[Review] Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: KOEI TECMO GAMES
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: 20/11/2020
  • Price: $59.99 / £49.99
  • Review code provided by Nintendo

Video Review

Introducing Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Review

When the original Hyrule Warriors was announced, I never thought we would get a sequel, let alone a direct sequel to one of the most successful Zelda games of all time. Lo and behold, we have not only a 2nd Hyrule Warriors game, but a sequel/prequel to Breath of the Wild. With so many lofty expectations, it’s insane to expect it would follow up the story of Breath of the Wild and improve upon the foundation set up from HW, right?

Beep Beep Boop!

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Age of Calamity is set 100 years before the events of Breath of the Wild. The story of Calamity Ganon is detailed well in BOTW, but having the full ins and outs allowed for some exciting story telling. In true Zelda timeline tomfoolery, we can either say this story is a gaiden (side story) or a true offshoot of the timeline. I will not spoil anything, but time travel appears. While it has been vital to quite a few Zelda games in the past, this one appears so crazy and absurd. Did I enjoy it? Yes, I did. I loved it.

The story is split between seven chapters, with several missions in each one. My only gripe with some of the story telling involves the character conversations during battles. With this being a Warriors game, there will always be conversations going on while the action is hot! Many times, I would not even notice that a side conversation had happened until the end of it. These dialog bubbles would appear at the bottom of the screen and I was too busy KO’ing hundreds of bokoblins. I do not think I lost too much nuance, but there were moments when I was not sure why I needed to capture a certain outpost, but I did it anyway.

Koroks for Days

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If you played the original Hyrule Warriors, you should know what to expect. It is a Musou game, which sends you against hundreds of enemies for the slaughter. What it does differently is what makes this title stand out. In the original, on the Wii U, you were not able to switch between characters, but that was remedied in the subsequent re-releases. Having the extra characters in battle now feels like 2nd nature, as many levels will place them in areas that were not originally connected. Meaning you will need to balance how you fight and with who. Another new feature is the ability to give your team orders. Send one of your other characters to the other side of the map to watch over your fort and switch to them once they arrive. It is genius and I wish I had it in all the Warriors titles.

Another big change is how the level select screen has been streamlined. No longer is there a story mode or challenge mode, but we are presented with one LARGE map. The entire map of BOTW is the stage select. Side missions, upgrades, story missions, shops; it is all on the map! Being able to easily swap between doing story missions and character focused side missions was great. Don’t be fooled into thinking the amount of content present will be small due to having one map, as I spent over thirty hours with this title and only had 50% completion.

Now I want to talk about the characters. With all the characters present in the original Hyrule Warriors being pulled from so many different games and timelines, I was concerned we would be looking at a significantly smaller cast. That part is true, but each addition is great. Each and every one felt truly unique and offered many surprises as well. Again, if you haven’t been spoiled yet on the story and characters, please play this game so you will be ecstatic, just like I was!

The Lovely Sounds of Hyrule

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Me and my wife both love music from the Zelda franchise and the songs presented here are no different. The music for the map theme is perfectly splendid. The battle themes are high energy, and who doesn’t love the Hinox theme? The visual design is spot on from BOTW, so if you are a fan, it hasn’t changed. I was impressed on the map variations, as they felt less linear than normal Warriors titles and it seemed to really use much of the actual landscape of BOTW.

Well Oiled Guardian

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Playing Age of Calamity on both handheld and in docked mode was like a dream. I never experienced a hiccup or a glitch while playing this title. Even with the most chaotic of times, the game continued to run extremely well. My only real gripe involves the load times between stages. It sometimes can take around 15 to 20 seconds to load into a stage. Other than that, my experience was impeccable.

Final Thoughts

Being a follow up to one of the best Zelda games and, arguably, the best Warriors game seemed like a daunting task, but here we are. Koei Tecmo not only delivered their best Musou title yet, but also a truly fantastic Zelda game that needs to be experienced by all the fans. Yes, it does not play like Breath of the Wild, but it is soaked in so much lore that it yearns for your attention. Play Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity and do it now. You can thank me later.

Pros

  • More story for BOTW
  • Best Warriors title
  • More Zelda music

Cons

  • Loading times between levels
  • In game speech can be lost

Verdict
Age of Calamity is the pinnacle of Koei Tecmo’s Warriors titles while also being an essential Legend of Zelda spin-off!

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