The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild took the world by storm in 2017 along with the launch of the Nintendo Switch. It was so loved that a sequel is in the works, which hasn’t really been done before for a Legend of Zelda game. Unfortunately, players will have to wait another few years before the sequel will be available to play. In the meantime, Nintendo has partnered with Koei Tecmo once again to create a new Hyrule Warriors-style musou game. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, is set 100 years before the events of Breath of the Wild takes place, when Calamity Ganon first rose to power.
Players get the chance to play as all four champions of Hyrule, as well as Link, Zelda, and Impa. Each champion has their own fighting style and special moves that can be activated with the press of ZR. For example, Link will pull out his bow and shoot a volley of arrows into enemies, while the Zora Champion, Mipha, will create a small jet of water she can swim through to get under enemies and throw them into the air. Each has advantages and disadvantages to it, and I found myself drifting more toward Mipha, Urbosa, and Link when I had the chance to choose which characters to play as.
One of the first things about the story of Age of Calamity is that there are more battles per chapter. Previously, each chapter in a Warriors game was one battle, leading to a game with 20 chapters or 20 battles. This made for a shorter game. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity offers more for players to discover as well as lore to devour as players progress through the game.
Previously, Hyrule Warriors would have players collecting items while on the battlefield. This ranged from monster parts, weapons, shields, and potions to be used in the pause screen between battles to upgrade weapons and level up characters. Now, the items collected are food, monster trophies, and weapons. After each battle, players are brought to the map of Hyrule that has several different pop-up locations to visit.
Some areas are mini trials to level up certain characters and to get special weapons. Other areas are cooks and merchants. Players use their food and trophies to level up characters without the confusing menus from previous Warriors games. This makes it easier on players to figure out what they need to find on the battlefield, and what they can buy from merchants around the area to be able to level up characters.
One of my biggest complaints with Age of Calamity is how the other characters are used in battle. Players can easily switch between different fighters on the battlefield to cover more ground and accomplish missions quickly and efficiently. This aspect was introduced in the Fire Emblem Warriors title in 2017 and made fighting so much more interesting. Players can command the other characters not being played to complete certain tasks. Once a task was completed, the character would often go do their own thing. But they would still be fighting and working towards the mission’s goal.
Unfortunately, in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, once a task is complete, the character stays put and does nothing. And that is IF the character is able to do the task by themselves. This is so unhelpful and counter productive, and can end up adding more time to the overall battle than would be necessary if the AI of the other characters in the battle was competent. It adds more micromanaging for certain aspects of the game and becomes more of a challenge.
This new change is so saddening because it makes the characters seem helpless when they themselves are champions of Hyrule. They should know what to do in those situations. I would love to have the AI take on some tasks on its own so the player that I am controlling in the moment can continuously focus on that task and continue on that task if I switch between characters on the fly on the battlefield.
I have come to prefer Fire Emblem over Legend of Zelda the past years, but the Warriors series has always been fun. This blunder really puts a damper on the game as a whole and the play style I have come to know and love from Nintendo’s Warriors series. Another damper is the lack of a history mode. In Fire Emblem Warriors and Hyrule Warriors, players were given a chart to complete with different tasks and rewarded with better equipment and even characters sometimes.
That doesn’t exist in Age of Calamity. It takes away from some of the replayability that previous Warriors games have had and keep the player invested in the game. It seems that once players finish the game, that is all that they have to play. It can be hard to create more of a story though for this game, because it is a prequel, but a lack of a chart for extra challenges and rewards is a bit of a let down.
Even with these setback, the other upgraded aspects make for a better user interface experience for players. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity has been a fun button smasher, but for those who are interested in getting into the Warriors series, Fire Emblem Warriors has a much better experience for players and loads of replayability.
Images in the review were captures in game and copyright Nintendo and Koei Tecmo. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity was purchased by the reviewer for review purposes.