There’s currently a lot of buzz involving Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. The game serves as Nintendo’s big release for the month of November, and just recently became the best selling Warriors game of all time. However despite the accolades, the title is grappling with a bit of mixed reception. While I don’t personally agree with some sentiments levied against the game, there are others that I feel are justified. Although I feel like Age of Calamity is an engaging hack-and-slash, it has some flaws that causes it to miss its mark.
Not The Story I Was Hoping For
One of my grievances with Age of Calamity is its narrative. When the title was revealed back in September, Nintendo stated it would be a prequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Age of Calamity takes place during The Great Calamity, the event that’s responsible for the decimated Hyrule we see in Breath of the Wild. Until Age of Calamity‘s launch, information regarding The Great Calamity could only be found in NPC dialogue or unlockable flashbacks. With the game’s release, Nintendo had the perfect opportunity to let fans experience the events that led to the destruction of Hyrule first-hand.
However, the problem is that Age of Calamity does not lead to the foretold outcome of The Great Calamity. Instead, Age of Calamity’s plot utilizes the concept of time travel. While I won’t spoil the story, I will say that the game’s conclusion left me with questions as opposed to providing me with answers.
Controlling the Champions
In addition to Link, Age of Calamity also lets you play as the four champions. Fans can take control of Mipha, Daruk, Urbosa, and Revali to fight against Ganon’s army. Players who enjoy the serene and slow-pace atmosphere of Breath of the Wild, might be turned off by Age of Calamity’s action-packed gameplay. Still, I feel that fans of Breath of the Wild should give the game a chance, as Age of Calamity really goes out of it’s way to make each character feel unique. Link and each of the four champions move-sets accurately reflect how they’re portrayed in the Breath of the Wild. There are more characters that players can unlock, but I’m excluding them to avoid spoilers.
For example, Rito champion Revali is pretty poor at ground combat. However, he can take to the skies to pick of enemies with his bow. Link can charge his blade for his signature spin attack, and can also wield spears and claymores just like in Breath of the Wild. Aside from their main weapons, each character has access to runes by using the Sheikah slate. Players can throw remote bombs or cast Stasis, Magnesis, or Cryonis.
During certain segments, it’s also possible to pilot legendary divine beasts. While their abilities vary slightly, it wasn’t enough to prevent the missions where I had to use them from feeling mundane. Each beast will have you move at a snail’s pace while demolishing legions of enemies. Even though it was engaging at first, I quickly began to feel the desire to fight enemies on foot again.
A Lack of Development
While some of my excitement stemmed from getting the chance to play as the four champions, I was also eager to see The Great Calamity from their perspective. Since the game takes place one hundred years before the event, I had hoped to see what turned the champions into the legendary heroes who gave their lives to protect Hyrule. Sadly, Age of Calamity provides nothing about the quartet’s personalities that we didn’t previously learn in Breath of the Wild. However, I did become more invested in princess Zelda. The game shows more of her struggle to please her father and her kingdom even at the expense of her own desires.
Respecting the Source Material
Even outside of it’s gameplay and characters, Age of Calamity goes the extra mile to capture the atmosphere of Breath of the Wild. Even the central hub takes place on the map of Hyrule used in the last game. Using the Sheikah towers, players can transport into missions in similar fashion to Breath of the Wild.
Aside from story missions, there are blacksmiths and vendors that will upgrade your weapons or sell you food to make special dishes. Like the game that came before it, Age of Calamity has more than enough content outside the main quests to keep players busy. Despite completing the main campaign, there is still plenty of endgame content left for me to finish.
I feel that Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is a well-executed action title. However, my main reason for picking up the title was thinking that it would properly fill in the blanks of Breath of The Wild’s backstory. It fell short of doing that for me, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for certain people.
If you’re someone who wants to learn more about The Great Calamity and its combatants, the story might leave you wanting more out of it. On the other hand, those looking for action will have more than enough to sink their teeth into.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is available now for the Nintendo Switch.
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