In 2017 we received what could be described as a masterpiece, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It was the swan song for the underrated WiiU and the beginning of the Switch’s library. An action-adventure title that put players in the shoes of the legendary warrior himself, Link (no, his name is not Zelda). Breath of the Wild allowed us to explore a vast open world filled with wonder and mystery. The premise, of course, is you, the player, have woken to a world of Hyrule that’s in ruin. There seems to have been a war that has ravaged the land. A war that you cannot remember. A war that has taken place 100 years ago, in the Age of Calamity.
This is where our story in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity begins. A prequel to Breath of the Wild, Age of Calamity sees us once again jump into the shoes of Link, but this time those shoes are 100 years younger. Hyrule’s civilisation and its people are still around. However, the calamity is upon us, and it is up to Link, Princess Zelda and the four champions of the Divine Beasts to try and stop it.
Comrades in arms
Like with most Warrior or Musou titles, the focus remains more on the combat of the game. Combat that primarily takes place on the battlefield. In this case, that battlefield is Hyrule. Although Age of Calamity has you starting off with just one character to play as on the battlefield, you’ll soon unlock a wider selection of characters to aid you on your quest in trying to stop the calamity that’s about to befall Hyrule. Some of these characters include the gracious Princess Zelda; the courageous Princess of Zora, Mipha; the fearless chief of the Gerudo, Urbosa and the empathetic Goron warrior, Daruk.
Control the Battlefield of Hyrule
Since the battlefield is such a vast and open area, it makes travelling across the map tedious. It is fun at first, as you get to mow through and mow down hordes of enemies with combo and flashy attacks such as Link’s shield surf. However, after some time you may become a tad bit irritated with having to run from one end to the other, just to complete a simple objective. Or at least that would be the case if you do not use the “order” function. With there being multiple heroes on the battlefield, players will be able to take control of them at any time. Switching between players will be the key to navigating across the map much faster. How? Well, by ordering them to do so.
Although you’ll only be able to control one character at a time, you’ll be able to order the rest of them to move to a position on the map. Once the character reaches that point, you’ll be able to immediately switch and take control. However, if you chose not to take control of the character, they will still proceed to battle it out against the enemy, just not as effectively. The game does want the player to do most of the heavy lifting after all. And most of that heavy lifting will take place during boss encounters.
For the most part of your journey through the battlefields of Hyrule you will encounter hordes of enemies that can be dispatched with two or three swipes of your weapon. Or special attacks that each character possesses. Some use melee attacks while others, such as Zelda possess an array of ranged attacks. However, when encountering boss battles, you’ll have to change up that strategy a bit. Bosses don’t only have more HP to deal with but also possess special attacks that you’ll need to either dodge or counter. Luckily they also have an invisible shield of sorts and with enough damage inflicted on that shield, you’ll be able to perform another special attack that’ll multiply the damage dealt. It’ll also activate a flashy animation, which is often quite entertaining to watch. A well-timed dodge just as the enemy is attacking will also cause time to slow down, granting you the opportunity to counter with a parry of attacks that’ll be beneficial in also breaking the shield.
Apart from you just being the ultimate warrior on the battlefield, the game does allow you to also fuse weapons. This allows you to create even more destructive power, with some even possessing special attributes that’ll aid you even further on the battlefield. You’ll also be able to cook before a battle to grant you even more abilities such as increased movement or taking 5% less damage from enemies. Each character will also be able to make use of the Sheikah slate tool, which will allow you to utilise the abilities found in Breath of the Wild such as freezing the enemy for a limited amount of time, or dispersing bombs. Cooking, fusing weapons, changing your appearance in respect of armour or clothing will all take place in a central hub which just like Breath of the Wild is accessed through a Sheikah tower.
All in all, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is the perfect way for fans of Breath of the Wild to discover exactly what occurred in the time before the calamity. And although Age of Calamity is primarily a hack and slash, it is immediately noticeable that the Legend of Zelda team worked closely with Koei Tecmo. The game possesses gorgeous cutscenes that create a depth of character and event development. As well as sound effects found in Breath of the Wild that’ll give you that nostalgic pleasure of when you first jumped into the vast open world of Hyrule back in 2017.