Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition review: An action packed love letter to Zelda fans

Hyrule Warriors Link
(Image: © iMore / Zackery Cuevas)

iMore Verdict

Bottom Line: Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is a truly definitive title, collecting all of the DLC from the previous releases, while improving performance and additional improvements. With that said, the core of this game is the same as any other Warriors title. If you don't like those, chances are you won't like this one — Zelda or not.


  • +

    Includes all the DLC from the WiiU and 3DS

  • +

    Additional QoL changes that improve gameplay

  • +

    Fast paced hack and slash action


  • -

    Graphics are improved, but still look dated

  • -

    A monumental grind to unlock everything

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    Repetitive combat

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Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is 2020's big Holiday Switch release, but let me take you back to a simpler time — When Hyrule Warriors was revealed for the Wii U back in 2014. To be honest, I was initially unimpressed. The action hack and slash gameplay of Dynasty Warriors didn't sit well with what I knew The Legend of Zelda to be. But when the game finally came out, I was happy to discover that I was very wrong. Hyrule Warriors felt like more than just a reskin of a Dynasty Warriors game (though it is), but instead was a celebration of the series, packed full of easter eggs.

Since then, Hyrule Warriors was ported to the Nintendo 3DS, and eventually made its way to the Nintendo Switch in the form of Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition. While plenty of games use the "Definitive Edition" title very loosely, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition wears the title proudly. Combining the DLC from both the WiiU and 3DS version of the game, as well as the quality of life changes applied in Fire Emblem Warriors, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is hands down the best way to play this Wii U gem.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition review: What I love

Hyrule Warriors Shiek

Hyrule Warriors Shiek (Image credit: iMore / Zackery Cuevas)

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition will be instantly familiar to fans of Dynasty Warriors games. Despite the Zelda skin, the gameplay is identical to those games. You are an insanely powerful warrior in the middle of a battlefield, slaying hundreds of enemies as you capture enemy keeps and swing your army's morale in your favor. Most of the time, the AI is braindead and they mostly serve as cannon fodder until you find a boss enemy, who is usually just as braindead but is capable of hitting back.

Some additions to the overall formula include a lock-on system, akin to the Z-targeting that has been a mainstay in mainline Zelda games since Ocarina of Time. While on the battlefield, you can also use familiar items from the series. You can use these items to fight the enemy hordes, but they're also key to defeating specific boss enemies and solving the puzzles across the map.

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CategoryHyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition
TitleHyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition
DeveloperKoei Tecmo
PlatformsNintendo Switch
Game Size12.3GB
PlayersLocal, up to 2 players

The story in this game follows Link and Zelda on a journey to defeat a new threat named Cia. Link and Zelda are joined by a cast of familiar faces from different Zelda games, as well as original characters like Lana. The older Zelda are faithfully represented here, but the original characters don't stick out as you'd imagine. Cia, Lana, and even Linkle, the gender-swapped version of Link, are fun and interesting enough that they deserve a permanent place in The Legend of Zelda's convoluted lore.

Plenty of tresure here

Hyrule Warriors Treasure Chest

Hyrule Warriors Treasure Chest (Image credit: iMore / Zackery Cuevas)

When you're done with the main game, Adventure Mode is where the real meat of the game lies. Adventure mode presents an 8-bit map, with a challenge marked on each square of the map. Sometimes, challenges might include having to search the map with an item, or achieving a certain rank to unlock a weapon, heart container, or character. The variety does help alleviate some of the fatigue that comes from the main game.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition includes all of the DLC from the WiiU version of the game, as well as all of the exclusive content found in the 3DS port. The adventure modes also make the jump over, as well the My Fairy function, that lets you collect, raise, and dress fairy companions for bonuses. It even includes the QoL changes introduced in Fire Emblem Warriors, the other Nintendo-themed Warriors game available on the Switch.

The game is also packed to the brim with nods and easters eggs from the storied franchise. From familiar music cues to character move sets, this game is very much a love letter to Legend of Zelda fans of all ages.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition review: What I didn't love

Hyrule Warriors Darunia

Hyrule Warriors Darunia (Image credit: iMore / Zackery Cuevas)

My biggest problem with this game was the grind. Playing through the story mode itself might take 6-8 hours, depending on how adept you are at these games, but the sheer amount of unlockable content means you'll be playing levels again, and again, and again for materials to level up, rupees to buy items, and to simply level up each of the 31 characters. Adventure mode adds variety by adding challenges, but the main objective will always be to slaughter everyone and anyone until you capture a keep or kill an enemy captain.

While visually it's a step up from the Wii U version and miles ahead of the 3DS version, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is still marred by the pop-in and clipping these types of games are notorious for. The maps, in particular, feature a whole lot of nothing inbetween the enemy hordes and the keeps.

If Musou games aren't your cup of tea, Hyrule Warriors won't change that.

While certain QoL features make playing the game more fun, the game is a Dynasty Warriors game at its heart. Meaning, you'll be tapping the Y button and cutting down waves and waves of identical enemies for the majority of your playtime.

I found the experience to be cathartic, but you might not feel the same, especially if you're not a hardcore Zelda fan. If Musou games aren't your cup of tea, Hyrule Warriors won't change that.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition review: Should I buy?

Hyrule Warriors Impa

Hyrule Warriors Impa (Image credit: iMore / Zackery Cuevas)

Hyrule Warriors puts the "definitive" in definitive edition. Everything is better in this version of Hyrule Warriors, from the graphics to the performance. The base game was already stuffed with content on the Wii U but has since received more than a dozen DLC characters and modes that offer hundreds of hours of playtime for those willing to dedicate the time.

The only problem is that most gamers might grow tired of the constant fighting and ever-present grind required to unlock some of the cooler weapons and characters in the game. If you're a Zelda fan or a Musou fan, this is one of the best games of its class. If you're not either of those, the gameplay might wear thin.

If you've ever been on the fence about Hyrule Warriors, this is the version to play. Zelda fans will have plenty of content to play through. Just remember that it's very much a Musou game at its heart, and the grind for content might turn players off.

Zackery Cuevas

Zackery Cuevas is a writer for Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore. He likes playing video games, talking about video games, writing about video games, and most importantly, complaining about video games. If you're cool, you can follow me on Twitter @Zackzackzackery.