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Hyrule Warriors review

Troubled
AT A GLANCE
  • The Zelda series nods
  • Finally being able to play as your favorite Zelda character
  • Non-stop button mashing
  • There's no gameplay variety
  • Combat becomes overwhelmingly dull after a few hours

The stories in the Zelda series often tell of ancient wars and heroes banding together to stem the tide of a great evil. You know, wars that seem like they'd be totally awesome to play in a game. Hyrule Warriors makes that ‘if-only’ scenario a reality. Here, you finally take part in an epic war in the Zelda universe, fighting the forces of evil on a battlefield and defeating enemies through brute force rather than push-block puzzles. While Hyrule Warriors carries on some beloved elements from the Zelda series and provides plenty of fanservice, Warriors series tropes drag down what could have been an awesome spin-off.

Zelda fans will love all the plentiful nods to the series: like how Impa's massive sword is actually the Giant's Knife from Ocarina of Time, and that Sheik's Harp attacks launch elemental spells by playing songs like Fire Temple's Bolero of Fire, or the Water Temple's Serenade of Water.

If you aren't a big enough Zelda fan to get the series references, Hyrule Warriors doesn't offer much to catch you up. Characters are flung in your face willy nilly with little explanation of who they are. You're just expected to know who's who, and why they're doing what they're doing. On top of that, the game clings to series revelations that every Zelda fan would know, like the true identity of the mysterious ninja Sheik. It makes you wonder who the game is made for with such obvious plot reveals for Zelda veterans and nonexistent character development for newcomers.

After the first several hours of unlocking characters, moves, and environments through the story campaign, the gameplay becomes a slog. It can be incredibly satisfying to discover the flashy movesets of each character, fight classic enemies like the Lizalfos, and unlock new characters. Koei Tecmo was spot on capturing each of the character's personalities in their fighting style, and the combat is an absolute thrill for the first few hours. But then you're forced to repeat the same shallow gameplay over and over again.

Watching the intricate combos a few times is cool, but when you're playing a 20 to 30 minute mission that requires you to pull off the same half dozen moves nonstop, over and over again, killing thousands of enemies that do little more than just stand there, the thrill quickly fades. In almost every instance, once I've been playing a new character for just a few minutes, their moveset starts to feel utterly worn out. It leaves me constantly looking for something different, never satisfied with the one-note character I've just unlocked.

The environments don't provide much in the way of variety either. You battle in classic locales like outside the Deku Tree or on Death Mountain, but the different levels are just palette swaps. The missions drop you in the middle of a battlefield map consisting of narrow lanes and little else to interact with. Everything you do revolves around killing enemies to capture forts. Need to flip a switch? Capture the fort containing the switch. Want to open a door? Capture the fort at the gate's entrance. There are no puzzles to solve or actual thinking involved. You just mash buttons and kill bad guys.

The only time I felt challenged was during the boss battles. The majority of the time bosses consist of unlockable characters, like Midna or the Ghirahim, and fighting them involves dodging telegraphed attacks and mashing attack buttons. But there are also boss encounters with classic Zelda monsters like King Dodongo. Taking down these monstrosities forces you to use special items earned in the level--like the classic Zelda games--giving the battle a bit more depth (followed by plenty more button mashing). However, these battles are spread too thin between button mashing sprees, and the game is far too quick to throw you repeat boss encounters down the road.

The additional Adventure mode and co-op don't help to alleviate the monotonous gameplay. Adventure mode is a board game-style side activity that allows you to explore the original Zelda's overworld, collect additional items, and level up characters. Sadly, you'll still battle the same bland enemies in repeat environments for your rewards. It can be fun to get a friend in Co-op to coordinate fort captures, but button mashing with a buddy is still button mashing.

The best part of Hyrule Warriors is seeing the stylized versions of the classic characters, taking the characters' movesets out for a spin, and absorbing the love Koei Tecmo has for the Zelda series. But nostalgia and fanservice can only take the game so far. Hyrule Warriors is held back by monotonous gameplay, brain dead AI enemies, and overlong missions that quickly exhaust you with repeat actions, enemies, and environments. If you're an enthusiastic Zelda fan that is somehow immune to the boredom of endless button mashing, Hyrule Warriors might be an enjoyable experience. Otherwise, you're better off skipping this one.

More Info

Release date: Sep 26 2014 - Wii U (US)
Available Platforms: Wii U
Genre: Action
ESRB Rating:
Rating Pending

Hyrule Warriors has brilliant Zelda fan-service, but is ruined by unimaginative combat and brain-dead enemies.

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44 comments

  • Stabby_Joe - 22 hours, 26 minutes ago

    To be honest I would not get made at this review, as I would place it as the review for people who don't like Warriors games IE Zelda still won't sway you while on the other end of the spectrum if you do like Warriors games then read a Jim Sterling review who will tell you why they like it with Zelda involved. The variety of reviews for this game is very interesting and if anyone did proper research, they could make up their mind through the many sources out there... ...that being said, I don't agree with some comments across these sites who will shrug off the series as if it has no fans or reasons to like it outright.
  • Stabby_Joe - 22 hours, 22 minutes ago

    Made? Yeah, I'm going to get made man after this haha!
  • brickman409 - September 18, 2014 2:43 a.m.

    I played a demo of this game at gamestop the other day and I thought it was alright. But I guess I could see the gameplay getting repetitive after awhile if it's just the same thing over and again. Maybe I'll get this when the price comes down.
  • hdefined - September 18, 2014 12:29 a.m.

    Fanboys, just . . . just shut up for a minute. Requesting that a DW fan review this game means that you want someone who is biased toward DW games to give this game a favorable review. That doesn't help anything. If you still like DW games after playing more than one, then you've already decided you'll like HW. That should be clear enough from all the reviews out there. You've already made that decision. No review is going to convince you otherwise. If you're on the fence - if you once like DW or never played them, but are skeptical about whether this is any good - then this review is probably for you. Or you could just disregard the review and play the game yourself. Just . . . just please stop whining about someone's opinion that you disagree with. You're embarrassing yourselves.
  • fullmetallegend - September 17, 2014 5:50 p.m.

    Everytime I see a "Warriors" game review. I see tons of complaints about how the reviewer isn't even a Dynasty Warriors fan, so he shouldn't do a review. That's probably because there aren't any professional reviewers that like DW. Like this guy said, it's a series based on effortless button-mashing, against enemies with zero AI and almost no attacks, that amuses for an hour based off the how cool the moves and characters look.
  • hdefined - September 18, 2014 12:35 a.m.

    You nailed it.
  • Stabby_Joe - 22 hours, 23 minutes ago

    There aren't any? Granted I know it's not a popular in the mainstream sense but you can find plenty out there who like this game. Heck, this title is getting pretty good reviews so far.
  • BladedFalcon - 21 hours, 21 minutes ago

    I'm pretty sure the good reviews have to do more with the fact that has Zelda fanservice, and less with the fact that it's a DW style of game.
  • Stabby_Joe - 9 hours, 16 minutes ago

    I won't deny that to an extent although Warriors games, particularly the more recent have actually got good reviews.
  • Clovin64 - September 17, 2014 5:17 p.m.

    I can't say I'm surprised at the score honestly. I've played DW games before and I know what they're like. I wasn't expecting the Zelda coat of paint to have anthing more than a superficial effect. Link and Zelda both look really badass though.
  • _--_ - September 17, 2014 4:19 p.m.

    --some PRETTY mixed reviews on this one --i dont know if ive EVER seen GR give a 4 to a game that Gamespot gave an 8 --its usually the other way around(and its usually nintendo games)
  • wyatt-boyer - September 17, 2014 3:29 p.m.

    You obviously have no idea what franchise you're playing. This is absolutely ridiculous, why do we let reviewers hwo know NOTHING about the franchise review these games? This always happens with the Dynasty Warriors series, and it's about time something changes.
  • GOD - September 17, 2014 8:12 p.m.

    Assumes that person whose job is to know about games, knows nothing about the game he reviewed on the basis of disagreeing with the score he gave it. Seems legit.
  • shawksta - September 17, 2014 2:24 p.m.

    Damn, very harsh, but very understandable Lorenzo, must be your first Dynasty Warrior's game. I always wanted to try the DW games and i understand how they work and why its niche, so im still looking forward to it. This review is one of the more harsh compared to everywhere else, even Gamespot gave it a 8, But you have every right as a Zelda fan to think of it as troubled lorenzo, DW isnt for everyone.
  • JMarsella09 - September 17, 2014 1:52 p.m.

    No offense to Lorenzo, but I think I would have preferred an opinion from someone who actually likes Dynasty Warriors games.
  • CitizenWolfie - September 17, 2014 1:39 p.m.

    I've seen some very conflicting reviews for HW and while I was skeptical before I'm looking forward to it. Never played DW so it'll all be new to me anyway. And yes, I'm a Zelda fanboy. As said, never played DW before but it does seem unfair that they all get criticism for being repetitive button mashers when you're essentially doing the same thing in God of War, DMC and Bayonetta. Guess I'll see for myself come Friday.
  • JMarsella09 - September 17, 2014 1:55 p.m.

    With all do respect dude, if you think that DMC and Bayonetta are just button mashers, I have trouble believing you actually played them.
  • CitizenWolfie - September 17, 2014 2:59 p.m.

    I have played DMC (first one and recent reboot) and Bayonetta but I found them very repetitive. Just not for me. At least God of War had puzzles and platforming to mix things up.
  • BladedFalcon - September 17, 2014 2:06 p.m.

    ...I don't want to sound too rude, but please avoid making assessments like the one at the end? it makes you sound ignorant because it's completely incorrect. For starters, the very premise of Warriors differs from a DmC style of game. Only people who has never played DmC or Bayonetta could call it a button masher with a straight face, simply because even at normal difficulties, button mashing WILL get you killed sooner or later. Aside from those game's initial, easy type of enemies, they inevitably present you with different types of enemies that don't just have more health or do more damage, but behave differently from each other, or have patterns of behavior that require a different approach in order to defeat them or not be damaged. In any of these games, being too greedy and attacking without knowing a pattern so you can doge or defend invariably gets you damaged quickly and killed. Even though yeah, combat is the meat of such games, the combat itself feels varied from level to level thanks to the different types of enemies, or the way they are arranged as you progress. And then you have bosses, which are even more strict and different in the way they behave and require you to defeat them. The fun then, becomes in understanding how to best deal with an enemy and being damaged the least from it, and being able to apply that knowledge even when you have a room that mixes different types of enemies. And in those instances, said numbers seldom go beyond the single digits, as the games WANT you to be able to keep track of who you are fighting because every single enemy DOES matter. Warrior games though, do NOT have that kind of variety or finesse. Essentially, Warrior games have three kinds of enemies. The grunt or soldier, which you see dozens, if not hundreds of at a time, but are completely ineffective and seldom attack, let alone behave in a distinctive way to make an impact, they essentially exist only so you can mow them down in droves. Then you have bigger units, who have more health and deal more damage, but don't really have more than one attack or style of behavior, and don't really differ from one another, you just need to deliver more hits to defeat them. And then you have "generals" who are usually characters the player can use later, they are more powerful, and their attacks seem more varied... Until you realize they all behave the same way still. Their range and number of hits per combo may vary, but in the end all you need to do is wait until their attack string is done, then mash attack, rinse and repeat. Essentially, the problem with warrior games is that they are the embodiment of "quanitty" over "quality". They throw tons of enemies at you, and have dozens of characters for you to use, but both are barely defined or differentiated from the other in a significant way. Say what you will about DmC or other action games like that, but at least by being more restrained by how much they throw at you, they can make every single enemy or encounter matter.
  • CitizenWolfie - September 17, 2014 3:13 p.m.

    I don't think I was making a sweeping generalisation. When I refer to the above examples specifically as button mashers, I am speaking from what I felt when I played them myself . GoW aside (which at least had puzzle and platforming elements) I found DMC and Bayonetta very repetitive in the sense that it seemed to be "fight waves of minions, mini boss - avoid telegraphed moves, combos, repeat - then tougher/flying minions, boss - dodge, weak spots, repeat." Basically the exact things you mentioned that DW does only with more varied combos. And I also found that I was doing all this whilst running around mostly lifeless arenas and corridors. Now admittedly I haven't played any of the DW games but that's the impression I also got from this review. I wasn't calling any of the above bad games. Love GoW, like DMC but didn't care for Bayonetta. That's just me though, I prefer story over pure gameplay. It just seemed like DW gets a lot of hate thrown at it is all and I was wondering why. I thought it seemed similar to the COD/BF debate, the games might be different but they both boil down to running around shooting each other.

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