Let's talk about one of the bigger additions in Hyrule Warriors: Legends - the companion fairies. I've had some experience with this by now and it's certainly a great new feature. I was skeptical at first, because it looked like Koei Tecmo just wanted to put one of these online doll makers into the game, but the fairies have proven to be one of the most valuable assets in the entire game.
That's because the Fairy Magic, which on GameFAQs is usually referred to as "Fairy Nukes", triggers a huge explosion that kills all enemies within a certain radius, even ones that aren't rendered. Most attacks in the game only affect the rendered enemies, which is why it's a lot harder to get higher K.O. counts with Special Attacks on the Nintendo 3DS. But the Fairy Nukes wipe the area clean and give you high K.O. numbers with a single press on the touchscreen. It feels overpowered, but that's what makes it so fun and useful.
It can also be a life saver for your A ranks and it gives you a good additional use for Magic. I never have been much of a fan of the Focus Spirit mechanic outside of the "Rack up your K.O. count" battles, because it's so short-lived. I often ignored it altogether or just used it to quickly force weak points on giant bosses. But the Fairy Magic is so useful that in Hyrule Warriors: Legends I really go cut all the grass to find these little Magic Vials. With fairy clothing you can even reduce the cost of one nuke down to 60%, which means that after one nuke with a full Magic Meter, you only have to find one small bottle to use it again!
In addition, if you get a fairy to Level 25, it leaves a barrier within a small radius for around two minutes (or until you use the Fairy Magic again), where depending on the element the barriers have different effects on the troops (not yourself!). At Level 50 a fairy can use a 2nd elemental barrier simultaneously or double the same elemental barrier by radius and effect. Now, the different elemental barriers do the following...
- Shine (Light):
This regenerates your troops within the circle. In Adventure Mode this is rarely ever useful, but for hunting certain Hard Skulltulas in Legend Mode this comes in handy. For example there's Linkle's mission, where Darunia storms off to fight Volga and you have to keep him from getting in danger. And here the Shine barrier really does its job.
- Shade (Darkness):
This is probably the most effective Fairy Magic effect, if used right. All your enemies within the barrier get slowly damaged over time, until they only have one health point left. It's like a poison effect. It doesn't kill them, but you can easily pick them off as One-Hit K.O.s, which works whenever enemies stay within a certain area to take a nice Shade bath. In Adventure Mode this is very often possible, pretty much in every single Adventure Battle. After the enemy base opens up, you can just leave a Shade barrier there and go hunt for some hidden treasures in the meantime. When you come back, the enemy commander will be ready to be defeated in a single hit. In missions, where you have to take out certain enemies, your allies might even do this for you, so you just have to leave a Shade barrier around and go on with your business.
It's also great for certain types of Challenge Battles. I usually despised all the "Team up and defeat the enemy forces!" missions, but here you can just leave a Shade barrier with the more annoying opponent (for example someone spawning Giant Bosses) and take care of the other in the meantime. It really helps with the "balanced attack" missions on the Twilight Map as well.
The constant damage on enemies can have some weird side effects, though. Basically all plant enemies go nuts. Deku Babas hide all the time and you can't defeat them inside the Shade effect, but they still leave their poison fog as obstacles around. Manhandla also reacts weird, where it keeps retracting its heads, but this might be a good thing. And whenever you're using attacks with a tornado effect, the enemies may fly out of it and even out of your reach.
- Bombos (Fire):
This makes enemies take more damage from all your attacks and this is very useful, whenever you have to face enemies right away and can't just leave them where they are, usually in Challenge Battles like "Defeat all enemies!" or "Defeat all Giant Bosses!". Some people prefer this over Shade all the time, but it seems to be quite useless, if you're already doing lots of damage. Bombos is probably something that will get very interesting in the later Adventure Maps, when you're starting to be underleveled and you're simply not doing enough damage. But if your enemies are dealing too much damage, Shade is probably still the better alternative, because you can avoid them entirely. At least Bombos doesn't seem to have any weird side effects.
- Ether (Water):
This reduces the damage your troops take. It does not reduce the damage that you take and for supporting your troops the Shine effect seems to be the superior choice. There isn't much to say about Ether and probably no real reason to ever use it.
- Quake (Lightning):
This just slows enemy forces down. The enemies in this game are usually faster than on the Wii U, probably to make this appear more useful, but the only missions, where this might be actually useful, are the "Guard Allied Keeps" Challenge Battles. But even here an Ether barrier together with the Repair Rental Skill might prove to be more useful than slowing enemies down.
It's also a little bit weird / bugging, how "Ether" is the name for Water Fairy Barrier Magic, while the Lightning symbol looks exactly like the Ether Medallion. Just a side note.
But the effect supports my theory that Hyrule Warriors 2 might have "time" as the sixth element. A time barrier could speed your forces up instead.
Next to the Fairy Magic and its barrier effects, there are also many different Rental Skills to unlock by leveling your fairies. They are listed as items within the game, while depending on the skill it works either all the time, for a short time or with a limited number of uses. I haven't gotten much into the whole thing, but the most useful Rental Skills I've found are "Water Wall", which lets every character essentially have the ability of Sheik's water shield, and "Repair", which heals one of your keeps. "Water Wall" is probably my favorite and helps tremendously with collecting Gold Skulltulas or keeping the Sword Beams of the Master Sword. The only downside is that you lose it, whenever you change between characters.
Some people swear on the "Magic Fountain" skill, which gives you unlimited magic for a short time, which you can use for many fairy nukes in a row or a longer Focus Spirit, but I haven't had the chance to unlock this yet and I'm also not too eager about these time limited perks.
To get Rental Skills you have to increase certain traits of the fairy, but a fairy can only have five traits at a time. In order to change these traits (and also her name), you have to refresh her after reaching Level 99. This is something the later Dynasty Warriors games seem to offer for their characters, while here you get a fairy back to level 1, but she keeps 10 percent of her stats, your trust level and all her Rental Skills. And with this you can aim to unlock more and more Rental Skills over time, even getting a fairy with all the skills.
This, however, might take a long time and it's probably easier to focus on different fairies at the same time, because they all have different initial traits. At the beginning you can have up to three fairies, but for each Adventure Map, where you beat the final Ganon mission, you get another slot, which means you can currently have up to eight fairies at the same time. The DLC Maps might also add more slots, we'll see. But it doesn't seem like the DLC maps actually add new fairies, because otherwise they probably would have shown them in the trailer.
There are four different fairies for each element to be found on the five original maps (Termina and Twilight Maps share a set of five fairies), so 20 different fairies altogether. They all have a different look, though for each element you only get two different hair styles with two different colors. On Reddit you can find a neat little Location Guide for all fairies and foods, which even links to images of all fairies.
I personally would have preferred it, if you could built/design fairies on your own and unlock the different hair styles similar to the Fairy Clothing, instead of having different fairies all over the place. If you really like the designs on the Twilight and Termina Maps the best, you're in a dilemma, because you probably wouldn't want to wait using a fairy of the same element until so late in the game. So, you have to settle for the earlier designs.
Luckily I found my favorites for the five elements on the first two maps and this is my current fairy ensemble in this exact order:
- Hylia: Light Fairy from Great Sea Map
- Shady: Darkness Fairy from Adventure Map
- Din: Fire Fairy from Great Sea Map
- Nayru: Water Fairy from Adventure Map
- Farore: Lightning Fairy from Adventure Map
As you can see, I named them after the Goddesses. The Lightning Fairy would be better with green hair to match Farore somewhat more, but otherwise it's quite accurate. Especially my chosen fairies for Din and Nayru look a lot like the two Oracles. I might also rename "Shady" into "Demise", just to fit the pattern better.
All my fairies are above Level 50 as of now and have a double barrier for their respective element. For the remaining three fairies I will try to raise hybrids. I have eyes on the Light Fairy on the Twilight Map for a Shine Shade hybrid. And the Termina Fire Fairy looks really hot, where I might give her a Bombos Shade ability (though Shine might suit her visually better). And a Bombos Ether mixture might also be useful, but I haven't seen a visually fitting fairy for this yet.
Fairy Clothing is another topic on its own. With it you can raise the Fairy Magic damage up to three times and reduce the magic costs down to 60%. The annoying part is that each clothing is set to a specific element and only works for this element. While you can dress your fairies in anything you want, only certain clothes will really buff them. And this heavily limits your options in this Zelda doll maker.
And as this wasn't already disappointing enough, I still wasn't able to get a complete set of clothing for both Fire and Darkness, even after completing the first two Adventure Mode Maps. The original Adventure Map didn't even have a single piece of Fire clothing! And right now I'm still missing some "hat" for the Fire Fairy, where the magic costs are still at 80%, as well as make-up / aura for my Dark Fairy. At least my Dark Fairy has the fully reduced costs, which is why I still prefer to use her over Din and her Double Bombos most of the time.
Next to clothing you can also unlock Fairy Food and like the bottled fairies it's hidden within the normal Rupee pots. On the Wii U I usually ignored those pots, but here you now have an incentive to check every pot in enemy keeps for all the missions with hidden food. This goes so far that by now I sometimes keep smashing pots out of habit, even in missions without any hidden fairy stuff. Like the Fairy Magic makes magic more desirable in this game, the hidden Fairy Food makes smashing pots more desirable as well. And it's certainly more interesting than just simply taking keeps all the time, though it's easy to forget about the pots sometimes. But overall the fairies added a good value to existing things in the game.
I would find it even better, if all pots could randomly drop Food instead of Rupees. The random food drops are way too rare in the game, which turns fully building your fairies probably into the biggest effort of grinding yet. Getting food from pots randomly would solve this issue somewhat.
Anyway, each food corresponds to a certain element and furthers specific traits. You have to use it strategically and with caution, if you want to unlock certain Rental Skills. Sometimes the fairies also ask for a specific food, where feeding them the right one increases your trust level a lot, but you have to be careful with the elements here, because they might ask for something of a different element than what you want the fairy to have after Level 50.
By the length of this article, which only provides an overview, you can already see what a complex addition the fairies have been to the game. It's certainly a welcome new feature and I hope it stays around for the sequels with a number of improvements.