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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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29 comments

  • brickman409 - 2 hours, 56 minutes ago

    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 - 5 hours, 10 minutes ago

    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 - 11 hours, 50 minutes ago

    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 - 5 hours, 5 minutes ago

    You nailed it.
  • Clovin64 - 12 hours, 23 minutes ago

    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.
  • _--_ - 13 hours, 21 minutes ago

    --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 - 14 hours, 11 minutes ago

    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 - 9 hours, 27 minutes ago

    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 - 15 hours, 15 minutes ago

    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 - 15 hours, 47 minutes ago

    No offense to Lorenzo, but I think I would have preferred an opinion from someone who actually likes Dynasty Warriors games.
  • CitizenWolfie - 16 hours, 1 minute ago

    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 - 15 hours, 45 minutes ago

    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 - 14 hours, 41 minutes ago

    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 - 15 hours, 34 minutes ago

    ...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 - 14 hours, 27 minutes ago

    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.
  • Psylockerules - 17 hours, 28 minutes ago

    honestly Midna is what i find appealing about this game, Fi is annoying
  • BladedFalcon - 17 hours, 48 minutes ago

    Fanboys will never cease to amuse me. Had this been another warriors game review, no one would have batted an eyelash at the poor score. "Well, of COURSE it sucks, it's another warriors game, did anyone expect it to change?" Oh, but put a zelda skin on it, and now everyone is like "Man, you're being way too harsh, of course it's like a warriors game, but those aren't THAT bad! Right???"
  • Cruddi - 16 hours, 10 minutes ago

    Isn't this just an other warriors game? But pallet swapped with Zelda so of COURSE it sucks lol it is a shame though because I do enjoy a good romp through Hyrule or where it decides to go, I even like the DS games.
  • shawksta - 15 hours, 10 minutes ago

    There have been conflicting reviews between the games and its always been like this for such a niche series. People who know what to expect from a Dynasty Warrior's game say HW does a better job than the series in general. But if you flat out dont like DW, or even know what its about and expected a game to be more than of course your gonna see it as dissapointment. Your definitely right about the series name however, this is only one of many MANY occasions where a series name on a game is why it somehow gains relevancy if it didnt. If this was a regular DW game they would say it improved but still isnt good enough, while in this context, people are saying the game improved because of the Zelda formula. Such a world we live in.
  • slimjim441 - 18 hours, 46 minutes ago

    You know this isn't a Zelda game made by Koei Tecmo, but in fact a Dynasty Warriors game with a Zelda reskin, right? I'm not even a die-hard DW fan, and I can readily admit the games are kind of a guilty pleasure that I enjoy once in a great while, but still, 2-star seems a bit harsh. Of course there's no dynamic puzzles; it isn't a Zelda game. Of course there's no real story and characters are thrown in with no apparent reason or real affiliation with the matters at hand other than the idea of 'wouldn't it be cool to play as *blank* right now?' It isn't a Zelda game. I'm not saying it's a masterpiece (I obviously haven't even played it yet, but I have played DW before. And anyone else who has will know exactly what they're getting into with HW I'm sure), but I think, like Destiny, this game was reviewed entirely from the wrong perspective.

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