This is mostly a Warriors game with a Zelda skin and framing story, which I am 100% okay with. You can have up to 4 playable characters in any battle, and one new gimmick is that you can swap between them at any time, and give the others general orders (mostly go here and fight this, which is all you need). Which is very useful because they brought back the zillions of mid-battle missions from the first Samurai Warriors game. So you can order Impa to go defend your base, send Zelda in the direction of one mission, use Link to complete a different mission and then swap to Zelda when she arrives where you need her. It's great! (There’s also an ocarina and owl statues in some stages that let you warp around them, which is also super-helpful.)
(This also compensates for the fact that there’s no multiplayer at all. Which is disappointing, but at least means I’m not agonizing about buying a second 3DS and copy of this game so I can play it with Jethrien.)
They've also adopted the "big flashy effects" and "everyone has crowd-control moves" from the Warriors Orochi games. As I've always found that more fun, again, no complaints. KOing 2000 enemies in a single battle isn’t terribly difficult, as the minions constantly respawn all over the place and often die in a single hit. Also, everything from gate captains to the giant monster bosses that appear in some stages drops “materials” which are used to buy badges (read: skills) for your various characters. Most characters have a specific material they rely on, so you need to farm certain stages to really power them up.
Said giant monster bosses are also vulnerable to certain subweapons (bombs, arrows, boomerang, hookshot—the Zelda classics) which lends a different type of strategy to fighting them besides just juggling them with combo moves.
I think my big disappointment is that the plot/character focus is on Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Wind Waker, which I’ve played very little of and don’t really know. (The 3D Zeldas aren’t my thing.) Basically, the game takes place in the “child era” branch of the Zelda forking timeline. I would have dug more references to Minish Cap, at least, but all of my favorite games take place in the “hero is defeated” fork of the timeline, which was ignored by the game entirely. Bah.
Interesting note: Most of the playable characters are female. They seem to greatly outnumber the male characters (many of whom are either Link or villains). Interesting, that. I wonder if it's just because so many of the supporting cast of recent Zelda games are female?
Overall: This was a lot of fun time spent pressing the attack button over and over again. Exactly what I signed on for.