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Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, WiiU
Genre: Action
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Koei Tecmo
Release Date: Sept. 26, 2014


Wii U Preview - 'Hyrule Warriors'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on July 10, 2014 @ 12:15 a.m. PDT

As a collaboration between Nintendo and Tecmo-Koei, Hyrule Warriors features elements of both Zelda and Dynasty Warriors universes.

There have been some odd spin-offs in our time, but combining Dynasty Warriors and The Legend of Zelda seems pretty wacky at first glance. Zelda is known for its lone hero and small distinct enemies, and Dynasty Warriors has 15 heroes and thousands of soldiers in every battle. It can be difficult to see how the two can be reconciled without overwhelming each other. As odd as the concept sounds, the E3 2014 demo of Hyrule Warriors managed to prove that an odd concept isn't necessarily a bad one.

On the surface, Hyrule Warriors looks and plays a lot like a modern Dynasty Warriors game. The basic controls are exactly as expected. You have a light attack and a strong attack, and you can string them together to perform combos. We don't have a complete list of Hyrule Warriors characters, but the characters in the demo were Link and Zelda, and each could equip multiple weapons, such as the Master Sword or Fire Rod. I chose Zelda wielding a rapier; she's capable of attacking rapidly or using magic spells to perform devastating area-of-effect attacks. As in all Warriors games, you have a special bar that fills up as you do damage. Pressing a button causes it to unleash a devastating special attack. There's also a magic bar that fills up, and when it's full, you enter a super-charged mode where you do more damage and can't be stunned, much like Rage mode in Dynasty Warriors 8. You also can perform a more powerful attack, if you need it.

As in all Warriors titles, you run around a map comprised of multiple fields and take on enemies and enemy commanders to conquer the locations. The first big change to the formula came as I took Zelda north to rescue a Goron Commander. Saving the Commander led to him revealing a hidden passage, which had a classic Zelda treasure chest within. Opening the chest (complete with the iconic animation) yielded bombs, which take up an item slot. The bombs can also be used to break boulders and cracked walls, much as they do in the classic Zelda games. This allowed me to take a shortcut that saved me a lot of time running around the battlefield.

On my way to rescue my ally Impa from an ambush, I ran into an enemy commander-type unit. It was a tough and bulky Moblin who launched powerful belly-flops at me, but this attack has a weakness. After the enemy attacks, there's a brief period when a meter appears above his head. It looks very similar to the Storm Rush meter in Dynasty Warriors 8, although it only appears while the enemy's weak point is visible. Attacking when it's visible took chunks out of the stun meter. Once it's full, Zelda unleashes a powerful attack that tears apart the unlucky enemy. This is a nice nod to the Zelda "dodge and attack the weak point" mechanics. It's perfectly possible to approach this fight like a classic Dynasty Warriors fight and string together combos and special moves to wear down his health. Having the option of fighting like a Zelda enemy adds a nice bit of variety.

The demo ended with the arrival of the giant King Dodongo, a boss character that many Zelda fans remember. He's huge, intimidating and capable of devastating the enemy army, but at heart, he's still a Zelda boss. As some might remember from the original Legend of Zelda, Dodongo dislikes smoke, so bombs are the creature's big weakness. When it opens its mouth to roar and shoot flames, toss a barrage of bombs into its mouth to stun it. Then you can use bomb barrages to wear down the creature and its super-sized stun meter. It's an unusual mix of Dynasty Warriors 8-style combat and Zelda puzzle bosses, and it feels quite dynamic and interesting.

Hyrule Warriors is pretty much exactly what the title implies: Dynasty Warriors gameplay meshed with Zelda. I was most impressed by how seamlessly the two fit together. The Zelda combat and puzzle mechanics are integrated quite naturally into the classic Dynasty Warriors gameplay, and the result is a surprisingly pleasant mix of two seemingly disparate gameplay mechanics. Nintendo was still mum on a number of parts about the game, such as the inclusion of horses or further playable characters, but it promised more information would be coming at a later date. Hyrule Warriors is due out September 26, 2014, exclusively for the Wii U.

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