply dying for another Hyrule-themed adventure to embark upon. However, almost immediately after the announcement of Hyrule Warriors there were rumblings of concern that the repetitive and shallow nature of the Warriors franchise would fail to placate seasoned Zelda fans accustomed to deep and rewarding gameplay. It was a fair comment to make and having spent some time with the game, is one that we can't help but agree with to a certain extent. Let's make one thing clear — despite the presence of so many familiar faces, this isn't your typical Zelda title and anyone expecting a similar experience to that seen in Twilight Princess or Skyward Sword is going to come away sorely disappointed.

That's not to say this isn't an entertaining game, because it most certainly is, provided you don't go in expecting the wrong things. As we suspected, this is more of a Warriors game than it is a Zelda one; while Link and company are the ones dishing out the punishment with indiscriminate relish, the core mechanics which underpin their actions are lifted wholesale from Koei Tecmo's lineage of historical brawlers. Attacks can be strung together to form unique and devastating combinations, and the enemy grunts will stand around staring into space until they are presented with the opportunity to walk directly into your whirling blade of death. Success is all about controlling sectors of the map and taking down enemy generals, and even within the short time we spent with this one-level demo, it became immediately apparent that repetition was the order of the day.

Of course, none of this will come as any great surprise to veteran Warriors fans. The appeal of this series — which has sold over 18 million copies worldwide — lies in its accessible action and enjoyable combat; while there are techniques to master here, what makes the Warriors titles so successful is their low barrier to entry. Hyrule Warriors actually goes some way to changing this, adding in welcome layers of complexity to ensure that your brain is getting a workout at the same time as your fingers.

The best example of this comes once you've collected the bomb weapon and you're placed directly in the path of King Dodongo, previously seen in Ocarina of Time. Those of you that have played the N64 (and more recently, 3DS) epic will know that bombs have to be thrown into Dodongo's gaping maw to defeat him, and the same tactic applies here. It's fair to expect that other significant references to the Zelda series will be encountered later in the game, and hopefully these will add some problem-solving magic to the almost painfully straightforward Warriors template.

Visually, Hyrule Warriors is attractive enough but isn't up to the high standard we've come to expect from the mainline Zelda series. Character models and environments are rather sparse when it comes to graphical detail and the frame rate struggles to maintain a solid 30fps, especially when there's a lot of action on-screen. This of course isn't the finished article, but with the Japanese launch looming on the horizon like the sinister moon in Majora's Mask (something which also makes a cameo appearance), it's unlikely that Koei Tecmo and Omega Force will be able to tighten things up enough sufficiently to totally eradicate the slowdown. The main characters are the exception here, with Link sporting plenty of expression and detail.

Hyrule Warriors was entertaining enough to merit repeated playthroughs of the single stage on offer, and it's obvious that having multiple playable characters — each with their own unique talents and attacks — is going to add considerably to the longevity of the title, especially when you take into account the incredible popularity of Zelda's cast. Even so, it's impossible to shake the feeling that Hyrule Warriors is going to disappoint those Nintendo fans who haven't previously encountered this button-mashing franchise. Previous crossovers — such as the downright offensive Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 — keenly illustrate that the formula isn't a sure thing all of the time, nor is it a series which boasts totally universal appeal, despite its fame in Japan. However, what we played of Hyrule Warriors certainly had us eager to experience more, and if Koei Tecmo and Omega Force can ensure that repetition is kept to a minimum as much as possible, we could have a Zelda-themed outing which neatly fills the void until the release of the proper instalment next year.

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User Comments (103)



Tops said:

I seriously can't wait for this! It'll probably be my next Wii U purchase



Blast said:

Still a day one buy for me. Guys! We gotta support exclusives for Wii U! We gotta!!!!



19Robb92 said:

I'll probably get it just because it Zelda..

I'm hoping for a cool Limited Edition bundle or something. CoOp sound neat as well, I'm going to try to get a friend over and play it that way all the way through. Even a so-so game can get extremely fun if you're playing it multiplayer



WaveBoy said:

I'm not too excited for this one, really. If it wasn't boasting LOZ asthetics i wouldn't be buying.....Oh wait, i just fell for Nintendo's trap.



aaronsullivan said:

I do remember some folks hoping for exploration of Temples and puzzles in the comments and such, so it's good to have an article like this.

I am hoping it transcends the other Warriors games as they haven't interested me very much, but maybe just the Zelda skins and mild gameplay nods to their characters in the original is all I need. Definitely waiting for reviews but I'm cautiously optimistic.



Volmun said:

as iv sed before im really excited for this Game. Im hopeing we get the Collector's Chest Edition like JPN is... id like that chest and the Scarf



Yosher said:

I'll certainly be getting the best edition of this game, should it come over to Europe.



Gerbwmu said:

Waiting on a review I guess........It seems like good fun and button mashing has it's place in my game library but I've never played a Dynasty Warriors game so?



Emblem said:

I'm probably in the minority being a Warriors fan first and a Zelda fan second lol.

Can't wait for this game, i'm always interested to see what new mechanics are added to the Musou formula, i really hope they have an Empires or Ambition mode on this game.



Galenmereth said:

Struggles to keep 30fps? No thank you. Seriously, sub 30fps is actually uncomfortable to look at.



rjejr said:

If this were anything like a standard Zelda game there would be no point in making it. I'm looking forward to letting Link let it loose for a change and getting to just go on a rampage rather than spending so much time pushing boulders and lighting torches.

Really, I'm neither a huge Zelda fan (Skyward Sword nearly put me to sleep on several occasions, and I got sick of fighting that same giant monster in that pit) or a huge DW fan (my fingers get tired after awhile of non-stop smiting) but I'm counting on this having just enough of each to make me happy.

Though TBH if it were 1 player I'ld probably pass, 2 player couch co-op means lot of hootin' an hollerin'.



bizcuthammer said:

Not really a fan of DW. So if this is just a DW game with Zelda skin on it, i'll probably be passing it up. I'll just wait one more week for Smash Bros 3DS instead



c1pher_c0mplet said:

I wouldn't mind the Warriors series so much if the enemy AI at least approached you or something; they just stand there. It's like beating up paper machete figures. Don't have a Wii U (yet) and not really interested in this game (aside from the lush visuals). Maybe I'd try it once it's < $20 in a bargain bin somewhere lol



datamonkey said:

Wish I had some interest in this game as Zelda is one of my favourite franchises... This just doesn't appeal to me unfortunately...



Ryno said:

Never played a Warriors game but have been interested so this is perfect place to start.

@Waveboy: Just wait until MegaMan Warriors comes out soon.



Spanjard said:

The co-op might be really fun for me though, I'll wait till I see more of that before making any judgment.



WiiLovePeace said:

I've heard from Warriors franchise fans that the higher difficulty levels of the game require more strategy & can't be beaten by just "button-mashing". Also, that the easiest level is "supposed" to be beaten by even the most inexperienced gamer. I'll buy this because it's got LoZ characters in it & I'll play it at the highest difficulty level & see how I go.



Kaze_Memaryu said:

I really wonder if TK approached the Zelda formula beyond the boss gimmicks - having dungeons with puzzles for the singleplayer campaign would be really cool and provide some variety.
Also, I hope for Vs. Modes where you control your units and fight for dominance against other online. The GamePad would be perfect for that!



MrGawain said:

At this moment in time I've been playing Lost World and AC4.

Whatever this game is, it must be better than that. Gimme!



epicdude12302 said:

Repetition never bothers me unless it's to the point where each level is exactly the same so it shouldn't be a problem for me.



0utburst said:

I'll pass on this one. I'll probably get it when it's 20€. I'm predicting a score no more than 7/10.



audiobrainiac said:

I believe that because they've worked with Nintendo on this that its gonna be better than any 'Warriors' game. I just can't see Nintendo letting Koei Techmo smear their most popular franchise in to a bad game. I mean Nintendo stepped in just because they thought Bowser was misrepresented in Wreck it Ralph. Clearly they really care about what happens with that. I've never been a huge fan of the 'Warriors' titles mainly because the characters are just so forgettable and yes the gameplay was a little shallow. But I think they really have something here. For me, this is an Instabuy.



heyzeus002 said:

The only dw ive played is a gundam one on 360 and the actual gameplay was average at best but the source material kept me playing for a while but im not a huge zelda fan so will be giving this a miss



KeithTheGeek said:

I wonder how many of the people criticizing the Musou games for being "easy button mashers" have played on difficulties beyond the easiest? I'm guilty of playing on easy/normal (whatever is the default, anyhow) although that's partially because these games can be cathartic fun. Supposedly they get a lot tougher and less mindless as you go up in difficulty, at least according to the fans, so I wouldn't fear too much if the game isn't giving you enough of a challenge.



theberrage said:

A modded Dynasty Warriors... no thanks. Probably will be the first "Zelda" game I pass on.



WaveBoy said:

If this were a straight up dynasty warriors game it would score a 6, but because it's been drizzled in Zelda skin it will get an 8. No less than a 7, i'm calling it.

I would buy 10 copies of that Shredder statty! But mega man doesn't have to rely on Nintendo themed asthetics to sell well or get good reviews. Dynasty warriors would do piss poor in sales, but now because it's donning the LOZ skin it has a chance at doing great.

It's clearly working, you and i are even thinking about picking it up haha.



WaveBoy said:


NL needs to spruce up their reviewing system.
I miss the days when reviewers graded visuals, sound, presentation and game play as well by also including a number/rating system rather than just a summary and overall rating of the game....Kind of like how GamePro did it for example in the early 90's. these were totally awesome!


It adds more variety and fun to the review imo. Even secondary multple(3 others) short reviews plus a score from different people would be a fresh of breath air.

And it sounds odd, but i find the 1.0 - 5.0 system more satisfying than 1-10 stars regardless if it's technically the same thing.
I love them' 0.5's! If Hyrule Warriors were graded this way it would no doubt receive a 3.5



Ichiban said:

The only way this could be worse than Skyward Sword is if after each hit you land the game pauses and reminds you how to hit enemies or walk forward.



gage_wolf said:

Sorry Ninty, but a re-skin of a tired game won't fool me. As far as the "we have to support Wii U exclusives so we should feel obligated to buy this game" rhetoric goes... we absolutely do not have to do that as fans. I want new Nintendo games not other company's games with a Nintendo sticker slapped over it.



The_Ninja said:

At first I was hyped for this game, but then I started to lose it. I love Zelda, but this looks like a fan game. It looks good, but it looks like something a zelda fan would mod for Dystany Warriors. I'll skip this, and wait for the real deal(s)



gatorboi352 said:

What has me most worried here are the technical level issues. Game looks like an early PS360 title and it's struggling to maintain 30fps? Pass. This style of game demands 60fps, especially with that texture work going on...



NintyMan said:

I'm not expecting this game to blow people's socks off, but I don't think it'll be absolutely horrible either. I'm still interested, but I'm definitely waiting for reviews, especially considering the other games I'll be interested in this Fall and Winter.



Link506 said:

Can't wait. Never played a warriors game but this might make me wanna play another one if this is good.



WhiteNoise17 said:

The best factors for separating this game from a regular Dynasty Warriors game are characters, settings, mythos, and story but at the same time it looks like a reskin of Dynasty Warriors that most people will buy because they're a fan of either Zelda or Dynasty Warriors. Though I'd still buy it to play as Zelda



WaveBoy said:

You said it dude. I probably won't be picking this one up for the reasons you stated in your post. The trap has been set and NintenZoids across the globe just can't resist the Zelda themed skin.



HylianJowi said:

It's not going to be a masterpiece, but it'll be a nice bit of schlock to hold us over until Zelda U. I'm glad @Damo is establishing the right set of expectations to go in with; Zelda hasn't had a knockoff fanservice-y game like this yet, so some people might be crushed.



ricklongo said:

I'm a huge Zelda fan, and to be honest, I think I'd be more interested in this game if it featured a brand new world and brand new characters. I don't know, I'm just not a fan of spin-off titles like this, and there's no way the gameplay will measure up to Zelda awesomeness.

Nevertheless, I never played a Warriors game, and plan to give this one a buy. Let's hope I'm not disappointed.



ariwl1 said:

I fully expect this to be fairly mindless. Most of the side-scrolling beat 'em ups and hack an' slashes were much the same way. The appeal is in feeling like the ultimate badass by mowing down waves of mooks all by your lonesome. If this game can give me that, with some great variety of characters, it'll meet my expectations just fine.



WaveBoy said:

Those mindless brawlers were a blast back in the day, at least the 2D ones(TMNT II: The arcade game, The Simpsons, Double Dragon ect) but a lot of them just don't hold up that well these days, at least for me. Never cared for 3D beat em ups or hack 'n slashes so this will definitely not be up my turtle oozing alley.



LunarKnite said:

Well written, tempered impression. I know as a huge Dynasty Warriors fan (moreso than a Zelda fan) I have to keep my enthusiasm in check when suggesting the titles to my friends because it's not for everyone, though it's fairly easy enough to be. I know I'm going to have a blast with this game, despite it being repetitive, as if that's a bad thing.



8BitSamurai said:

It's a Warriors game with a Zelda coat of paint on it. See: Super Mario Bros. USA.

I'll pass, this is just going to be a shallow and monotonous button masher IMO.



Hamguar said:

Nothing surprising in this article. Enjoyed the DW games a bit and currently my library is devoid of this kind of hack and smash gaming, so being a Zelda fan first, I can see no better choice to fill the spot.



gamerphil07 said:

Warriors has always looked fun to me, but the aesthetic was one factor I was never too keen of. Putting a Zelda layer on top of a really fun looking game means count me in! I think the multiplayer is where the most fun is going to come for me, and I love games with lots of characters too. I know it won't be super ground-breaking and dazzling, but it will give me what I want; Lasting fun.



Dpishere said:

Seeing as this game was online co-op I definitely considering getting the game! I can only hope that it will have asychronous multiplayer while playing online, that would make it nearly a must get!



EriSan17 said:

I'm more of a Warriors fan than a Zelda fan so this will probably be my favorite Zelda game. I prefer Warriors' fun gameplay over Zelda's dungeons and puzzles...



JaxonH said:

I understand full well this isn't going to have traditional Zelda gameplay. We can all see for ourselves in the trailers what kind of game it is.

And you know what? I'm still hypin' off the walls for this game.



SavoirFaire said:

I must be one of those crazy people who are going into this expecting a reasonably fun game where I beat stuff up as my favorite LoZ character(s). Having played 0 Dynasty Warriors games, and just about all of the LoZ games, I am not expecting gaming nirvana, just some fun.



Action51 said:

There are people out there who still think this is a regular Zelda game, and not a Dynasty Warriors style brawler?

Who are these people?



ArabPikachu said:


I think you will constantly find people complaining about a spinoff having gameplay different than a franchise's original gameplay formula.

One example would be Resident Evil: Survivor (which scrapped the classic RE formula in favor of FPS gameplay).



arnoldlayne83 said:

So my fears have been partially confirmed... It s a zelda/dinasty fanboys catcher... I think i ll give a try on the original warrior orochi (less than 20 bucks) and if i ll like it, i ll think about this one.... Not d1 of course.

Concerning supporting developers, i agree, but let me support people who is doing new games, such project cars and devil third, not mod at low framerate and bad graphics for ninty fanboys...



Dodger said:

I don't quite get the way the developers handled this opportunity. They get the once in a lifetime opportunity to make an action themed Zelda spinoff and it sounds like they didn't even try to make anything remotely Zelda like, besides character skins. If I was going to make a spinoff between Dynasty Warriors and Zelda, Zelda would get a lot more attention than the rather average Dynasty Warriors series. The opposite of the way it looks like they decided to handle this. If on top of that, they can't actually make it work well or look good, I probably won't have much interest. I hope they at least tried to put their finger on the elements that make a Zelda game.



Action51 said:

As for the argument over whether we need to "support this" or not...

It's super simple:

A) If you think you will enjoy playing this game and get your money's it.

B) If you aren't interested or all the information leads you to believe you won't enjoy it enough to justify the purchase...don't buy it.

C) Wait for the finished product and maybe a few trusted reviews before you make that decision.

Simple enough. I'll support third party exclusives and collaborations if they're good games. Buying games that don't interest you or you don't think are up to Nintendo's usual standards of quality only encourages them to make more like that.



MadAdam81 said:

I've tried four Zelda games and stopped playing after a few hours as that style bores me. I'm not keen on Kingdom Hearts either. DW I do enjoy, although.DW 5 far my favourite, playing through the individual story mode of each character. The games since just have a different story for each faction, and I don't really care for that. What gets me excited about Hyrule Warriors is a distinct story for each playable character, and I will want to 100% it, beating it with everyone on.each difficulty level, and on hard it should be requiring a lot of strategy and drawing on your experience of each level and character.



Whopper744 said:

I've always been a huge Zelda fan, but this warriors series never caught my eye... What is the best/cheapest way I could try out this franchise before HW comes out? (Note, I have all the Nintendo consoles)



MadAdam81 said:

@Whopper744 I'd say DW 5, but that's a PS2 exclusive, so try Warriors Orichi 3 on Wii U and then add the fact that each character has its own.story mode and you only play one character at a time. Orichi 3 is my least favourite Warriors game so far. Samurai Warriors 3 cake out on Wii, I'm not sure if anything else came out on Nintendo, the rest requiring.a PS2, PS3 or.360.



shredmeister said:

A Zelda game made by the same company that made Metroid: Other M... Of course, I am a huge fan of both of the aforementioned franchises. But I'm having doubts on this one.



Yoshi said:

Well...this is something to keep in mind. Not every game is perfect, but I was expecting more from this. Wait and see, I guess.



FlaygletheBagel said:

The < 30fps thing kinda makes me nervous about this game. This is one I'm definitely going to wait on reviews for before I buy.

At least if this game doesn't turn out to be all it's expected to be, Smash 3DS is right around the corner.



wayward said:

Definitely excited for this. I haven't played many games like this since the passing of the Gamecube; I enjoyed Mystic Heroes, Gauntlet, and Spartan Total Warrior back in the day. Found Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper cheap last year but didn't like the Chinese setting... So If this is mindless fun with characters spanning the entirety of the Zelda franchise, I'm all in!



19Robb92 said:


I really hope they manage to lock the framerate at 30fps in the final product.. Seems kind of unlikely though, since its releasing so soon..



Henmii said:

I really hoped there would be some puzzles, but this really doesn't seem the case. I still buy it, but I guess its just a snack before the real course: Zelda U!



Nintendboy14 said:

I can't understand the hate and dislike of this game I'm a huge LoZ fan since NES and is the reason I love ninty I've wanted a long time for a chance for link to go up against hordes of goblins, Lizafols and stalfols on the battlefield this is something new and a spin off of the series the characters and combos look awesome I don't care about graphics and never will and despite what u heard dynasty has tactics u have to control gates protect or escort allies defeat certain enemies in a limited time and on chaos mode u probably will die early on if u swing blindly



DualWielding said:

this game will sell only because it has Link on it, put a game with the exact same gameplay but without a Nintendo character on Wii U and it would not sell



WaveBoy said:

Wow, already over 90 comments. A regular Dynasty Warriors game would have a hard time getting over 10. Developers that are having a hard time selling their game should all get nintendo to do Zelda skins.



larry_koopa said:

"this isn't your typical Zelda title and anyone expecting a similar experience to that seen in Twilight Princess or Skyward Sword is going to come away sorely disappointed."

Wonderful!! I couldn't stand either of those games. I can't wait to play this game this fall. I've always loved the Zelda characters and lore, but hated the puzzles and gameplay of the series. I don't care how repetitive this game is - it looks fun and not everything out there needs to be incredibly deep and involving. Sometimes it's fun to just mindlessly kill 1000s of enemies. Those who want something different are welcome to go replay Wind Waker HD again or else wait for the proper Zelda title next year.

The frame-rate could be concerning, though...



AJWolfTill said:

@ferthepoet The warriors games are regularly more successful in Japan than the Zelda games although don't perform as well on a global market. Nintendo has seemed to be pretty intent on focusing on games targeting their Japanese audiences.



KillScottKill said:

@Diddy_kong "I've always loved the Zelda characters and lore, but hated the puzzles and gameplay of the series."

So in other words, you don't like Zelda games?



AJWolfTill said:

"hopefully these will add some problem-solving magic to the almost painfully straightforward Warriors template."
Throwing bombs into Dodongo's (et al.) mouths has become such a derivative trope of Zelda boss fights. If that is the kind of "added depth" to the combat system they are going for then that's almost a negative.



Sean_Aaron said:

This is going to be great, much better than Warriors Orochi, which is a frankly bizarre concept to start with (doesn't stop me playing the third iteration on my Wii U, though!).

Yes it's a brawler and yes, the basic controls tend to be pretty simple, but there is some depth around learning which specific attacks to use when: a stronger, limited focus attack against a general, versus big sweeping attacks to clear loads of enemies before they overwhelm you. There's also the feeling of being on a battlefield and influencing events - other characters calling out for assistance and new developments changing your objectives.

I just find it very satisfying to play in short bouts. It doesn't give me the visceral release of something like Ninja Gaiden 3 or Street Fighter and it's not a deep strategy title, but it straddles an enjoyable middle ground. I hope people will be open-minded and give it a chance.



Kisame83 said:

I took a break from Dynasty Warriors after 5 (the series' swan song on PS2). So, despite the general sameness of these games, I think I'm ready for another.



BertoFlyingFox said:

Well duh. It's a Dynasty Warriors game first, if you dont like that then dont get the game. Literally the most simple concept a consumer can get.

And yet here's an entire article essentially warning people this wont be Twilight Princess2. lol



Henmii said:

"and the enemy grunts will stand around staring into space until they are presented with the opportunity to walk directly into your whirling blade of death"

That's probably the most dissapointing. It seems most enemies don't really bother to attack you. They wait untill you have beaten them. Not very smart AI!



Grumblevolcano said:

@Henmii I think all Warriors games have different difficulty levels so it would be safe to assume the E3 demo was at the easiest difficulty or at least very close to.



bezerker99 said:

I was excited about this game but ..... Slowdown, generic backgrounds with minimal detail, and 30fps - all of that is disheartening and making me second guess.

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