The Legend of Zelda is a classic franchise that has seen many games and spin-offs so far. When Koei Tecmo started to branch out from their standard hack-and-slash gameplay that is a prominent part of their Dynasty Warriors series, they were able to use the power of many successful brands like One Piece and Dragon Quest to present a new twist on the same old formula. Hyrule Warriors is basically a ‘musou’ game with the twist that it is set in The Legend of Zelda universe. This means you are looking at a hack-and-slash game here with characters and villains taken from The Legend of Zelda series.
Even though it is easy to see how the gameplay can be repetitive for a hack-and-slash Warriors game, it is possible to still enjoy them despite the countless clones if the execution is done well. Hyrule Warriors is one of the better executed hack-and-slash games that use the formula established by Dynasty Warriors. Part of its charm is that the developers have managed to make it feel like a Zelda game and not just another clone. Slight tweaks to the gameplay mechanics go a long way in making this happen even though the core aspects remain the same.
This is the third release for Hyrule Warriors after the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS version, and the reason it is considered the definitive version is that it presents all the content from both games in one single package, hence appropriately titled as the definitive edition. There are now a total of 29 playable characters including almost everyone from the original Hyrule Warriors on Wii U to Hyrule Warriors Legends on 3DS. The main story mode now features every scenario from the two games and lastly, new costumes have been added for Link and Zelda from Breath of the Wild.
The main appeal of the game is purely built on its combat system and with the ability to switch multiple characters and control your favorite ones. If you want to control Zelda and use her to fight through a horde of enemies, this is the game for you. Every character has their own special attacks and moves that are closely designed around their abilities. You can upgrade your favorite warriors by using the rupees or materials that you earn in battles.
The majority of the combat will take place on a battlefield with the same on-screen map that you have seen in the countless Warriors spin-off. To give some credit to the map design, they are incredibly large and have hundreds of enemies on-screen for you to cut down. As you rush from one point to the next, fulfilling your objectives along the way, there will be multiple boss fights or optional objectives given that demand your attention. You can also find items in treasure chests like an extra piece of heart or sealed weapons.
The main story is presented in the Legend mode which is divided into scenarios. This is where you will be able to enjoy the narrative elements presented in Hyrule Warriors. Each scenario that you will complete can be then replayed in a Free Mode that lets you play as any unlocked character. Once you are done with the Legend mode, you can try the alternative gameplay featured in the Adventure mode or test your skills with your favorite Warriors in the challenge mode.
I wouldn’t exactly call the gameplay of Hyrule Warriors repetitive, considering the large number of characters it offers and the way each one controls differently, however it is possible to experience a fatigue if you stay on a map for too long. Just rushing back and forth between the different points of the map and killing the same enemy for the hundred time can get in the way of your enjoyment so the best way to experience the game, in my opinion, was to just stick to the main story content.
If you have already played Hyrule Warriors on the Wii U but skipped out on the Nintendo 3DS version, you can enjoy all the new content that was released for it but absent from the Wii U version. However, the changes to the visuals are rather disappointing since, at the bare minimum, only the resolution has been upgraded so you are getting the jump from native 720p to the native 1080p resolution on Nintendo Switch in the docked mode.
Speaking of the performance, this is another section where I feel like the disappointment is bigger. Especially if you consider that Fire Emblem Warriors was another hack-and-slash game that launched last year and offered stable 60 fps for better performance at the cost of sacrificing visual fidelity. Unlike Fire Emblem Warriors, Hyrule Warriors is unfortunately stuck at an unsteady frame rate that can also result in a weird judder when many enemies are present on the screen. It is hard to notice it in docked mode but it is more prominent when playing in portable mode and the flickering framerate makes it far from ideal experience.
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is a port and adaptation of Hyrule Warriors and Hyrule Warriors Legends for the Nintendo Switch. It includes all previously released content from both games, including every map, character, mission, and downloadable content.
As an enhanced release, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition seems to come packed with content, but the performance of the game, especially in portable mode, is rather disappointing. It is a fun Zelda spin-off that offers a good amount of fanservice and serviceable gameplay.