Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition Review -- The Biggest Zelda Mashup Yet
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition for the Nintendo Switch is the most complete Zelda Musou game on the market. It combines the features of the Wii U version and the 3DS version to make a game that's packed to the absolute brim with content.
Whether you're looking for a new game to fill out your Switch library or are simply a fan of the Wii U or 3DS version of the game and are looking for an upgrade, we hope to answer one question for you: Is it worth the $60 price tag?
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition Hits the Right Notes
First and foremost, we need to acknowledge that this is a Musou game set in the Zelda universe. For the uninitiated, this means you'll be waging large-scale tactical battles with hack-and-slash-style gameplay while utilizing a huge cast of characters from The Legend of Zelda series.
Since Musou games don't require a whole lot of explanation, we'll be splitting this review into two major sections: gameplay and content. If you're familiar with previous versions of Hyrule Warriors or even other Musou games, feel free to skip straight to the content section to see if this title is really worth dipping into.
Musou Gameplay With a Zelda Twist
A Musou game is essentially a hack-and-slash game where you mow down literally thousands of enemies that stand between you and your objective. Generally, the goal is to run around the battlefield and capture enemy Keeps in order to gain the upper hand while you complete missions. And the mission for each stage differs greatly, though it usually involves defeating an enemy commander to win.
The controls are rather basic as is expected with a Musou game. Every warrior has a light attack string that mows throw enemies. Tossing a heavy attack in between light attacks allows your warrior to perform a variety of different powerful moves, providing tons of utility to each character.
In addition to this, every warrior has a special attack gauge that fills when you attack enemies and can be used to unleash a devastating attack that covers a wide area and deals a ton of damage.
Each warrior also has access to a Magic Gauge, which fills when you collect magic jars that drop from pots, grass, and enemy captains. The Magic Gauge can be utilized in one of two different ways. You can choose to use the full gauge to enter Focus Spirit mode, which increases your strength, speed, and defense. It even doles out rewards such as EXP or items until the Magic Gauge is fully consumed. If you don't want to enter Focus Spirit mode, however, you could just use up a fraction of your Magic Gauge to unleash your companion Fairy's special attack.
In addition to all that, you'll even earn an array of iconic Zelda items such as Bombs and a Bow when you play through the main story mode. These items can be used at any time to reveal the weak points of select enemy captains and are all but required to take down the big bosses that wreak havoc on the battlefield.
Most stages even allow you to select not one but two to four warriors to bring with you on your missions. On those stages, you can switch between your playable warriors at any point, allowing you the map coverage you need in order to deal with frantic situations on the fly.
Hyrule Warriors does a stunning job of making the player feel powerful, showering you with the tools needed to unleash mass destruction on hoards of unsuspecting enemies. It won't often give you the satisfaction of a good fight -- in fact, if you find enemies on a stage too challenging, its level is likely too high for you. The challenge comes in the form of battlefield management and making sure your troops don't get overwhelmed by the enemy's clever countermeasures.
There's not a whole lot more to the gameplay, here, so let's explore the wealth of content found within the Definitive Edition.
All Hyrule Warriors Content Crammed in One Package
Let me start by saying that this game has a metric ton of content jammed into it. A glance at Legend Mode -- the story mode -- may make the game seem relatively short, but the bulk of the content is actually found in the game's other modes.
Adventure Mode is the star of the show, here. In this mode, you explore one of 10 different 8-bit style maps with new missions on every single tile. There are all sorts of different types of rewards found scattered about the tiles such as new characters, new weapons, upgraded weapons, heart containers, heart pieces, gold skulltulas, costumes, fairies, fairy clothes, fairy food, and so on.
Then there's Challenge Mode, where you can complete challenging missions and get high scores with different characters. It's also here where you can play as the two giant characters in the game: Beast Ganon and the Giant Cucco. These modes aren't particularly fun or memorable, but they do offer up a ton of great giant boss materials.
On top of that, there are a total of 28 playable Zelda characters in Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition, with 42 total weapons (read: playstyles) to choose from (44 if you count Beast Ganon and the Giant Cucco, which you can't play outside of Challenge Mode). Some of the playstyles are kinda' boring and feel unnatural to control, but the vast majority of them are extremely unique and incredibly satisfying.
Best of all, there are absolutely no clones. Each character and weapon is its own entity; the Master Sword is the only "clone" in sight, and even that plays slightly differently from Link's Hylian Sword.
To add even more to the game, every weapon has five unlockable upgrade levels. Each character can be leveled up individually, up to a maximum level of 255. Each character must also collect their own heart pieces and heart containers to reach maximum health. You can even collect several different costumes for every character to really complete their look.
There are also Gold Skulltula's to collect that will eventually upgrade the Apothecary and open up map tiles on a Rewards Map.
Needless to say, this game just has a ton of things to collect, and you'll need to sink in at least a couple hundred hours in order to get everything.
But seriously, that's not all ...
New from the 3DS version of the game is a system called My Fairy. In this system, there are special fairies scattered about each Adventure Mode map that can join your warriors on their missions and assist them with special Fairy Skills and Fairy Magic Attacks. You can outfit them with clothes to augment their stats and feed them food in order to carefully increase up their Skills until you get the Fairy you want. It's a deep system and adds a lot to the game if you care to dive into it -- but it can just as easily be overlooked, especially since it comes across as quite daunting.
All in all, there's a ton of content to be had here. Players of the Wii U version are finally able to play all of the content and DLC that they missed from Hyrule Warriors Legends on the 3DS while those who only played the 3DS version finally get to experience the Wii U's Challenge Mode, couch co-op, and the HD graphics of a home console experience.
Verdict -- Repetitive but Satisfying, Especially for Zelda Fans
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition for the Nintendo Switch is a really solid experience. It's the second Musou game to make it's way to the system -- the first being Fire Emblem Warriors -- and I dare say it's the best one available. The sheer amount of content and amazing variety in characters really sets this game on another level.
If you're a fan of Zelda and you think you'd like a tactical hack-and-slash game, don't even hesitate on picking this up. If you played the Wii U version, loved it, and want to experience what you missed on 3DS, this is the best way to experience it.
However, if you owned the 3DS version and all of the DLC, this is a bit of a tougher sell. It's essentially the same game, except it has a Challenge Mode, better graphics, a steady frame rate, and two player couch co-op.
If you're not into Zelda or think you'd find Mosou-style gameplay boring, just skip it. The game is highly repetitive and you simply won't be satisfied with your purchase if you're not into this style of action combat. If you're still curious, I suggest looking up a gameplay video or two and making an informed decision.
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is available now for $60 on the Nintendo Switch.
[Note: Nintendo provided the copy of the game used in this review.]