Hyrule Warriors is a collaboration title developed by Koei Tecmo studios Omega Force and Team Ninja in partnership with Nintendo. It mixes the setting and characters of The Legend of Zelda franchise with a gameplay format based on that of the Musou franchise (Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, Warriors Orochi). In Japan, the game is called Zelda Musou.
The game was released in Japan on August 14, 2014, where was published by Koei Tecmo. The game was released in Europe on September 19, 2014, and in North America on September 26, 2014. In these territories, the game was published by Nintendo.
A Nintendo 3DS port, titled Hyrule Warriors Legends, with new playable characters was revealed the week before E3 2015 via a video on Koei Tecmo’s Japanese YouTube channel.
A Nintendo Switch version combining all the content from the Wii U original and Nintendo 3DS “Legends” version plus new Breath of the Wild costumes for Link and Zelda was announced in a January 11, 2018 Nintendo Direct mini.
The story of Hyrule Warriors focuses on a conflict between Link, Zelda, and the forces of Hyrule against a witch named Cia. Cia had the task of watching over the Triforce, and could see all points in time. It was through these visions that she became aware of the hero, Link, and fell in love with him, but was saddened by the realization that they would never be together. This weakness in her heart allowed for an evil that had been sealed away to take hold of her. She unleashes chaos onto Hyrule with the help of her minions, Volga and Wizzro, and through the use of her powers merges the land of Hyrule with the eras of Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time, and Twilight Princess.
The story of Hyrule Warriors is not a part of the official Zelda timeline and is considered its own separate universe. The game is considered a celebration title by the development staff, as it includes numerous elements from across the timeline, many of which would not otherwise fit canonically or chronologically.
Hyrule Warriors offers two basic control styles. One is the the standard Warriors button layout, and the second is one that is inspired by the Zelda series. The player chooses between layouts at the game’s start, and can freely switch back and forth in the options menu afterward.
Similar to other Musou/Warriors titles, Hyrule Warriors pits the player against scores of enemies in open battlefields. The player character can engage scores of enemies and dispatch them with combinations of strikes, including the signature Musou Attack. The game also implements the Zelda franchise’s Z-targeting, allowing the player to lock on to specific enemies or parts of larger enemies.
Characters in Hyrule Warriors cannot jump. Instead, the player can perform a quick evasive dash. The direction of the dash is dependent on the analogue stick.
The life gauge is represented in hearts, and life can be restored by collecting hearts on the battlefield. Similarly, magic potions can be collected to replenish a portion of the player-character’s magic meter. Triforce shards can be collected to fill the player-character’s special attack (or Musou attack, in Dynasty Warriors) meter.
The player has access to subweapons such as the Zelda franchise’s standard bombs, which can be lobbed at enemies in rapid succession. The subweapons also have uses outside of combat, as well. For example, bombs can be used to clear passageways and uncover secrets, while the hookshot can be used to cross otherwise impassable gaps. The active subweapon can be swapped using the directional pad.
When the player-character’s magic meter is full, a special technique called Focus Spirit can be unleashed. When Focus Spirit is triggered, the player character’s parameters are all given a temporary boost.
Each character grows in strength as they earn experience points in battle and level up. Character levels determine the character’s strength and maximum health. If a character levels up in the middle of combat, his or her health will refill to maximum automatically.
To progress through a given stage, the player must fight off enemies and complete a series of major and minor objectives while also guarding against the stage’s losing conditions, such as the defeat of the stage’s allied commander. Some objectives are tied to keeps scattered around the maps and require the player defeat an enemy keep’s commander to claim the keep for their own forces or prevent the fall of an allied keep. Battles are won when the stated victory conditions are met. However, the victory and defeat conditions can change as the battle progresses.
The game features four difficulty levels. The first three, Easy, Normal, and Hard, are available from the outset. Upon completion of Legend Mode, the hardest difficulty, Heroic, is unlocked. However, difficulty levels cannot be set in Adventure Mode, in which the difficulty of individual challenges is fixed.
The game features enemy types from various races that have appeared in the Zelda series, such as Bokoblins, Lizalfos, and Poes. Enemies such as Bokoblins and Stalfos appear as common enemy soldiers, while Lizalfos, ReDeads, and other creatures appear in roles similar to officers in the Dynasty Warriors series. There are also giant boss enemies such as the King Dodongo, Gohma, and Manhandla.
Officers and giant enemies, with their more complex attack patterns, also feature weak points tied to gauges. When the enemy performs an action that opens up their weak point, the gauge will appear, and the player can strike to deal damage and deplete the gauge. When the gauge empties, the player-character performs a special critical attack that deals massive damage.
The Bazaar Menu is the player’s primary means of customizing the player-characters. All functions of the Bazaar require rupees to spend, which can be acquired by defeating enemies or smashing pots on the battlefield. The Bazaar cannot be accessed while in battle.
The Badge Market allows the player to create badges to enhance the characters’ abilities. Badges can be crafted by using materials and rupees collected on the battlefield. The better the badge effects, the more rupees they cost and the rarer the materials they require. Each character has three skill trees representing offensive, defensive, and assist skills. The layouts of each character’s skill trees are identical, but the materials required for crafting specific badges varies from character to character.
The training dojo, accessed from the Bazaar menu, allows the player to pay rupees to level characters up. The amount required to pay in order to raise a level increases in step with the player-character’s level. However, the training dojo does not allow the player to boost characters beyond the current maximum level of their highest-level character.
Apothecary and Potions
The apothecary is accessible from the Bazaar menu between battles. From here, the player an purchase potions to boost certain effects in the next battle, such as weapon drop quality or rate, among other possibilities. The number of available potions is increased as the player collects more Gold Skulltulas.
If the player character has been upgraded such that he or she has at least one empty bottle, they will automatically begin battle with single-use health potions in their inventory; one for each empty bottle they possess. The quality of the potion goes up as the player defeats Gold Skulltulas.
The Smithy, accessed from the Bazaar menu, allows the player to power up weapons by combining them with others. If the player has a weapon with an empty skill slot and the rupees to pay, another weapon of the same class can be combined with it to transfer a skill to its empty slot. However, the weapon used to donate the skill is destroyed in the process.
Gold Skulltulas, special collectibles that first appeared in Ocarina of Time, make an appearance in Hyrule Warriors. Their appearance during battle is based on specific conditions, such as the weapon the player character is using and/or the character the player has selected. If the player can defeat a Gold Skulltula before a timer runs out, a portion of a special portrait is unlocked. There are a total of one hundred Gold Skulltulas found in the game.
When a Gold Skulltula spawns on the map, a web icon will appear on screen. The Gold Skulltula’s location can be determined by sound; it makes a rustling noise that grows louder as the player draws closer to its position. As in Ocarina of Time, the Gold Skulltulas can be hidden in the environment and might need to be uncovered by the player before they can be fought.
After completion of Legend Mode, a second Gold Skulltula will spawn on each stage. However, these Gold Skulltulas will only appear in Hard or Heroic difficulty, and only for select warrior/weapon combinations.
Cuccos, the chicken-like birds native to Hyrule, appear in Hyrule Warriors, as well. Normally docile creatures, if attacked, they will call for reinforcements and swarm the battlefield. The player can use this to their advantage and get aid from cuccos in battle, but cuccos can also turn on the player if the player attacks them.
Legend Mode follows an original narrative set across stages inspired by Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword, in addition to original locations conceived for the game. The character the player controls is dependent on the stage and progress in the story.
Free Mode allows the player to play any Legend Mode stage with any unlocked character. Free Mode can be played cooperatively by two players.
Adventure Mode is a challenge mode divided into multiple stages laid out on a map with an appearance that references the aesthetic of the original The Legend of Zelda. As the player clears challenges, more stages are unlocked. There are certain weapons and characters that can only be unlocked by playing through Adventure Mode.
Stages in Adventure Mode take on a variety of forms. Some are standard battles in which the player must complete set objectives and then challenge the boss. Others are more focused challenges, such as defeating ten enemy captains while every strike deals critical damage. There are also “quiz” stages that test the player with a series of challenges focused on defeating the correct enemy.
Challenges are graded on aspects such as the number of enemies defeated, the length of time it took to complete the stage, and the amount of damage the player sustained in the battle. If the player achieves a cumulative A rank in a given stage, the player can earn special rewards. Some stages restrict the player to the use of a specific character, or special treasures and rewards can only be earned when the challenge is played with a specific character.
Completing some Adventure Mode stages will award the player with items that can be used on the map screen. When the player examines a given square on the map, items such as a candle or bombs can be used to discover secret passages that allow for unlocking new rewards.
Adventure Mode also features a few gameplay elements in battle that are not present in Legend Mode. For example, some maps feature keeps that deal elemental damage to the player for as long as they’re inside the keep. However, if the player can find and rescue a fairy of the same element, they can use the fairy as an item to protect against the keep’s damage property. Also, some stages feature locks on the doors to the boss’s keep. In order to bypass the lock, the player must locate a keep where the boss key is kept in a treasure chest.
The Master Quest DLC pack includes a Master Quest Adventure Mode map. Each of the stages on this map apply one of the following rules for added challenge:
- Speed Run: The battle has a time limit of fifteen minutes.
- No Healing!: Potion use is prohibited and healing items will not appear on the battlefield.
- No Guarding: Disables protection while blocking.
- No Item Attacks: The bombs, hookshot, boomerang, and bow cannot be used.
- Don’t Get Hit!: A single hit will drop the player to critical health.
Adventure Mode includes a special Network Link feature, in which the player can allow another player’s Link to appear on their Adventure Mode map from across the internet. If the player enters battle and assists this other player’s Link, extra bonuses can be acquired. The level of the guest Link is based on the other player’s own progress. Network Link battles are typically more difficult than standard battles, but offer greater rewards for their completion.
This mode features challenges for players to complete within a given time limit. Not a part of the original release, it was added to the game in the version 1.2 update. The mode will be updated with new challenges over time.
Hyrule Warriors supports local two-player cooperative play. Similar to Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper, the game features the ability for one player to play the game on the Wii U GamePad screen, and the other on the television. The game does not offer a split-screen display option, as one player is required to use the GamePad display.
Similar to other in-game achievement systems, the player can earn medals by completing various in-game tasks. Medals come in bronze, silver, and gold varieties and are awarded upon completion of the stage in which the medal was earned. The player can optionally turn on a function to automatically post to Miiverse whenever a medal is acquired.
Keeping in line with the standards of the Warriors franchise, and unlike standard entries in the Zelda franchise, Link is not the sole player character in Hyrule Warriors. Numerous secondary characters that have appeared in past entries the series are playable for the first time. The game also features new original characters that are playable as well.
Each character has their own unique weapon and move set, with some characters able to use more than one weapon type. The player must select a weapon to use before starting a battle and cannot switch once the battle begins.
|Wizzro||Hyrule Warriors||Magic Ring|
|Twili Midna||Twilight Princess||Mirror of Twilight|
|Young Link||Ocarina of Time||Fierce Deity Mask|
|Tingle||Majora’s Mask||Rosy Balloon|
|Ganon||The Legend of Zelda||–|
|Giant Cucco||A Link to the Past||–|
Hyrule Warriors Legends Characters
Characters that come with the Nintendo 3DS port of Hyrule Warriors. These can be unlocked in the Wii U version by connecting both versions.
|Tetra||The Wind Waker|
|King of Hyrule||The Wind Waker|
|Toon Link||The Wind Waker|
Items & Weapons
Traditional Zelda subweapons can be found in treasure chests during the course of Legend Mode. Once a subweapon is unlocked, it can be used on any given map by all characters. They are often required to solve small environmental puzzles or defeat boss enemies. By finding upgrade items, the subweapons can be enhanced to increase their power and alter their combat effects temporarily.
|Basic Weapon||Upgraded Weapon|
Similar to other Warriors games, some enemies will drop weapon bags when defeated. The contents of the weapon bags are random and left undetermined until after the stage is cleared. If the player is defeated or the battle is otherwise lost, the player loses any weapon bags gathered during the battle.
Certain stages contain Heart Containers and Pieces of Heart for characters to find. Collecting Heart Containers allows the characters to extend their maximum life capacity beyond the maximum earned from simply leveling up. Heart Containers and Pieces of Heart locations are character-specific; they only expand the life gauge of the character meant to find them. Four Pieces of Heart are required to create a Heart Container. Heart Containers and Pieces can be found in both Legend and Adventure Mode.
In a November 2014 update compatibility was added for Amiibo, Nintendo’s line of NFC figurines. The added Amiibo functions added to the game are as follows:
- When either the Link or Toon Link Amiibo is used, the Spinner from Twilight Princess is unlocked as a weapon.
- Scanning the Zelda or Sheik Amiibo will award players with a random weapon rated three stars or higher.
- When any other figure is used, the player will receive either a weapon rated three stars or lower, crafting materials or rupees (even just one rupee).
Each Amiibo may only be scanned once per day with a maximum of five Amiibo per day in total.
Hyrule Warriors supports downloadable content, including legacy costumes based on Link and Zelda’s appearances in Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword, and Ganondorf’s appearances in Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess.
In the West, the Ganondorf costumes are available to players that register the game with Club Nintendo within a month of release, while the Link and Zelda costumes will be divided up as retailer-specific preorder bonuses. In Japan, the DLC sets are part of the Premium and Treasure Box editions of the game. These costume packs were later sold separately on the eShop (December 18 in Japan, December 19 in EU).
Four DLC packs have been announced for the game. The majority of the packs feature combinations of additional content including new characters and weapons to Adventure Mode maps and game modes.
Master Quest (October 16, 2014)
- New weapon type for Link: Epona
- Five new Legend Mode scenarios starring Cia.
- A new Master Quest Adventure Mode map with special Master Quest rules for extra challenge. The map features seven new 8-bit weapons and sixteen new alternatively-colored costumes as rewards.
- Two new costumes (Guardian of Time for Lana and Cia)
Twilight Princess (November 27, 2014)
- New Character: Twili Midna w/ Mirror of Twilight Weapon
- New Weapon for Zelda: Dominion Rod
- Adventure Mode Map inspired by Twilight Princess. Certain tiles are set in twilight areas meaning players cannot use magic or special attacks.
- Two new costumes (Postman costume for Link, Ilia costume for Zelda)
Majora’s Mask (January 29, 2015 [EU/JP]; February 5, 2015 [NA])
- New Character: Tingle
- New Character: Young Link, can transform into Fierce Deity Link
- Adventure Mode Map inspired by Majora’s Mask. The map will reset once the moon crashes. Players start with a count of three, each completed battle counts as one. One reset is mandatory, after that the count is 72, meaning players have to clear the map in 72 battles or it will reset. Clearing Owl Statue stages unlocks them and stages adjacent to it, making them immune to the reset effects.
- Three new costumes (Ocarina of Time Sheik, Skull Kid for Lana, Ocarina of Time Impa)
- New 8bit Weapons
- Unlockable costumes in the form of masks for everyone
Boss Pack (February 26, 2015 [EU/JP]; March 12, 2015 [NA])
- New Mode: Boss Challenge – battle against giant bosses and unlock new costumes for Link, Zelda and Lana
- New Mode: Ganon’s Fury – Play as Ganon, unlock new costumes for Ganondorf and Cia.
Hero of Hyrule Bundle
Players who pre-order all four DLC packs together in the Hero of Hyrule Bundle will receive them at a collective discount of $20. A Dark Link costume is immediately unlocked as a bonus for those that purchase the DLC bundle.
Hyrule Warriors has received a series of free updates. These updates included patches to fix bugs, as well as additional game content and options.
- Version 1.1.0 – Day one update for the Japanese version with unknown content/fixes.
- Version 1.2.0 – Released on September 1, 2014 for the Japanese version. This patch will be released as a day one update for the North American and European releases.
- Adds Challenge Mode
- Enables customization of any stage’s BGM (Background Music)
- New weapon: Link’s original 8-bit sword & shield
- Various bug fixes
- Version 1.2.1 – Released September 18, 2014
- Adds DLC Store
- Adds Dark Link Costume for those who pre-purchase the 4-Pack DLC Bundle
- Version 1.3.0 – Released September 30, 2014 for the Japanese version, and October 16, 2014 for the Western versions.
- Adds playable characters: Cia, Volga, Wizzro
- Adds option to turn off cut-scenes in the menu
- Version 1.4.0 – Released November 27, 2014
- Amiibo compatibility
- Level cap has been raised to a max level of 150
- Material limit has been extended to a maximum of 999
- New mixtures are available in the Apothecary
- New medals can be won
- Version 1.5.0 – Released January 29, 2015
- Level cap has been raised to a max level of 200
- New mixtures are available in the Apothecary
- New medals can be won
- Junk shop will allow for skills to be removed from weapons
- The Adventure Mode information screen will show how much damage was taken and include an option to retry from the beginning.
- Version 1.6.0. – Released February 26, 2015
- Level cap has been raised to a max level of 255
- New mixtures are available in the Apothecary
- New medals can be won
- Expansion of Challenge Mode (score recording, new challenges)
- Fixes load time bug introduced with the previous update
- Version 1.6.1. – Released March 26, 2015
As previously stated, the game is a collaboration between Koei Tecmo’s studios Omega Force, the primary developer of the Warriors franchise, and Team Ninja. Warriors series producer Hisashi Koinuma, Team Ninja lead Yosuke Hayashi, and Zelda series producer at Nintendo, Eiji Aonuma, are all credited as producers on the game. The development of the gameplay merges Omega Force’s experience in games with large-scale group battles and Team Ninja’s experience with one-on-one combat and marks the first time Team Ninja and Omega Force have worked together. The main programmer on the game is from Team Ninja while the main planner is part of Omega Force.
According to Hayashi, the decision to pursue development of a Zelda crossover came from having a lot of Zelda fans on the team. The appeal of having Link fight over a hundred enemies at a time instead of just one or two like in regular Zelda games was heavily discussed among the development team and fueled the excitement for the project.
Koei Tecmo pitched the project to Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma at Nintendo at the same time that Aonuma was by coincidence playing One Piece: Pirate Warriors. After Aonuma heard the pitch, he gave his thumbs up for the project, as playing Pirate Warriors had made him ponder what a Zelda game in the Warriors format would be like. Aonuma oversaw the game’s development, approving of creative and design aspects that appear in the game.
Aonuma has stated that his approval of the game was influenced by his more general desire to see the Zelda franchise break way from its traditions. The game’s structure came about by leaning more toward the strengths of the Warriors franchise; an aspect that Aonuma himself wished to see. In his own words, as translated by Siliconera, “There wouldn’t be a reason for making it a Warriors [game] otherwise, right? I wanted Tecmo Koei to make a Zelda game that I can’t make. And for this reason, I asked them to ‘give it more of a Warriors approach’.”
Miyamoto’s primary influence on the game came in determining which direction to take its design. Koei Tecmo’s intial pitch for the game leaned more heavily toward designing a Zelda game with elements of the Warriors franchise underpinning it. However, it was by Miyamoto’s insistence that the concept was reversed, and instead, the game was designed as a Warriors title with underpinning elements taken from the Zelda series.
At E3 2014, Aonuma also shared some insight he’s gained from being a part of the development. In traditional Zelda titles, with the action focused around Link, there is very little to be concerned about in terms of map management. In a Warriors game, however, map management plays a vital role in the gameplay, as action is taking place in areas where the player isn’t present and forces the player to make choices such as which allies to help and what bases to take.
The game takes visual inspiration from a variety of games in the Zelda series. Link bears his traditional appearance for the most part, wearing his familiar green tunic and cap, but with the addition of a long blue scarf, as well as a shoulder guard on his sword arm. A similar scarf and shoulder guard were worn by the Link depicted in a manga short story included in the Zelda art/chronology book Hyrule Historia which served as a prequel to Skyward Sword.
As another example, Impa’s design is an evolution of her Skyward Sword look, but lacks the face-obscuring cloth. Her outfit also features armor elements reminiscent of her appearance in Ocarina of Time.
Enemy designs in the game are also taken from various entries in the series. The designs of the bokoblins and lizalfos enemies appear to be taken directly from Skyward Sword, for example. Other enemies include the ReDeads of Ocarina of Time and the twilit dragon Argorok of Twilight Princess.
The character of Volga, one of Cia’s minions, features very strong similarities in his armor’s design to the dragon Volvagia, the boss of the Fire Temple in Ocarina of Time. In particular, his helmet resembles Volvagia’s head, and sections of the armor reflect the dragon’s scales.
Similarly, Wizzro’s appearance and name are inspired by wizzrobes, a type of enemy that has commonly appeared in numerous Zelda games dating back to the original The Legend of Zelda. Unlike Volvagia, however, wizzrobes are typically not boss enemies.
- Hyrule Warriors is the second Warriors title to feature a strong presence from a Nintendo property. The Wii title Samurai Warriors 3 features the protagonist of the Famicom Disk System game Nazo no Murasamejou (The Mysterious Murasame Castle), Takamaru, as a playable character. The game also includes a full-fledged gameplay mode in Murasame Castle that plays like an adaptation of the Famicom title using Warriors mechanics.
- In Japan, a special “Treasure Box” edition of the game was released featuring extras including a wearable replica of Link’s scarf, a Triforce-shaped clock, and a box shaped like a treasure chest that plays the Zelda series treasure-finding jingle when opened. A limited edition available in Europe also includes the scarf replica. In North America, a limited edition of the game bundled with the scarf was be sold exclusively through the Nintendo World Store in New York City. Only 300 copies of the North American bundle were produced.
- Early plans for the game included the possibility of a female version of Link as a character in the game. The plan was ultimately scrapped, but artwork of the design concept was included in an official art book for the game released in Japan, as well as the official strategy guide published in North America.