Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is an ode to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild with the spirit of the Dynasty Warriors series’ hack-and-slash gameplay. The overall look and feel is true to the source material, which is fitting since Age of Calamity takes place 100 years before the events of the original game. Those who have played Breath of the Wild will definitely be interested to learn more about the history behind the events of the chaos wrought by Calamity Ganon.
In this hack-and-slash game, players will find themselves battling through hordes of monsters while completing certain objectives and traversing through each challenge’s unique map. As you progress through the story, opportunities to power up come in the form of quests to gain extra hearts and combos or unlock services like the blacksmith and various merchants. As you level up and make your way through each chapter, these side objectives get increasingly difficult, but more rewarding. This gameplay may feel repetitive at times, but Age of Calamity does a good job in making sure the combat system is as refreshing as possible compared to other games in this genre.
Progressing through the story missions was made less stale by integrating cutscenes in pivotal points of the battle, giving you a reason to fight your way through enemy outposts and finishing off bosses. Sheikah Slate runes and elemental rods, being core elements to the Breath of the Wild gameplay, were also welcome additions to this Legend of Zelda spin on the hack-and-slash format. To top it off, each character has a unique set of attacks, abilities, and weapons, which makes for a different experience each time you play.
Link, who may seem like the most straightforward character, may arguably possess one of the most diverse skillsets because of his ability to wield different weapons. Zelda, the unassuming princess of Hyrule, unexpectedly has the Sheikah Slate as her weapon of choice allowing her to unleash a flurry of runes to pulverize foes. Impa, one of my personal favorites, can generate clones making it incredibly easy to clear out mobs. As you progress, you’ll unlock the four champions and many, many more. With all of these characters at your disposal, you can freely wreak havoc in any way you desire. In my case, it’s often by dropping bombs midair as Revali or striking down foes with lightning as Urbosa, but no matter who you bring into battle, seeing your kills stack up will be satisfying.
On a technical level, you may find the Nintendo Switch struggling a little bit with the frame rate—understandably so, with the game packing as much action as it can. It’s also a touch disappointing that using the two-player mode is an incomplete experience without another pair of Joy-Cons. If players were to use one Joy-Con each, this renders them unable to use elemental rods and runes which are typically useful for clearing out waves of Moblins. However, these things are overshadowed by the fun combat mechanics and the game’s narrative that many Legend of Zelda fans will surely enjoy.
Where Age of Calamity truly shines is in how it was able to do justice to many iconic elements from Breath of the Wild. The game design, in terms of both the characters and the vast environment, is very true to the source material which makes it feel like a worthy follow-up to the original game. Even the most subtle of sound effects mimic those of Breath of the Wild, from a simple click of a button to the familiar melody of a new item finding its way into your inventory—which I appreciated immensely. You could say it was a bit nostalgic.
For fans of the beloved Breath of the Wild game, Age of Calamity is definitely something worth picking up. Players will be delighted to see more of their favorite characters and experience familiar gameplay elements in a new way. While combat can feel too simple with all the button mashing, the charm of the world of Hyrule and its characters will keep you thoroughly entertained. Even if you’re new to The Legend of Zelda, Age of Calamity is an easy way to get into the series especially if you’re into the fast-paced action of this particular genre. It may even get you to pick up Breath of the Wild, especially with a sequel well on its way.