Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition Review

Koei Tecmo’s mainline Warriors games are like Marmite: you either love them or hate them.

When it comes to the huge number of licensed games that use the same formula, however, the area becomes a little grey. Many gamers who have never been interested in playing any of the Dynasty Warriors games, for example, may still be interested in playing Berserk and the Band of the Hawk if they’re a fan of the anime. Chances are, they’ll probably enjoy it, too. The same goes for Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition; fans of Dynasty Warriors will like it, fans of Zelda will probably like it, and if you’re a fan of both, well, you’ll probably love it.

A comprehensive package

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition takes the original Wii U release, adds in all the DLC and additional content found in the 3DS port, and then throws in some additional extras. Don’t get too excited though; those extras amount to additional costumes for Zelda and Link to make them look like their Breath of the Wild counterparts and little else. Still, all in all, it’s a pretty comprehensive package. And of course, the visuals have been spruced up too.

Running at 1080p when docked, and obviously lower when in handheld mode, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition looks sharper than ever. It shows off the quality of the character models, which really are rather good, though the quality of the environments is mixed. While there are some good textures on display, the locales in which you do battle often just feel a little bland and empty. It doesn’t detract from the game too much though. Another plus is that during gameplay, the framerate remains enjoyable consistent. But video scenes are horribly jerky at times; an unfortunate drawback of using assets from a now inferior version of the game.

The same, but different

Anyone who has previously played any Warriors game will feel right at home with Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition. You have the usual mix of standard and heavy attacks, along with the obligatory special ‘Musou’ attack which you can use when a meter is charged. The crux of any battle is also taking over bases and raising your army’s morale, with a typical end goal of defeating a named enemy. There are some changes to the formula which separate the game from its peers, however.

The jump button is replaced with a handy dodge ability, allowing you to evade enemy attacks and move around them when locked on to attack from the rear. Items such as bombs can be acquired, and so too fairy skills; both of which can be changed on the fly and used with the push of a button. You also have an additional meter that, when full, enables you to momentarily enter a powered-up state or make use of fairy magic. Suffice to say, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Editionwill feel hugely familiar to fans of the Warriors series, but different enough to keep them interested in the action.

All the modes

What is perhaps most impressive about Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is its sheer amount of content. Aside from an expansive story mode, there’s also an adventure mode which adds more of a strategy twist to the game. You’ll travel across a number of retro-styled maps, engaging in battles and doing some good old-fashioned adventuring to succeed. Then you have challenge mode, which lets you test your skills in an ever increasing number of battles with set goals. You can even play as the gigantic Ganon, throwing enemies aside like ants and picking up new abilities from smaller boss-like enemies. There’s also free mode, of course, and a fairy development mode that doesn’t particularly float my boat.

Across pretty much all modes, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition‘s cast of characters can be levelled up and developed to make them more formidable. Badges can be crafted to provide special bonuses, potions can be created to carry into battle, and weapons can be fused to make them stronger. With new characters unlocked as you progress through story mode, those who wish to sample and power up every character will definitely have their hands full. Though it is possible to enlist the help of a friend.

Fun for all

Two-player local co-op is supported in most modes, and, as usual, it’s a blast. You probably won’t want to play the whole game in co-op as the split-screen presentation does eventually annoy, but defeating hordes of enemies as a duo is definitely fun in the short-term. It’s just a real shame that the action can’t be taken online.

There are the usual problems to be found like repetition and a sometimes awkward camera, but Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is easily one of the best Warriors titles available. I’m not even a massive Zelda fan, but I can’t help but be drawn in by the gameplay tweaks and more fantastical elements. I’ve even found myself enjoying the classic Zelda music when I’ve come across a track that’s familiar to me.

If you’re a fan of the Warriors format and Zelda games then Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Editionis an essential purchase. Those who have already played its predecessors to exhaustion, however, may find that it considerably less so. Sure, it has got nicer visuals and a couple of extra costumes, but that’s about it. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is really meant for those who, like me, missed out on the previous versions. And for us, it’s a fantastic package.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is available on Nintendo Switch.