Ah yes, another Dynasty Warriors game. Now, don’t click out of this thinking that I’m biased against them; quite the opposite. In fact, I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time playing couch co-op with my friend in numerous Dynasty Warriors titles. It’s just that Dynasty Warriors, despite its longevity, hasn’t really changed much over the last decade or so. In addition to being another Dynasty Warriors title, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is also another Wii U game that is making its way onto the Nintendo Switch with DLC included.
Hyrule Warriors is just a Zelda themed Dynasty Warrior title, like many themed Warriors titles that have come before it. Instead of the traditional Romance of the Three Kingdoms story and characters, you instead play as the hero Link and his entourage, all taken from various games in the series.
Hyrule Warriors actually has a mostly unique story. While the story is certainly derivative of Zelda titles before it, in true Zelda fashion you are a new Link fighting with a cast that is the same, but different. This fits both the modus operandi of the Warriors and the Zelda series, making Hyrule Warriors a surprisingly effective Warriors game.
In Hyrule Warriors you start as Link, but quickly open up a roster of dozens of Zelda characters, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and moves. Some of these characters are more effective in different situations, usually with a corresponding emblem telling you what elemental power they have. This, along with skill distribution and other light role-playing game elements like item management are really just distractions from the main gameplay loop: fighting hordes of enemies as an unstoppable, superpowered killing machine.
That’s really not an exaggeration. If you’re not familiar with how the Dynasty Warriors games work, let me give you a primer: you control a single character at a time, though you can usually switch between multiple different ones on the battlefield. Each battle you play has certain win and lose conditions, outposts to defend, and two entire armies clashing with one another. These armies are made up of normal soldiers (read: fodder), slightly more powerful soldiers (base captains, etc.) and powerful hero characters—like who you play, just your adversary.
The only real threat comes from these powerful characters, as normal soldiers you encounter can be walked through with hardly a concern. A single swipe of your sword can send dozens (sometimes hundreds!) flying through the air at once. This might sound cool, but it really makes the gameplay feel weightless, and therefore, without many consequences. Fighting battles where you are killing literally thousands of the opposing forces ends up feeling less like a power fantasy, and more like a chore. Tedium is the death of fun. Luckily, there are some events that spice battles up a bit, but even these arrivals of new enemies or offensive enemy pushes feel more like you’re putting out small annoying brush fires than meeting an appropriately formidable foe.
The enemies, items, and encounters are all appropriate for its Zelda setting, and actually added a bit of fun to the tired Warriors formula. The music, unfortunately, doesn’t follow much of the Legend of Zelda aesthetic, instead opting for the hair metal sound the series usually goes with. If I mute the music and squint my eyes enough and focus on the bright Zelda characters, I can almost forget I’m playing a Dynasty Warriors game. Almost.
Hyrule Warriors includes local cooperative multiplayer, which can potentially add a bunch of fun. You can play through the entire campaign with a co-op partner: they just use one of the other “hero” characters that you take into battle with you.
As a longtime fan of the Dynasty Warriors series, there isn’t much in Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition that surprised or excited me. If you aren’t familiar with the series, but are a Zelda fan, I’d say there might be something here you might like. Maybe. If you’re a Warriors AND a Zelda fan, you’re in for a bit of a treat. If you’re a fan of neither series, Hyrule Warriors still isn’t a bad point of entry though. The Nintendo Switch’s inherent portability automatically gives Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition an advantage over some of the others in the series, even supporting split screen co-op in portable mode, and that may make it worth a try regardless of if you were a Warriors fan prior to this release.
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is available now on Nintendo Switch.