Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity - Launch Trailer - Nintendo Switch
Who it Caters to
The Hyrule Warriors saga, a niche The Legend of Zelda spin-off, belongs to a subgenre that's called Musou. These games, often based on Japanese warriors (from samurai to popular anime/manga characters), feature powerful heroes who can single-handedly defeat hundreds or thousands of enemies. For that reason, musou games are basically hack and slash action-adventure experiences, with arcade combat mechanics that are easy to pick up but hard to master. Simply put, if you like button-mashing games, you will love Age of Calamity, but there's way more than meets the eye.
What to Expect
Although it takes place in the past, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity should be considered as a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and not really a prequel. Since the lore and characters are more or less the same, Age of Calamity truly feels like an extension to Breath of the Wild. In fact, it's a reimagination of the same story, with some noticeable differences that are quite meaningful to the overall plot.
The biggest change is, of course, the gameplay: BotW was more about exploring the lands of Hyrule, talking to people, and slowly unfolding a rather complex story. Age of Calamity, on the other hand, focuses on the battles alone, offering a simplified version of the same product. That's not a bad thing, in our opinion. At least this Hyrule Warriors game actually feels like they care about it, and didn't end up like a half-assed reskin of Dinasty Warriors...
Age of Calamity, just like Breath of the Wild, is one of the best-looking Switch games out there. It makes great use of cel-shading and lightning, and all animations are on point. Sadly, since the gameplay is quite linear, the places you visit are not fully explorable and so, they're not as detailed as their Breath of the Wild counterparts.
We didn't experience any bugs, but we did notice some performance issues when it comes to fps—nothing game-breaking, though. To be completely fair, that's inherent to musou games, where you have dozens of enemies attacking you at once...
All in all, it was a joy to revisit our friends from Breath of the Wild, and we're extremely happy seeing how much the Hyrule Warriors saga has improved since its previous iteration.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has one of the best OST, and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity makes great use of it. That's amazing because you really feel like playing a continuation of the story, which ultimately helps with immersion. Another notable aspect of this game is that all characters—except the untalkative Link, of course—are fully voiced by the same voice actors, and they nailed it again!
In Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, Princess Zelda, Link, and Impa must find the 4 Champions that can pilot the legendary Divine Beasts, hoping they can help put an end to the upcoming Second Great Calamity caused by Ganon. As mentioned before, that's more or less the same premise Breath of the Wild introduced back in 2017, where we also must recruit Urbosa, Daruk, Revali, and Mipha.
This time, however, you won't have to travel across Hyrule Fields. Heck, you don't even have to discover ancient shrines or escape from those pesky Lynels. It's all about brandishing your sword and slaying thousands upon thousands of enemies!
Every time you complete a mission, several new points of interest will become visible to you on the Hyrule map. By offering specific items, you can unlock new quests, repeatable sidequests, but also shops, food recipes, and weapon or health improvements. If you open all points of interest in the same region, you'll get a bonus. This is a different approach to JRPG grinding, and most TLoZ players might not be used to it, but it works nonetheless.
In combat, your goal is to defeat all enemies to score more points while at the same time fulfilling specific objectives that could go from conquering an outpost to finding and defeating a boss. Depending on your chosen difficulty, these bosses will be easier or harder to beat, but all of them are equally interesting and fun to take on. That's because you have different approaches to combat, all of them catered to different playstyles.
You can abuse the Y button for a simple, fast combo or go for a more powerful yet slower blow by pressing X. By defeating wizzrobes, you get to use elemental magic, really helpful against other elemental foes but also if you want to avoid melee attacks. Finally, we have special rune skills (Magnesis, Cryonis, Stasis, and Remote Bomb) making a comeback, although this time they're fully available from the get-go. All characters can make use of these attacks, and you can switch characters at any given moment just by pressing a button. Still, all characters have their unique combos and special attacks, so we recommend you to try them all and then start focusing on training the ones you enjoy using the most.
Musou games are not for everyone, and some people will find the gameplay to be repetitive. We can't argue against that, but Age of Calamity offers you a lot of things to do. Multiplayer mode is a nice feature, allowing you to tag along with a friend for a fun hack and slash session. Then, we have the opportunity to play as Link's allies—bah, not all of them are allies...but we won't spoil it for you—from the Champions to Zelda herself, and experimenting with new weapons is always refreshing. Different, but not as engaging and badass as they sound in theory, are the Divine Beasts missions, where you get to control these gigantic machines, destroying everything—and everyone—in your path.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
If you're a fan of the musou genre, you'll love this game. If you're a The Legend of Zelda fan and you don't consider yourself a purist, then you might also love this game. And if you just fancy a more arcade experience that happens to be a follow-up to one of the best Switch games, give Age of Calamity a chance. It is definitely not the best game ever, but it's by far one of the most enjoyable musou games you can find!
Impressive graphics and OST.
You can take it easy and play casually, or grind your way to the top. YOu could even play it as a co-op adventure. It's up to you!
A lot of characters for you to choose, and all of them have unique moves.
Some camera angles are weird, like everytime you use Mipha's special attack.
Predictable and overly simplistic story, especially if you already played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Honey's Final Verdict:
We still have no clues about when Breath of the Wild's sequel will drop, but Age of Calamity is the game we all needed to appease the wait! Although Eiji Aonuma (long-time producer for the Legend of Zelda series) already confirmed they have no intention of further expanding the Hyrule Warriors saga unless it feels 100% necessary, we must say they did a splendid job with this one, and we wouldn't be half mad if they keep releasing Zelda-themed musou games.
In our humble opinion, musou mechanics and The Legend of Zelda can definitely go hand in hand. What do you think, guys?
Author: Rod Locksley
Hey! I'm Rod, and when I'm not watching anime or playing video games I'm probably writing about them, but I'm also a graphic and web designer, and I even published a comic book and worked like 4 years for a well-known MMORPG. Curiously, my favorite series are quite different from each other, so I'm still trying to understand what I really like in an anime...