Hyrule Warriors (Hands-On) (Wii U) Preview

By Jorge Ba-oh 28.06.2014 12

Review for Hyrule Warriors (Hands-On) on Wii U

For over twenty five years, The Legend of Zelda has been a satisfying blend of puzzles, exploration and tricky combat - the adventurer's dream and Nintendo's golden ticket to fairy-tale storytelling in a digital form. Over the years, the concept has evolved through new control schemes and the introduction of a 3D perspective, but Nintendo have yet to dig deep into the sheer sense of battle. Overworld and dungeon enemies are often carefully placed, strategically aligned to offer a challenge; balanced and never overbearing.

More recent instalments have had caverns full of enemies, divided into stages or levels, to unlock hidden items, but none have come close to the sheer volume of Koei Tecmo's popular Dynasty Warriors series. Now Nintendo have teamed up with the studio to create something that, on paper, sounds rather special; an exciting moment for series fans. As a spin-off game, however, does Hyrule Warriors maintain that high-level of quality that players expect from the franchise?


 

Marmite, with a splash of cheese, is something that usually divides crowds into a clear two. Perhaps it's a clichéd analogy, but such is the case when it comes to Hyrule Warriors - something that instantly resonates with a player, or something that's just far too astray from what's made Nintendo's series so popular in the first place.

The post-E3 demo quite literally grabbed players by the paws, and threw them straight into the heart of the action, taking the role of either Princess (Queen) Zelda or the silent protagonist himself, Link, with the remaining roster unfortunately locked up and waiting. Link relies on heavy sword-play, whilst Zelda dashes into the fray with more graceful, flowing combos, with her approach being more appealing and interesting to play as, over Link, surprisingly.

The level did away with any storyline preamble, engulfing either character in a huge horde of sword-wielding, orange Moblins, each hungry for a splatter of Hylian flesh. To dispatch them, simply tap away at the primary action button, which invokes a slice of a sword, weaving into delightful combos with plenty of bite. That's a fairly standard and familiar element for those who have played any 3D Zelda title since Ocarina of Time; so the main appeal comes in the range of special moves and combos available and presumably only a small selection on show for the E3 build. After tallying up damage meters, say after ten or so hits, special moves become available - either a single button blast or a charge ability that boosts strength. There was a feeling that the game could well become repetitive, given the number of enemies that consistently spawn across the landscape, but the use of combos and special moves helps break up the constant button mashing.

Screenshot for Hyrule Warriors (Hands-On) on Wii U

The control scheme itself would have lent itself to Wii Remotes in particular for all the slashing, but the demo build relied solely on the GamePad for a button-based setup. It's a straightforward layout, with analogue control to move about, the ability to lock onto certain enemies with the left shoulder button, plus selected items and moves mapped out to the right triggers - like bombs, for example. Players are also able to shuffle through additional items, like a nifty potion to restore those much needed lives. In the final release, expect there to be a fair number of different unlockable items and weapons to assign to characters, including Link's meaty Fire Rod, to give even greater variation in how the game can be tackled.

Despite having the arcade flavour, there actually is a storyline and mission-based approach to the game, where characters are woven into the playable selection by encounters with others. For example, Link hunts out Zelda, and then the pair wander off into the army -painted battlefield to seek out Impa, who does need a fair bit of help in order to protect the castle from the imminent Dodongo and Moblin attacks. Having some structure to what could have been an endless barrage of the attack button, does help make things feel that bit more engaging, where enemies don't need to all be defeated in order to progress.

With the mechanics and controls set firmly in place, it comes down to both the graphics and music to bring things all-together, and visually is where the game becomes hindered by quality. The art direction fits nicely within the mould set by Eiji Aonuma and his team over the years, but where the game is noticeably lacking is the texture quality and finishing touches - quite frankly Hyrule Warriors looks like it were born two generations back, sitting comfortably on Nintendo GameCube, rather than Wii U. Admittedly the graphics have come some way since the company announced the game last year, with far better detail in the current build, but still falling short of contemporary offerings. There's not a big amount to say about the music, but it sits nicely with the action and works well within the Legend of Zelda landscape.

Screenshot for Hyrule Warriors (Hands-On) on Wii U

Final Thoughts

The final release will also include two player multiplayer support, numerous other characters and a vast number of unlockable content for the true Zelda enthusiast. Initial concerns and graphics aside, Hyrule Warriors is shaping up to be a solid compendium of what's made the series so appealing - familiar enemies, heated battles and plenty of secrets to unlock.

Developer

Omega Force

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Brawler

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (5 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

Comments

Can I have the Gamecube games you are playing, jb? Smilie

SirLink said:
Can I have the Gamecube games you are playing, jb? Smilie

Lol okay, not quite GameCube for character models, but seriously the environments and textures do look pretty darn dated - there's not much disputing that! Would say early PS3/360 level of visuals then, perhaps.

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Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

The environments do look dated, but not as much as you're making them out to be. There are stages based on Eldin Bridge and Kakariko Village from Twilight Princess in the game, and they show notable improvements over Gamecube textures. In the end, this is a frantic action game with loads and loads of enemies on screen, something regular games don't have to take in account. The first area to cut back on in these games should always be random environmental textures, not character models or special effects. Something like Dead Rising 3 on the more powerful Xbox One has dated environments compared to contemporary games too, but it sure does have an impressive amount of zombies on screen, even if the frame rate is a bit all over the place. Speaking of which, how smooth was the gameplay for you, anyway?

Eldin Bridge:

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Kakariko Village:

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( Edited 28.06.2014 12:24 by SirLink )

It's weird, every area I've seen actually looks pretty nice. It's just one of them that looks out of place and not so good. I think it's the Hyrule one maybe?

This one:

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( Edited 28.06.2014 13:25 by Marzy )

The first area is one of the less appealing ones, although I should mention that your screenshot is from the reveal trailer, Marzy. You can easily tell, because King Dodongo got a makeover into a gold devil of sorts. Smilie

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( Edited 28.06.2014 13:27 by SirLink )

I think that picture was from the very first trailer though Marzy. Although saying that even in newer trailers, Hyrule field doesn't look nearly as good as some of the other environments.

Nintendo Network ID: LKR000               PSN: LKR000     
3DS: 1246-8696-120                              GT: LKR101

Believe me guys, having seen it in person, the textures are really pretty sloppy. That said, it does run smooth though, with little to no slowdown in the session.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Just curious jb was the framerate 30 or 60fps?

Nintendo Network ID: LKR000               PSN: LKR000     
3DS: 1246-8696-120                              GT: LKR101

jb said:
Believe me guys, having seen it in person, the textures are really pretty sloppy. That said, it does run smooth though, with little to no slowdown in the session.
Textures may look sloppy, but there's no way in hell that these are GameCube visuals. This game couldn't even run on the GameCube. Smilie

I wouldn't be surprised if it's just running on a tweaked Warrior Orochi 3 engine, which came at Wii U launch. That had fast action, decent character models, but a ropey looking world to venture across. However, as the action heated up, there's no way the backgrounds get seen that much...

As long as it's hot and hectic, then it's doing its job. Doubtful that will appeal to regular Zelda fans, though. I can see a lot of people being disappointed unless it's clearly advertised. The Warriors series is an acquired taste, to be honest.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
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LKR000 said:
Just curious jb was the framerate 30 or 60fps?

Difficult to tell tbh - I think it was 60fps, not entirely sure.

However, as the action heated up, there's no way the backgrounds get seen that much...

Definitely still visible imo - the sheer lack of antialiasing is very clear, plus the murky textures.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Don't forget people, this IS still a Dynasty Warriors game after all. Can anyone truly say the previous entries or even those Dynasty Warriors Gundam crossovers were anything to write home about? At least Nintendo is ensuring Koei puts forth more effort into this iteration than most of their previous titles in the franchise.

Plus given the reactions from the developers at Tecmo Koei & those interview videos Nintendo did for E3 I can sense their passion about the LoZ series & feel that each if not MOST of the dev team truly loves Zelda & are putting their all into this specific game. We've got a few months till it's released, plenty of time to apply polish & a bit of spit shine. Smilie

It is not wise to speak on subjects you do not know all facts about, nor is it smart to judge a game based on looks alone. PSN: Nintendo_Gamer 3DS: 4296-3029-7422

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