Hyrule Warriors is an upcoming game being 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 is currently scheduled for release in Japan on August 14, 2014, where it will be published by Koei Tecmo. The North American release is dated for September 26, 2014, and the game will release in Europe on September 19, 2014. In these territories, the game will be published by Nintendo.
The plot will follow Link, Zelda, and other figures from the Zelda series in a war with a witch named Cia.
Cia was in charge of protecting the balance of the Triforce but developed affections for Link and is overcome with jealousy over his relationship with Queen Zelda. Ultimately, her mind is possessed by an evil that was sealed away and Cia unleashes chaos onto Hyrule with the help of her minions, Valga and Wizzro.
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.
Similar to other Musou/Warriors titles, Hyrule Warriors pits the player against scores of enemies in open battlefields. The debut trailer for the game depicts the player character Link engaging in battle with hordes of bokoblins and dispatching them with combinations of strikes, including the signature Musou Attack which is replacing the traditional spin-attack from the Zelda games. The game also implements the Zelda franchise's Z-targeting, allowing the player to lock on to specific enemies or parts of larger enemies.
Additionally, 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 UI, at least in part, also features elements that fit the Zelda theme. In particular, the life gauge is represented in hearts, and life can be restored by collecting hearts on the battlefield. A magic meter can also be filled, and when full, can be activated to temporarily boost the parameters of the player character.
The game features enemy types of varying sizes. Human-sized bokoblins appear to be a common enemy soldier type, and somewhat larger Lizalfos appear in a role more akin to minor officers of the Warriors series. The player will also have to contend with giant enemies such as the King Dodongo.
Leveling Up and Customization
Characters earn experience as they fight, increasing their parameters as they level up. Similar to Warriors Orochi 3, levels can also be raised by spending rupees, with the cost to raise a level increasing with the level. The game also features a badge crafting system to further boost 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.
Hyrule Warriors will support two-player cooperative play. Similar to Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper, the game will feature the ability for one player to play the game on the Wii U GamePad screen, and the other on the television. The game will not offer a split-screen display option. The full extent of multiplayer offerings are not known at this time.
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. Confirmed playable characters include:
- Link (Series Regular)
- Impa (Series Regular)
- Midna (Twilight Princess)
- Zelda (Series Regular)
- Agitha (Twilight Princess)
- Lana the White Sorceress (Original Character)
- Fi (Skyward Sword)
Each character has their own unique weapon and moveset, with some characters able to use more than one weapon type. For example, Link is able to use either his traditional sword/shield, a magic rod, or a ball and chain, while Zelda can use either a rapier or the Wind Waker.
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 is overseeing the game's development, approving of creative and design aspects that the game will feature.
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'."
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 Valga, 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 will have downloadable content, though the extent of this content is not known. A special "Treasure Box" edition of the game for sale in Japan comes with code vouchers for three "wisdom" costumes, three "courage" costumes, and two "power" costumes, based on the Triforce pieces associated with Link, Zelda and Ganondorf. Confirmed DLC costumes include outfits based on the Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword versions of Link and Zelda, corresponding to "courage" and "wisdom" respectively.
- 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.
- Hyrule Warriors marks the first time that Zelda appears in a game as the full-fledged queen of Hyrule. The decision to cast her as queen was made with the thought that the increased power in station fit her role in the game. For example, as queen, Zelda has command of the full Hyrulian army and is able to enter battles alongside it.
- In Japan, a special "Treasure Box" edition of the game will be 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.