Hyrule Warriors E3 2014 Breakdown

HW 10Nintendo released a new trailer for the Zelda-themed Dynasty Warriors spin-off, Hyrule Warriors, during its online E3 presentation today. Besides confirming two new characters, the footage highlighted the game’s fast-paced action and teased a familiar Zelda villain at the end. Hit the jump for a full in-depth analysis of the trailer, informed with tidbits gleamed from the Nintendo Treehouse live-streaming of a Hyrule Warriors demo.

Note: the following screenshots were taken from a badly compressed trailer posted on YouTube and do not represent what the game looks like in full HD.

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The video begins with a scroll unfurling to reveal an updated lineup of characters, including the newly announced Princess Zelda. Link is shown protecting Impa from some kind of fire-based magic attack. We also witness the Sheikah warrior twirling her blade up into the air and letting it fall neatly into a sheath planted in the ground. I can’t see the practical reason for her doing that, but it sure does look cool.

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We then see Link charging up a spin attack in front of a gang of Bulbins, the green-skinned goblin bandits from Twilight Princess. In a single sweep, Link sends dozens of them flying into the air and dispatches another group with some kind of magical earthquake move. Both techniques highlight Link’s ability to strike in all directions at once. These skills will come in handy when progressing through the game’s levels. The main grit of Hyrule Warriors‘ gameplay revolves around powering through environments swarming with hordes of enemies and completing mini-missions along the way. These can include saving certain friendly characters on the field and capturing bases, where players can summon Hylian knights as allies.

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After Link’s display, Princess Zelda takes to the field to slice and dice through a group of the ugly red Bokoblins from Skyward Sword. Hylian knights fight at her side as the princess jumps high into the air, charging up a Light Arrow as a menacing yellow beast opens its maw below. The mystical projectile explodes against the monster, and the video shifts to Zelda using a similar attack to blow away a horde of enemies at point-blank range. Clearly Zelda won’t need Link to distract foes this time around in order for her archery skills to come into play.

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After Zelda unleashes a magical burst of energy, we’re treated to a familiar face. Midna, Link’s sidekick from Twilight Princess, giggles and twirls her ethereal hair before mounting a shadowy wolf with glowing blue eyes. Midna can summon the wolf at any time to plow through Bulbins with a twirling attack. She can also summon a massive ball of twilight energy, a special move that she sends crashing into the ground. Regardless of what role Midna plays in the story of Hyrule Warriors, she at least looks like a fun character to control.

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Next we see Impa doing battle against an army of Stalchilds from Ocarina of Time (again highlighting how Hyrule Warriors adapts designs from across the series’ history). She wields her massive sword (an admittedly odd weapon of choice for a ninja-like Sheikah warrior) with grace, dispatching the walking skeletons with heavy stylish swipes.

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The next few seconds of footage reveal surprise character appearances, including the dragon Argorok from Twilight Princess and the infamous Great Fairy from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Unsurprisingly, Argorok returns as a boss, as confirmed on Nintendo’s Treehouse Live stream. Unlike the cordoned-off boss fights of traditional Zelda games, the boss battles in Hyrule Warriors take place on the same open battlefields of the main gameplay. They move around the map with the player, who can engage them off and on as they tackle the endless stream of baddies and mission objectives.

The Great Fairy’s appearance isn’t quite as horrifying this time around, though Link still doesn’t look pleased when he encounters the flirtatious half-naked woman in the trailer. Besides bringing back childhood nightmares, she fills a special role during missions. She can power up the player’s items to perform enhanced attacks. This was put on display during Nintendo’s live stream. Her enhanced Hookshot’s supercharged chain pulled a surprise move when it latched onto the Moon from Majora’s Mask and hauled it out of the sky. The ghoulish lunar object’s protruding nose collided with Argorok, who was unable to avoid the startling attack. 

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Afterwards we see Link battling more Bulbins and a ReDead based on the ghoulish mummy design from Twilight Princess. The tougher foe serves as a captain to the lesser baddies, apparently triggering a special gameplay boost when defeated. After delivering a stabbing attack that cuts through swaths of enemies, Link shows off some of the game’s items. These include a spinning projectile ax, a humongous bomb and the Fire Rode, which can unleash an immense blazing inferno.

The end of the trailer teases longtime Zelda fans with a familiar pair of glaring eyes. Nintendo already introduced major antagonists for Hyrule Warriors months ago, including the masked witch Cia and her minions Wizro and Valga. Now it looks like the Gerudo king Ganondorf will once again upstage a Zelda game’s first-time villains. Nintendo might even surprise its fans by making the iconic villain playable. The idea seems all the more possible after it was was suggested in the live stream that more playable character could be unveiled.

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On a less ominous note, the last few seconds of the trailer show Zelda retrieving a Hookshot from a chest. The Treehouse live stream demonstrated the item’s uses in combat, such as pulling flying enemies to the ground. Also on display during the stream was the game’s charming load screen, which features an adorable NES-era Link running across the loading bar.

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On the surface, Hyrule Warriors looks like an exciting action romp. The trailer Nintendo put out for E3 was choke full of content, featuring a slew of characters, enemies, attacks and items. In comparison, our first look at Zelda Wii U today was oddly brief. Whether Hyrule Warriors can stand on its own without succumbing to the repetitive nature of the Dynasty Warriors games has yet to be seen. Much of the gameplay shown already has been very much in line with the main series’s chaotic hack and slash style, rather than the tight swordsmanship of traditional 3D Zelda games. Hopefully both Zelda and Dynasty Warrior fans will find compelling gameplay behind the title’s flashy presentation when it releases in September. 

Are you excited for Hyrule Warriors? Do you think Nintendo has drummed up enough excitement for it at E3 so far? Let us know in the comments below.