What do you get when you take a critically acclaimed game from an even more critically acclaimed franchise and just let its main characters interact with each other? If the Smash Bros. series is of any merit, only good things. But when that perfect storm hits, and the smash-a-thon is also simultaneously able to serve as a functional cog in the story framework of its original games, that is when you get something really special. That’s what we get in “Hyrule Warriors – Age of Calamity,” released in late November.
Admittedly, the first Hyrule Warrior game left a bad taste in my mouth initially, as I was misled into thinking that the game would be a mainline entry into the Legend of Zelda series, complete with puzzles and adventure and deep lore. I was sadly struck by the 1000-on-1 battle simulator that was put before me in “Hyrule Warriors.” Do not get me wrong I played the heck out of that game nonetheless, and still had a blast. The codevelopers Koei Tecmo and Omega Force were perhaps the best possible team for Nintendo to trust with their all-star intellectual properties. Having had a long and cherished background firmly rooted in the hack and slash gaming genre with their standing series, Dynasty Warriors has maintained a cult following to this day. But this time around with their smashing mechanics and the smash-hit universe of Nintendo’s ancient Hyrule, something really remarkable has been created.
“Breath of the Wild” has been my favorite Nintendo Switch game thus far, and Nintendo really knew how to play their cards right to make everyone happy with this new release – one they only announced back in September, mind you! You start off playing as the titular hero Link, approximately 100 years before the story of Breath of the Wild takes place. Foreseeing the calamity to come, King Rhoam Bosphoramus of Hyrule sends his best soldiers, including Link in full swing, off to battle the endless hordes of Piglins, Wizzrobes and Chu-Chus that threaten to destroy the kingdom. In massive battles you get to command Link in mowing down absolute droves of monsters, and duke it out strategically with bigger baddies like Moblins and Yiga Blademasters. But no war is ever won single-handedly, and the game allows you to command other cherished Legend of Zelda characters to fight alongside Link including the four divine beast champions, Impa and of course, Zelda herself.
In “Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity,” the gameplay is very similar to the first Hyrule Warriors game, but they have made major improvements including the addition of multiple mechanics from “Breath of the Wild” like bullet time, flurry rush and the full control of the Sheikah slate to make sure that every battle is fast-paced and chock-full of dynamic attack combos. Each level guides you across the map to different outposts and checkpoints so that you can beat up the next villain or back up your own soldiers as they fight against the opposition’s own menacing forces. Each character requires a learning curve to get used to controlling effectively, but when they are mastered they can be thrilling forces of destruction to control. Speaking of control, you also get to pilot the Divine Beasts in this game. For anyone who’s played through “Breath of the Wild,” these ancient tools of destruction will truly be exciting to be able to see in full battle action, and for anyone who hasn’t… well they’re in for a fun surprise.
I have not yet finished Age of Calamity by the time of writing this article, but I highly recommend it and I highly recommend that it be played on the “very hard” difficulty. Additionally, if you have not yet played its prequel “Breath of the Wild,” please do, because the way that this game sets up and complements the post-apocalyptic setting of the current Zelda universe (that will further be explored in the upcoming mainline entry, Breath of the Wild 2) is absolutely fantastic. Overall, nice job Nintendo on concatenating this blast of an experience, and for aptly setting up our expectations for the exciting Zelda sequence to come!