First Impressions: Hyrule Warriors

Thanks to an invitation from Nintendo of Canada, I was able to attend a Nintendo Post-E3 preview event recently and get my hands on several of the company’s upcoming first, second and third-party video games for the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS. Each day, I will be recapping my first impressions on several of the games I got the privilege to check out and post them here on GameSided. Enjoy!

Short of Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes – 2.0 EditionHyrule Warriors is the next Wii U game to hit store shelves for Nintendo’s newest console. Combining the sensibilities and play style of the Dynasty Warriors series, with its mass amounts of troops led by mini and regular bosses, and the characters, settings and monsters of the Zelda series, the game’s existence shows that Nintendo is willing to be more flexible when it comes to considering their cornerstone IP’s “sacred.”

My time spent playing the demo involved trying to take back Hyrule Field as Zelda. Using a rapier-like sword and magical Bow as a special attack, the control scheme felt fairly simple and true to the series’ style of play. Mow through crowds of enemies, build up special meter, use AoE attacks to take out multiple foes at a time and save up your magic powers and items until a unit commander appears and try to take over each outpost as you go. Players can collect Rupees dropped on the field in order to upgrade weapons and craft badges that unlock equipment-based abilities.

I think I played for about 15 minutes as Zelda, and didn’t get too tired of the hack-and-slash sensibility of Hyrule Warriors...Who knows if re-skinning Dynasty Warriors will suddenly make Dynasty Warriors-type games cool all of a sudden; a series that has been traditionally mired by mixed reviews.

There’s not getting around this prime notion, however; Hyrule Warriors is not vastly different from Dynasty Warriors at all. If you don’t like that series, you’re not likely to be a fan of this game simply because it involved Zelda characters this time. So, if this kind of hack-and-slash adventuring is not for you, I wouldn’t recommend Hyrule Warriors. It’s novel in its concept, but people like what they’re going to like and dislike what they will dislike.

I did appreciate that the game kept to its Japanese conversational style. Characters like Impa, Midna and others will shout exclamations about your prowess as though you’re not there to hear them, and will continue to drive home the idea of togetherness, teamwork and appreciation for your efforts. It’s like a much better version of Earth Defense Force 2025 dialogue, except I don’t wish for these characters to “go back to space!” It felt charming and kept battles from going stagnant.

What I found strikingly odd when playing through the demo was the framerate. After being spoiled by Super Smash Bros for Wii U and Bayonetta 2, I noticed immediately that Hyrule Warriors hovered around 30 FPS, with constant frame drops depending on the scale of the attack and the monsters on the screen. Additionally, jarring was the constant pop-in of enemies and NPC teammates as you wandered into the right depth of field. Despite being able to see as far as the neighbouring battleground walls would let you, running one direction that seemed clear of foes and suddenly head straight into a pack of them took me aback, which is a problem when you consider that the core of the gameplay is to take a positional advantage across several outposts.

Most of the joy I can see from Hyrule Warriors that would not be present in Dynasty Warriors is the character variety. I didn’t get to play as Link or Midna, but from observing others you could see that their interests lied in choosing between multiple characters, with many youngsters enjoying playing as characters they wouldn’t otherwise get to play as in a Zelda game. Again, the basic attraction for Zelda characters would exist only for those that liked the playstyle, which seemed to be a great deal of people attending the event. Locking a great deal of the 9 characters behind story content seems fair, as the main usable characters provide plenty of different gameplay looks right out of the box, and will promote progressing through the story.

Overall, I think I played for about 15 minutes as Zelda, and didn’t get too tired of the hack-and-slash sensibility of Hyrule Warriors. However, as you can venture, 15 minutes is not an exactly optimal amount of time with any game, let alone one that wasn’t finished at play time. Who knows if re-skinning Dynasty Warriors will suddenly make Dynasty Warriors-type games cool all of a sudden; a series that has been traditionally mired by mixed reviews. However, with more information about the game coming up next week in a very special Nintendo Direct event, perhaps there’s more that meets the eye when it comes to the full package.

Hyrule Warriors will be exclusively released on the Nintendo Wii U on September 26.

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Tags: First Impressions Hyrule Warriors Nintendo Preview Tecmo Koei Video Games Wii U

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