Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hyrule Warriors: Master Quest Pack (Review)

This review was originally published on ZeldaChronicles (formerly known as ZeldaEurope) and got translated for this blog in 2022 by the same author.

On October 16th the first DLC pack for Hyrule Warriors became available. It includes new scenarios for Legend Mode, a "Master Quest" version of the Adventure Map, Epona as a new weapon type for Link, as well as lots of costumes and some other goodies. So, let's take a closer look.

The Master Quest Pack costs 6,99€ on its own, but it's also included in the Hero of Hyrule Pack for 14,99€. The latter will also give you access to the three upcoming DLC packs, as well as a special Shadow Link costume as a bonus. Future DLC will contain new playable characters from Twilight Princess and Majora's Mask, as well as new Adventure Maps, where overall the Hero of Hyrule Pack seems to provide a lot of bang for your back.

This review is for players of Hyrule Warriors, who are already acquainted with the game and are now looking to expand their experience. Most of the images used in this review are post-processed promotional screenshots.

Version 1.3.0

Let's first talk about the free update, which accompanies the Master Quest Pack. This includes a variety of improvements, but also three new playable characters: Cia, Volga, and Wizzro. Without any of the paid DLC, you can still play with them in Free Mode, Challenge Mode and many of the Adventure Mode missions, unless they have restrictions.

This seems fair, since these three characters already appeared as bosses in the main game. But on the other hand this can be seen as a sweetening, because without the Master Quest Pack you won't get any dedicated missions for these characters, which also means that you won't be able to obtain their weapon upgrades or any of their additional Heart Containers. If you happen to like the new characters, you will need to buy the Master Quest DLC to truly have something to do with them. Well, you don't look a gift horse in the mouth, but in a way the free update works like a demo for the paid DLC, where you're obtaining one half of a whole here.

Otherwise the update finally adds the option to deactivate the intro scenes for the characters and bosses in Adventure Mode. This doesn't work in Legend Mode, but it's mainly in Adventure Mode where they were a problem. In some cases, like on the Rewards Map, you had to skip five of these intro sequences in a row just to start the fights. So, it just speeds things up tremendously.

This is good to hear, but what might not be good to hear for some is that the glitch got fixed that let you swap the weapons of the characters. At the same time you may run into an Impa using the 8-Bit Wooden Sword or Zelda fighting with Sheik's Harp on the new Adventure Map, where the developers had some fun with such a "feature" themselves...

Challenge Mode remains unaffected, by the way. This mode got added in version 1.2 with the announcement that they were going to add more challenges in the future, where hopefully Koei Tecmo won't forget about this, because right now this mode is entirely bare-boned.


Before we dive into the contents of the Master Quest Pack, let's take a look at the three new characters, which a central to this wave of DLC. In the review for the main game they already got praised for their designs. It's a also a refreshing idea to have two groups of villains, who are even opposed to each other, where it's nice to finally slip into the role of this second group as well.

Cia flipping some Hylian soldiers into the air

Cia is easily one of the most powerful characters in the game and lives up to her reputation as a primary villainess, whipping her way through enemy forces. She's even a lot more dangerous in the hands of a player, because unlike her AI counterpart you can cancel out of all her combos, which makes you much less vulnerable.

Her C1 Charge Attack increases her steadfastness and adds darkness damage to all her attacks for a short period of time. This gets indicated via a bar below her Special gauge, where this isn't really something new, but it's much easier to perform than with Midna and faster than Fi's similar boost. This state also protects her from the stun effects of the Gibdos and ReDead Knights, which is very useful. It doesn't last very long, though, where you constantly have to charge her again and may even tend to ignore it entirely.

What's really satisfying are her combos. Her C2 creates a dark shockwaves at the swing of her hips, which can be repeated up to three times and lets you clear keeps within seconds.  Her C3 lets you shoot energy balls, also up to three times in a row, where this is perfect to keep stronger enemies at a distance. And her C5 creates energy fields on the ground, which stun your enemies and create mighty blasts. The highlight are her four Shadow Links, however, which can be summoned via C4 and C6 in different ways. They can cut their way through the weak point gauges of any giant boss in one turn easily.

In addition, Cia gets a very powerful Special Attack, where she fills an entire area with dark energy eruptions. Those have different phases, where it's easy enough to get those magic 100 K.O.s with one Special Attack. Overall, her fighting style fits Cia very well and fans of this character won't be disappointed.



The dragon knight might feel a little bit underwhelming compared to his computer controlled counterpart, who can give you a hard in Legend Mode in multiple occasions. He's also the simplest of the three new additions, but nevertheless might be a very good fighters, maybe even a new favorite for many.

His C2 can be chained, similar to Impa's Naginata, so that you can keep juggling enemies with a little bit of practice. The C3 dragon claw attack offers a good ranged a attack, while his C4 lets you perform a fire breath in 360° to quickly clear keeps.

a fiery dragon flying over a group of Stalchilds and a Stalfos

The big boom comes from the dragon transformation, which you can trigger via a C5. Volga then dive bombs into the enemies, which can take out many of them in a single strike. It's ideal for the "Defeat x enemies in 10 minutes!" Challenge Battles, where every enemy group can be wiped out with one of these blows. But it doesn't come with the fire ball attack, which Volga uses beforehand as a boss enemy. That's a shame, but it's still very good even without it. Sadly, this is the only attack that lets you fully turn into a dragon, but at least it's always available.

As a compensation, Volga's Special Attack is a lot more directional, where you won't hit many enemies at once, but it will be enough to take out all the toes of the Imprisoned if you attack from the side. It's also interesting that you can use this Special Attack to charge forward.


The third of the bunch might not be as conspicuous as the other villains, where Wizzro probably will get underestimated a bit. The slow firing of energy balls feels somewhat weak at first, where the character may not be to everyone's liking. But once utilized correctly, this moveset also pretty powerful. The dark flames can be ignited via the energy balls, where there is a lot you can achieve by spam alone.

One specialty of Wizzro is also that his chain of regular attacks can juggle captains and commanders, where in addition the darkness damage effect is applied as well. Unlike other characters with this weapon element, the dark wizard doesn't have to trigger it in some way, it's always there for some good damage boost. And with his energy beam from the C5 you can then finish things in style.

Wizzro shooting multiple Gorons with a dark Kamehameha

The whirling circle of energy balls caused by Wizzro's C4 is also one of the best moves to clear the weak point gauge of the giant bosses. Only his Special Attack leaves something to be desired, where it's a surrounding attack similar to Cia's, just much smaller and less effective.

Wizzro's weapon type is the "Ring", by the way, which he is inhabiting. This is based on the magic rings from The Legend of Zelda (NES) and Oracle of Ages & Seasons, where the basic version is blue and the upgrades are red and green. He also uses a Wallmaster for some of his attacks, his Adventure Mode sprite is based on Blue Wizzrobes, and his design was probably inspired by the Poe collector from Ocarina of Time. Despite being a new creation for Hyrule Warriors, this character is entirely made out of Zelda references and that's awesome. (This is true for Cia and Volga as well, though maybe not on the same degree.)


Next to the three villains, there is one more moveset available, where this is part of the paid DLC: it's Epona as a weapon for Link. It's of the light element type and Link still uses his Hylian Sword, where some of the attacks feel somewhat similar to that moveset. His strong attack lets you swing the sword while riding, similar to Twilight Princess. And like in Ocarina of Time, you have a bar of carrots, where you can activate a boost via combo attacks. Epona can also hurt enemies just by riding through them with her hooves, just like in the Zelda games.

Link performing a spin attack on Epona

It's a fun addition and this was also a common request from fans. However, since Link already had multiple weapons, it's really just a nice extra. You can also ignore it entirely, where the DLC unlocks all three tiers of Epona right from the beginning. So, you don't have to unlock anything on the new Adventure Map, where there is actually no incentive to truly use Epona in the game. Also, Link and Epona never appear as an enemy in the game, even though this could have been a thing on the Master Quest Map...

All of this is probably because in Japan you can purchase each part of the Master Quest Pack individually. This means you can buy Epona on her own, in which case it would be bad if you also had to buy the Master Quest Map in addition just to receive her upgrades. For Europe this purchase option doesn't exist, though, and overall it would have been better to simply release a coherent content pack. This also goes for the new scenarios...

Cia's Tale

The Master Quest Pack extends Legend Mode by five new story scenarios, which let you play as Cia, Volga, and Wizzro on their quest to be the greatest evil in all of Hyrule. For the most part this tells what has happened before some of the battles in the main game, where you will learn how Cia got all her underlings and so on. Two of the scenarios even take place before Link's first battle.

Cia fighting against Princess Zelda on Hyrule Field

A common theme throughout the entire Master Quest Pack is betrayal, where your allies turn against you or you against them. As a result, some of the best battles with three armies are part of this new campaign. Otherwise these scenarios are the most lackluster, however, where they don't come with any cutscenes at all, only simple narrations.

The story isn't perfect either, creating even new plotholes instead of filling the old ones. One has to do with Midna once more...

There also aren't any Heart Containers, Pieces of Heart, Gold Skulltulas, or sealed weapons. All of this was put on the Master Quest Map, probably to keep things strictly separate again. And that's a shame, since the Gold Skulltulas and Heart Container were always hidden in much more interesting ways in Legend Mode, also giving you an incentive to replay these missions multiple times. The way it is these new scenarios just are way too blank and therefore very disappointing. There aren't any new battlefields either, it all just reuses the existing ones.

Master Quest – The 2nd Quest

The core of the Master Quest Pack is without a doubt the eponymous Adventure Map, which essentially works as a remix of the original Adventure Map. And indeed it's based on the 2nd Quest map of the classic NES The Legend of Zelda, which means that most of the dungeons and secrets are in different locations.

For example, you'll make more use of the Recorder to reveal hidden stairs in the most random places, just like in the original. There are also more caves where the location has been slightly shifted from the NES version, which means that the Compass item card, which reveals the secret spots on a screen, is more important than ever.

Overall, it's nice to see the 2nd Quest adapted as well, where the game gets extended by 128 more challenges. It's not all new, though, because about half of these challenges were copied from the original Adventure Map and just slightly modified. It can be interesting to play these missions a second time with different characters and conditions. For example the "Defeat 1000 enemies in 10 minutes!" Challenge Battle is now quite easy with Cia, while this was very tough to beat before. And that's despite some added restrictions.

Volga charging with his spear

However, in other cases the challenges were simply copied, even with rewards for the same characters. Repeating rather annoying battles, like "Watch out for falling artillery fire!" with Zant or "Defeat 800 enemies in 10 minutes!" with Sheik, was neither necessary nor wanted, where they really should have mixed things up more.

Ideally, everything would be new, where the added challenge types are actually rather good. Especially the "Rack up your KO count!" missions are excellent and basically what the "Defeat x enemies in 10 minutes!" Challenge Battles always should have been. You have to defeat as many enemies as possible within the given time limit, but you're actually surrounded by a large amount of enemies, instead of dealing with small, scattered groups. You're also encouraged to fight the giant bosses, instead of avoiding them, because defeating them lets more enemies spawn.

These new Challenge Battles also make good use of fighting with magic. There are Magic Jar Transport Troops everywhere, where you can use those to stay constantly in Focus Spirit, which lets you score the medal for 500 KOs within one Focus Spirit use much more easily. But you'll also get a lot more experience and Rupees, rarer materials, and better weapons, where the "Rack up your KO count!" challenges are the best and most fun way to grind for the endgame.

In addition, there are the "Defend the allied keeps!" Challenge Battles, where all the keeps are almost fallen and you have to intercept enemies, before they can reach them. These enemies are also fairly weak, so this is first and foremost about planning your routes strategically.

The new Adventure Battles are mainly about troop morale and betrayal. You'll have to defeat specific enemies to boost the morale of your own troops or take our Turncoat Leaders, who turn your own troops against you. None of this is really new, but it has gotten much more focus on the Master Quest map.

Overall you shouldn't expect too many new things. Like with Cia's Tale, there aren't any new battlefields here. That was to be expected, but for the upcoming DLC packs about Twilight Princess and Majora's Mask it would be nice to get some new stages, e.g. the Snowpeak Ruins or Clocktown, because this would add tremendously to the variety.

Master Quest Rules

Both the new and the remixed battles are subject to the so called "Master Quest Rules", where each mission gives you one of five different handicaps. This may sound tough, but for the most part this isn't too bad and might even be helpful.

With the rule "Speed Run!" you'll have to clear the battle within 15 minutes and "No Healing!" is self-explanatory.  Since you have to score an A-rank for most of the battles, which requires to beat them within 15 minutes and with only little damage anyway, those aren't really new restrictions. And with these rules in place you will always see how much damage you've taken or how much time is left, which is quite convenient.

Link attacking with the 8-Bit Candle

The rule "No Guarding!" even removes your taken damage out of the score, which makes certain missions much easier. With "No Item Attacks!" you can't use Bombs, Bow, Boomerang, or the Hookshot, but whenever this rule is in place the game is fair enough to not put you against giant bosses. You may have to face Beamos and Deku Babas without items, however, but those are the exceptions.

The only Master Quest Rule which will give you an actual challenge is "Don't Get Hit!". Like in the "All Attacks are Devastating!" Challenge Battles, every scratch will bring you down to a quarter heart. Except that this time the rule doesn't apply to your enemies. Your received damage also goes against your score, so you really can't get hit if you want that precious A-rank, where this will be frustrating. You don't need the usual 1200 K.O.s, however, where you can focus entirely on your main tasks. Also, for the first time since the NES classic, you'll find Clocks as pick-ups, which freeze all enemies around your for a short time for a cool effect. Luckily, this Master Quest Rule was used sparingly, where there are only seven battles in total with it, so it doesn't ever get too frustrating.

Otherwise you are also restricted to certain characters more often, which forces you to step out of your comfort zone and train with everyone. But at the same time every battle also has two recommended elements instead of just one, which gives you more options to truly reach the characters' full potential.

Master Quest Progression

The Master Quest Map has the same zones as the normal Adventure Map. So, there is the green starting zone, three areas for the games Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword, as well as the blue and red areas for the late game. This means you can start playing the Master Quest Map whenever you want, even when you're not finished with the Adventure Map yet. This way you can even unlock some of the new costumes earlier if you want them badly. However, the more difficult blue and red zones are now more prominent, where you will have to navigate around them in case you're characters aren't strong enough.

screenshot of the beginning of the Master Quest Map

If you've already completed the original Adventure Map and with that got your characters to higher levels, then you shouldn't have much trouble with the Master Quest Map. A big chunk of the new missions is also for the three new characters, where it's not necessary to get them to the highest levels. Level 50 should be enough for the more difficult missions and you will reach this level pretty much automatically just by playing.

It can take about 50 additional hours to complete the new map, where many full games don't even take that long, so this is quite decent for when you want Hyrule Warriors to keep you busy.


Rewards & Extras

Half of the fun in Hyrule Warriors is obtaining rewards. And while the amount of loot isn't as plentiful as on the first Adventure Map, Koei Tecmo still managed to fill almost all 128 quadrants with something to unlock.

For every character there are five addition Heart Containers and an alternate costume to find. Those new Heart Containers start a new row in the heart meter (one row has 15 hearts), where it's likely that the upcoming two Adventure Mode Maps will do the same the same thing to fill that third row. While even more hearts aren't exactly exciting, this gives every character on the roster at least five missions where he or she will be required.

Sheik in a black outfit playing on an 8-Bit Ladder

The additional costumes are certainly more interesting, but they all are just simple color swaps and not new models or outfits (like the preorder costumes for Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword). Still, some of them are quite charming and also offer nice references, e.g. there is now a Hilda variant of Zelda, Lulu's dress for Ruto, or a ghost Darmani look for Darunia. This adds some more visual variety to the game, where it's nice that now every character has at least one alternate costume. And hopefully they will continue to add more costumes with the upcoming DLCs.

Lana and Cia also get the "Guardian of Time" costume as part of the Master Quest Pack, where you don't have to unlock those. This gives a beautiful impression of how the sorceress must have looked in the past.

Other than the Heart Containers and costumes, there are also seven 8-Bit weapons, based on different items from the NES The Legend of Zelda. Some of this is very fitting, like the Book of Magic for Lana, others are completely absurd, like Impa swinging a giant boomerang. It's funny in any case and it seems like every original character will get such a joke weapon, where you can already spot a Midna fighting with the 8-Bit Red Ring, instead of her usual Cursed Shackle, where this will probably become unlockable with the Twilight Princess Pack.

In addition there are 20 more Gold Skulltulas to collect for a new illustration and a new scenario on the Rewards Map, which is about as crazy as the others. The Rewards Map got expanded in such a way that there are already two more places for additional battles, where we can safely assume that the other two Adventure Mode DLC Maps will have 20 Gold Skulltulas as well. However, the finding places of these new spiders are with one exception all in familiar places, where this is a little boring.


If you already have played through all of Hyrule Warriors and are now looking for more things to do in the game, then this DLC pack is for you. The Master Quest Map is mainly more of the same, but works quite well as a 2nd Quest for the Adventure Mode, staying true to the NES original.

If you're still busy with the original Adventure Map or simply not interested in playing Hyrule Warriors all too extensively, then you might want to wait with purchasing the DLC. However, you will get the three new characters for free and if you happen to enjoy playing as them, then you will need the DLC to get the most of them in any case. And for the price it's certainly okay, because you get a lot out of it.

The new Legend Mode scenarios may not be full-featured, but they are fun nonetheless and so are the new "Rack up your KO count!" Challenge Battles. In addition, the many new costumes and the 8-Bit joke weapons will give you more variety during gameplay. The only downside is that the individual parts of the DLC aren't connected at all, where Epona doesn't get much love in all of this...


The Good:
  • Wicked character additions (for free)
  • More scenarios for the bad guys
  • Complete 2nd Quest for Adventure Mode
  • Fun new KO count Challenge Battles
  • Lots of costumes and extras
  • More than 50 additional hours of play time
The Bad:
  • Lots of re-used missions
  • New scenarios without cutscenes and collectibles
  • Epona wasn't fully integrated into the game

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