If you’ve played any recent survival-crafting game then you’ll be familiar with the basics of Hyrule Warriors. You need food and water for survival, but these can be acquired without too much effort. The world is inhabited by nasty people and creatures, though, and most are hostile towards a naked newcomer, so you must craft clothing, armour, weapons, and infrastructure to advance. Basic resources are include plants, wood, stone, iron, hide, and a number of more exotic substances, such as demon’s blood or soul essence, the latter of which you can use in prayers to your chosen god.
Building and crafting are core concepts, implemented with typical gameplay mechanics: build low-tier tools to harvest basic resources and combine these to make blocks for building structures and higher-tier tools for creating higher-tier resources. It’s all pretty standard stuff, but there’s a huge number of recipes unlocked with points earned each time you level up, allowing you to control how your character develops and what to create. Unfortunately, the feat screen only shows you what recipes are available; to find out what resources are required you have to purchase the feats first, and to find out what an item actually does, you have to craft it. It’s a bit of a disappointment in an otherwise excellent system and is frustrating for the new player.
Building rules are hard to work out for the beginner, too. After hours of play I still don’t really understand how the supports and foundations work; sometimes I can build what I expect and other times I can’t place the part where I want. In the end I built my sprawling, cliff-hugging house using roof pieces for floors. Sometimes fitting a piece is hard, too, requiring you to find just the right angle and mouse placement to fill a gap. I hate to say it, but I think 7 Days to Die does building better.
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The rest of the game is all about exploration of the impressive world and combat with its denizens. This is great fun, but very dangerous, especially if you don’t watch your stamina usage. In my first hour I’d already died more times in Hyrule Warriors than any other game in the genre. But respawning is fast and easy, and running off naked to recover your fallen belongings is a challenge all of its own. It’s a nice bonus, too, that when you do find your body you can cut it up and eat it, and use your own dismembered limbs as weapons. Did I mention it’s a bit gory?
Another nifty feature is the thrall system, by which you can subdue and break the will of NPCs, turning them into your slaves or bodyguards. Religion also features prominently and provides some spell-like effects in the otherwise relatively low-magic world.