Hyrule Warriors gets a ton of mileage out of fan service, in that the novelty of having characters and settings from across the Zelda franchise proves very difficult to resist. It’s fun getting to experiment with the different characters and seeing how their skill set works in a Warriors game. For instance, Link is a great melee fighter who relies on crowd-clearing sword attacks, while a character like Zelda hits enemies with big blasts of magic. It’s all wonderfully over-the-top and seeing enemies drop copious amounts of rupees or unlocking bombs as a special ranged attack help make Hyrule Warriors feel like a legitimate Legend of Zelda game, rather than just a re-skinned Dynasty Warriors title. If anything, all the flashy, over-the-top moves make me long for a more elaborate combat system in the mainline Zelda games, as it’s hard to go from Link taking enemies out with grace and ease here to practically tripping over himself in Breath of the Wild’s solid, if unspectacular enemy combat.
Hyrule Warriors has a number of different modes to choose from, with “Legend Mode” being the main draw. Here, players progress through a story that spans multiple dimensions and timelines, while also learning the ropes of the game’s systems and being introduced to its large cast of characters along the way. The biggest surprise with Legend Mode is that the story is actually halfway decent! It may not be very memorable when all is said and done, but it does a good job of finding ways to incorporate the franchise’s disparate characters and other elements into a cohesive narrative. It takes a little while to unlock every character — which was a drag for myself as I just wanted to play as Ganon — but then, unlocking new characters, weapons, and new skills is all part of the experience in these games.