Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition smashes its way onto the Nintendo Switch in a shower of rupees and broken clay pots. Published by Nintendo and developed by KOEI TECMO GAMES CO this popular sword slashing, horde fighting Dynasty Warriors style game makes it’s way to the latest Nintendo console. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition incorporates all the DLC, content and stories from the Wii U and 3DS versions.
The Switch version features split-screen co-operative. story driven adventure gameplay with content from many previous Zelda games including the recent Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Unlike most other Zelda games, you can play any of 29 different characters as the story develops, instead of just being Link.
Bring balance and harmony to the kingdom of Hyrule as it’s torn apart as the tri-force is taken by an evil sorceress.
How does Hyrule Warriors play?
Hyrule Warriors is a fun revisit to the Zelda version of Dynasty Warriors. Gamers who have had either a Wii U or a 3ds may have experienced this already. So whats the difference? Technically this remaster of both versions has all the free and paid content from both games.
If you have played them before this version brings every thing into one definitive edition. The main feature of a Dynasty Warriors game is you versus hundreds of enemies on a constantly changing battlefield.
The story in Hyrule Warriors : Definitive Edition puts you in control of the 29 different characters from the Zelda universe in a different goal driven narratives.
Having put hundreds of hours into the Wii U and 3DS versions, this version plays very similar without the system limitations that had to be imposed for the older hardware. For me the biggest positive about this version is the ability to play both on your TV and in Handheld mode.
Ok.. the Wii U tried to this with tablet mode and the 3DS version granted you the ability to play out of the home. In my opinion Hyrule Legends : Definitive Edition feels much more at home on the Nintendo Switch.
Getting into the action
Playwise Hyrule Warriors is a hybrid action game with elements of strategy. I like how you need to respond to a constant changing battlefield tactical situations. For example, you might be assisting Zelda to defeat an enemy and suddenly you’re told that one of your keeps is about to fall.
Do you rush back and help out your troops or do you remain with your current goal. This game is all about decision management, strategy and planning. Sometimes i felt more like a general than a soldier. Yes, there is plenty of battlefield action in the hack and slash button hammering play style.
But underneath that is more, to be successful you will need to issue commands to the other AI controlled characters to gain battlefield supremacy. If you get it wrong then a mission failure condition is met and it’s game over.
You have the option of restarting the scenario completely or using a checkpoint. One criticism that I do have of this system is that new players can easily get stuck into the role of one character and lose sight of the bigger picture.
Sometimes you feel that you are a circus juggler who is trying to balance everything at the same time. Fortunately, you can bring a buddy along to help you by playing in split-screen mode instead of relying on the AI to help you out.
Overall I enjoyed playing Hyrule Legends: Definitive edition on my Nintendo Switch. In someways, it felt like the nostalgia of meeting up with an old friend who you’ve shared fun times with and trying to do it all again.
However this time you’re slightly older and wiser. If you’re new to the Zelda game series and previously on your Nintendo Switch you’ve only played Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It’s worth pointing out that this game is a very different experience.
Presentation and Graphics
According to the developer Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition runs at 1080p and 60fps when docked and on the TV. In reality its slightly different. I did some further reading on the graphical resolution of this game.
A rather excellent article from Digital Foundry does a really nice detailed graphical comparison of the Wii U version and the Switch Version. The article is here and in summary, finds that the Switch version is an up resolution version of the 720p Wii Version resampled at 1080p running at 1920 x 1080 resolution.
The frame rates are found to be in reality somewhere fluctuating between 40-60fps. In portable mode, it was found to be oddly 1080p with sub par 30fps. If you want to read more i highly recommend visiting Digital Foundry as they provide an excellent view on this topic.
On the big screen
In docked mode, this version is graphically the best looking. I didn’t really see any of the stuttering or slowdowns that were present in the WiiU or 3DS versions of the game. The image is sharp looking it shows a good level of graphical texture details and at the same time a good frame rate.
However, during handheld mode, the situation is very different. Hand held mode gets a down sampling of the game textures and maintains 1080p. However, some of the older issues do creep in. There are some noticeable slow down and frame rate reduction. However its worth noting that the 720p default screen format of the handheld screen is actually running a downscaled 1080p image.
One thing I also notices that when switching to handheld mode the visible enemy count becomes capped and drops. Whilst this is an obvious compromise to maintain a stable gameplay experience.
My biggest concern with handheld mode was that it might be pushing my Nintendo Switch a bit too much in the hardware department. The case got uncomfortably hot and the rear fans were very audibly noticeable.
Graphically the game looks nice, theres no major slow downs during the fighting and the frame rate stays decent. Sometimes i found the camera angles a bit difficult when in a corner or in particular when i was target locked to a specific enemy. But all these are minor issues.
Loading screens can take a while and often cut scene videos will smooth out the slightly annoying loading times. All other cut scene videos can be skipped if you don’t want to see them.
If you have played Zelda : BOTW you will be used to some voice acting on the main characters (apart from Link). In Hyrule Warriors Legends there is more grunting and hummphing than spoken voices during gameplay. Cut scene videos do have voice acting though.
The game menus and presentation are very well done. It’s easy to move between the different game modes and i particulate liked how character swapping is made easy in both game play and in the customisation / levelling menus.
There are some nice extra touches that add value such as the gallery where you can view video cutscenes and look at images from completed levels. Theres also a option to listen to the game music, look at illustrations and view your achievements.
The menu and selection screens are done well with logical progression and layout. The only time I found the GUI to be problematic was when i first tried to play multiplayer. It took me a while to work out how to add a second player.
For those who might be wondering you need to push L3 (left thumb stick) in to enable a second player on the character selection screen!
There’s plenty to do in Hyrule Legends : Definitive Edition. The main mode in the game that you are most likely to jump into is the Legend Mode. In this game mode the goal is complete story driven narratives and progress through a campaign.
During these series of scenarios, you will meet the cast of the game and often after a skirmish you can unlock them to your roster. The purpose of the Legend mode is simply to level up your roster of characters in both skills, equipment and player stats.
Usually, you are given a choice of several characters that can be used on a scenario and they choice supports a rock, paper, scissors model of elemental damage. So it’s important that you choose a character that either has a weapon or base damage that will affect the enemies found in the scenario.
The other reason is that correct element choice can give bonus damage output. After completing a scenario you are rewarded resources in the shape of rupees (currency), parts (from dead enemies) and potentially new weapons. All of these are essential in the levelling up of your characters skill trees, stats and equipment.
You can also utilise Fairies in this mode however they have to caught in adventure mode. More on that to follow later.
Now according to the old man in the cave, “its dangerous to go alone”. So teamwork is essential to be successful in this mode. You can either bring along a real friend in co-operative mode to help you out or use the command menu system to give orders to AI controlled characters.
Firstly the most useful method I found was character switching. When possible rather than rely on AI to do something always switch to the character. My reason for saying this is that the AI isn’t literally the sharpest tool on the shed (if you get my meaning).
I’ve seen AI controlled characters fail to achieve goals more often than succeed. The second method that I found useful was to martial your AI characters to move to a location to avoid you having to run them about.
By doing this you can focus on key objectives and let the AI do some of the leg work. When they arrive at a location, switch to them and complete the objective, switch back and issue new orders.
The key to success here is being able to read the battlefield as it changes, this can be either from the command screen or listening out for in game prompts. In Legend Mode you can swap between up to 4 different characters in a scenario.
Once you have finished the Legend Mode you are free to chose your own adventure! You can use the casual Free Mode which lets you visit and area that you have opened and get down to the biggest part of the game (the action based combat fighting).
If you want more of a challenge you can select Adventure Mode. This focusses around specific maps that come from different Zelda games. There are 9 different maps and each is shown in NES style 8 – bit layout.
Each of the maps is shown in a grid style view with each square being a unique battle. Each battle has a specific reward for battle victory. Some battles will be easy to complete from the onset and some will require you to level up you characters to be successful.
Think of Adventure Mode as being the mode that you can put hundreds of hours into. Its the core part of the game, Legend Mode is like a training mode to get you started. For those who may have played previous versions you will notice that all the free and paid DLC maps are here.
One of the differences is that you can now switch between up to 3 characters in a battle (one less than in Legend Mode). Some of the reasons to complete this mode is gain better weapons, items and heart containers which grant more character health.
Fairies are also usable in this mode (from the 3DS version of the game) and allow you to utilise fairy magic from you companion to help boost elemental damage.
Challenge mode is an alternative game mode which brings specific challenging battle scenarios. These may include timed goals, require a certain task to completed. These are of varying length and difficulty.
From the onset you will be able to complete a few, however, levelling of characters will be needed as the difficulty slowly increases. I particular like the battles that require you to “defeat X number of enemies” which enables you to focus on just playing the character, using their combo attacks and dealing out death!
Boss Challenge Mode focuses on battles that don’t just include normal infantry but bosses, they could be any of the bosses that you have previously met in the other modes. Each boss has its own unique fighting style and requires you to adapt and utilise different weapons, skills and items to be successful.
My first attempt has me fighting against enemy character bosses and giant bosses. I had to fight against King Dodongo a huge fire breathing dragon and Cia a dark sorceress. These modes aren’t called challenge mode because they are easy!
Ganons Fury is also a challenge mode, this was added in the Wii U version as DLC and allows you to take control of the Dark beast Gannon. A huge monster that dwarfs even the giant bosses.
The infantry seem like ants in comparison! I really liked this mode as you get own back against the hordes that have been harassing you in other modes of play. The dark beast version of Gannon is fun to play and the challenges are sometimes really difficult.
I found this mode to be a good way of grinding for reward materials and rupees to support other game modes! Apparently theres a Giant Cucco which can be played once you complete all this mode which swaps the mode to Cucco’s Fury, but don’t expect to unlock this straight away.
This mode was one that i really enjoyed, who wouldn’t like controlling a massive death dealing primal beast!
I summary Hyrule Legends : Definitive Edition has lots of game content. Hundred and hundred of hours of potential game play if you want to do it all. If you have the previous version on the Wii U and Legends Heroes on the 3DS you may have all the DLC already. One bonus for this version is its all bundled together in this definitive version.
Why pay for all the content again? Well simply put the Switch version has it all and is nice package. It doesn’t have some of the limitations of older hardware and really puts the handheld capabilities of the Switch to use for out of the home gaming.
As i mentioned earlier multiplayer mode is a great way to share the work load on the battle field and have great fun dealing out the damage to the enemy. In TV mode and undocked tabletop mode multiplayer is fun.
Theres no online play unfortunately but couch co-op mode is where this game really shines. You can fight together side by side with your buddy or split up the different parts of the battlefield.
There is also a mode in the game called My Fairy. During Adventure mode gameplay you can capture different fairies from bottles hidden in the map. This mode has a dining room where you can feed found foods (from adventure mode) to make adjustments to their personalities.
You can change the skills that they can acquire in the school section of this mode. Different personalities give different bonus’s to skills and can affect your player character. The fairies can have their own devastating magic attacks and buffs to help your characters out.
There is also a Salon where you can change the clothing, cosmetic looks for each of the fairies. Its worth noting that this mode is unlocked at the start of the game and only unlocks when you find your first fairy in adventure mode. Think of them as using Navvii but without the annoying “hey listen!” telling you what to do all the time!
Amiibo Support is also present in this version of the game. If you have any of the Zelda BOTW Amiibo they can grant you weapons to give to your different characters or material parts for upgrading skills. Non Zelda Amiibo will provide rupees (1-50,000) instead.
I used a range of different ones in this review. Zelda and Link from the Super Smash Bro’s range. Moblin, Archer Link, Zelda from BOTW. Midna and Wolf Link from Twilight Princess. Its worth noting that you can only use 5 Amiibo per day to receive awards and if you use a Link Amiibo you cant use another one thats also a Link (by this i mean the different BOTW Link Amiibo’s).
However, you can use one from Super Smash Bros
Should You Play Hyrule Warriors?
Hyrule Legends: Definitive Legends is a game that packs in plenty of punch for the money. For the new player, it’s a great game to try as a side step from Zelda BOTW. For gamers who have played the franchise previously on the Wii U or 3DS this version offers a much more stable gaming experience.
Gamers who will suit this game…
Fans of the Zelda franchise will enjoy the opportunity to play different characters instead of just Link. Fans of both Dynasty Warriors games and Fire Emblem Warriors will with no doubt enjoy this opportunity to visit the genre but with the world of Zelda and Hyrule.
If you enjoy button mashing sword swishing combat with a healthy dosage of strategy and story you will enjoy this game.
Round up table
|The Good||The Bad||The Bugs|
|All previous DLC free and paid from older versions||No online play||None experienced|
|Graphically the best version||Handheld struggles a bit in split screen|
|2 player mode is great|
|Hours and hours of gameplay|
About This Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition Review
Game Reviewed: Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition digital standard edition, provided by the publisher
Review Format: Nintendo Switch
PEGI Rating: 16