Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition Review

The dynasty continues with another port of the Zelda musou.

Review by Mike Williams, .

I may have fallen too far into the world of musou. The genre has been the primary production of Koei Tecmo's Omega Force for many years now, but I didn't jump in until relatively recently with 2016's Arslan: The Warriors of Legend. Since then, I've dived in the genre whole hog; the series fits into my life in the space that old beat-em-up arcade games used to occupy. Now I'm a full-on musou convert.

That said, the genre can vary wildly in quality. Not every shot that Omega Force takes is good, as seen by the studio's attempt at something new with Dynasty Warriors 9. That game tried to drag the franchise towards evolution with an open-world take; unfortunately, it completely missed what makes musou great. This weird mix of mindless destruction of enemy hordes and strategy is amazingly addictive, and Dynasty Warriors 9 cut the strategy completely. So I'm glad Nintendo and Omega Force have stepped in to fill the musou-shaped hole in my life.

It'll all be okay. [All screenshots taken via Nintendo Switch native capture in portable mode.]

Hyrule Warriors was originally released on the Wii U back in 2014, and was later ported to the 3DS two years later with Hyrule Warriors Legends. For some, this is the second or third shot at the game. For me though, it's the first time around and I must say I'm in love with it.

If you're fresh to the idea of Hyrule Warriors or musou games in general, let me break it down for you. As one of various characters from The Legend of Zelda canon, you have to hack and slash your way through entire armies of enemies. Sometimes you're on your own, sometimes you have the option to jump between multiple characters. You have a clear objective for each mission—reach point A, defeat target B, make sure character C doesn't die—but in-between that you have to take over enemy outposts and keeps while retaining your own. The basic gameplay is mindless, but handling the overall flow of the battlefield is not.

Hyrule Warriors adds upon the basic musou formula by heaping on a ton of Zelda fanservice. The story contrives a way for characters across the franchise's history to interact, bringing together Impa, Sheik, Midna, Princess Ruto, Darunia, Ganondorf, Zant, Ghirahim, and more alongside a few original characters. Every character has a completely different playstyle—the quick and graceful Zelda is different from the sweeping strikes of Fi or the powerful combos of Ganondorf—and multiple weapons to add a bit of variety.

There's a full progression system of basic levels obtained by killing enemies, backed up by weapons you'll find during campaign battles and an equipment system using materials gained by defeating enemies. You fight to get better at fighting. This is true of a number of different types of games, but Hyrule Warriors and the musou genre in general distills this idea down to its purest essence.

The material system acts as a progression gate for characters early in the game.

Hyrule Warriors is more musou than it is Zelda; if you're looking for the latter, you're in for a rude awakening. How you respond to this game is based largely on your answer to two questions. How much of a Legend of Zelda fan are you? Do you enjoy the idea of musou games? The answer to the former question can push the game higher for you, but ultimately if you don't like the basic musou style of play, Hyrule Warriors doesn't break far from that core.

Those who are double-dipping mostly want to ask how it runs on the Nintendo Switch. Like many of the Wii U ports, it runs damned well. Is the frame rate locked? No. Will it dip occasionally? Yes, especially during boss-related cutscenes. But for the most part, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition performs like its Wii U counterpart. You get the game running at its best on the portable platform, which is why many tend to buy Switch versions of an existing game.

It's a beefy roster.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition includes everything that was in the original release, Hyrule Warriors Legends on 3DS, and the downloadable content, like the additional characters of Linkle, Ravio, and Marin. Linkle is the most fleshed out, acting as more of a side-story to the game's overall plot, with the alternate Hero of Light finding herself missing most of the big fights due to a bad sense of direction.

You also gain the ability to play Hyrule Warriors with two players in split-screen. The Wii U original forced one player to use the TV screen and the other to use the Wii U Game Pad, while the Switch version lets you play split-screen in Docked or Tabletop mode with two Joy-Cons. It's a nice addition if you have a local friend.

If you're willing to hack it out in a musou game and you're a huge fan of The Legend of Zelda, Hyrule Warriors is a fantastic game. It's pitch-perfect musou and it wears the Zelda fanservice on its sleeve in bright colors. Once you're done unlocking all of the characters and their various weapons, you'll have an entire smorgasboard of Zelda action at your fingertips. Hyrule Warriors might only play a single note, but Omega Force has honed that note to perfection.

It's an older release and the price tag is a little steep, but Hyrule Warriors is pitch-perfect musou gameplay with a heaping handful of Zelda fanservice. The former is still the most important part though, so you need to be a fan of musou titles to really get the most out of this game. If you are a fan though, Hyrule Warriors is one of the better entries and it runs well on Switch.

4 /5

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition Review Mike Williams The dynasty continues with another port of the Zelda musou. 2018-05-16T13:00:00-04:00 4 5

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Comments 13

  • Avatar for SpoonyBardOL #1 SpoonyBardOL 5 months ago
    I remain disappointed that for all the characters that wound up being added, the roster STILL doesn't include Groose.
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  • Avatar for franciscovillarrealh #2 franciscovillarrealh 5 months ago
    @SpoonyBardOL Agreed. The final, everything-plus-DLC roster may be surprisingly solid for its size, but it really needs more Groose than just briefly featuring the Groosenator in a story mission.

    (I'm sure they could have added him in in Tingle's place)
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  • Avatar for AceOfCakez #3 AceOfCakez 5 months ago
    Oooh nice.
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  • Avatar for docexe #4 docexe 5 months ago
    I never had played a musou game before this one, but found it definitely enjoyable. I'm planning on second dipping, but not at launch. In some ways, it helps that I never bought the DLC for the Wii U game.
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  • Avatar for Tetragrammaton #5 Tetragrammaton 5 months ago
    Played the original to death, bought the DLC packs (not the 3DS character DLC tho'), can strongly recommend the game. This reddit thread goes over the changes between versions:

    The original had a high level grind problem thanks to the Imprisoned and random weapons. Hero stacking speeds up all boss fights, and Imprisoned drops now drop from the mini versions, and now you can buy cards with specific skills on them. I'm definitely getting this, I need a mindless MP game. =D
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  • Avatar for steve-mcsteve #6 steve-mcsteve 5 months ago
    Is there any form of save transfer between this and either of the previous versions? I put a ton of time into the 3DS version and restarting everything from scratch feels incredibly intimidating.
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #7 LBD_Nytetrayn 5 months ago
    Does this still have multiplayer? Sounds like it kept 3DS's ability to switch characters, at least in part.
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  • Avatar for Macuelos #8 Macuelos 5 months ago
    I got this game on Wii U with all of the DLC (it was on sale for some reason), though I had to do some puzzling to see which DLC packs included what loose things, and played it for a few hours then. I definitely found it enjoyable, but had to put it aside in favour of some other games. This is one of those games where you don't have to think too much about what you're doing in the grand scheme of things, so it works well as one of those games where you just pick it up whenever the mood strikes you and get some time in.

    When I finally get a Switch I'll be double-dipping on this game, maybe finally get around to Adventure Mode and whatnot. It's a game you could play for most of forever, so I'd rather be playing it on Switch, which I can take wherever, than the Wii U, which is more limited in location. I love my Wii U, but I'll stick to more... finite games on the system. Sorry HW, but I still like you. You just don't find in my life right now, but I'll return for you.
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  • Avatar for JamesSwiftDay #9 JamesSwiftDay 5 months ago
    Did they add the Wind Waker stages from the 3DS to this version?

    The Wii U version had a serious shortage of environments and they never added any in DLC. If this version doesn't address this then that's just awful.
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  • Avatar for franciscovillarrealh #10 franciscovillarrealh 5 months ago
    @JamesSwiftDay Yes, this has all the Legends content that didn't get brought into the WiiU, including Smooshed Great Sea, Earth & Wind Temples, the miniblins, Big/Stone Blins, Helmaroc King, Phantom Ganon and the DLC Adventure maps.
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  • Avatar for Labu85 #11 Labu85 5 months ago
    I never had played a musou game before this one, but found it definitely addictive and cannot stop playing. :)
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #12 donkeyintheforest 4 months ago
    @LBD_Nytetrayn it hassome pretty great couch co-op so long as it's not glitching. played it for about 2-3 hours with my gf in splitscreen and it's really fun.

    however, at one point her control reverted from "zelda" stlye to "warriors" style mid game (this can only be changed at the main menu--in game you can only see the controls. Another time her camera controls completely stopped working but everything else was fine. these are small glitches that fixed themselves after exiting and entering a level. have had no problems since.

    aaaand, it hard to figure out how to get into multiplayer. you have to beat the first mission single player, then at the character select screen click in the joystick (on player one) and then player one will be able to select their character from the ones available in story and also select the second players character (from a bunch of characters already unlocked). its really weird but it works.

    maybe an update will remedy these minor issues, but so far weve been having fun
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  • Avatar for lukenlow #13 lukenlow 4 months ago
    Your article looks very cool! This is one of the reasons why I love your site so much and read every article that you write!
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