While we Zelda fans are patiently awaiting the next main installment in the core adventure series, the still untitled The Legend of Zelda 2015, we at least have the upcoming Hyrule Warriors to get our much-needed dose of Zelda goodness in the meantime.
The game will be released exclusively for Wii U on September 26, 2014, but it’s not your typical Legend of Zelda game. So here’s everything we know about Hyrule Warriors so far, from gameplay and items, to stages and playable characters:
Story and Gameplay
At its core, Hyrule Warriors can be described as a collaborative effort between The Legend of Zelda and Dynasty Warriors, but it functions more like a full-fledged Zelda spin-off title than anything else. The gameplay itself involves the hack-and-slash action of a Dynasty Warriors game, but is filled with more Zelda elements than you can shake a sword at.
The traditional story mode revolves around capturing designated “keeps” on the battlefield, thus expanding your overall territory and swaying the odds in your favor. But doing so will be a lot easier said than done, as each battlefield is filled with waves upon waves of foes to mow down, as your character is forced to function as a one-person army of sorts. New missions and victory conditions will also appear onscreen, most notable when you get confronted with one of the game’s devastating boss fights, taken from classic Zelda encounters of the past, such as King Dodongo and Gohma.
Using the Wii U Gamepad, you can also enjoy Hyrule Warriors in two-player co-op, which each player getting their own unique screen to look at. However, this mode will also slightly reduce the screen resolution, in order to make up for both characters engaging in battle synchronously.
Nintendo has been fairly tight-lipped about the actual story so far, other than stressing the fact that Hyrule Warriors is not intended to be the next installment in the core Zelda series. But here’s what we do know: the game follows a brand new iteration of Link, this time as a warrior in training to defend the magnificent Hyrule Castle. However, Princess Zelda eventually gets kidnapped by a corrupted witch named Cia, due to her infatuation with Link and thereby jealousy of Zelda. A war then erupts, with Link and Impa running to Zelda’s rescue.
At the time of this writing, Nintendo has announced a total of 13 different characters that will be playable in Hyrule Warriors, with presumably a few more on the way. Here is the official list of confirmed playable characters in Hyrule Warriors so far:
1. Link – Link, of course, is the star playable character here in Hyrule Warriors, a heroic soldier in training to defend Hyrule kingdom. Link’s signature weapon is the Hylian Sword, and described as a well-rounded fighter that any player can get quickly accustomed to.
2. Zelda – To counterbalance our hero Link, we also have the playable heroine Princess Zelda, who lights up the battlefield with her signature rapier and arrows of light.
3. Impa – Next up is the Hyrulean Captain Impa, often a close advisor to Princess Zelda, who uses a giant blade and moves around the battlefield with the grace and the power of a samurai.
4. Sheik – Sheik the Sheikah Warrior also makes a return as a playable character in Hyrule Warriors with a ninja-like design. Sheik uses her martial arts skills and her alluring harp to move through the onslaught of enemies with ease, not to mention taking advantage of her true form as well…
5. Darunia – Darunia the Goron Chief was first introduced in Ocarina of Time, and he appears here in Hyrule Warriors with his mighty hammer and brute force to make quick work of the enemy waves.
6. Ruto – Also from Ocarina of Time is Princess Ruto of the Zoras, who can manipulate the use of water on the ground to trap enemies or maneuver about the battle.
7. Midna – From Twilight Princess, we have the Twilight Princess herself, Midna, who can use her hair to create a menacing fist as she rides through the battle on her shadow wolf.
8. Agitha – Agitha, the Princess of Insects, also represents the Twilight Princess cast in Hyrule Warriors, whose parasol and powers of her favorite insects work together to form an unlikely arsenal of force.
9. Zant – Rounding out the Twilight Princess characters is the boss character Zant, the Usurper King, whose scimitar, summoning, and massive growth abilities make him a true force to be reckoned with.
10. Fi – The next playable character is from the latest main entry Zelda game on Wii, Skyward Sword. It is none other than Fi, the Goddess Sword, who uses fluid movements and can transform herself into the Goddess Blade to wreak havoc on foes with a devastating sweep.
11. Ghirahim – The Demon Lord Ghirahim from Skyward Sword also appears as a playable character in Hyrule Warriors, and he still looks like an emo kid gone wrong. Ghirahim arsenal includes his demon blade and vast array of sword attacks that Link had to face off against during Skyward Sword.
12. Ganondorf – And last but not least from the primary Zelda canon, The Demon King Ganondorf himself will be a playable character in the game, dual-wielding two powerful demon swords and executing larger-than-life special attacks.
13. Lana – In addition to all of these familiar faces, Hyrule Warriors will also feature a few new characters that are completely unique to the game. The first is Lana, the White Sorceress of Light, who is described to be a key character to the overall story. Lana uses a powerful book of sorcery that lets her create magic walls, which can be manipulated in a variety of ways to gain advantage over her enemies.
So now that we’ve gotten that growing roster of playable characters out of the way, it’s time to look how at how these characters will actually progress the more you play the game. In Hyrule Warriors, defeating enemies grants your character experience, which in turn allows them to level up. Certain enemies will drop special materials after being defeated, which you can then use to craft different types of badges that can enhance your overall stats even further. There are many of these badges to create, which can do everything from enable longer combos, to increase your overall Focus Spirit time, and much more.
New weapons can also be collected during battle, much in the same vein of special materials. These weapons can come equipped with special abilities, known as skills. These skills can do everything from increasing attack damage, to increasing the chance of finding hearts during battle. Certain weapons can also be fused with others, so long as there is an open skill slot available. Better weapons are more likely to be dropped depending on the difficulty of the current stage.
Items and Weapons
Much like your typical Legend of Zelda game, Hyrule Warriors features an array of unlockable items which will help you progress through each stage and overcome the epic boss battles. In addition to the trademark bombs, you can also expect to find Link’s bow for attacking enemies at a distance, the Hookshot for navigating high platforms, the boomerang, and more. For instance, the deadly King Dodongo is highly susceptible to bombs, while the bow will let you get the upper hand on Gohma.
From items to weapons, there are a handful of new weapons that can be unlocked for your characters in Hyrule Warriors upon progressing in the story. For instance, Link is able to unlock the Fire Rod, Zelda can unlock the Wind Waker Baton, and Lana can unlock a spear that harnesses the power of the Great Deku Tree. Other additional weapons include Naginata, the Gauntlet, and the Summoning Gate, which can summon a massive Cucco into battle.
Of course, these weapons are all supplementary to each character’s unique special attack, which will help you defeat huge seas of enemies all in a single instant. Hyrule Warriors also introduces a new system called Focus Spirit, which can be used after filling a special magic gauge. Focus Spirit will temporarily increase all of your character’s abilities, and is recommended for use during key moments in battle and in accordance with your special attacks.
Other Classic Zelda Elements
Despite its change of gameplay outside the main Zelda titles, Hyrule Warriors still uses a large assortment of features from the adventure series that should make any Zelda fan happy. There are the same sounds and animations that you get upon opening a chest and acquiring a new item. There are the shiny rupees you can earn from taking down your foes, as well as from hacking and slashing at grass with your sword. What’s more, the adorable, yet very agro chickens called Cuccos from past Zelda games will make another triumphant return here as well.
Cuccos aren’t the only tiny creatures set to make an appearance in Hyrule Warriors, either. Bombchus also return, only this time they are massive in size, with even more massive explosions. Chain Chomp, primarily from the Mario universe but who made an unexpected cameo in Link’s Awakening, has been placed in Hyrule Warriors as well: only this time, it looks like he’s been turned into an actual weapon! The Gold Skulltulas first seen in Ocarina of Time are hidden around Hyrule Warriors as well, unlocking their own special awards when found. There is also that dastardly moon from Majora’s Mask, which can be pulled down from the sky using the Hookshot to create another powerful attack move.
The stages in Hyrule Warriors are based upon popular locations from the entire Legend of Zelda series, which should be instantly recognizable to most fans. It’s also worth noting that each stage is comprised of multiple different areas, with vast visual differences, and environmental puzzles that must be completed in order to open them up and advance onward.
First we have the ethereal Skyloft from Skyward Sword, which floats high among the clouds and features shifting platforms in the air. Then we have the deep and spectacular Lake Hylia from Ocarina of Time. The next confirmed stage at this point is Twilight Field from Twilight Princess, featuring its charred caverns and architectures.
These are just a few of the stages that have been revealed for the game so far, but Nintendo has stated in their special Hyrule Warriors Direct presentation that subsequent stages will primary be pulled from Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time, and Twilight Princess.
In addition to the main story mode, Hyrule Warriors also features a full-fledged adventure mode, which combines the classic adventure components of a traditional Zelda game with the new Dynasty Warriors-inspired action gameplay. Adventure mode features a sprawling gridded map, which looks just like the glorious 8-bit overhead from the original Legend of Zelda. Each one of these squares on the grid represents a stage which special parameters, such as “Defeat 300 enemies in 10 minutes.”
Once you select a stage, you’ll then be transported from the 8-bit map to the lush world of Hyrule Warriors to complete your objectives. Completing each stage will unlock all adjacent stages on the grid, allowing you to move forward with your adventure. Hidden items can also me found amidst the adventure map by using special items on suspicious looking stages. Successful exploration can yield way to more powerful weapons and extra heart pieces. Progressing through adventure mode will also unlock more playable characters.
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