BOSTON – After finishing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I was devastated that the game was over. All I wanted was more adventures with Link and Zelda – specifically the versions clad in stylish blue tunics. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition on Nintendo Switch delivers just that, even if it's a decidedly nontraditional format. The Switch port of the Wii U sleeper hit will include content from the 3DS version of the game, as well as brand-new outfits for its two most important characters.
I played through a level of Hyrule Warriors at PAX East 2018. It's not quite the same thing as stepping back into Breath of the Wild, but between the familiar Zelda elements and the newly added costumes, it's easily the next best thing. Hyrule Warriors operates on the same formula as Dynasty Warriors: You take control of two characters (you can switch between them) as you lead a number of AI-controlled forces to victory by completing a series of battlefield challenges against both cannon-fodder soldiers and huge bosses.
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Hyrule Warriors is part action game, and part strategy game, but it has a breezy feel throughout. In my demo, Nintendo wanted to highlight a level based on The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Previously, this content had been exclusive to the 3DS version of the game (which suffered from some performance issues), so the Switch version represents the first time players will be able to experience it on a big screen.
While it's been a while since I played a Dynasty Warriors game, and Hyrule Warriors wasn't much like any Zelda I've ever played, the fundamentals of the game were easy enough to grasp. I took control of Link and Zelda (although there were about 20 other characters I could have chosen), then led them around the battlefield, taking down moblins and larger enemies as I went. Each time I defeated a group of enemies, my forces advanced a little farther.
Link had his trusty sword, while Zelda wielded a baton that could control the wind. Each character also came equipped with his or her own fairy, which could activate magical abilities ranging from healing friends to hurling devastating firebombs against foes. Each one also had access to a full range of gadgets, including a giant hammer.
This hammer came in handy, since as I progressed through the stage, I needed to smash switches, which activated cannons, which blasted apart stone heads blocking my progress. It's not a traditional Zelda game, but it's good to see that the franchise's history of including puzzles is alive and well.
The game doesn't look tremendously different from its Wii U predecessor; the main difference here is that you can take Hyrule Warriors with you on the go. Hyrule Warriors will debut for Switch on May 18 and cost $60. Based on what I've played, it could be well worth the price of admission, especially if you didn't catch it the first time around.
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