Hyrule Warriors was released last month, receiving a surprisingly positive reception. While this was perhaps more true of gamers than critics, one of our own reviewers, Michael N., reviewed it favorably, though some felt his score was not completely aligned with his text. To have a more comprehensive criticism of the game, three other Nintendo Enthusiast editors have decided to provide a “second opinion” of the game. Please keep reading to see whether we agreed with Michael\’s 8/10 review of Hyrule Warriors.
Hyrule Warriors is, quite possibly, the biggest surprise game I\’ve ever encountered. I had played some Dynasty Warriors in the past and was never a huge fan of it, and when I saw Hyrule Warriors, it looked good but I didn\’t know if it would really enthrall me. After putting 25+ hours into it on the launch weekend without ever getting bored, I was amazed. Hyrule Warriors manages to stay fresh and exciting just due to the superb amount of content the game packs. Everything is a love letter to Legend of Zelda fans, but even casual Zelda players will still get great enjoyment out of the game. It\’s not a perfect game, and the repetition is a bit high, but the total package is just a fantastic experience. The incoming DLC will keep the game fresh with new story elements and characters, and if this is a sign of what to expect from Nintendo publishing select 3rd party games, I\’m going to be a very happy man.
Hyrule Warriors is the Wii U\’s poster child for \”could have been.\”
It could have been an intriguing melding of two genres, or a true showcase for the GamePad, or a graphical tour de force, or the Legend of Zelda\’s very first online multiplayer co-op experience.
Hyrule Warriors is none of those things. And yet as our own Michael Nelson has said, it is still a worthwhile addition to the Wii U\’s lineup.
True, it is mostly a Zelda reskin of Dynasty Warriors. But crucially, it\’s an exquisitely (and lovingly) crafted one. Nintendo\’s guiding hand has expertly trimmed the excesses of Omega Force\’s usual bailiwick, and the result is quite possibly the best Warriors game ever released. Why? Focus, mainly. Instead of focusing on having a ton of playable characters who have carbon copy abilities, Hyrule Warriors features a handful with specialized and unique attributes. Instead of using a wide swath of history as a canvas, this game has the fortune of starting off with a curated portion of the Zelda mythos as a base.
All of this careful pruning ends up working wonders for this game\’s unique template. If you\’ve never played a Warriors game, you might think it\’s all about flashy hack \’n slash combat with an RPG wrapper. You\’d only be half right; this series is as much about turf control as anything. And when Hyrule Warriors gets rolling, the spectacle really does impress. Hundreds of foes will rain down upon you, and after you\’ve dutifully dispatched them, you\’ll be gifted with a few hundred more. The combat is never overly demanding, but the battlefield chaos gradually ramps up, asking more and more of you (and then asks for a little bit more in Adventure Mode).
Caveats? Plenty. Like always, you could call the combat facile, and no one would correct you. You could say the visuals are only passable, and it wouldn\’t be a controversial observation. You could say the need for a day-one patch is Nintendo coming perilously close to the pitfalls of modern-day development, and I would agree with you. One might even say that the abundant DLC options are superfluous add-ons.
But here\’s the thing – I still get to play as Impa, and chop down hordes of moblins with a sword pulled out of Final Fantasy. If you\’re a Zelda fan and that previous sentence doesn\’t get your wedding vegetables tingly, I don\’t know what will.
The others have already talked at length about what the game is, and what it isn\’t. For my part, all I can say is that, though I was initially vexed by Michael\’s 8/10 score in contrast with his tepid review, I understand perfectly now that this is the result of the game having so many \”what if\” and \”could have\” possibilities, it is nonetheless an exciting and surprising game that benefits from Nintendo\’s polish and Zelda fanservice.
But what I want to talk about are those \”could have\” and \”what if\”. What if Hyrule Warriors had online multiplayer? What if I was able to play the game not just in co-op with my friends, but in competition with other players across the world. The game is already very well poised for it: the player controlling a commander and having to be aware of multiple elements in the battlefield (such as keeps, supply points, and different kinds of captains), it\’s easy to imagine what the game would play like if there was a human commander on each side of the battle, struggling to control the flow of battle.
Think of it: player 1 is devoting his time to capturing keeps and controlling supply points, and as he pushes toward the enemy base, he believes he has already won the battle; but player 2 is more skilled in battle and has been able to keep his captains alive, resulting in a powerful counteroffensive that punches through player 1\’s keeps, in a straight line to the base. This lightning strike coupled with the power of multiple captains nets player 2 the victory.
What\’s more, the game could have been wrapped in a standard online multiplayer shell: take Call of Duty\’s online system, with challenges, badges, unlockable weapons, characters, skills, and upgrades (most of which are already a part of the Single Player system), and put down a matchmaking system with different game modes (1 versus 1, 3 versus 3, co-op \”horde\” mode, etc.) and you might as well take my wallet because I\’ll be there everyday, waiting for the DLC to make it even more awesome.
Now don\’t get me wrong, the game is great for what it is right now. I\’m as surprised by its quality as anyone else. too surprised, in fact, which is what hurts: Nintendo have opened my eyes to the possibility of Hyrule Warriors being an incredible thing that pulls me in day after day to play with my friends (or to compete with strangers), and I can\’t ignore that. Well, this is Koei-Tecmo we\’re talking about, here – there will be a Hyrule Warriors 2 to hopefully expand the game in this social and competitive direction.