Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity – Game Review


Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

(Available for Nintendo Switch only)

Hyrule Warriors has been developer Koei Tecmo, the team behind the Dynasty Warriors games, most success full game and was a bright spot during the Wii U era plus a good addition to the Switch with the definitive edition of the game containing all previous DLC and extra content and was a love letter to Zelda fans. Well when it was looking like Nintendo wouldn’t have a major new game for the holiday period, the company announced out of nowhere on twitter a week after Super Mario 3D All Stars announcement that in November we would be getting a new Hyrule Warriors game that would be set within the world of Breath of the Wild and would take place 100 years before the events of that game and would tell the story of the Calamity war and the fall of Hyrule with the ability to control many characters including Link, Zelda and the 4 champions. This game comes at the right time with the still untitled sequel to Breath of the Wild that was announced at E3 2019 still being in development with a possible belief of a late 2021 release this is a great way to tie people over until that games release with it potentially providing more context to the mythology of that world which is greatly welcomed

Check below my review for Elliot’s experience with the game

Pros

  • Improved Gameplay: I really like the combat and character styles of the original Hyrule Warriors but somehow, it’s even better here. By merging the elements of Breath of the Wild into the game like the runes for bombs, magnets, ice and stopping time it adds extra level of strategy with enemies and the environment. While you can hack and slash certain enemies many require extra levels of strategy for when to dodge and how to approach like when facing enemies like Lynels (which are really tough to beat by the way). the game design also seems to have handled its difficulty way better than the previous game leading to way better difficulty progression and even if you are having trouble you can alter the difficulty at any time to allow you to have a better chance of experiencing the story and the side challenges are also really good fun to build the characters levels.
  • Graphics: Koei Tecmo did a good job replicating the look of Breath of The Wild which is still one of the best looking Switch games. Considering that they were working with something that’s a bit out of their wheelhouse it’s a great achievement and this game while it doesn’t look quite as good as Breath of the Wild is still up there with some of the best looking Switch Games and is an improvement over previous Warriors games
  • Story: I like the story enough to really put it in the pros section but without giving away spoilers I would say my opinion might change depending on how it affects the upcoming Breath of the Wild Sequel that’s still in development. It is certainly an interesting story that provides a bit more context for the events of Breath of the Wild but also is a very good character piece particularly for Zelda who gets the most character moments within the game. the story was probably the biggest hook and it meant by the mid point I was almost entirely abandoning the side quests and going complete story missions
  • Improved level design: once again it feels like Koei Tecmo looked at Breath of The Wild and built level design to replicate it whilst optimising it for their gameplay so well. Environments you previously explored have been so well incorporated and it has a good enough variety to give a lot of locations to fight in.
  • Controls: another case where slight improvement have made a big difference. It doesn’t feel much different from the first Hyrule Warriors in many ways but it does feel slightly more optimised and accessing abilities feels way easier making chaining combos way easier.
  • Character selection: I, like many people, thought there wouldn’t be much of a big character selection because of the fact that it would only feature characters from Breath of the Wild but I was genuinely surprised how many show up. Without going into spoilers there’s a ton of good choices and no matter your playstyle you will find a character you like especially since each comes with their own rune skills. Link has received the most improvement since he feels way more interesting this time round in his combat style so he doesn’t feel put upon the player like the last game. though I also recommend Revali since adding flight to combat adds a ton of cool features

Mixed

  • Gyro controls: you only really use these in the divine beast missions and function fine, but they did have some aiming issues and I found myself switching back to just using the right analogue stick
  • Amiibo support: it’s pretty much same as last time and what you get is more based on luck than anything else but you will get some good use if like me you collected all the Legend of Zelda Amiibo

Cons

  • Frame rate issues: this was a problem in the original and the demo and the final game hasn’t improved things yet. Most of the time the game runs at a good 30 Frames a Second but there are significant drops at weird times that can interfere with your game. they also are almost at random and don’t seem to be affected by either the number of or type of enemies. My experience didn’t have too many and didn’t interfere with the game however I did run into some issues and it is noticeable

Overall thoughts

Hyrule Warriors Age of Calamity is the best Warriors game to date. I would say your enjoyment is predicated on having played Breath of the Wild since it’s a prequel but at this stage if you own a Switch and haven’t already done that then you really should be getting around to it. The frame rate problems are distracting at times though didn’t detract from my experience and the gameplay, story, character selection and graphics feel so refined that it leads to an amazing gameplay experience which I’m going to be doing more and more of. It’s honestly the most fun I have had with a Warriors game and while the story has made me slightly apprehensive I am now even more excited for Breath of the Wild 2 which will hopefully be next year

Score: 9.4/10

As soon as you’ve finished Breath of the Wild you need to play this. Don’t feel the need to play Hyrule Warriors Definitive edition since this is pretty much its own game and I would say pick this up as soon as you can since the only chance of the game on discount is to wait for Black Friday 2021 as a build up for Breath of the Wild 2
 
Calvin – Nerd Consultant

And now Elliot’s review….

Wild was in the works, and no doubt Nintendo fans, Zelda fans, and switch owners are incredibly excited about. While I admit I’m not the biggest fan of Breath of the Wild I still think it’s an amazing game, it’s in my top five games in the Zelda series, which is still to date my favourite game series of all time, and is one of the best games currently out on the switch, so as you can tell, I am very excited for it. While we wait for more information on the Breath of the Wild sequel, Nintendo has once again teamed up with Koei Tecmo to bring us Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Personally I’m someone who adores Hyrule Warriors, to the point where I’ve got every version of the game and 100% completed the Switch version, and has wanted some form of Breath of the Wild dlc for a good while. To learn that not only were we getting not only a new game based around Breath of the Wild, but it was a prequel and canon to the rest of the series, needless to say, my excitement could not be contained, and that glorious date of 20th November 2020 could not come fast enough. 

As mentioned, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is a prequel to Breath of the Wild. Taking place a hundred years before the events of BOTW, it tells the tale of the war that brought about the calamity of Hyrule, bringing with it many twists and turns that I don’t think anyone was expecting, nor will some people like. The game has a large variety of characters, many of them you’ll be able to play, each one bringing something to the story and are generally fun to watch interact. Honestly, it was just awesome to see the old guardians and characters missing from BOTW and see how they interacted with one another and how they would have fought. 

It was expected that the presentation of this game would mimic that of BOTW, though by how much I was not expecting. I was expecting it to just extend to the art style and voice acting, though they went even further, having not only the map layouts, which all looked like they were ripped straight out of BOTW (I even recognised some of the parts of the maps as area’s I explored), to even the menu layouts looking exactly like they did in that game. Even the screen where you select the missions you play is an exact replica of BOTW’s map of Hyrule. The graphics, as to be expected, do an amazing job of having the same style as BOTW and feels like we’re just seeing a small part of a massive world, it does an amazing job of having the same feeling of wonder and intrigue as its predecessor. The voice acting as well as very well done, all the voice actors from BOTW have returned to reprise their roles and do a very good job with bringing their characters to life, except of course for Link who still remains silent. 

The gameplay is essentially the same as it was in Hyrule Warriors and Dynasty Warriors… sort of. Like those games the game primarily focuses on you as a very overpowered character taking on and decimating legions of enemy forces, having a killcount that ranges in the hundreds if not thousands. Though unlike those other games, there doesn’t seem to be much enthesis on capturing enemy keeps and defending your own, meaning that your kill count isn’t going to be quite as high as it is in those games, which was a very big mechanic in those two games. Though admittedly I don’t miss it, it could bring a good deal of annoyance in those games at times, there were many moments where I would have to restart a level from the very beginning because the main keep was a little too low on health, so their lack of inclusion is something I’ll be crying about. 

The combat in the game seems to resemble more what you’d find in BOTW than you would in Hyrule Warriors. Many of the mechanics in that game are brought back in this one, like the flurry blows for example, where if you dodge an attack at the last possible second you get to deal a large number of blows to the enemy which does a very large amount of damage to their shield; which when fully depleted will allow you to perform an attack for a significantly large amount of damage. Another is the Sheikah Slate, which in BOTW was used to solve puzzles using it’s four runes (Bombs, Stasis, Magnesis and Cryosis), though in this game it’s used when certain enemies do certain attacks, they’ll indicate what rune is required and when used correctly the enemy will stagger and you’ll be able to weaken it’s shield. There are also the rods, these are obtained by defeating enemies which have elemental effects on them (fire, ice and electric) which will give you an advantage against other enemies. Use one on a normal enemy and it will stagger than that you’ll be able to damage their shield, though if you use one of an enemy of the opposite element, like using the fire rod on an ice enemy, or using the electric rod when it’s raining, you’ll be able to deal a greater deal of damage to that enemies shield. Even the movesets of the characters feel like they were ripped straight out of the game, to the point where Link is able to shield surf. 

Each of the characters that you play as, of course, have very unique move sets and even how you play them has a much larger amount of variety, much more than they did in Hyrule Warriors. Each one has a certain skill that is unique to them, like Revali having the ability to fly, Impa being able to create clones of herself or Urbosa being able to charge electricity and doing much more powerful moves by doing so. Of course while, in my opinion, none of the characters are bad, they’re all quite fun to play, there will be some you find better than others, and you’ll no doubt enjoy your time with each. In the end my favourites ended up being Link, Impa, Mipha and one that I will not mention here because of spoilers. 

Everytime you finish one of the main story missions, you’ll have unlocked a ton of side content to do, and when I say a ton I mean a ton. There will be a lot of side missions for you to do, some of which you’ll be able to pick and play as whoever you want and some where you’ll be relegated to playing as one particular character. These will include escort missions, missions where you’ll have to capture some outposts, and some where you just have to kill monsters, these ones tend to be my favourites (I’m not a psychopath I swear). Doing each of these will reward you with materials required for upgrades or foods, which will give you extra buffs when doing a mission, weapons and will also level up your characters by a decent amount, which you’ll need for some of the later missions. 

Other of the things you’ll be able to unlock as you play the game are upgrades to your characters, who each have their own symbol on the map, as well as shops which will sell you certain materials, though only a certain amount at a time, and other things to make your time in the game a little bit more easy. As mentioned, to unlock these you’ll need certain materials that you can find by killing enemies and from the shops, some are more difficult to find than others so you may need to do a bit of grinding to collect these materials, though it rarely ever feels boring when you do. These upgrades include more health and a larger moveset for that character. 

Of course not everything in this game is amazing and there are some parts of it that I’m not a fan of. One mechanic that I really wasn’t a fan of was the wall jumping, where if you’re next to a wall and hit the dodge button you’ll be able to bounce off that wall and float for a little bit before landing. I never found a use for this and it served only to get in my way when I’m dodging and accidentally wall jump, forcing me to bounce into the attack that I would have avoided otherwise. Another thing that annoyed me was the checkpoints, more accurately, when it makes the checkpoint after I’ve had a fight with a big enemy or a boss instead of at the beginning of the fight, it’s frustrating when you end up dying in a boss fight and have up run all the way back to that fight to attempt it again, especially during the later levels when the maps are as large as a shopping centre and where your getting is on the other side of the map. I also found that at first I could play the game for hours and not get bored, though later on I was getting winded from the game after a couple of hours and would have to play something else for a bit, this could be my fault as I had 100% completed Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition, only a month before, but I still felt it nonetheless. Though these are mostly just nitpicks and don’t damper on the game much.

I expected great things from this game and I got exactly what I expected and also not that I expected. From all the nods to BOTW to the amount of fun I had killing Bokoblins and dying constantly from the Lynels (yeah, I didn’t know you could make them tougher either, but somehow Nintendo found a way), I had a blast the entire way through this game. While I acknowledge that this game isn’t for everyone and that some people won’t enjoy it nearly as much as I have, I will think that this is a fantastic game that every Zelda fan should at least try. While it isn’t my favourite game that’s come out this year, I’ll happily say that it’s in my top three and is at the very least a much better game than Hyrule Warriors, which is already within my top 20 favourite games of all time. If you’re a fan of Zelda or BOTW, you owe it to yourself to give this game a go.

8.6/10
Elliot Chapman
Anime Amigo, Nerd Consultant,
and Guest Contributor

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