Hyrule Warriors review

  • 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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  • cJinL - September 20, 2014 5:14 p.m.

    This review kind of seems pointless. It's basically word for word the same review as all the other Dynasty Warriors games, but its written like the reviewer has never played a DW game before.
  • g1rldraco7 - September 20, 2014 5:36 a.m.

    Lorenzo did a Tom McShea on this game review
  • Stabby_Joe - September 18, 2014 11:23 a.m.

    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 - September 18, 2014 11:26 a.m.

    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 - September 18, 2014 11:25 a.m.

    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 - September 18, 2014 12:28 p.m.

    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 - September 19, 2014 12:33 a.m.

    I won't deny that to an extent although Warriors games, particularly the more recent have actually got good reviews.
  • BladedFalcon - September 19, 2014 3:28 p.m.

    Unless I'm mistaken though, those scores mostly come from Jim sterling and/or destructoid, and they've always been shameless fans of the formula.
  • Stabby_Joe - September 20, 2014 4:10 p.m.

    Not really, I am referring to averages and reviews that come with it,, being more than just those two. Also what's wrong with someone who likes a series reviewing the next installment?
  • BladedFalcon - September 20, 2014 4:25 p.m.

    Nothing, just as there's nothing wrong with someone that dislikes a series and giving it a low score. Yet as this thread proves, everyone loses their shit when that happens, because this time it happens to be related to Zelda. As for the averages, I'm going to concede that to you, since I admit I haven't looked, and don't really plan to. If the series is actually getting better, then that's great, it's just that to me, it hasn't changed nearly enough for me to bother with it again, playing DW3, and Samurai Warriors was more than enough to get my fill of mindless drone army slaying simulator.
  • Stabby_Joe - September 20, 2014 4:37 p.m.

    That is why the variety of reviews this game has been getting is interesting to me. It kind of forces people to make an informed yet completely personal decision for a change IE nothing one way or the other. As you say since you don't like the series, this review states what you would need to know. For me though, this is definitely one of the better Warriors games so far and not just because of the Zelda brand, hence why another review will go into detail as to why that may be for others. Although I will agree with you about the brand bringing out the knee jerk defenses, although I am more coming from the view of "oh, NOW you suddenly care?" haha!
  • BladedFalcon - September 20, 2014 6:53 p.m.

    Haha, yeah, that's completely fine. And again, I'm not at all attacking people like you who clearly like or enjoy the DW style of gameplay already. I mean, of course you guys would enjoy this game even if it was the same. I'm mainly calling out people who clearly are defending this game just because it has a Nintendo or Zelda property attached to it, even though it's clearly superficial. And had it not been Zelda coated, they wouldn't have said a thing about the same game, and might have even attacked it. I'm just against hypocrites, basically XD
  • Stabby_Joe - September 21, 2014 9:56 a.m.

    While I would argue there are Zelda trappings that change up the gameplay compared to the other games in the franchise, but yes people are out for that aspect it seems. Heck, if a DW game had a GOOD review here, would anyone notice?
  • BladedFalcon - 22 hours, 56 minutes ago

    From what I've heard though, said trappings, while cool nods, don't really happen that often, or aren't significant enough to change the overall formula. And exactly my point. I mean, I'm sure you, and the people who actually DO like the series would, but even then it wouldn't have gotten a third of the comments that are in this thread, which again, goes to show that those extra commenter showing outrage are not much more than your average Nintendo fanboy trying their best to justify their irrational brand loyalty.
  • Stabby_Joe - 15 hours, 26 minutes ago

    I would disagree with the first statement having played it and prior Warriors titles but in conclusion, yes, while not to the same extent as Destiny, I wasn't expecting this game to get the overly defensive comments... although given the branding I probably should of haha!
  • 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.

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