Like the first Hyrule Warriors, don’t expect a grand, puzzle-solving adventure. Or to be climbing up mountains while your weapon slowly breaks in half during Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Though do expect to be slaying armies and mobs of Moblins for days, Dynasty Warriors-style.
Not too much has changed from the previous iteration. Besides having a tighter, focused story and gameplay elements inspired by Breath of The Wild.
How’s The Story Handled?
Now in terms of story, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity shows us exactly what happened to Link, Zelda and the Four Champions, 100 years before Breath of The Wild – hence the name. The cinematic sections contain a few high-stakes moments and a lot of crucial plot points are revealed… But there isn’t much significance in the character development or emotional impact. The cutscenes themselves are mostly just to push the game along.
Key plot information is revealed through narrated exposition dumps with on-screen text… Though they’re honestly not very enjoyable to watch. They only serve as bridges to move from mission-to-mission. The good thing is, there are even more voiced cutscenes than its predecessor. So if you’re a fan of how these Breath of The Wild characters are portrayed, then you’ll have a lot to look forward to here.
Gameplay/Story Integration Issues In Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
That being said, I felt that Zelda’s fear and doubt over whether she’ll unlock her true potential like in Breath of The Wild – felt a little off. It’s quite strange to see this character plough through enemies left and right with ease, then suddenly hard-pivot into a sudden feeling of inadequacy during the cutscenes. For example, a mission near the beginning has Link escorting her away from the battlefield for some reason. But why? She was perfectly capable of holding her own until then. What changed?
It’s quite strange to see this character plough through enemies left and right with ease, then suddenly hard-pivot into a sudden feeling of inadequacy during the cutscenes.
Gameplay & story integration was clearly not a major concern for the developers here.
Also in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, Link still not being voiced is getting a bit strange. The silent protagonist trope has been wearing a bit thin! Many complaints have been made for silent protagonists in other games, so why is everyone oddly silent about it when it comes to Hyrule’s greatest warrior?
Does The Dynasty Warriors-Style Gameplay Still Hold Up?
The gameplay itself is very similar to its predecessor, with the hack and slash focus of the Dynasty Warriors games being at the forefront. The combat feels smoother than the first and the combinations seem to hit harder. But this title is not limited to the combinations of light and heavy attacks! Ranged and special attacks do also help to get the edge over the sometimes difficult main and sub-boss enemies.
The combat feels smoother than the first and the combinations seem to hit harder.
Unlike Hyrule Warriors, Age of Calamity does add a few more tricks for Link and his fellow warriors to dominate their enemies in battle. Being that it is a prequel of Breath of The Wild, the Sheikah Slate makes a return! Not only can you topple enemies with various attacks, but you can also use the tablet to create bombs, ice pillars, magnetise enemy weapons and freeze enemies in place. A fantastic support tool which can help you get those few extra hits you need to take a boss down!
Now we can’t talk about the gameplay without mentioning probably the most surprising inclusion in this title! The Divine Beasts! Now fully rideable and operable for certain missions! These would have to be some of the most epic moments in the game as you travel along demolishing anything in your path. However, as much as we would love to free roam on these magnificent creatures, they are locked to the on-rails sections of the game!
The Stunning Presentation of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity!
The glorious vistas and Studio Ghibli-like art-style are just as impressive as they were back in 2017. Acting as visually exciting and varied set-pieces for the large-scale, 1 VS 1,000 battles. And nothing ever gets too cluttered or hard to see either. Even when stacks of character models and particle effects are flying all over the place.
It’s all handled with great care, the frantic Dynasty Warriors action flowing (and sometimes dipping) around 30FPS. This is a definite improvement over the absolute nose-dive that the framerate took in the demo, which saw it drop to as low as 9 frames per second!
This is a definite improvement over the absolute nose-dive that the framerate took in the demo, which saw it drop to as low as 9 frames per second!
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity has included some of the most iconic locations from Breath of The Wild. In these reimagined arenas, and they look incredible! They represent the various areas in Hyrule in an absolutely pristine manner. And each battlefield looks unique, even when in a similar location! To add to this, the music matches each location perfectly! From the heavy strings based sound of Zora’s Domain, to the percussive, brass sounds in Death Mountain, the soundtrack here is truly spectacular!
So, is Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity a worthy prequel? Well, honestly, even though there are some unique additions and spectacular moments, this title suffers from the “just another Dynasty Warriors game” stigma. It does become quite repetitive in the gameplay and does feel very formulaic in the structure of each level. This title can be enjoyable to play for a few hours, but oftentimes does feel that it only exists to ride on the success of Breath of The Wild, before the sequel is released!
Reviewed by Samuel Incze
Whilst Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity does give some very engaging combat moments and some interesting narrative elements, the game does fall short in vital areas. The narrative does explain some of the issues that Link, Zelda and Co. faced before The Breath of the Wild, but there still seems to be a lot of story that has been missed!
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