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Review: Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition (Nintendo Switch)By Gabriel PVJ Jones At 16.05.2018 13:17

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Speaking strictly in terms of value, there's no question that Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition soundly delivers. It boasts no less than 29 playable characters, many of them having multiple weapons to choose from. All nine adventure mode maps are also included, and they could take over a thousand hours to complete. Every side-story and feature from both of the previous games? They are in there, as well. That includes Challenge mode and Co-op, which were removed from the 3DS release. If content is king, then it's only fair that this entry deserves a crown. Still, for some gamers out there, even the world is not enough.

To put it bluntly, this critic wasn't a fan of Hyrule Warriors. It's a fine game, but not quite ideal for long-time Musou fans. Some of the features felt a little dated when compared to similar titles, the boss-battles were a little one-dimensional, and a few of the design decisions were just plain frustrating to deal with. Take, for example, the item cards in adventure mode. They are limited use, so if the player happened to burn the wrong bush, then they were out of luck. The only way to stock up was to repeat the appropriate battles. Exploring the map and obtaining all of the treasures quickly became a mind-numbing process.

Now, the Switch version has a number of changes and additions, but the very first one that said "Koei Tecmo is serious about making this game work" was the option to purchase item cards. Yes, a friendly Goron shopkeeper will sell all of the compasses, candles, and bombs players will ever need. Granted, at least one of the respective cards must be found before they can be purchased, and the fee isn't nominal, but this seemingly minor extra is a literal game-changer. What was once an ambitious but tedious mode has become an addiction, and it will now take far more than a twelve-step programme to break.

If a moment can be spared to preach to the choir, then let it be known: Adventure mode is incredible. Unlockables are not an uncommon element in videogames, but rarely are they used in such a clever manner. Most of the time, they are purchased with in-game currency, which isn't all that exciting. Worse, some require real world cash. Hyrule Warriors gets it right by adding a sense of non-linear exploration. There's always another challenge to take on, or another direction to go. The rewards are wonderful. New weapons offer significant strength upgrades and new move-sets to play around with. Various costumes are available, so everyone gets a fresh look. In the Switch version, almost all of the DLC characters are acquired through adventure mode, which is a very nice change.

In order to complete the entirety of the adventure mode, each of the 29 characters must be used to their fullest extent. The roster is one of the more underappreciated aspects of these games. Even though there are no less than three flavours of Link, they are all fun and unique to play as. Toon Link incorporates the trademark spin-slash in a number of ways to make laying waste to stalchildren and bokoblins more enthralling than it should be. Even Tingle is awesome. Wait, strike that. Tingle is always awesome; this game is just one of the few that actually realises his potential. Everyone brings their own personality and style to the action, and there aren't any characters or weapons that lag behind in terms of fun or usefulness. Levelling everyone is still a bit of a grind, though. Even when multiple characters participate in the same stage, the only one who obtains experience is whoever the player is currently controlling.

The most noticeable change in Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is the unlocked frame-rate. Depending on what's occurring on-screen, the fps can reach as high as 60, or as low as 30. Generally speaking, if the frame-rate is tanking, then that's because there are hundreds of enemies crowding the immediate area. That's all the more reason to destroy them all. Keep in mind the varying frame-rate only applies when the Switch is docked. In handheld mode, the game sticks almost entirely to 30 fps.

While it is unfortunate that a locked 60 fps couldn't be achieved, overall it's still a big improvement. The added frames make bosses much easier to read and counter. Going further, combat just feels smoother and more responsive. Perhaps this is more a sign of experience, but dodging on reaction isn't as troublesome as before. Those situations where players would just mash buttons and hope for the best aren't as common. No matter what's happening, they can deftly weave in and out of trouble to win the fight, rather than stay back and rely on relatively safe attack combos.

A number of other minor improvements make for a more pleasant Musou experience. Anyone familiar with the Wii U version will be happy to see that the load times have been significantly reduced. In the smithy, weapons can be marked and sold in bulk, which means less time spent unloading trash. In Adventure mode, the ranking for damage is now determined via a percentage, instead of a raw number. In other words, the higher max HP a hero has, the more damage they are able to take before it negatively affects their rank.

Still, there are some quirks that could have been addressed. As is usually the case with the Dynasty Warriors franchise, enemies and allies alike tend to be more effective at defeating opponents and capturing bases when the player-character is nowhere near them, otherwise their AI is pretty inadequate. Determining A-Rank requirements, namely KO count and time, for a lot of the adventure stages is still a matter of trial and error. A listing of S-Rank requirements in the pause menu would have been ideal. Also, the placement of owl statues is inconsistent. Some larger stages in Adventure mode don't even have them. Shame, because all of the running about can get tiring, especially when allies are desperately in need of help.

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Final Score
It might have taken a couple tries to get the formula right, but [i]Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition[/i] is exemplary. Much can be said about the absurd amount of content, but what really takes this game to the next level are the various refinements. The item card shop alone makes a world of difference for dedicated adventurers. There's also the enhanced frame-rate, which lends a better sense of control and situational awareness to the player. They are better equipped to notice those subtle changes in enemy behaviour, or realise when a massive attack is coming. Aside from a few nit-picks, there's hardly a reason to pass on this fantastic title.

9

/10

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