Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Review
(full review further down)
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is as fun as the first. Even with a few hiccups in framerate and jittery characters, you'll experience a fully fleshed out world of adventure that is slightly repetitive but never gets old.
+ Colorful world, cool rune powers, interesting dialog, epic battles
+/- Certain side quests that just have you drop off items
- Framerate, not much variation between characters
out of 5
Raise your hand if you remember Hyrule Warriors on the Wii U. Why am I the only one raising my hand? Ah, right. Let’s try this... Who remembers the same game launching on the Switch? Ah, yes, there we go. A lot more of you, I’m guessing.
Hyrule Warriors for the Wii U is just another example of an exemplary gem that fed off the lifeless corps of the Wii U, and made its way to the far more approachable and engaging Nintendo Switch. With that detour out of the way, Hyrule Warriors was able to see a significant sales boost which helped reign in a sequel, for which we have today in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, by returning developers at Omega Force— masters of the hack ‘n slash adventure series Dynasty Warriors.
Set 100 years before the events of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is a twisted taste of how Hyrule, the legendary land of goodness and hopefulness, begins to draw on its downfall. With rumors and dark tales of Calamity Ganon’s eventual return spreading across the lands, this can only mean that fate has bigger plans in store for Hyrule. The Great Calamity is nigh... a war to end all wars and Ganon’s armies are prepared to make it so. But there’s still hope, there’s still a chance to stop it all before it happens, and that’s where our Warriors come in.
Now, let’s clear this up: Age of Calamity isn’t as audacious or flamboyant as the original Hyrule Warriors. In fact, it’s far more serious and the stakes that much higher.
With returning faces and some interesting new ones, Age of Calamity is bound to make newcomers of the series, and veterans of both Breath of the Wild and the original Hyrule Warriors very happy.
Now, let’s clear this up: Age of Calamity isn’t as audacious or flamboyant as the original Hyrule Warriors. In fact, it’s far more serious and the stakes that much higher. Where the original had a massive lore and series of games to draw off of, Age of Calamity only expands on Breath of the Wild’s story snippets of what happened 100 years before Ganon had taken over as absolute ruler.
You can expect a mostly fluid experience with a few hiccups fighting your way through hundreds of enemies in Age of Calamity, as the developers at Omega Warrior make their grand return here from the original Hyrule Warriors. Like Breath of the Wild, the atmospheres and lands look and feel very similar— and that’s a good thing. Remember the gorgeous landscapes in Breath of the Wild that expanded forever? Or the villages high up on snow tipped mountaintops? They’re all there.
You may think a world set 100 years in the past would appear radically different, but the lands of Hyrule in Breath of the Wild are ravaged, in ruin and oppressed under Ganon’s rule. Not much had happened in that century under his dark power, so it only makes sense that it’s a lot of the same. But of course the maps are laid out more systematically with a linear battlefield feel to them than you’d expect in the adventure game.
There'll be dozens of characters for you to meet both good and bad throughout your journey to stop Ganon from emerging from the darkness. And as your team of Warriors grows from just Link and Zelda to many more familiar and unfamiliar faces, you’ll realize that they’re all very similar in fighting style. Impa, Daruk, Revali, and Mipha will join in to help you along your journey, and will even team up on each mission.
Each character share the same set of rune magics in pretty much the same way; from throwing magical bombs, wielding a magnet, or conjuring ice pillars, all of which require a short cool down period between uses.
Of course you’ll typically start each level with Link, your standard all-around character, who runs, uses runes and fights with a sword. And when you unleash those deadly combination moves, every bad guys hilariously flies or flops out of your wake. And each of your teammates thereafter is, well... about the same. Sure, there’s little variations here and there in their attacks, but nothing too dramatic.
Each character share the same set of rune magics in pretty much the same way; from throwing magical bombs, wielding a magnet, or conjuring ice pillars, all of which require a short cool down period between uses. But it’s each fighter’s finishing moves that are really cool to watch. No character seems unbalanced or stronger than another. However, using Zelda didn’t work well for me. She doesn’t use weapons like the others, but instead fights with rune magic, and it never feels like she hits the intended mark, so I avoided using her as much as possible. But each character has their time and place within the game, which is spread out over 20 or so story levels, with good character development.
This is especially noticeable when the story sets objectives throughout the very large maps, and allows you to split your team up in order to scout out each objective faster, then instantly switch between them with the press of the D pad.
Along with these familiar heroes, you’ll also notice many of the same enemy types making their return, with a few memorable new ones too. From Moblins to Hinox, there’re plenty of enemy types and usually hundreds on the screen all at once for you to wipe off the battlefield in a blaze of glory. Taking down enemies usually involves hitting X and Y buttons in sequence for large-scale combination attacks. But when larger enemies, mini and big bosses emerge, you’ll need to take on a different approach. With them, you’ll have to study their patterns, dodge their attacks and hit them with your weapon or corresponding rune. When done properly you’ll see the enemies’ weak-point gauge appear. Shattering the weak-point gauge makes them vulnerable and allows you to unleash your fancy finish move with a cool scene to go along with it.
But it does hold up... for better or worse. On top of that, the characters move choppy and can feel too jittery, but they never lose their momentum in battle, even if the frame rate dips here and there.
But like the original on Wii U, Age of Calamity also suffers from frame rate dips when too many enemies or explosions appear on screen at once. I even experienced some screen tearing too. Add to that a lot of graphical pop-ins and you start to lose a little hope on a game of this magnitude holding up throughout. But it does hold up... for better or worse. On top of that, the characters move choppy and can feel too jittery, but they never lose their momentum in battle, even if the frame rate dips here and there.
Along with the main quests, the world map contains numerous side quests that involve fighting battles, or sending in relief items that will grant your characters bonus hearts, or add more hits to the combo attacks. As well as a blacksmith to create powerful weapons, military training to help you gain levels, or cooks to help prep food with added bonuses before entering your next challenge area.
The music of Age of Calamity is as epic as any Zelda game, with no time to rest in between. There’s always an intense musical number to get your blood pumping for that next massive battle that is around nearly every corner.
With the exception of Link most characters do speak like in Breath of the Wild, with each voice fitting perfectly well with their character’s intended personality. I know I’m in the minority when I say I just don’t like Zelda’s voice at all. She always sounds whiny, frail and terrified, and to me it didn’t fit her in Breath of the Wild and it doesn’t fit her here either.
Overall, Age of Calamity is a well constructed sequel to both Breath of the Wild and the original Hyrule Warriors. It may not have all the bells and whistles the original did including character roster and story elements, but it fills in some much needed plot points we’ve been needing now for years now. Along with fun and energetic battles, but groggy frame rate issues and screen tearing, I’m sure most of you will still have a highly enjoyable time overall.
out of 5
This game was purchased by The Age Of Z for this review.