No, Hyrule Warriors doesn’t actually have traditional voice acting. What it does do that no other Zelda game before has done is provide voiced narration. Let me step back a bit: It’s not really a Zelda game at all, but for what it is involving Zelda lore, worlds, and characters, it makes me personally feel like it’s time to explore this in the main series.

I understand many of the valid arguments against voice acting. There is a real fear, for the most part, that it will be terrible – a Metroid: Other M type of terrible, and naturally if that is the alternative… we would rather stick with text boxes. Except that doesn’t have to be the alternative. Now, you may not like the narration voice/tone in Hyrule Warriors (I do like it), but it’s really adding something to the experience that the cut scenes themselves don’t have. A type of impact emotionally to me as a player – a sort “taking me into the world” that the cutscenes break me away from, simply because I have to read text boxes.

Here’s a sample of the game’s narration:

On its own, this may not convince you, but the quality of the cut scenes in Hyrule Warriors is unmatched in the Zelda kingdom. There is a reason Eiji Aonuma wants to make Zelda U’s cut scenes up to snuff with this game. I argue that, if nothing else, voice acting should and clearly needs to be implemented into the cut scenes in a mainline Zelda game.

There is always a lot of focus on what could go wrong with Voice Acting, or why it may ruin the game for some folks, but what about what voice acting actually adds to the experience? It can greatly increase immersion – as now you can pay more attention to the actual scene going on rather than focusing on reading. You can gain emotional context – is all capital text yelling in frustration or jubilation? What if they are being sarcastic – how do you even convey that through text? Maybe the all caps are just a statement of excitement – but instead of actually knowing for certain it is left to the interpretation of the reader. This can be a good thing, but it can be bad as well. Intended emotions may not be conveyed because they can’t add tone to text.

I’m not saying they should just go ahead and make the whole game voice acted, nor do I think Link should really speak. Heck, NPC’s in the over world don’t really need to give me voice acting – Nintendo can ease us into it. Make it so cut scenes are the only way we get voice acting, and then go from there. Are those scenes received well? If so, expand voice acting next time. If not, pull it back. Nintendo isn’t afraid to experiment with controls, story, and basic mechanics, but they are too afraid to try and experiment with immersion? My only regret in the Hyrule Warrior cut scenes is that they lack voice acting. They are cinematic in all the right ways, except for that annoying text box that I have to read otherwise I don’t fully grasp what is going on. It just really takes me out of it. If future Zelda games are going to strive for that sort of quality, than it needs to also give us some voice acting. Unless for some reason Nintendo wants to go with narration. That just would be too far out of the norm. Voice acting in cut scenes just feels natural.

The narration is pleasant. To the point that I wonder why they simply stopped there. I enjoyed it, but mainline games shouldn’t be narrated to us – in fact, Hyrule Warriors probably wouldn’t need narration either if voice acting was simply allowed.

At the end of the day this is just my humble opinion based on my experiences with Hyrule Warriors. I’ve never actually been against the notion of Voice Acting in Zelda. I just wish fans themselves seemed more open to the idea. Who knows, maybe Hyrule Warriors will do what I hope it does for that stance: make us more willing to at least give it a shot.

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