I’d never played a Dynasty Warriors game so didn’t really have too clear an idea what to expect from this and, while it’s not your typical Zelda game, it might just be the best thing I saw all day.
Hyrule Warriors takes the Zelda world and throws hordes upon hordes of enemies into it until it’s positively flooded with angry beasties. I played as Link in the demo and opted to go with the Master Sword rather than the Fire Rod, because of course I did! I was dropped into what appeared to be the fields surrounding Hyrule Castle that were currently overrun with enemies, and engaged in the fast, frantic action that I couldn’t help but grin at throughout the entire thing.
I wasn’t even sure what I was doing at first, but the spectacle I was pulling off was an exhilarating joy to watch unfold. As I came to grips with the controls a little more, I found that holding Y would cause Link to rush forward and then launch into a sweeping attack when I let go, launching all of the forces of evil’s minions into the air. It was so gratifying I may have spent a little too long just running around doing this, grinning like an idiot the entire time. There was also a special attack that Link could charge up, a giant column of light that poured forth from the Master Sword destroying waves of enemies all at once.
But they were all replaced, giving me even more enemies to abuse in the wonderful power-trip that is Hyrule Warriors!
After a while I realised that there actually was an objective: A map was leading me to a large X, whereupon I found a chest that provided a little touch that I really appreciated: The gameplay was halted, allowing for the familiar animation of Link opening the chest while the iconic jingle played out. I got some bombs, which Link threw out in either a spray of countless bombs or one gigantic monolith of a bomb. Ridiculous in all the right ways.
King Dodongo was the boss in the demo, and the mechanics of that fight were another example of the Warriors team’s clear reverence for the Zelda series: As Link, I had to wait for King Dodongo to open his mouth to ready his breath of fire and then pour bombs down his throat, a familiar fight given the Warriors twist with his attacks – including his lumbering roll throughout the battlefield – playing out more randomly.
I’m a little in awe of the character and enemy design displayed in Hyrule Warriors, which again shows the reverence for Zelda while not being chained down by it. For example, Link is definitely Link, but he’s given an ever so slightly more contemporary look and a flowing blue scarf that really sets him apart. King Dodongo bore a fantastic new design in a similar way: Clearly Dodongo, but an interpretation more grounded in realism.
So is Hyrule Warriors any good? Put simply, writing about it just makes me desperate to play it again. It might not be the most technically challenging game, the combat might be mindless fun – but it is a wonderfully liberated fun.
I love Dynasty Warriors, especially 4 as it was my favourite for a long, long time. Hyrule Warriors is pretty much what you expect from a Dynasty Warriors game – or at least it seems that way at the moment.
We were only able to play a brief section that amounts to the first tutorial level, or perhaps only a section of it. It teaches you basics, then you go around specifically completing objectives in a very particular way as it won’t allow you to do standard base captures until it deems you competent.
Getting the bombs – as Adam says – was an interesting departure from the Warriors norm. It’s also huge fun to have infinite bombs to chuck willy-nilly at enemies. It’s quite the spectacle and we can only presume the bombs won’t be the only items that make an appearance come release date.
Spectacle surely is the word to describe it though. Watching other people play Link was fun, and he has his nice sword and Fire Rod attacks, but I took Zelda out onto the battlefield and the bow was far less unwieldy in the combos as i was expecting. It occasionally leaves you vulnerable to attacks either side of yourself, but the long-range sweeping attacks with the light arrows were mighty impressive and super pretty. The shimmering arrows filling the field mid-combo is nice, but it did seem like combos are a tad more difficult to keep going as the special of some moves would allow the combo timer to reset between hits.
King Dodongo was definitely the highlight of the demo as when I saw him, I merely presumed hit him loads until dead. As soon as I saw the mouth open to breathe in air, I instinctively threw bombs in. There was a split second where I didn’t think that it was going to work but then it did, and it made me smile ear to ear. I was extremely pleased with that. If they have more creatures and opponents that have those sorts of tactics that you can use to defeat them then I’m 110% behind Hyrule Warriors.
My main concern is that they won’t have enough of that. The soldiers of the Warriors games have always been fodder but even some of the guards seemed a smidgen too easy to take out. Granted this is only a demo – and a tutorial based one at that – but if the main levels are anywhere near as constricted as this, or the enemy health stays this low, then it would be a little disappointing for sure. I am still likely to get the game though because it’s two franchises that I love and that doubtlessly will enhance enjoyment regardless of the base quality.