Legends is packed with content, but you might have played a lot of it before.
The 3DS has played host to a number of downgraded Wii and Wii U ports over the years, whether it was Donkey Kong Country Returns or Xenoblade Chronicles. Hyrule Warriors Legends is the latest in this line of games, but contrary to what’s come before, Legends adds more substantial new content and game refinements. In a lot of ways, the 3DS version is the best version of Hyrule Warriors, but it suffers from having so much repeated content.
Legends contains almost all of the content from the Wii U version and its DLC. The Challenge Mode is missing in action, though I truthfully didn’t notice it was gone. The Legends story mode and retro-styled Adventure Mode are both present and nearly identical to what came before, though Adventure Mode’s map is filled with way more unlockable content on each square. The new missions in the story mode incorporate Linkle and the Wind Waker characters into the quest, but Linkle operates primarily as a side story running parallel and the Wind Waker levels are presented in an epilogue. In order to access the new content, you need to replay the entirety of what you might have already finished on Wii U.
The Wind Waker content is worth replaying that content to get to, though, as it adds in a lot of elements from the GameCube classic. It adds a new weapon (the hammer) that can be used to break the Helmaroc King’s armor, as well as really fun new characters. The King of Hyrule turns into a boat. It’s incredible. Linkle’s content reuses a lot of maps from the main campaign. Linkle herself is an awesome character to play as with sweet crossbow combos, but her story is presented in such a breezy manner that she seems like more of a joke than a bold new addition to the world of Zelda.
But whether you’re replaying the original story mode or checking out the new stuff, a number of quality of life game improvements makes everything more fun. Now, you can switch between playable characters on the fly, which makes missions more dynamic and easier to manage. You can also jump around some maps easier with the new Ocarina item, which lets you warp between Owl Statues (a la Majora’s Mask) around the battlefield. These two changes make a gigantic difference in how you can strategize and fight. It also helps the repetitive combat stay a little fresher because you’re not tied to one character for an entire mission. Likely because of all these changes, though, the 3DS version only supports single-player. To me, that isn’t a major loss. I did enjoy playing co-op on the Wii U, but the 3DS version has been a lot more of a “pick up and play” portable experience that wouldn’t quite work with another player.
Visually, Legends runs surprisingly smoothly considering the amount of action going at once. Enemies do noticeably pop in, and it’s apparent a hard limit exists for the amount of characters on screen at once. The gameplay is never adversely affected by this, though. It’s worth noting that this game runs horribly on the original 3DS, 3DS XL, and 2DS. If you don’t have a New 3DS, stay away. The New 3DS also offers some better control options, as you can use the second stick to move the camera and the ZL button to lock onto enemies.
Legends also adds the My Fairy mode, where you can capture and train fairies to assist you in battle with different attacks and buffs. You have to find the fairies in Adventure Mode, and it’s a little obtuse as to how to even initially access the mode. Training and even dressing up your fairies can be fun, but it doesn’t serve as much more than a distraction.
Hyrule Warriors Legends is a tough game to draw a conclusion from, though. On one hand, this is the best version of the game aside from the visual downgrade. On the other, it’s essentially the same game that came out on Wii U in 2014. It’s hard for me to recommend this for people who played Hyrule Warriors on Wii U, especially with more DLC coming to both versions. Legends is best if you vastly prefer gaming on a portable or have never played Hyrule Warriors before. Just make sure you have a New 3DS.