In a recent interview with Game Informer, Eiji Aonuma discussed some of the finer points of the game—and one of those points just so happened to be the Dynasty Warriors-style cooperative gameplay and its role in the upcoming Hyrule Warriors. Could this be the start of something new for the Zelda franchise, or is he just giving us another tease?
According to the interview, co-op might be a viable path for future Zelda games. In the past, some games, such as the battle mode in Four Swords or Phantom Hourglass, or the GameCube release of The Wind Waker, have had minimal two-player functionality—particularly through the use of something like the Tingle Tuner, an item that was used through the Game Boy Advanced adapter to give your friend something to do and a way to assist you as you played the game by means of bombs, healing, and the add-on sidequest to find all the Tingle statues. Hyrule Warriors, however, is different in the sense that is it true cooperative gameplay. Based on the Dynasty Warriors style, two players can play the game at once, watching the same screen (or level, in this case), with the same graphics, and the same level of functionality on each of their controllers—and according to Aonuma, this may not be the last time we see such a game play feature in our Zelda games.
"The two-player functionality of Hyrule Warriors is actually something that has traditionally been done in the Dynasty Warriors series, but they’ve changed because of the hardware and the second screen on your GamePad. Instead of having a splitscreen on the television, you have one-player playing on the television and one on the GamePad. When I was talking back about making Zelda more than just a single-player experience? That’s something you will see in the future, maybe next year." — Eiji Aonuma
What does that mean for Zelda fans? Well, as far as we know, only one major Zelda game is making a release on the home console, next year; that game is Zelda U. Could it be possible that we'll see a true two-player functionality in this game? If we did, that certainly would be an interesting add-on to the game. The question becomes, however, what form would this two-player mode take? It could be anything from simply a head-to-head versus mode to dungeon-crawls online, to even a two-player story mode. Maybe this was why Link was wearing a blue tunic and had a horse with a brown mane in the Zelda U trailer—because he was second player, and needed to be able to distinguish himself and his items from first player. This could also explain why he had a bow, as opposed to his sword: perhaps during co-op mode, items are shared between the players; what's more, it could explain why Aonuma was toying with us over whether or not the character in the Zelda U trailer was Link.
It's also possible that second player wouldn't play as another Link, but as Link's companion(s) for the game. Without knowing who Link's companion(s) will be, it's hard to predict how that sort of gameplay might look or feel, but imagine the possibilities that would open in terms of puzzle-solving. Puzzles would no longer be restricted to one or two rooms that are relatively close to each other, or even to a set of skills that only Link would possess. A single puzzle could span half the dungeon and require both characters to do things at certain times in certain orders to complete it. For a single-player mode, this could be done by having a button set to switch between characters (similar to using Medli or Makar in The Wind Waker, but simpler and much quicker)—in two-player mode, these things could be done simultaneously through coordination between the two players to make for a quicker journey. Dungeons could even be made more massive with that concept alone.
That being said, Aonuma is being as alluringly and infuriatingly vague with his answers as always, and it will be difficult to guess just exactly what he's trying not to tell us until more information about Zelda U comes out. One thing is for sure, though—you may want to pick up a copy of Hyrule Warriors when it releases later this year, in September. Something tells us you may want to get used to that co-op mode.
Source: Game Informer