The thematic influences of the Zelda games, on the other hand, are tremendous. There is an incredible level of fan service on display here, and not the gratuitous kind (but more on that later). The music, the hordes of enemies, the nods and winks to characters, locations, and events from Skyward Sword, Twilight Princess, and other classic Zelda games are evident from top to bottom. Hyrule Warriors looks and sounds like a Zelda game should. Graphically, the game is impressive, especially the nicely detailed characters, though the environments and countless enemies are a bit bland. The cut scenes are particularly gorgeous. An astounding amount of Zelda theme has been stuffed into Hyrule Warriors, enough to tickle the fancy of any Zelda fan.
On to the co-op elements. Hyrule Warriors doesn’t support traditional split screen like other Dynasty Warriors games. Instead, one player uses the GamePad while the other uses either a Wii-mote/nunchuk combo or a Wii U Pro Controller (no support for the Classic controller, unfortunately). I was a bit apprehensive about this setup, but it turns out to work fairly well. There is a performance hit when playing in co-op, which many have complained about. However, for us, it was hardly noticeable due to the fast pace of the action. I felt a bit more isolated from my co-op partner due to looking at my own screen all the time, but I can certainly appreciate the innovation. Split screen co-op wastes a lot of screen space, and this setup solves that problem in a way that is unique to the Wii U.
There are a few quirks in Hyrule Warriors that deserve mentioning. One is the weapon and upgrade system. While this system is quite robust, in co-op mode, only one player has control of the purchases. With two screens available, I can’t see why both players couldn’t upgrade simultaneously. Another issue is the fact that player one is always locked to a required character for each level in Legend mode; only player two has free choice. I guess that is what Free Mode is for, but it’s still a nagging issue, especially if the required character hasn’t been levelled up enough. Lastly, there are a few female characters that are wearing extremely revealing outfits, mostly new characters created for Hyrule Warriors, including the main antagonist. It’s disappointing to see this sort of thing in a game series known for strong, non-sexualized female characters. Co-developer Team Ninja has a track record of this, but it is discouraging to see in a Zelda game.
On the whole, though, Hyrule Warriors is a great success. It is better than the other Dynasty Warriors games I have played, and by a good margin. The production quality is top notch, and the attention paid to the details of the extensive Legend of Zelda series is impressive. It’s still a very simple game, and certainly not as deep or compelling as a traditional Zelda title, but it’s still fun to play. The two-screen co-op works well, and I hope to see more Wii U games with similar features. Dynasty Warriors fans will find plenty to like here, and Zelda fans will enjoy seeing their favorite characters in a fantastic, if illogical, new story. Hyrule Warriors is a very good game, and worth checking out for fans of either series.
The Co-Op Experience: Cut down entire legions of enemies as Link, Zelda, Midna and other characters from The Legend of Zelda franchise using over-the-top powerful Dynasty Warriors-style moves. This tour de force through the beloved locales of Hyrule will have players battling some of the fiercest enemies in The Legend of Zelda history. Two players can play local co-op, with one player joining with the Wii U GamePad controller and another with the Wii U Pro Controller or Wii Remote + Nunchuk controllers
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.