Developer: Koei Tecmo (Omega Force & Team Ninja)
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Category: Action, Adventure & Fighting
Release Date: 22nd of March, 2018 (JP) & 18th of May, 2018 (EU & NA)
When one Hero is not enough, old friends and new allies, are yours to command in an endless fight against Ganondorf!
If you are reading this, it means you have come seeking the best and most informative review for the Switch release of Hyrule Warriors, you can possibly find and don’t worry, you will not be disappointed. Like a lot of you, when a Switch port was revealed as part of January 2018’s Mini Direct, I was in two minds. First and foremost, as a huge fan of the game’s previous versions, of course I was delighted to have the chance to play it again, but I also wanted to know if the game is worth returning to for a third time, or would I be better off playing Legends again due to very little changes. Well, that’s what this review is for.
While I will write a thorough review of what you can expect from what is the most Definitive version of Hyrule Warriors to date, for those of you who have come here, hoping to get a detailed summary of what has been changed and what is different, that is precisely what we’re going to be starting off with:
New Content and Performance:
Where better to start then by starting with just what exactly is new this time around? So, new for the Switch version is the best resolution the game has ever had, which is 1080p at 60 FPS when playing whilst docked, resulting in a far superior local 2 player co-op experience compared to what the Wii U version offered. Only. Don’t play co-op in handheld mode, as even when doing single player, the handheld experience does drop to 30 FPS. Not to mention, with the two of you sharing a screen, it becomes a lot harder for the two of you to see everything.
As for the new content, as well as a theatre mode that has been added to the menu, which can be used for watching cut-scenes you’ve previously experienced (obviously,) there is now a Shop available for Adventure Mode that will allow you to purchase vital item cards. So, the old days of having to grind for items over and over and over again (and as many “overs” as you want,) are no more. Provided you have got one of them, you can buy more and the mere act of being able to do such a thing, does speed up Adventure Maps completion, but not too much that you’ll lose out on precious hours of repetitive gameplay. (It is a hack-and-slash after all.)
Then of course, there’s a new unlockable outfit for both Link and Zelda, which is their Champion’s attire from Breath of the Wild, but the Classic Link and Wind Waker robes for Ganondorf are also present (and returning) and can be unlocked via Adventure Mode. (Don’t worry, the Breath of the Wild outfits are unlocked the second you complete the Armies of Ruin level.)
From 3DS to Switch:
When Hyrule Warriors was brought to the 3DS in 2016, due to the overwhelming demand 3DS owners had for a port, it was not the same game fans first saw. The resolution and the graphics may have suffered a severe drop, but now going by the name of Hyrule Warriors Legends, Legends had a lot more to offer than the Wii U version ever did. Granted, all of the new playable characters (Linkle, Ravio, Tetra to name a few,) were made available to those who owned the Wii U game, provided they brought the newly released DLC, Legends had more to offer than just more characters. From new Adventure maps, including a Koholint Island Map that was simply a delight to adventure through, to a new Fairy System, Lv. 4+ weapons and the means to swap between characters, Legends had it all and now, so does the Switch version.
Admittedly, there are some differences between how these features are handled, as the Switch game now has Lv. 4+ weapons for all characters, including the newer released ones for the 3DS game, but with Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition, every Adventure Mode map is unlocked once you unlock it. They’re also slightly easier compared to before, as they now increase in difficulty from top to bottom. Character switching is pretty much the same, but My Fairy has seen a drastic change due to the fact that the Fairies now have 3D models and a more intense animation when using them in battle. Don’t worry, you can still feed them to improve their skills and dress them in any manner you wish, provided you have earned clothing for them that you’re fond of. Plus, on top of the clothes players were able to get naturally via gameplay, all of the pre-order bonus costumes and Japan exclusives costumes are available as well!
Most importantly though, as far as Legend Mode goes (the game’s main campaign,) it does of course still include Cia’s Tale, Linkle’s Tale and the Saga of the Great Sea, with the latter being a campaign that was always meant to be Wii U version of the game, but it wasn’t something that was possible at the time of development. So, not only can you expect to experience the full Hyrule Warriors story like you can do in Legends, but now you can do it all in HD and with better resolution. (Both Cia’s Tale and Linkle’s Tale will need to be beaten to unlock the Saga of the Great Sea campaign.)
Also, for the sake of saying it, the Ocarina and Owl Statues are back, so on the maps that have them, provided you activate each statue you encounter, you will be able to use the Ocarina to warp from one place to another, thus speeding up how long it takes you to get back to your base and save it, or just kill a Gold Skulltula that has popped up for a limited time. Oh, and because that’s not all, just like in Legends, when fighting the game’s giant bosses, having all of your playable characters surround them, will weaken them once again, so if you’re pressed for time and need a boss taken down quickly, feel free to call on them!
From Wii U to Switch:
Given the fact Hyrule Warriors first released on the Wii U, not everything from the original game carried over to the 3DS game. In fact, there was one particular mode that didn’t make the cut and it was Challenge Mode. It may not have been the greatest of modes when the game first released, but when DLC added Ganon’s Fury and an unlockable Cucco’s Fury (beat Ganon’s Fury,) Challenge Mode suddenly became very awesome indeed. Why? Well, have you ever wanted to play a Zelda game and instead of playing as Link, you control a giant beast Ganon and can just swat at hordes of enemies as if they’re ants and flies? If your answer is yes, Ganon’s Fury is a mode that will let you do just that and in case it wasn’t obvious, in Cucco’s Fury, it’s exactly the same as the Ganon mode, only this mode lets you control a giant cucco.
I missed this mode greatly in the 3DS version game, but on Switch, its back and it’s better than ever and you know what else has come back, the means to change background music from the main menu. (Spoilers, you can also change control schemes in the menu as well!) Also, every character ever made for the original game and then added in as DLC for both versions of Hyrule Warriors are available, so if its variety you’re after, there are 29 playable characters and 16 of them can be yours to command as soon as you complete the Armies of Ruin level, which just so happens to be the first level in Legend Mode. (For those interested, the rest of the characters can be unlocked via Adventure Mode, with the likes of Marin, Toon Zelda, Ravio and Yuga being unlocked on their respective maps, but while Tetra and King Daphnes can be unlocked via progressing through the Great Sea Maps, they’re also available via Legend Mode during the Saga of the Great Sea.)
Something else that’s making it over, which is a welcome change, is co-op. I know I touched about local co-op before, but this time I can elaborate on it a little bit further. You see, whereas before it was one player looks at the TV screen and the other looks at the Wii U GamePad, like with Fire Emblem Warriors, both players will be displayed via split-screen on the TV. There is a bit of a drop in frame-rate and fewer bad guys appear when playing on a friend, but compared to how it used to be, it is an upgrade.
Other Changes & Improvements:
Now, even though a number of changes and improvements have been covered already, there are still plenty of smaller ones that are worth a mention, so it’s only fitting we give a few of them a mention, so let’s do it. Beamos can now be targeted, the second seal on the Master Sword now requires 15,000 KOs instead of 25,000, badges for Item Power Ups now require Silver materials as opposed to gold. Some badges now require fewer materials, such as 1 silver material instead of 2, the costs for various potions have been dropped with one being the Weak Point Smasher. (Originally required 25,000 rupees, but now 5,000 will suffice.) Plus, now when you remove a skill from a weapon, it won’t cost you 300,000 rupees anymore, as instead, it will only cost you 30,000 (bargain!) Also for the sake of slotting it in, the max level of 255 is available from the get-go, 8-bit weapons are back and can be toggled on and off.
The biggest change however, has to be the changes to getting an A Rank. The health system has been altered, allowing A Ranks to be more forgiving this time around due to the fact that now it is based on whatever your maximum number of hearts is, opposed to the amount of damage you take. Also, difficulty wise, things have been toned down a bit since Legends and Adventure Mode is less of a slog as you can pretty much play whatever one you want, when you want, as opposed to getting to Level 150, just so you can stand a decent chance of clearing the Twilight Princess maps on your own. (In the Wii U version of the game, they were something of a total nightmare.) Plus, once you have A Ranked a level, it removes the previous character restrictions.
Hyrule Warriors vs Fire Emblem:
I know what you’re thinking, “hurry up and get to the part of the review where you actually write about gameplay.” I certainly have waffled on a bit, but we are getting there but there is one last main thing to bring up beforehand and that is the answer to the question “What’s better, Hyrule Warriors or Fire Emblem Warriors?” Not only is it the most asked question regarding the Switch port of Hyrule Warriors, but it’s also the most important question you could ask. While both games share the Warriors brand and things like badges, materials and the general hack-and-slash gameplay these games are known for, there are various differences between the two. Whereas Hyrule Warriors does feature voice acting like in Fire Emblem Warriors, it’s only the narrator of the game who has lines as everyone else just has grunts and groans. (Bit of trivia for you, in the original Japanese version of the game, the narrator is voiced by Mie Sonozaki, whereas in the English dub, the Turkish born Esra Guler, is the voice that graces our ears.)
There are also no support conversations, no pairing up characters to help them formalise a bond quicker and unlike in Fire Emblem Warriors, where every character you have on the map, even the ones who aren’t playable, can level up, you can’t in Hyrule Warriors. Instead of fighting for you, the characters you’re not controlling will stand there and do their own thing, unless you send them somewhere and they will only gain EXP if you are playing as them, or have decided to level them up via rupees. Still, we can’t blame Hyrule Warriors for not having support conversations, as Link would only shout at people and support conversations is a feature used in Fire Emblem series.
Talking of something else that Hyrule Warriors lacks, there are no armour break outfits, so if you were hoping Link would get his chest out again, you’ll need to boot up The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to get your fill as all the Zelda characters remain fully clothed. Still, just because Fire Emblem Warriors is more like a Fire Emblem game then Hyrule Warriors is to a Zelda game and has the edge over it in a lot of aspects as Fire Emblem Warriors has a much better character appeal, let’s not rule Hyrule Warriors out just yet
Just because there’s no puzzles and a world for Link to save, Hyrule Warriors is still a game that shows Zelda in a different light. Instead of being a game about a singular hero trying to save a kingdom, we see an army of heroes trying to survive a war. In Ocarina of Time, we don’t see how Ganondorf took over, we just see what become of Hyrule 7 years later and Twilight Princess is no better. We simply see the invasion in a cut-screen and Hyrule goes quietly, but not with Hyrule Warriors. With Hyrule, we get to see the Hylians go to war. We get to see Impa lead them and most of all, we get to be a part of it. Whether you’re playing as Link, a hero of your choice or one you’re required to be, Hyrule Warriors gives Zelda fans the chance to save their beloved kingdom as the enemy invades. You get to experience the despair as you are forced to flee, find the means of fighting back and then reclaiming all that you have lost. For me, this is why I love this game so much.
Sure, it gets very repetitive, both Warriors titles do, but as a life-long Zelda fan, actually being able to play as a character while Hyrule falls, is a dream come true. For me, this is what makes Hyrule Warriors superior. Fire Emblem Warriors may have taken a lot of inspiration from Hyrule Warriors and improved upon those aspects, but due to being a game that follows the series pattern, just because it has lots of character appeal and fan service, it lacks the depth Hyrule Warriors can offer Zelda fans. (Not to mention the fact that Hyrule Warriors has so much content that there are hundreds of hours of gameplay.)
At the end of the day, there are so many variables at play that the best game between the two, comes down to which IP you like more, but if you want to put me on the spot, here is: Fire Emblem Warriors is the better game, due to its presentation, ease of play and improved functions, but Hyrule Warriors is the game that you will find yourself investing more time in and port or not, it is worth the full asking price. Still, due to how content packed it is and the price, unless this is your first time playing it, or you never got Legends, maybe you would be better off passing on it for the meantime as while all the changes and improvements to justify getting it again, if you have got other games you want to spend this week and the next one playing, Hyrule can not, just don’t leave it waiting too long as it is one of the Wii U’s best games and it’s pretty fantastic on Switch as well ” I hope that helps.
Everything Else Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition (Gameplay Review):
And now the moment of truth, gameplay and everything else. Often stated by media is being Dynasty Warriors game with a Zelda skin slapped over the top of it, Hyrule Warriors is a little more than that. Just because it’s not a game that offers the usual Zelda gameplay, it does have strong Zelda ties that come in the form of beloved characters, useful items and weapons inspired from various titles and plenty of the classic tunes that have been given a new lease of life, thanks to a rock rendition that ties into the action nicely and makes for a great soundtrack.
Still, no matter what way you look at it, Hyrule Warriors for Nintendo Switch, is a port. A port that has all the content seen in Legends, including the DLC that is packaged in at no extra cost, except now the content looks better than ever thanks to HD visuals. There’s also new things like a shop for buying Item cards, a revised take on A Ranking, and new Breath of the Wild costumes. So, to answer the question of does this version of the game live up to being the Definitive version, let’s answer that right now, the answer is yes. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition may lack new DLC of its own, which is a first for the game as both Wii U and 3DS releases did have DLC, but that doesn’t stop it from being the most content-packed version available (not to mention stunning.)
For those interested, like Fire Emblem Warriors, Hyrule Warriors does have a story mode, (called Legend Mode,) which tells the tale of Hyrule at war and the heroes who come from various timelines, to save it. Only the threat is a lot bigger than it is at first glance, as there is more than just one villain to fight and the big bad, is merely the puppet to an even bigger bad. Yes, that’s right, as powerful as the obsessed Cia is, at the end of the day, Ganondorf is the true villain and even when you beat him, Legend Mode is still not over as there is more than meets the eye. After all, on top of Link’s story, there’s Linkle’s story, which runs in parallel to Link’s, there’s Cia’s rise to power and how she built her army and then there’s the intended ending to the whole thing and the other events that led up to it.
Now, despite Linkle getting a lot of hate for being a female version of Link, in Hyrule Warriors, she’s not. Admittedly, she is under the delusion that she is the Hero meant to save Hyrule, but she is actually one of the best characters in the game to play as, due to her fast-paced and very fluid fighting style. Still, if she isn’t to your liking, there are plenty of other characters to play as, which includes Darunia, Ruto, Skull Kid and Tingle! And should you hate their colour palette, or just the weapon they wield, some characters have more than one available weapon that completely changes their fighting style, but there are lots of pretty costumes too!
Once you have decided on who you want to play as, the actual gameplay is pretty the same for each of the game’s various modes. (Challenge, Adventure and Legend.) It’s mostly running from point A to B, spamming the Y and X buttons to perform various combos until your Magic meter has filled and you press R to activate it, or press B to dodge and A to use a Skill. As for location, each level/mission throws players into a setting inspired by the Zelda series and asks them to meet certain requirements. Most of the time the requirement is just to defeat the commander of enemy army and repel their forces whenever possible, but there are also levels where you need to kill a given number of enemies within a time limit, prevent your bases from falling, kill a given number of bosses and clear a level without being hit once.
Those are just the main objectives though, as many levels have other requirements that need to be met if you wish to have a Skulltula appear, so you can kill it and get a piece of a picture, which when filled, unlocks a special level for the Reward Map. (Warning! There are 180 Skulltulas to collect and while getting them aren’t for everyone, getting them all is one of the biggest challenges the game offers players.) Another challenge, is getting every single Heart Piece and Heart container going. Just because some are guaranteed for achieving a certain rank on a given level, there are plenty of them that can only be acquired of you, if you’re playing as the right character who is able to open the chest containing the heart intended for them. Also, when playing through Adventure Mode and Challenge Mode, if you wish to A Rank, you will be asked to achieve 1200 kills, complete a level in less than 15 minutes and sustain as minimal damage as possible.
One way to ensure better results, is not just by levelling characters up, but by giving them an edge and merging weapons to improve your preferred one. Using rupees and gathered materials, to create badges that can give you more skill slots, more magic time, longer powered up item durations (big bombs) and minimalize the damage your character sustains. If you feel that might be a bit too much to keep up with, as Hyrule Warriors offers lots of customisation, instead of a weapon triangle like Fire Emblem Warriors uses, Hyrule Warriors has an element system on weapons. Except, while your enemies have an elemental weakness that will result in you doing more damage to them if you have type advantage, their damage to you, is the same whether you’re weak to the them, the same type, or just indifferent.
If you’re still unable to make the grade though, don’t forget about the Fairies! Not only does My Fairy give you plenty more characters to dress up however you want, but those Fairies know how to hurt. If you’re surrounded by a horde of enemies, have a full bar of magic but very little time to rack up the kill count, use your trusted Fairy because they can kill them all. Also, Fairies aren’t limited to just one character, so if you’re on a level and one character is at the enemy’s base, wailing on the boss as yours is about to fall, you can easily switch to another of your playable characters who’s closest to the base, bust out that Fairy to take out the enemy threat and then return back to what you were doing.
Something that is different this time around with My Fairy though, is the fact that there is no SpotPass this time around, so there are no My Fairy gifts distributed on a regular basis, such as food, new Fairies and rupees, but maybe one day there will be a Hyrule Warriors post in the news channels that brings the tradition back to life. There is some consolation though, as there are gifts of another variety available and that’s amiibo presents. By scanning up to 5 amiibo a day, players can get all kinds of weapons, materials and rupees.
But yes, for all intense and purposes, gameplay is pretty much exactly the same as what players were able to experience if they played either Hyrule Warriors Legends or Fire Emblem Warrior. I am still disappointed though that after all these years, a horse weapon has still yet to be added as a weapon for Ganondorf, as even Link has Epona as he’s horse weapon, but where are my Dark costumes? With dark versions of each character encounterable as an enemy, it would have been nice if they were added as new skins for the Switch port, in addition to the Breath of the Wild outfits. Still, that’s just spilt milk and there’s no point crying over it. (Not when Hyrule Warriors is the best it has ever been.)
Despite the fact that I would very much so have the Definitive Edition be a sequel, due to the fact Hyrule Warrior first debuted in 2014, as enough time has passed to warrant a sequel, the fact of the matter is Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition, is still the addictive game I keep falling in love with. Yes, it’s packed with repetitive gameplay, but it’s still a game that every time I go to sit down and play it for an hour, four-five hours soon pass in no time at all. Heck, I’ve actually 100% completed Hyrule Warriors two times in the past and I’m currently working my way on turning two to three. It is pure value for money, something you can always come back to and a must-own for any Zelda fan. Plus, if it proves to be more successful this time around, we might just get a sequel after all, one day. (Wouldn’t that be a dream come true?)
THE VERDICT: 9/10
*Review Key Provided by Nintendo