Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is developed by Koei Techmo Games Co., LTD which includes Omega Force and Team Ninja, and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch.
To put it lightly, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is a lot of game. I’ve been playing it extensively over the course of the past two weeks and I feel that I haven’t even scratched the surface of what the game offers to the player in terms of content.
The gameplay style of Hyrule Warriors is similar to the later iterations of the Dynasty Warrior games started by Omega Force back in 1997. It’s a hack n slash game where you control one or more characters as you fly through maps defeating waves of enemies, claiming bases and overpowering opposition.
To do this, you’re given a variety of attacks. First, you have your basic Y and X attacks which become your bread and butter. Second, you get these smash attacks that you trigger with the A button. These attacks charge up over time as you kill enemies and when triggered, unleash a heavier attack which usually has a decent sized area effect surrounding your character. Lastly, as you accumulate magic and max out your magic bar, you can trigger a focus attack which increases your damage and speed as you cut through the opposition.
Some characters have special bars or abilities that they can charge up and use from time to time. If you use Linkle’s charged attack, she can pull out both of her crossbows and shoot a flurry of bolts at your enemies. Ganondorf on the other hand, requires you to build a shadow bar by completing shadow attacks, then allowing you to unleash that shadow power once charged.
Example of the battle screen seen in Hyrule Warriors. You can see you health, magic bar, smash attack, sub weapons and secondary characters to use during the mission.
To supplement this, you are given various Zelda weapon staples and secondary items such as bombs, the boomerang and the hookshot. Each has their own applications and strengths against the various enemies that you will encounter throughout your journey.
All that being said, fights can become hectic and varied but it entirely depends on the player. You can easily just go through the game using secondary weapons when the narrative calls for it, and just spam your X attack.
Despite the above points on different attacks that you can use, the biggest thing that you’ll have to move past to enjoy a game like Hyrule Warriors, is repetition.
Legend Mode: Here we have the backbone of Hyrule Warriors, where the story takes hold with deep narrative, complex relationships and….no just light vs. dark. All jokes aside, it’s typical Nintendo when it comes to story in a Zelda game. Ganonndorf is attempting to acquire all three pieces of the Triforce and it’s up to our team of heroes to thwart his plans and seal him away ‘for good’.
Though the story isn’t groundbreaking, I had fun in Legends mode overall and surprised me more than once with appearances and character arcs that we end up following. There are a ton of missions, each with multiple Skulltula’s, heart containers and heart pieces to collect and difficulties to explore as well when you feel the itch to revisit missions.
Adventure Mode: This is when I really understood the scope of Hyrule Warriors. Adventure Mode is massive and will take hundreds of hours for anyone to complete. When you jump in you’ll see nine maps to choose from, each ranging from Easy to Hero difficulty. Each of the maps takes on a different Zelda-themed game including the original Legend of Zelda, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, A Link Between Worlds and more.
Example of the first adventure mode map you can play through. In this map, you collect items after your victories on certain tiles, then you use those items to uncover rewards on other tiles.
Each map has its own unique mechanics related to those games. For example, Wind Waker features wind direction obstacles and the Termina Map features time ticking down before the moon falls from the sky reminiscent of Majora’s Mask.
Each tile on the map is a regular map in Hyrule Warriors, so you jump in as whichever designated character and complete the mission to move on. Some missions require you to get a specific ranking as well to increase the challenge.
To put that into perspective, we have an exact version of the original Legend of Zelda’s map, which turns into 128 different missions for you to complete. Each of these maps also feature different rewards that you can find, but are character specific. So you may be able to receive a heart piece as Ruto, but then need to play it again as Midna to receive the ‘A’ rank heart container reward.
When I said earlier that you really need to enjoy repetition to get into Hyrule Warriors, I’m mainly speaking about the scope of Adventure Mode.
Challenge Mode: This mode includes exactly what it sounds like, different challenges for the player to fight through. It includes ‘Battle Challenge’, ‘Boss Challenge’ and ‘Ganon’s Fury’. I don’t want to diminish the first two aforementioned aspects of challenge mode, they are hefty, fun and exactly what they sound like, but I want to say a bit more regarding the more unique Ganon’s Fury.
- Ganon’s Fury: In Ganon’s Fury, you get to play as giant beast form Ganon while you pummel enemies, bosses and other characters through various challenges and it’s really quite fun. My favorite of the challenges includes you fighting off a horde of bosses such as Manhandla, Gohma etc. It’s also a really easy way to start collecting boss item drops because that first boss challenge map hands you around ten bosses beat on. The lower challenges get easier as you level as well, making it quite efficient.
My Fairy: During adventure mode, you can find various different fairies in your normal looking pots. Once you find your first fairy, you’re introduced to another huge expansion of the game. Your fairies can wear clothes, each helping specific elemental damage types among other things. There’s a complex feeding system where you find food items during missions and feed them to your fairies, effectively leveling them up. Once they reach the appropriate stats, they can unlock new skills and abilities that you then equip to them for use in battle.
If that’s not enough, once your fairy reaches level 99, you can ‘refresh’ her back to level one, which retains 10% of that fairies stats while keeping all of the skills you’ve previously earned. Each time you refresh, your fairy provides a 1% damage boost which encourages you to keep refreshing your fairy. There’s just SO much here in this one system. It honestly feels like a min/maxer’s nightmare.
‘My Fairy’ mode greatly expands what you can do to min/max the characters you’re playing as.
Special Weapon Inputs: R Triggers sometimes don’t register for me. Not sure if this is for everyone or my particular controllers, but I do get dead inputs more often than anyone would like, especially during boss battles like Argorok where you need to position yourself and use the hookshot in a timely manner to take him down.
Checkpoints and Failing Missions: A few times throughout Legend Mode, I failed a mission right after the most recent checkpoint. This means that when I reload from the previous checkpoint, I fail the mission instantly, causing me to have to start the twenty minute mission over again. You can save missions along with the safety checkpoints, but honestly it started to get me feeling like I was playing a Fallout or Elder Scrolls game.
Camera/Locking On: I don’t know what the priority is like for the lock on mechanic, but it’s broken. There were plenty of times I had an enemy dead center on my screen in front of me and when I hit the lock on button, it would turn my character around to a different enemy further away. This has gotten me killed a few times in the various challenge modes, especially in Ganon’s ‘Giant Battle’. Why would I want to lock on to a random Lizalfos when I have three King Dodongo’s, a Manhandla and a Gohma right in front of me?
I’ve also noticed that if you kill an enemy while locked on and your character is not looking in that direction at the time of death, the camera whips around, which can be disorientating in the middle of a fight. I would much prefer the camera just stayed in the same direction as the killed enemy and allowed you to adjust the camera yourself from there.
Re-Dead Knights and Gibdo’s: These enemies have two main attacks; one is an area effect stun, the other an area effect poison attack which knocks your character down. I’ve seen them rotate between these two attacks dozens of times throughout my play thus far and it really slows down the frenetic pace of the rest of the game. If you’re playing an under leveled character or one without a great weapon yet, they become a chore to fight.
Music: I love the music in the Zelda series in general, which translates very well to Hyrule Warriors. There are a lot of remixes and interwoven songs that keeps things fresh for old Zelda veterans as well. Before starting missions, you even get to choose the music that you want to hear while completing that mission. Overall, you have 50 songs to choose from, including all of your favorites.
Materials: I feel like I would feel differently about the different materials drops based on my age. On one hand, grinding for drops from certain places is classic item hunt/finding drops in video games. Fine for when I was a kid with hundreds of hours to playing video games. As an adult with more limited gaming time, I feel like it’s a real chore.
Link facing down Cia in Legend Mode, maybe for one of the few dozen drops needed to get a fully upgraded skill tree.
There are over 100 materials found that can be used for upgrades. Throughout Legends Mode and the beginning of Adventure Mode, I found four gold Midna drops and zero Gannondorf gold drops. It would be nice to even trade 3x gold drops in general for one specific one you need. Monster Hunter World did something similar where they had a weekly set of quests. When you complete them, you basically get an item that nets you the rarest drop of a monster, so even if you’ve killed that monster 20 times without that rare drop, there was still a way to obtain it.
I know that’s not a classic view of searching for items, but it makes certain rewards just feel out of reach for myself as a player.
Hyrule Warriors has 29 playable characters, each with three upgradable trees of skills and passives. It’s near impossible to complete even one tree for one character without being extremely lucky, or grinding specific missions over and over again for drops. Link alone needs 30 Gannondorf Gauntlets to full complete his tree. It’s just a lot.
Like I said in the beginning of this review, there is a lot of game here. You have multiple lengthy game modes to play through, hundreds of heart pieces/heart containers, hundreds of Skulltula’s, hundreds of materials needed for even more upgrades, dozens of weapons and alternate costumes spread throughout each of the characters, a robust companion fairy system that can be tailored to your needs and 29 playable characters. The only catch is that you have to be okay with repetitive gameplay.
Oddly enough, I found myself comparing it to World of Warcraft, except with less variety. WoW was always one of those games that had an endless amount of things to do. Want to fish, go for it. Feel like mining, okay cool. Want to quest, we have thousands of them. You can never ‘complete’ the game. Hyrule Warriors gives me the exact same feeling.
I think that it will end up being one of those games that I boot up once in awhile, grab a heart piece or two, grind a few levels here and there, then put it down for a few days and repeating. That’s not really a dig at the game either. I think it’s a great value even at full price due to the amount you receive, but I personally can’t see myself doing everything the game offers like the WoW’s out there. I’d definitely recommend Hyrule Warriors if you enjoy the hack n slash gameplay.