The second Hyrule Warriors game, Age of Calamity, is the prequel to the ever popular The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Released for the Nintendo Switch on 20 November 2020, it’s since become the best-selling game in the entire Warriors repertoire. The title is developed by Omega Force, published by Koei Tecmo in Japan and Nintendo internationally.
With that pre-amble out of the way, let’s get into the review.
As a whole, the game doesn’t offer much in the way of tweaking the game experience. You have multiple voice languages and text languages, and that’s about most of it. The difficulty can be changed at any time, from Easy to Very Hard, so don’t worry too much about it. The map records for each difficulty are kept separate for those you care.
There’s no option to rebind keys, and accessibility options are basically non-existent, so that’s too bad.
Well, it’s a game in the Zelda series, so there’s always going to be that level of quality you can expect from the name. It looks pretty enough, though you will want to head over to Breath of the Wild if you really want to see the sights. Sometimes it might be hard to see the creatures and/or button prompts, but I’d put most of the blame on the janky camera that can rear its ugly head.
The mini map, as befitting its name, is on the smaller side, so you’d want to open up the full size to check on things. The overworld map is easy enough to parse as well, and if you need to find the shops, you can just hit the Left trigger of your console to open up all the ones you can access.
ATOP THE SHIEKAH TOWER
The tower is where you’ll be accessing all the areas and their related quests. Any battle areas you enter will be a separate instance, so exploration is limited at best in this title. You’ll still be able to go round finding Korok Seeds, and if you happen to miss any, you don’t have to worry: you can easily reaccess the relevant area, and if the quest happens to have multiple parts, you can choose to only play a specific segment. Replaying the entire quest is also an option. It’s handy as sometimes you’d want to go grinding for battlefield specific materials for certain requests, which then fills up the affinity for the area.
The various ‘side quests’ – in a manner of speaking – will run the gamut of unlocking extra combos for a character, giving them more HP, or unlocking new services. Your little guardian companion will occasionally also point out certain quests, whether it being a recommended quest or you’re able to fulfill the requirements. Later, you’ll get access to a sensor which will help pinpoint the areas to obtain stuff you’re missing.
The Blacksmith will allow you to fuse up weapons, levelling them up and inheriting weapon skills. Unlike Breath of the Wild, you don’t have to worry about durability. The shops will offer materials for purchase, often for cooking up meals for additional buffs before you head into battle. Recipes can be obtained from the side quests or as you play through the game. Slightly later on, you’ll be able to level up the playable characters with rupees so there’s a bit more grinding involved there too.
There’s very slight customization in which you can dye Link’s various (cosmetic) gear as you play through the game, if that’s your thing.
THE SLAM AND JAM
You’ll gradually unlock more playable characters as you go through the story, starting with the simplest moveset in Link, and everyone else gradually adding flavours to the button mashing. They all feel distinct, with their own animations and unique actions bringing more layers of complexity.
You won’t be counting on the AI do actually kill any monsters on their own, but use the Order command to move them to an area. Swapping between characters is incredibly easy just by hitting the up / down arrow keys, so let them move to the objective while you take care of business on your end.
Additional actions come in the form of the Sheikah Slate and Rods. BOTW players would be familiar with its functions that you’d use to stagger bosses. The appropriate command will flash over the boss – commonly simply larger forms of the trash enemies – and the correct one will help you stagger it faster. Rods, as well as your healing items, have limited charges; the former you can get from defeating the corresponding elemental Wizzrobe (Fire, Ice, Lightning) and also from random breakable boxes.
Speaking of the Sheikah Slate, Zelda’s fighting style utilizes its runes, so her Sheikah Slate actions operate a little differently than the others. In any case, holding down the trigger buttons for the commands will slow down time so that you can more accurately hit the correct command or aim Rods better.
You will still get opportunities to break an enemy’s bar to initiate a Weak Point strike even if you don’t get the right commands. If you’re able to dodge at the last second, you’re also afforded Flurry Strikes where you mash Y to break the bar. The Weak Point strikes typically can kill off the enemy, but occasionally there will be enemies that go into new phases instead.
As mentioned, exploration is limited, and there’s no worse feeling than not being able to jump off a platform without a button prompt. Alas.
You can also pilot the Divine Beasts, where you’ll get the option to use motion controls instead. These are pretty much the rail shooter segments, controlling one massively overpowered vehicle to rain destruction on anything you see.
I did not play BOTW nor any Zelda game for that matter, so the story didn’t particularly capture me, especially knowing it’s meant to be a prequel to another game. I figure it would make much more sense to those more familiar with the franchise. On its own, I wouldn’t say you’d buy this game solely for its story, which comes in bits and pieces as you progress through the main story quests.
The game can struggle a little when in handheld mode, but it’ll work fine when docked. The hack and slash action is quite satisfying, especially with the variety of characters you can unlock. The camera is, unfortunately not very good at keeping up with the game, and the lock-on can also feel rather awkward.
All in all, lore fans will want it to understand BOTW more, especially with its sequel whenever it arrives, and non-Zelda enthusiasts can find a fun romp in decimating hapless creatures. SEA residents can look to get their copy through the retailers listed here.
|Variety in character playstyles||
As a Warriors-style game, exploration its not its strong suit
|Satisfying hack and slash||Janky camera|
Story quality depends on whether you’re a fan or not