This has been a very long time coming, personally. I said quite a long time ago that I was heavily working on playing Hyrule Warrior’s DLC for this review, and I’ll be honest… the only reason it’s coming out now is that I’m burned out on Hyrule Warriors to the point that I just can’t play the game anymore (for at least a very long time). I was considering waiting for Hyrule Warriors Legends to roll around so that I could fuse together both this and a Hyrule Warriors Legend’s review into one big colossus of a review, but I think I’d rather vent out my good and bad experiences from the first game’s DLC now, rather than later. I guess that I should also go ahead and personally re-review the original game too along with the DLC, mainly because my old Hyrule Warriors review is… umm… not quite my “magnum opus” if you know what I’m saying.
Without further ado, let’s get started with this review.
As it stands, I originally was about to never get this game back in September 2014 (wow, more than a year ago!), but I decided to take a plunge past the horrid low score reviews of the likes of Polygon and GamesRadar. The most common complaint I saw was that they were comparing Hyrule Warriors to Zelda games, and therefore basing their whole review off of the fact that it was unlike to Zelda and that it lacked the legendary series’s usual qualities. However, I decided to look past a couple bad reviews and try the game out for myself on launch day. As for the DLC for this game, I bought the whole DLC collection at once (mainly because I already knew I would want it all) and got the Dark Link skin from it.
In this game, Legend Mode is the story mode. Legend Mode’s story starts out with Zelda having a horrible nightmare, and Impa is nearby (because she’s the princess’s guard) and is told by Zelda of her nightmare. Zelda and Impa agree that they need to find the Hero (Link, duh) just in case. As cliche as it sounds, Zelda and Impa take literally less than ten seconds to come across Link training along with the other guards. After this, a horde of monsters start marching towards Zelda’s castle from Hyrule Field, and Zelda and Impa rush out to go and stop them. Link soon follows and helps defeat many enemies, until a dark wizard summons King Dodongo, and Zelda goes missing. Link and Impa go searching for Zelda and eventually stumble across Shiek (you know who this is) and, later on, a sorceress named Lana. Lana informs them that an evil witch named Cia is the one who is summoning all of these monsters, and they begin to march towards her fortress. As it turns out, Cia has the Triforce of Power, and Link and Shiek also both have Triforce pieces. She captures both of their pieces of the triforce and uses the power of the full Triforce to summon three eras of time (the Ocarina of Time era, the Twilight Princess era, and the Skyward Sword era) and three new commanders for her powerful army. The story continues onward from here in the game.
I personally find this (and the rest of the) story to be more so fan service for fans of the Zelda series, but that’s not a bad thing at all. It does its job good enough for me to remember it after all this time (no, seriously, I have only gone through Legends Mode with watching all of the cutscenes once, which was when I first played it one year ago), so good job on them making it memorable at the least.
However, there is another mode known as Adventure Mode, which features a simple story: “The ‘Dark Ruler’ has overtaken the land, and you must stop him!” Yeah, not much to criticize there, I guess.
This game has very… Semi-comedic and semi-serious undertones that comprise most of the dialogue. The writing in most parts of the various commanders’ common text speech is somewhat forgettable (albeit, I chucked at quite a few of them numerous times), but it all feels like a very well blended experience between the two (leaning more toward the semi-serious side).
The locations in the game are quite diverse and memorable (though, probably from having to play each of them all over again seventy-plus times at this point), but they obviously weren’t going for complete replicas of known Zelda areas. Even in levels taken right out of Zelda games, nothing is exactly the same as what it’s based off of except for very small nuances here and there in different levels.
There are many different characters from the various Zelda games (and original characters made specifically for Hyrule Warriors, as well), and they are all designed very similarly to their typical appearance. All the characters act like they should, and I think that they did a particularly good job with their different costumes and such (although most “costumes” are just recolonizations of a respective character’s typical appearance).
The gameplay of Hyrule Warriors is the core idea of a hack n’ slash game, brought to fruition in the most glorious way possible. Like other Dynasty Warriors-based games, your ultimate goal is to destroy as many potato-brained enemies as possible in the most epic fashion as possible. You have yourself, different captains, and the same potato-AI grunts all on your team. You deal massive damage, your captain deal decent damage, and your grunts really don’t help at all except for capturing what the game calls “keeps” (keeps are basically small bases on a map that spawn enemies if owned by the enemies or allied if you happen to have captured it, and your base is a special keep that causes you to lose a whole battle if captured by an enemy).
If you are using the Zelda-style control option (what I used for the majority of my time spent with this game), B is for normal attacks (which deal good damage by themselves), Y is for strong attacks (which can deal more or less damage depending on character and weapon), A is dodge (which can negate any damage taken from an attack if pulled off at the right time), and X is a special attack (which allows you to perform a cinematic attack that deals hefty damage) that drains a special attack gauge, which is filled by hitting enemies. Using a series of normal attacks followed by a certain number of strong attacks allows you to perform a combo move. When stronger enemies perform certain moves, it will leave them open to attack and you will be able to take down their “Weak Point Gauge”, which, when depleted, allows you to perform a powerful move on them.
Each character has their own weapon(s) to use in battle, and each weapon has a level one, two, and three variant that looks different and deals more or less damage. Each weapon has an element (light, darkness, fire, water, and lighting), and these elements have no purpose outside of damage taken on certain stages and certain other non-important bonuses. Every weapon is equipped with a completely unique moveset that can make or break a weapon’s skills and its fun factor.
Also there are other smaller mechanics in the game that add to the experience such as outposts (“mini-keeps” that spawn enemies in small amounts when captured; they are common and scattered all around the map in each level) and a level’s map (which shows the position of everything and anything in the level, including keeps, outposts, and commanders), but I won’t be touching on these much, as they are but tiny factors in my experience with this game.
Throughout your adventure, you will find that many enemies drop materials (organized by rarity into bronze, silver, and gold materials). You can use these materials to craft badges, which help to improve any warrior in a specific way (such as reducing damage in fire element recommended stages, or giving you an extra special attack gauge).
I would be lying if I tried to deny that Hyrule Warriors gameplay was repetitive; it is most definitely one of the most repetitive games in existence, and I’ve always had a grudge against games that drone on and on for hours with no real satisfaction. Let me say that again: “satisfaction“. There is only one reason why I am completely fine with Hyrule Warriors’s gameplay, and that is the fact that it is satisfying to wipe out horde of hundreds of enemies with one swipe of a special move; it is satisfying to see the progress I’ve made after beating a level; and it is wholly satisfying to actually be able to achieve 100% completion. However, I’ve have not been able to achieve my goal of completing everything in the game, but I can say that it felt awesome when I finally completed the first Adventure Map and the Master Quest Map in Adventure Mode. The thing is, I couldn’t take the gameplay anymore after such a long time of playing the game non-stop because nothing can be fun after playing it for as long as I did (think of only playing one game repeatedly for four months at least once every day for two to five hours at a time).
Now that I’m done with that tirade, Hyrule Warriors has three or four different modes that are available within the game. These are Legend Mode (a story mode that takes you through all of the levels in the game once, twice or maybe thrice with specific characters in single player or co-op), Free Mode (the same as Legend Mode except for that you can replay any level with any character in single player or co-op), Adventure Mode (basically “Scenario Mode”, which takes you on a quest through a gridded variation of different Zelda maps, such as the original The Legend of Zelda map with many different items to use on the overworld to unlock pathways or collectibles/weapons, with single player or co-op), and Challenge Mode (more so a time waster with a time limit and with no real unlocks unless you have the Boss Pack DLC). On the mode selection screen, there is also a Gallery (allows you you to see illustrations, characters models, and listen to music from the safety of the main menu) and Settings (basic controller options and misc. minor options). Also there is the apothecary, which allows you to brew different one-use potions using materials that you find throughout your adventures (these potions range from extra rupees to more or better weapon drops). Lastly, there are medals (achievements) that are there for those, like me, who want a little extra to do, and there’s also the Training Dojo, which allows you to level up characters to anywhere up to your highest leveled warriors for a ton of rupees.
In Legend Mode, you play through different levels with storyboard objectives that progress the story and the level. You can collect different items through Legend Mode, including bombs, the bow and arrow, the boomerang, and the Hookshot. At the end of quite a few of the levels in Legend Mode, there are bosses that you are able to kill with the use of the aforementioned items (throw bombs in King Dodongo’s mouth, shoot Gohma in the eye with an arrow, etc.), and they will be stunned long enough for you to be able to whack away at their Weak Point Gauge down about halfway (but they take little to no damage outside of this downed Weak Point Gauge state).
Bosses are personally hit-and-miss in my opinion. Most bosses are pathetically easy on their own, but in groups they become extremely annoying, especially when your own captains (that cause you to lose if they die) attempt to slay these mighty beasts without the use of items, which is practically impossible. I won’t spoil it, but there is one boss in particular that deserves to die horridly in a fire, but he can be dealt with just the same as long as there’s only one of them…
In each Legend Mode stage, there are a couple Golden Skulltulas hidden around that appear whenever you fill a certain criteria (for each stage in Legend Mode, it’s 1000 kills for a singular skulltula) and then they will show up in a vague area on the map. These skulltulas each give you a piece of a illustration, and if you collect enough pieces, you receive expansions to the apothecary and eventually some new levels in Adventure Mode that give you some neat rewards for completing.
Now, let’s get into Adventure Mode, which is where the majority of my time was spent with in this game. Adventure Mode is a “scenario mode”, which is different compared to Legend Mode in a way, and each level is spread out over a Zelda game themed map, such as the first Adventure Map being based off of the original The Legend of Zelda overworld:
There’s plenty of different scenarios to play on, such as scenarios where you must defeat a certain choice between two of enemy in a “quiz”, where you must play out a typical Legend Mode scenario, or where you must defeat all enemies while their and your attacks do devastating damage. Depending on what criteria you can fill in each stage, you are rewarded with a rank (from a C-Rank to an A-Rank), based on kills, damage taken, and time taken. Not all criteria is required for every stage (considering some levels that limit you to three kills or stages that are more difficult that allow you to take more time and damage).
Completing some marked stages alone, regardless of rank, may net you a new weapon for certain characters or an actual character, but the majority of stages must be beaten with an A-Rank to get a reward (such as a Heart Piece, Heart Container, or weapon). Beating certain levels, always regardless of rank, you will obtain an item card, which can be used on the overworld screen to reveal treasures, enemies, or even create paths to another stage. All of the reveal-able treasures are uncovered with item cards that are based off of original The Legend of Zelda items (or some items based off of later games), and they will always have a reward in the same place as the original game (such as a bomb planted on a wall in the original might open up a cave, in the Adventure Map, the same bomb planted in the same spot would open up yet another cave and reveal a treasure).
All Adventure Mode maps have colored areas that unlock as you beat a surrounding level while having progressed far enough in Legend Mode. Depending on color, stages will be much harder, such as red stages. These harder stages are typically the last ones you can gain access to because of a high difficulty spike unless you’ve done some level grinding.
As you can tell, there’s a plethora of scenarios to tackle, characters to unlock, and treasures to collect in Adventure Mode. However, this is not a good thing in all cases. For one, I personally dislike at least 70% of the stages in the Adventure Mode map, and the main reason why is because of the majority of stages that are just way too annoying and long to have to keep playing over, and over, and over again. I personally like to play games to the fullest so that I can get the most out of them, but I never intended to do the same with Hyrule Warriors’s Adventure Mode maps… However, I did, and all I can say is that no one should ever have to do what I went through. If it weren’t for the Max Rupee Glitch, which is still in the game, I would have given up a long time ago… because of two characters in particular. Okay, this is a minor spoiler, but these two characters are Agitha and Zant. Agitha is beyond horrible in every way in terms of her moveset, and a particular top-left Adventure Map square is to blame for a major part of this problem. Zant’s attacks feel like they barely do any sort of damage, and his really good moves don’t even feel like they would inflict as much damage as they do, but somehow they overpower his other moves (such as his B + Y combo that is one of maybe two moves he has that can decimate large crowds, while other characters- besides Agitha- typically have many diverse moves that can destroy your enemies).
As for the rest of the non-DLC content in Adventure Mode, I think that it has a problem of feeling the same, but that’s to be expected from a game like this, honestly.
As for DLC content, there are four DLC packs: the Master Quest Pack (which includes a few new levels in Legend Mode, a brand new Adventure Map, and new costume/re-colors), the Twilight Princess Pack (a new Adventure Map and costumes), the Majora’s Mask Pack (a new Adventure Map and costumes), and the Boss Pack (improved Challenge Mode to a playable state, and added new re-color costumes). Also, tapping a Link/Toon Link amiibo on the Gamepad’s NFC Reader while on the title screen will unlock a Spinner weapon, and there are multiple costume packs available for purchase on the eShop (but these costume packs only include costumes for Link, Zelda, and one pack dedicated to Ganondorf). As for the DLC content in Adventure Mode, you can currently get a “Master Quest” edition of the first Adventure Map, a Twilight Princess Map, and a Termina Map. All these maps have stylized overworld designs, likewise to their own games (except for the Master Quest Map, which is the exact same layout as the original Adventure Map, but with completely different challenges and rewards), and I think that the best pack to get is most definitely the Majora’s Mask Pack, because it has a very easy to pick up Adventure Map (with a unique mechanic) and it has two characters rather than the one included in the Twilight Princess Pack. I think that after that, the Master Quest Pack is the second best, then the Boss Pack, then the Twilight Princess Pack (nothing against the TP Pack, but it’s the one I spent the least time with, and it has my least favorite scenario types and a high level-necessity curve in Adventure Mode). The Termina Map is probably the least balanced Adventure Map in the DLC, but I find it to be completely enjoyable if your warriors are leveled up enough. Also the Master Quest Map is probably the best map for level grinding and training up for the Twilight Princess or Termina Map. Did I mention how important level grinding is?
Okay, I have one major problem with Adventure Mode, which is the one thing I just said: level grinding. There are quite a few levels in Adventure Mode that can be used adequately for level grinding in most situations, and the level grinding honestly ruins the pacing in Adventure Mode. Want to get that next weapon one tile away from you on the other side of an impassable wall? Well, too bad: those levels are ten times as hard than these levels! Not much more to say about level grinding. It’s just bad and has always been bad.
I could absolutely go on-and-on for literal hours talking about the gameplay alone, and why it works sometimes, but not others. However, I’d rather opt to save the absolutely finely detailed discussion for a later date, because otherwise this review would be twice as long as it already it.
Graphics and Performance:
The textures in the game are really bland and noticeably low-resolution… but, this is only a small complaint, considering that all of the player/enemy models are faithful to their original designs (although some enemy models are a little too faithful: an example is that the stalchild enemies looking like he was ripped out of the N64 Ocarina of Time game), and player models are the main thing that you will be seeing during your adventure, as you can run past any textured object or wall and not even notice the low quality.
The performance however is possibly the worst I’ve ever seen. The game runs at 60fps while standing still with nothing on screen, but as soon as more than five enemies are on screen, and you’re moving a bit, you will notice the extreme slowdown. Gladly, this is at the very least slowdown and not frame drops, meaning that the game just basically runs slower while more enemies are on-screen giving more of a “slow-motion” effect over a choppy effect, which is much more tolerable, but still not passable.
Music and Sound:
All of the music in this game is freaking amazing, and I can’t use and other words to describe it. Check out some videos of it on YouTube, and you’ll get what I mean (completely upbeat and wholly fitting to the whole product when it needs to be).
As for sounds, there’s not much to say. It’s satisfying to hit things with a nice slashing sound that makes it feels like you’re really damaging an enemy.
Final Thoughts and Score:
Hyrule Warriors is an insanely good product, but it has an incredible amount of problems that are un-ignorable. But it still works. The game is completely enjoyable to play overall, and I personally love to sit down and just relax while playing a good ol’ level in Adventure Mode to make a bit of progress. Is it repetitive? Yes, but it does so with flying colors. Does it have the same feel as any Zelda game? No, but it’s not trying to be Zelda because of the fact that it’s a Dynasty Warriors game with Zelda themes and skins. Am I now curious about the rest of the Dynasty Warriors games? You bet!
The DLC is definitely worth it, but only if you enjoy the base game already as it is, and I think that $20 for three times as much content in Adventure Mode alone is good enough.
Overall, I give Hyrule Warriors a 8 out of 10, and it will definitely be enjoyed by fans of Dynasty Warriors, hack n’ slashes, or by people that don’t even know what they’re missing out on.
Thanks for checking out my full review of Hyrule Warriors and its DLC! It’s been a great 1 and 1/4 year, and I like to think that I’ve finally improved to the point where I can really stretch my review skills to their (current) limit, which I did with this review. If I made any grammatical or reviewing mistakes, feel free to let me know (as I’m always trying to improve), and once again thanks for reading.
Also, I’d hate to “advertise” on my own posts about things I’m currently a part of, but I am currently hosting a giveaway on this blog, which is for anyone with a Wii U or Steam account. Make sure to check it out if you want to!
Have a wonderful end of 2015, seeya!