You've picked up Hyrule Warriors, the first Musou title featuring characters from the Legend of Zelda series, but maybe you're not completely clear on which character to play. Is Link your go-to guy, or is Ruto more your speed? Perhaps you need the brute strength of Ganondorf to crush your enemies. Either way, you need some help choosing the best fit for you.
We're here to offer you a bit of guidance for the 13 playable characters in Hyrule Warriors. We'll give you a basic idea of how they play and when you can expect to unlock them.
At this week's Tokyo Game Show, Nintendo also announced new DLC offering up three more characters: Hyrule Warriors villains Cia, Volga, and Wizzro. Unfortunately, the DLC doesn't have a North American release date, but when we get a chance to play it, we'll update this guide.
Some characters and weapons are unlocked in the Story Mode, while others can only be unlocked in the game's Adventure Mode. The guide below will indicate where you can unlock the character or weapon, in addition to the elemental propeties of each weapon.
The Hero of Light and frequent bearer of the Triforce of Courage leads the charge! Link is the only character available in every level of the game and he's the most versatile character with a total of four movesets.
This is Link's basic moveset, pairing a one-handed sword with a shield. This style is fast with a decent bit of damage, but limited range. On the bright side, Link can stay very mobile while using the Hylian Sword and the finishing moves clear a ton of space. Like any character with a Light element, the Hylian Sword gives Link a distinct advantage on many bosses.
This is Link's long-range moveset, bringing the power of fire to bear on his enemies. The Magic Rod lets you attack a number of enemies within a direct line, featuring a basic combo that splits into one, two, or three different directions. It can also morph into a battle axe or a mid-range flamethrower. If you want to keep enemies away or roast them with explosions, the Magic Rod is for you. Unlock: Story Mode
The Gauntlet is Link's heavy moveset, dealing a ton of damage and allowing Hyrule's finest to lift heavy objects. While wielding the Gauntlet, Link can clear crowds with a ball and chain, electric shocks, or heavy stone. He can also lift enemies and other items found on the battlefield for more combat options. Unlock: Adventure Mode
Out of all of Link's weapons, this is the hardest one to obtain and it literally turns you into the Great Fairy. (She carries Link in a jar.) She's huge, which translates into big damage and long-range. Unlock: Adventure Mode
To unlock the Great Fairy, you need to reach the bottom-left corner of the map in Adventure Mode, which means you must complete the adjacent square with a gold medal. That has the following requirements: kill more than 1200 foes and finish the level in under 20 minutes, while taking less than 4000 points of damage. Once complete you can move into the bottom-left square of the map, use the water arrow on the Ring of Fire there, and complete the mission. Method via CitizenNapoleon.
You won't unlock Zelda until you close the portals in the Sealed Grounds, Palace of Twilight, and Lake Hylia chapters, but she deserves the second spot in this guide. I mean, the series is named after her. Zelda falls behind Hyrule Warriors' original character Lana with only two weapon styles.
Zelda's rapier has a short-range and little damage, but her attacks are very quick and allow for a lot of movement. She augments this basic fighting style with wide finishing slashes, dashes, ranged light arrows, and additional light magic.
When we say "Baton," we mean conductor's baton, which lets Zelda attack at mid- and long-range with the power of wind and lightning. She can call down hurricanes to sweep the field, create musical-themed lightning, and slash at foes with windy musical bars. Yeah, it's pretty weird. Unlock: Adventure Mode
The Captain of the Hyrule's guards and the protector of Princess Zelda, you unlock Impa in the game's first chapter. Impa features two weapon styles.
The Giant Blade is a heavy weapon, requiring a great deal of momentum to swing. While this moveset does have horizontal slashes, its basic combos tend to involve acrobatic vertical attacks. Her special attacks with the Giant Blade deal water damage, from the area-of-effect water kunai to the vacuum-style water ball.
The Naginata is the faster of Impa's two weapon styles, featuring quick, wide slashes and the ability to lay down walls of burning fire. If you're looking to move Impa across the battlefield quickly, the Naginata will be your weapon of choice. Unlock: Adventure Mode
Sheik, the alternate form of Princess Zelda, is a highly-skilled assassin with only one weapon: the Harp. You'll unlock Sheik in the game's second chapter.
While Sheik's basic combos are fast-moving dagger attacks, the Harp allows the character to have control over the battlefield. The Harp can stun foes, create a mid-ranged electrical field around Sheik, or draw enemies towards a specific point with darkness. She retains attacks from most elements with additional water and fire abilities. Sheik is a versatile character when used correctly.
The White Witch is a brand-new character created for Hyrule Warriors, with strong ties to the game's story and villains. You'll unlock her in the game's third chapter. Lana has three weapon styles: the Book of Sorcery, the Spear, and the Summoning Gate.
Book of Sorcery
The Book of Sorcery attacks primarily through magic walls. These allow Lana to push enemies away or trap them within a certain area to deal damage. Her range varies depending on the attack: her basic combos are short-range, but her finishers can deal damage to foes far away. She also has a magic cube attack that allows her to move and deal damage while staying out of harm's way.
The Deku Tree-based Spear changes Lana into a mid-ranged character, allowing her to attack with water, ice, and deku seeds. If the more esoteric Book of Sorcery is too much to wrap your head around, the Spear is more straightforward. Unlock: Story Mode
Lana's Summoning Gate allows you to call on the power of Hyrule's most fearsome creature: the cucco. Actually, the Gate lets you summon plants, dodongos, dragons and and giant cuccos to do battle for you. With the Gate, Lana is a mid-range to long-range fighter, and probably one of the more unique characters. Unlock: Adventure Mode
This member of the Goron tribe is actually the boss of the game's Death Mountain chapter, though he'll join you after a solid beating. Darunia is a heavy character through-and-through; he only has one weapon: the mighty Hammer.
Hit them with your hammer! This powerful pugilist wields a massive hammer, backed by his own tough body and fire attacks. His hammer swings cover a big area and his Goron rolling attacks give him movement options. Fire is his only element, but his big damage means you won't need much else.
Midna, the other protagonist of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, gets to join in on the fun after beat Twilight Fields. She's still mischievous, but after you take her down, she joins the Hyrule Warriors team. Like Darunia, she also uses a single weapon.
Midna attacks via a shadowy wolf - a callback to Link's wolf form in Twilight Princess - or her morphing, stretching ponytail. The wolf allows Midna to charge around the battlefield and her ponytail can either crush foes or slap enemies in front of her. She's a mid-ranged character, but when combined with the wolf, Midna can punish groups of enemies with ease.
Fi is the semi-humanoid form of the Goddess Sword. If you haven't played Skyward Sword, think of Fi as Navi: Part 2. You'll unlock Fi when you complete the Skyloft chapter in Story Mode. In the case of Fi, the character is the weapon; Fi is the Goddess Sword and she attacks using herself.
Fi's basic attacks cover her in a full circle, meaning she has little to worry about when it comes to enemies behind her. She's a short-to-mid-range character, pirouetting about the battlefield. She also wields a number of Light-based attacks, allowing her to charge or clear the immediate area of foes. Unfortunately, she's one of the weaker characters.
Another Skyward Sword transplant, Ghirahim was one of the villains in Link's last outing. He's a bit of a narcissist, but he has the skills to back it up. Like many of the also-ran characters, Ghirahim has one weapon, the Demon Blade. You'll unlock Ghirahim in the game's Adventure Mode.
Ghirahim's fighting style involves a number of mid-range attacks backed by teleportation. He also has a number of area-clearing abilities based around his Darkness magic. Definitely a strong contender in the right hands, though his damage is on the average side.
Princess Ruto of the Zoras returns from her first appearance in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. She's unlockable in Hyrule Warriors' Adventure Mode and comes complete with a single weapon, the Zora Scale.
Ruto is all water, all the time, but she's also one of the more interesting characters in the game. With the Zora Scale, she's all about crowd-control: immediate area-clearing water attacks, long-range waves, a water sphere that sucks in enemies, a dive-charge, and frontal-cone tsunamis. Ruto is bar-none one of the best characters in the game, doing decent damage to a ton of enemies.
Agitha is another all-new character for Hyrule Warriors. She's the self-proclaimed "Princess of the Insect Kingdom," which means her attacks are shiny light butterflies and beetles. She actually plays a decent part in the Story Mode, but she's unlocked in the game's Adventure Mode. Like the later unlockable characters, Agitha has one moveset only.
With her Parasol, most of Agitha's non-special attacks are short-range and pretty weak. She has some decent utility moves, like being able to ride a giant butterfly around the battlefield, whip up a tornado, or summon a charging beetle, but when contrasted with the rest of the playable cast, she comes up short.
Zant was previously the main villain in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and he returns here as one of three villains the team has to beat to close the portals threatening this version of Hyrule. Twilight Princess fans will be glad to hear that he's still a crazy loon - think of him as Hyrule Warriors' Voldo. Zant wields twin Scimitars as his weapon of choice and he's unlocked in Adventure Mode.
Zant is a beast. His basic attack combo extends to mid-range and his secondary clears the area around him in a full circle. His specials extend that range with the ability to throw fireballs, summon hands to fight for you, or grow huge to stomp out foes. Zant is nearly the strongest character in the game, even though he only has one moveset to work with.
The big bad of the Zelda franchise, Ganondorf is a playable character in Hyrule Warriors! Once you finish the game's primary plot with Cia, Ganondorf steps up in the fourteenth chapter to be all he can be. Even though his moveset is called Great Sword, he actually wields two big swords.
Ganondorf may be slow to swing, but he does a ton of damage at short- to mid-range. Combined with his Darkness-based specials, Ganondorf is a master at destroying enemies near him. He feels cool to play, but when stacked up against the rest, he's only above-average.