Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition, Nintendo Switch
I have a confession, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Warriors series of games. Having played a few over the years the initially exciting impression of mashing your way through thousands of grunts always gave way to an air of ho-hum repetitiveness. This Zelda themed offshoot, (it has to be said) while being cute and familiar is still a Warriors game at its beating heart.
I have another confession, I never played the original game on Wii U or 3DS, so go into this blind apart from the knowledge that the game comes complete with previous DLC and a couple of new Zelda BoTW costumes for both Link and Zelda,
So, its 2018 and the Switch is still showing off its ability to deliver on just about anything that’s asked of it. This game is no exception, while the polygon count is fairly low, the visuals are suitably Zelda-esque. That meaning they are borderline cutesy, with a slight mean streak when required, the environments are familiar and it all adds up to help the crossover from one brand to another stack up. The game zips along on the Switch and rightly so, even if there are a few hundred enemies wandering around the place, these mobs are generally just sword fodder to help you build a combo meter ready to mete out a special on one of their leaders or a Boss.
The game offers up a couple of modes, the main contender being Legend Mode a story driven sequence of maps that will help you build your roster of characters and develop their own skills through crafting and experience. It’s all pretty standard RPG Lite, but there is enough there to let you add value and discover a point of difference with your preferred character. The narrative centres around a couple of warring sorceresses, its enough to keep you going. The other mode is a challenge model, racking up encounters with enemies and stacked challenges against Bosses. It’s a diversion, but the story mode adds some credibility to the game and the cutscenes are mostly watchable.
There is an extensive roster of characters to experience, twenty nine at last count, but having invested primarily in a couple of them I can’t see the game holding me long enough to fully enjoy the rest. You probably need to be more versed in the Zelda canon to recognise most of them and their potential. Either way Link is pretty much the Zelda poster boy for anything linked to Hyrule and that makes him a shoe-in for most people.
Controls for the Switch do their job, the game does offer up a choice of setting between Warriors style controls vs Zelda style controls. It’s worth experimenting with these, but for me the normal Warriors set up felt more natural. Something that has been a niggle is the difference between playing on the TV vs the Switch itself, understandably there will be differences in travel distance between sticks on joycon as opposed to a Pro Controller, but its the kind of game that is best played in short bursts as a portable and the camera can end up swinging all over the place because you have your giant man hands wrapped around the Switch. On the big screen with a decent controller its great, but Warriors isn’t something you can play in long sessions – unless you are a devout fan of the series.
At risk of repeating myself, the whole concept does get a bit samey quite quickly. Mashing attack buttons to mow down huge groups of enemies, then taking out a mini-Boss or Boss is all well and good, especially as you can collect items and weapons to help level you up. There is some strategy to the game as you need to run around and capture various keeps to help swing the tide of battle, while chasing down sub-quests as they are thrown at you.
Although these quests are generally get to a certain place and kill the big flashing guy asap, not forgetting to seek out collectibles and chests along the way. Of course this wouldn’t be a warriors game if you weren’t slap in the middle of a huge battle and yes you are, but even though there can be hundred, nay thousands of allied soldiers around you – there only ever seems to be one person putting in any effort. Yes….you.
Hyrule Warriors is a fun diversion and may not have legs, but can be a great way to have a quick blast. Fans of the original will lap it up and fans of the Warriors series will no doubt get more of the nuances. For me, its on the list for a rainy afternoon.