Hyrule Warriors Legends is a third person hack and slash in the style of Dynasty Warriors and in the universe of The Legend Of Zelda. The combat style is signature to the Dynasty Warriors franchise. The player may choose certain characters to fight as from the start, depending on the mission, and can live switch during battle to another, depending on whether the character is available to play. The story components are essentially a fanfic-remix of the original story, since it does not actually fit in with any part of Nintendo’s official timeline for The Legend Of Zelda franchise. Hyrule Warriors Legends is a port of the WII-U’s Hyrule Warriors, minus multiplayer and plus some extra characters and maps (and plenty of DLC).
The game delivers mission objectives that appear on the lower map screen and consist of taking keeps, helping allies defend the keeps, assisting characters, and fighting major enemies or some combination thereof. Keeps are square shaped strongholds that contain enemies or allies. When entering a keep, a status bar appears on screen indicating, when empty, when the keep is about to fall. To take a keep, the player must defeat enough enemies to deplete the bar, after which a Keep Boss will appear who the player must defeat to take the keep.
Victory and Defeat conditions exist for each map. An Allied Base must never fail, nor can main characters flee, or the player fails and must start over, from the last checkpoint, or the last save point. The player can send main characters, if they are available, to aid Captains, fight monsters, or follow the character via the map touchscreen. Simply having main characters near each other can help defeat certain types of enemies faster.
Combat breaks down to quick, strong, magic, and special attacks. Combinations of the quick and strong attacks offer differing balances of strength, range, and speed of attack. Certain characters must charge their strong attack in order to use it effectively. After killing (KOing) enough enemies or grabbing little yellow blobs left by enemies, pots, or foliage, a special meter fills allowing the player to deliver a devastating, unblockable attack affecting a wide area around the player, always offering a KO counter to gauge its effectiveness. A magic meter exists that the player can fill using green bottles found in jars or grass which when activated gives the player a Focus Spirit ability, strengthening their attacks and defense, that the player can also deplete to deliver a strong frontal attack, knocking back powerful enemies and opening them up to weak point attacks.
Essentially, three types of enemies exist (these are not their official designation): standard enemies, strong enemies, and bosses.
Standard enemies come at the player’s character in numerous volleys and the player can defeat them by simply attacking them. Some have health bars because they are Outpost Captains or Keep Bosses. By the end of a level, the player will KO thousands of standard enemies.
Strong enemies have health bars, but are significantly more powerful, able to knock down the player and take a painstaking amount of time to defeat. Defeating strong enemies effectively requires that the player take advantage of Weak Points, indicated by a hexagonal icon that appears above the strong enemy during some point in its fight with the character. Once depleted, by hitting the strong enemy during this very short time, the character performs a Weak Point Smash, a powerful attack that depletes much of the strong enemy’s health bar, taking any nearby enemies with it. By the end of a level, the player will KO tens of strong enemies.
Bosses have health bars, appear at the end of the level, and usually require a novel method of destruction, typically leveraging a unique item earned during the level the boss appears in.
Main characters can level-up, craft badges, and enhance weapons found during the game in order to improve various statistics about themselves.
What would make someone want to play this game?
Hyrule Warriors Legends offers a fun, fan-service-y story in The Legend Of Zelda universe, fast-paced, relentless, technical combat, and an extensive leveling system. While the story isn’t canon, it’s fun and brings together all of the characters many of us fans know and love, including some new ones that haven’t yet found their place in the main canon. Each character has weapons, combos, and story appropriate to their character. Fighting is satisfying, quick, and continuous. It rewards players to level up their characters, find loot, and replay levels, since, at the very least, leveling seems to improve the pace of racking up KOs and killing strong enemies. Figuring out how to trigger the strong enemies into their weak point mode is a fun challenge and can make the pace frantic and exciting.
My thumb hurts. My index finger hurts. I accidentally sank almost 12 hours into it in the first day and a half I had it. I rage quite once, but it was because I was supposed to (a friend told me I wasn’t supposed to fight a certain bad guy until I went to talk to another character that would dial them back down). If I fail a level, I almost invariably feel that it’s my fault. Restarting makes me realize I missed something or spent too much time focusing on something I didn’t need to. I find that this usually happens when I don’t pay attention to what’s going on on the field and with the dialogue. The game forces me to think strategically and step back from the vollies of enemies I send flying all over the fields of Hyrule.
I’ve been wanting something that I can sink dozens, if not hundreds, of hours into playing and I think I’ve found it. I compare to Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate because of the similar level-grind-y approach of leveling up the character(s). MH4U’s combat is, unfortunately, too slow, arduous, and boring for me and the action is far too sparse. The twitchy, fast-pace of Hyrule Warriors Legends is exactly what I enjoy.
I would’ve loved some amount of multiplayer on Hyrule Warriors Legends or some sort of online achievement system, but I understand that that’s difficult to come by on a game of this scale on a handheld platform. On that note, apparently it’s only worth playing on the N3DS, since the other consoles are too underpowered to handle it.