Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition review: Link stars in another hit game on the Switch

Credit: Nintendo
Credit: Nintendo /

From the Wii U to the Nintendo Switch, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition combines Zelda characters and Warriors gameplay in a game that shines on the console.

Title: Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: May 18, 2018

The last time I consistently played the Warriors franchise was Dynasty Warriors 6, released in 2007. I always viewed those games as an escape. They weren’t overly complicated to play, and the story wasn’t unnecessarily deep. I could zone out and hack’n’slash enemies away to my heart’s delight. I dabbled a bit with One Piece: Pirate Warriors, but the IP didn’t stick with me.

My interest in the franchise was renewed when Hyrule Warriors was released on the Nintendo Wii U in August 2014. I didn’t play the back then but had many friends that did. I never thought the Zelda series would serve as a good backdrop for that type of gameplay. Yet here I am in 2018, playing Hyrule Warriors on the Nintendo Switch, and now I can’t imagine the two ever being apart. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition on the Nintendo Switch is a perfect combination of setting, characters, gameplay and console.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition brings all of the DLC from the Wii U version to the Nintendo Switch. The game is very much a Warriors game (more so than a Zelda one). So if you were never a fan of Dynasty or Samurai Warriors, odds are this theme won’t change your mind about the gameplay. In Hyrule Warriors, you fight your way through hordes of enemies. Most offer little resistance as you pull off satisfying attacks, but some have more health or special attacks that make things a little more difficult. You run around a map, clearing baddies, freeing keeps from enemy control, taking out their captains, completing side objectives, and eventually taking on a boss.

Every level pretty much follows this format. The repetitive nature of this game will turn some people away; others will embrace it. Where the variety comes is in the form of characters, weapons and attacks.

Hyrule Warriors features 29 different characters to play as. Each of them has multiple weapons to choose from, some different outfits (like Link’s Breath of the Wild costume), and can be upgraded. Different weapons are better suited for certain levels. For instance, everyone wants to use Link with his sword. But on one level fire damage is preferred, so you’ll want to equip Link’s fire scepter. These weapons bring all-new attacks to the character.

Every character and weapon comes with regular, strong and special attacks. You string together different combinations of the regular and strong attacks to perform different attacks and finishers. There’s a nice amount of variety in the combat, especially when compounded with the fact you can switch characters within the map on a whim. On top of that, you use items to get past certain enemies and obstacles, such as the Ocarina, bombs and a bow. These items play into how you defeat bosses, too.

Upgrading characters is handled a bit messier and more complicated than I would have liked. The more you play with a character, the more kills you’ll get. That will level up your character and increase your damage and health. But each character also has skill trees that upgrade with rupees and crafting materials that drop from enemies. The skill trees are almost identical for each character, but there’s some variation with attacks you unlock. I would have liked the skill trees to feel more unique to the character.

Where I felt completely lost was with the weapon upgrades. When you get a weapon, you can check what skills they have if you appraise them at the Smithy. If one of those skills is something that you don’t like, you can spend a hefty amount of rupees to remove it, opening up that slot for a skill you deem more worthy. You’d then be able to transfer a skill from one weapon to another. A more streamlined process would have been nice here. The game did a poor job of explaining weapons and skill upgrades, and I had to look up a guide to get a decent handle on it.

What will assist you in leveling your characters is that progression of a hero is continued across the game’s multiple modes. While you have the main story (Legend mode), another fun twist on the game is Adventure mode. In Adventure mode, the map is laid out like an old-school Zelda game. Each grid you can explore represents a new battle you have to complete. These battles have different conditions you need to meet. Overall, it’s a fun, different way to tackle the same core gameplay.

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Challenge mode is what you’d expect; levels and bosses are replayable and more challenging. Complete it and you’ll increase the challenge difficulty. Meanwhile, Free mode allows you to replay any level with any hero. I found this useful for farming materials, as well as diving into split-screen co-op with my kids. I was surprised how well the Hyrule Warriors ran both docked and in handheld mode, in co-op split-screen, with so many enemies on the screen. There was never a hiccup or slowdown as far as I saw.

Actually, the whole game is gorgeous. Zelda fans will be happy to hear that the game is dripping with visuals from your favorite games in the series. Visuals are vibrant, gameplay is smooth, and the music matches the pace of the action. It’s pretty impossible not to enjoy Zelda themes.

Hyrule Warrios: Definitive Edition on Nintendo Switch is not without its flaws, but they’re easy to get past. The enjoyment and replayability of this title, as well as its quick, hack’n’slash action are strengths that easily dominate the conversation. Fans of both the Zelda and Warriors franchises will both find things to love.

8.5. A game not without its flaws, <em>Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition</em> is a great co-op hack’n’slash game that thrives with smooth gameplay, lots of replay value, and a perfect marriage of the <em>Warriors</em> and <em>Zelda </em>franchises.. KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.. . Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition (Nintendo Switch)

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.