The original Hyrule Warriors was a Dynasty Warriors-style hack-and-slash that celebrated the Zelda series but wasn’t cannon to the overall story. This latest game, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, is cannon and is presented in a style entirely borrowed from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild which, it turns out, has made for an excellent cross-over that has both refined gameplay and let’s you get to know the characters of Breath of the Wild in a more emotional way than the 2017 original.
Heavily Zelda-inspired combat
Age of Calamity is set 100 years before the events of Breath of the Wild and lets the player experience Hyrule before it was destroyed. The cutscenes are beautiful and the art style is taken directly from Breath of the Wild, as is the map and many other weapons and collectibles in the game. Even the combat, rather than being a direct copy of a Musou (warriors) game, it is influenced by Breath of the Wild with even flurry attacks being present.
If you’ve never played a Musou game before the gameplay is set up into three or four levels which each make up a chapter. Each level can last between 30 to 40 minutes, and has you slashing through a variety of enemies and managing your other characters on the map so that your forces don’t get overwhelmed by enemies. In other words, this isn’t a traditional Zelda game, you won’t be exploring, or solving puzzles, but there will be loads of combat. Luckily, there are three difficulty settings, so if you just want to relax, smash some enemies and enjoy the story, pick the easy setting. Speaking of story and atmosphere, this game obviously had high production values, it’s really well polished, as Nintendo games typically are, and the music really fits each scenario.
In terms of performance, I played entirely on on Switch Lite and noticed some frame rate drops and in general things look blurry compared to Breath of the Wild. It’s also slightly disappointing that there aren’t many new weapons or items. Enemies are ripped straight from Breath of the Wild, but are sometimes imbued with elements, which mixes things up a bit. Still it would have been good to have unique enemies.
There’s much more voice acting in Age of Calamity than Breath of the Wild with a cutscene being shown at the start and end of each scenario. These are well done, although I do feel they can seem a bit awkward, and follow traditional video game tropes of saving a princess. Honestly, I feel it was a mistake to include voice acting in the Zelda games, as it takes away some of the mystery from the story. Nevertheless, the story in engaging and if you are a Zelda fan you’ll want to see this game through until the end.
Age of Calamity takes around 20 hours to beat the story, and maybe 40 to do everything the game has to offer. This is a decent amount of time, but compared to a game like Breath of the Wild, where you can easily clock up 300 hours, it’s not the best value for money. If you are a Musou fan, I’m sure you’ll put in more hours than I did, and I’m still glad I picked up the game, just as a Zelda fan.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is a game that should be taken for what it is. That is, a Zelda–Warriors cross over with high production values and an engaging story. If you come in expecting a traditional Zelda experience you will be disappointed. Age of Calamity is heavily influenced by Breath of the Wild in terms of combat, and once you get your timing right and unleash flurry attack after flurry attack on that electric Lynel that keeps attacking your keep, you’ll realize how this prequel to Breath of the Wild was worth it. Overall, even with its performance issues, Age of Calamity is a solid hack an slash and a interesting lead up to the sequel to Breath of the Wild next year.
- Great story
- Satisfying combat
- Graphics can look blurry at times
- Cutscenes can seem awkward