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Let's start from the elephant in the room: yes, the game does show the Dinasty Warriors side a lot more than it does the Legend of Zelda side.
While you do get some classic Zelda subweapons, you will more often than not just use them when they're absolutely needed (lowering a giant boss's guard or removing a specific obstacle) and never in actual combat, since regular mooks can be killed by the dozens with your regular attacks and their damage and area of effect is subpar when dealing with anything higher up the food chain than mooks.
Also, the plot is pretty much an Excuse Plot to cross over several Zelda universes and bring all the characters together: the Original Generation characters are good in the game's context and in design, but they don't have much depth and personality to them, and the game's status as non canon makes them seem wasted.
On the good side, anyone who wanted to see all the meaningful characters from the Zelda Universe (and then some) mashed together in a World of Badass setting where they make mincemeat out of mooks on the route to mauling each other won't be disappointed. The main plot is pretty limited in that, only letting you play a basic Good Guys versus Bad Guys scenario (though it lets you play AS the bad guys in Ganondorf and Cia's chapters), so Adventure Mode is the place to be if you want to get the most from it.
Indeed, getting all the rewards from Adventure Mode is where the game's longevity is at...IF you don't mind the game getting rather repetitive and power-creepy. Most of the time the difficulty will only increase on account of the enemies taking more hits to defeat, forcing you to either get a character's 4+ weapon or sinking a few million rupees into leveling them up. There are some variations in battle events, but most of them can be summed up in "Kill enemy X before it does Y" or "Keep ally X alive until he does Y".
In other words, the strategic component is little more than a matter of prioritizing targets while you reach the 1200 kills necessary to A-rank a map or the conditions to reveal a Golden Skulltula. You do have to keep an eye on your important NP Cs and base, but everything else is fair game. AI allies are merely glorified meat shields that follow a food chain: band of mooks < Band of mooks with unmarked officer < Assault officers < Captains < Named characters. Unless the map features morale events, you can just leave them alone and they will do just fine as long as you take out the strongest enemies first.
Frame rate drop is very noticeable. Even on 3DS XL and despite the fact fewer models are rendered in the Legends edition, you can see a huge difference when fighting in regular battles versus fighting in duel or quiz maps which don't feature mooks.
It's not a game which will satisfy MOST players. But it does deliver just what you expect of it: a Dynasty Warriors-based game with Zelda characters, a Zelda-esque spin on gameplay, and lots of hacking and slashing action.
Let's be honest here: If you don't like Dynasty Warriors, this game won't appeal to you. This IS a Warriors spinoff. The core gameplay is the same 1vs1000 Hack and Slash slaughterfest. If you're the kind of person who finds these games repetetive: Stay away! Everyone else though should definitely give it a try. Here's why:
First, this game is a huge tribute to Zelda in more than one way. This isn't like, say, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam which is just a reskinned DW game and nothing more (and I don't want to imply that that's a bad thing, I love DW:G3), but HW actually uses many mechanics from previous Zelda games and combines them almost perfectly with the typical DW Hack and Slash-action. Bosses are vulnerable to the same weapons that could hurt them in the original Zelda games, you need the hookshot to climb ledges etc. This game tries really hard to appease Zelda fans in a mechanical way, not just stylistically like previous DW spinoff games.
Then there's the fact that this game is HUGE (content-wise). Seriously, this game costs only 40€ and there's enough to do for weeks, maybe MONTHS. In a World where most AAA blockbuster games don't last much longer than 10 hours, this is a really impressive value. There are many different maps, multiple characters with very different movesets (NO moveset clones!), an Adventure Mode that pays tribute to the very first Zelda game and more. If you're the kind of person that loves replaying previous levels to get every single secret, this is the game for you.
But the best part is probably the multiplayer. Couch co-op is slowly dying, so I'm very happy to see Nintendo / Tecmo Koei catering to that crowd. I can play this game with my brother for hours and it won't. Get. Stale. Seriously, having a friend or family member join the slaughter adds so much to the experience, it has to be seen to be believed.
Is this game flawless? No, of course not. There's the occasional framerate drop which is especially common in the multiplayer. Nothing gamebreaking, but still annoying. And the fact that there's no online multiplayer is just sad. I love couch co-op, but i ALSO love playing with friends from the other side of the country. Why can't we have both?
Still, this is definitely one of the Wii U's best games. Unless you absolutely despise the DW series, go and buy Hyrule Warriors.
Hyrule Warriors is basically a Dynasty Warriors game with a Zelda coat of paint put onto it.
Plot and story are pretty weak, not that I find other Zelda games to have strong plot to begin with, but it's nonetheless weak even by standards. Bluntly put, the sorceress Cia declares War on Hyrule because she loves Link and really doesn't like Zelda.
The character rooster is decently large, with the addition of six characters via DLC, all with their unique moveset so it's fun to mix and match, get good with them all or just drag others along via paying for level ups while you play your favorite character.
Gameplay is basically the same in all three modes, with one mode basically being a Free version of Story mode by not restricting you in which character to use. Unfortunately this is a huge problem, even if you have Adventure Maps that you can sink hours into to advance and complete, the gameplay is basically the same except they label it differently. Can become quite boring very fast.
Not to mention that your AI Allies are helpless beyond reason. They can barely do anything on their own and will constantly demand for your help, since your player character is the only One-Man Army capable of doing anything on the battlefield.
The game have DLC, but it's a decent kind. Aside from costumes, the DLC packs offer you either a new story scenario, where you play as the villain Cia, new Adventure maps that are modelled after the game they are based on, like a Termina map, coupled with mechanics on that specific map and even some weapons that are enjoyable to try out.
As fun as this game can be, I think it really does suffer in making a Love Triangle between Cia, Link and Zelda as the focus of the plot. Aside from some people shipping Link with someone other than Zelda, the idea of making it the focus is just asking for trouble from the fans. It's quite annoying, as a non-Link-Zelda-shipper to hear how the story keeps telling you that Link and Zelda are destined and bla bla Reincarnation yadda yadda, we don't care.
Nonetheless a fun game.
The first cutscene shows a group of Hyrulian soldiers in training. One of them isn't wearing his helmet. He performs some fancy moves with his wooden sword that leave the other soldier quickly defeated. Zelda, watching from the castle wall, senses there might be something special about this soldier, named Link.
Indeed, there is something special about Link. He can run 30 miles per hour and kill dozens of monsters in seconds. Impa, Zelda's badass nursemaid, provides Link with a green tunic and tells him to wear it, because hey why not. Along with a long, flowing blue scarf, the Link we know is back in action.
Action is the key word here. Fighting is a lot of combo button-pushing. BBY. BYYY. BBBBY. Fights against special mini-boss enemies, and major bosses, require more thought and contain more depth, with you being required to dodge, block attacks, look for an opening, or try to attack in specific ways.
There is some strategy here, however. Your army, the enemy army, and any neutral or uncategorized armies are shown on the minimap. Capturing keeps and outposts by killing the bulk of the enemies within causes them to switch to your side, as teammates magically beam down into position. Keeps and outposts tend to invade neighboring keeps and outposts, so having as many on your team as possible lowers your risk of having your main base being captured and therefore losing the battle.
While you're frantically fighting, conditions are constantly changing all around you. Messages pop up letting you know a certain keep is in danger of being overrun, or a particular ally is close to death and needs your support (running up to them often heals them). You can't just ignore these things, or you're asking to lose. Maps are generally small, so getting from one place to another quickly isn't a problem. Or maybe the maps just feel small since all the playable characters run as fast as cars.
Other than making split-second tactical decisions, it's pretty braindead action. There are flashy effects, room-clearing attacks (there's an achievement for killing 100 enemies with a single special attack, which says something), disproportionately giant boss monsters, and even your special weapons are powered up to an absurd degree. You kill more enemies in a single battle than in an entire regular Zelda game. Need I say more?
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