Hyrule Warriors: Age Of Calamity Review (NSW)
Developed: Koei Tecmo
Genre: 1v1000 Musou
Release Date: Nov 20th, 2020
*Key provided for this review by publisher
*Spoilers may be shown*
Hyrule Warriors: Age Of Calamity is a 1 vs 1000 musou prequel game developed by Koei Tecmo and Omega Force, as well as published by Nintendo. Set 100 years before the events of Breath Of The Wild on Nintendo Switch, Age Of Calamity attempts to show us just what exactly happened during the calamity wars that we heard about in really small snippets throughout our playthrough of Breath Of The Wild. But does this statement actually hold true? is it truly the prequel we've thought it was? or did they Tri-force their own new vision upon us?. Ugh, that was bad, I know, I'm sorry, I apologize. So join me as your Navi-gator to find out the answer to these questions. I'm serious, I'll stop this time. So let's go, yah!
We travel back 100 years before the events of Breath Of The Wild in which the land of Hyrule was devastated by the evil and remorseless, Calamity Ganon. A relentless horde of monsters is terrorizing the once peaceful life of Hyrule and it is up to Link, Zelda and the rest of our heroes, including the legendary four champions, to take the fight back to ganon and make sure his reign of terror doesn't come to pass. But something more sinister is going on that may switch the tide on all their plans.
Age of Calamity, as stated before, is a 1 vs 1000 musou style game in the vein of titles such as Dynasty Warriors and 2014's release of Hyrule Warriors on the Nintendo Wii U. If you're familiar with Koei Tecmo's musou games, then for the most part you know the type of game you're getting into before playing. However, for people that may not have played Hyrule Warriors, Dynasty Warriors or even Fire Emblem Warriors and may only be interested in this title because it bares the Zelda name, I'll briefly explain to you just what the heck you'll be doing here. Traditionally Warriors games have you, as the player, select between one of the many characters you have at your disposal, these numbers can range from two characters to even a dozen characters, depending on the character roster that is used. In most musou games your objective is to travel across these semi open or condensed areas and take back capture points from enemy troops, defeat ''mini bosses'' such as captains or leaders, and smash your way through thousands upon thousands of enemies using a plethora of combos at your disposal. With Age Of Calamity, most of what I just explained here, still makes its way into this game, but is far more expanded upon than any previous game in Warriors franchise, and not by a little, I'm talking a LOT.
At the start of your playthrough you will be shown the brief history of what occurred during the events of breath of the wild through a small cutscene, but you'll notice some slight changes to what you remember. As Hyrule's last hope, Zelda awakens her powers to finally seal calamity ganon away for good, but as she's attempting the seal, her powers awaken a tiny mini guardian from one of the towers of the castle. Its in this moment, everything you knew about breath of the wild and its events, completely changes. When awakening due to feeling Zelda's power, the little mini guardian falls through a portal which sends him 100 years to the past before the great calamity fell upon Hyrule, leaving nothing but destruction and chaos in its wake. Now that the mini guardian is in the past, he takes it upon himself to change the course of fate and aid Zelda in her journey to stop the destruction of Hyrule from coming to pass. Basically he's an arbiter of fate.... oh my god... wait a minute, where have you heard this before? oh no, not again...
While playing through this game you'll notice it is very Zelda centric, this is at its core, her story, no more and no less, its HER story. Honestly, I find humor in that revelation since the majority of titles in the Legend Of Zelda franchise bares her name, but they're always focused more about Link himself. Now that we have the one game that actually IS centered around her and her plight, there's no Zelda name to be found. Sorry Zelda, you just gained Luigi status with that move. To be factually accurate though, there IS another game that gives her a series lead, but do we REALLY want to talk about that one? are you SURE? Yeah, no, let's stay clear of that one. So now that you got the basic setup of what you're getting into, let's say we dive into the game play a little bit, shall we?
Hopping into your game you'll notice the production style with the art, visuals and voice acting are top tier, and at first glance, it could fool you into thinking that this is indeed a mainline game, but shocker, it isn't, for the game play of it is night and day from what you are used to after playing Breath Of The Wild. But that's not to say that the aspects that made breath of the wild great, aren't present here in this title, that couldn't be further from the truth. Elements such as parrying, locking on to an opponent for one on one action, multiple weapons, gear upgrades, cooking and even shield surfing are all implemented into the core game play of Age Of Calamity and surprisingly it actually feels really amazing. Each individual character in the game from the vast roster of 18 playable characters all feel distinct and unique when compared against each other and this is because of their different character abilities that they all utilize in combat.
For instance a character like Link can be considered a ''all around, balanced'' character, utilizing different attacks based off gear or weapons he has equipped at that point in time. Say you start yourself off with a sword and shield, this combination will allow you to mash the Y and X button's to form together devastating combos to relentlessly attack your foes, while also unlocking the ability to fling a fury of arrows down upon your enemies with the ZR button. Whereas characters like the Champion, Urbosa, uses lighting as her weapon to shock foes into submission with four deadly strikes that can be used in succession of each other after charging her magic meter for a short period of time while fighting. However, my favorite character to play as is by far Young Impa due to her faster game play style that allows you to throw tag symbols onto your enemies, which she can then absorb into herself to make Naruto style clones. Tajuu Kage Bunshin No Jutsu!. It makes you feel super strong and maybe even a little over powered. But there are quite a few more playable characters to choose from, but I'll only touch a tiny bit on SOME of them.
Other playable characters include the other Champions, such as Mipha, Revali and Daruk, all of which who also have their own unique set of abilities that makes them feel so distinct from the rest of the pack. While other character choices either feel really random or just outright confusing, there's basically a choice for any type of player, no matter your taste, even if your taste is along the lines of soured lon lon milk. But this is where the game starts going WAY beyond the usual musou style and it legit begins to make the previous Warriors games in the franchise feel EXTREMELY outdated. Once you start getting a feel for which character you want to play as and after seeing their unique abilities you have in your arsenal, you get a fan favorite breath of the wild element introduced into your attack pallet and that element is the Sheikah Runes.
In Breath Of The Wild, Link was able to wield the power of the Sheikah Runes, which gave him access to four different abilities, such as Stasis, which stops an opponent in their tracks for a short limited amount of time, Cryonis, which summons an ice like block to block any incoming attack or to make a quick get away, Magnesus, which allows you to grab any metallic object within your area and wield it as a personal weapon, and finally you have remote bombs, which is honestly pretty self explanatory really, you literally just throw bombs... preferably at Dodongos!. Every character in the game will have access to all 4 abilities, but each character interacts with it on a far different level. For instance with Cryonis, Link will summon an ice block from under the ground that will knock him into the sky, which will allow him to either go into slow motion mode and arrow shot your opponent or use your glider to sail away from the action should you get into danger. But a character like Impa will take that same Cryonis ability and will ride it like its an actual vehicle and plow through all enemy forces. Beep Beep! Move it or lose it sister!. I could go over each individual characters abilities all day but then we would be here for a two hour long video and I really don't think I have enough Bepis and snacks to be able to talk that long, so that isn't happening. But what I will talk to you about is just why I think this is THE definitive Warriors game and why I feel Age Of Calamity makes other games in the franchise, to me, pretty much obsolete, at least in their current state.
The first reason why I feel this game goes beyond previous Warriors games is its story structure. You have had games like Hyrule Warriors that was released on Wii U and then re-released on Switch, try to give us a story and narrative that was not only unique, but new as well, however, it didn't quite grasp you enough for you to even care about the characters or what was even happening. This is where everything changes in Age Of Calamity, with you going through the story of the game finding out about each individual champion, learning their history, learning how they became worthy of piloting the gigantic divine beasts and why they're the champions of legend. You know the path they're setting out on, you know where it leads and you KNOW their fate. You're immediately attached to each individual character because you've already had that connection with them thanks to breath of the wild and the backstory of what took place 100 years ago. This is all woven in a beautiful web of voice acting by all the returning voice actors, text narrative in between chapters telling the history of Hyrule, Calamity Ganon or even the journey itself. This is something not present in any of the Warriors games till this entry, at least to this extent.
The second reason why I feel this game makes the others pale in comparison to it is the implementation of the core game play mechanics that worked in breath of wild, now utilized as not only part of the story, but with the musou type of play style. In between your selection of chapters you wish to play, you will be given an overworld map of the entirety of Hyrule, just as you remembered it previously on Breath Of The Wild, but this time, for every mission you complete, you will unlock side missions, quests, help missions and trials. Each one of these completely opens up the depth of just how far this game goes and how deep the core game play experience actually is. I'm serious, this game is far deeper than some traditionally laid out RPG's and its honestly astounding that they put this much effort into it. I for one did not see that coming.
When viewing your map you can choose to take on character trials, in these trials you can choose to pick a specific character, whether its revali , link, zelda, whomever, and take on a set objective. Per completion of said objective you will be reward with a new skill to use your that character, such as an extra attack combo. Whereas if you take on a help mission, you will be in charge of taking to the field and killing a set amount or specific enemy types in order to make your client happy. Your reward for completing these objective varies depending on who gave you the mission, you could get tons of experience points to level your character and making them stronger, you could get new weapons to equip, which can be combined using a blacksmith to make one super all powerful weapon or you will gain access to brand new materials that you will be able to use to unlock new trial areas or food items to cook to equip and aid you in battle, some of which offer health upgrades or even attack bonuses. The level in which you can customize is astounding and you can spend hours alone just catering to one character only if you aren't careful or if you really wanted to.
When you feel you've gotten stronger, leveled up, or are up for a challenge, you may step into one of the chapters and begin to your rush through enemy lines, fighting your way through thousands of enemies and bestiary from the zelda franchise. Some objects are as simple as Y Y Y X XX slashing, but with the power of your sheikah runes, it will allow you to strategically plan your every move rather than the simple melee repetitive attacks. With Sheikah Runes you're able to juggle enemies with your weak and strong attacks while simultaneously using your Stasis ability to freeze one enemy that may be giving you a difficult time, while other instances with characters such as a Link allowing you to form a blockade of ice with Cryonis that stops a charging enemy dead in their tracks and avoiding yourself the wrath of their damage. Mixing and choosing which abilities to use with specific combinations of attacks is what makes this game so much fun, but its not without its issues. The game can be very hand holdy when going up against stronger boss fights with the game actually telling you via logo above their head which Runes you're supposed to use. I mean it's not a huge deal, but to me it really feels un-needed and kind of takes a bit of the surprise element from its game play.
If you're aiming to just beat the main story, then you are looking at a good 15 to 20 hour journey to meet that goal, however, if you choose to do everything in the game, I'm talking about all the side quests, all the training, maxing out each character, unlocking all its secrets and finding all the hidden korok seeds throughout each chapter and trial, then you're easily pushing up to 40 hours total. But good news, Korok seeds are actually worth collecting this time around because if they werent, that would be really.. crappy. Honestly I got so lost in playing this game and not because it was confusing or hard to follow, there's just so much to do because when one quest or mission is completed, your entire map screen flashes with another icon and task to complete. It starts driving you to the point of insanity! just one more...yes...yes.. just one more...heee hee hee one more, one more. But your own sanity pushed aside, this is why the game is so freaking fun. Long gone are the days of just run here, slice these guys, move here, repeat repeat and repeat because now you actually have a true purpose in leveling up and upgrading your character. You feel like you are apart of the actual world of hyrule.
After completing the main game you may take on all remaining quests and trials, such as expert Calamity Ganon trials or Fairy Fountain Challenges that each offer up much harder game play experiences than you will have experienced in the main story. If you're looking to unlock the full 18 person roster in this game then they're mandatory to do. Most characters can be unlocked during the main story but there are instances where certain requirements are needed in order for a character to be obtained and let me warn you, they aren't all as easy as pie to unlock, because some can become quite stress inducing. If you are having trouble completing these tasks alone, the game also has split screen co op that you can use to team up with a buddle to complete missions that require speed over strength and giving you an objective of killing hundreds of baddies inside 2-3 minutes. But what if you don't have friends? what if you're like me? Well you will have to make due with the order system. During each level you're able to tell a character where to go and give them a specific order on what to do. This is a great way to complete two objectives at once, especially under the stressful time trials. This does not even begin to scratch the surface of what you can do after your journey is over. There is just so much to cover that honestly its pretty daunting!
When its all said and done, Age Of Calamity is a masterfully done game, well at least in regards to the Musou genre. Being able to see Hyrule as it was 100 years before it was laid to ruins by Calamity Ganon was honestly quite breathtaking and a great sight to see, especially from the perspective and view while piloting one of the gigantic divine beasts. However the game is not without its flaws, much of the same issues that people ran into during the demo are still prevalent here, such as frame rate dips from time to time, asset pop in and some of the characters not feeling as fluid or fleshed out as others. While those aren't game breaking, they still might be a damper to some players out there. But I feel the one divisive thing in this game will ultimately end up being its story. I do not want to give you a full spoiler on how it all goes down, but let's just say, you put some Nomura into my Zelda and we'll leave it at that.
Even with the negatives listed, the fine people at Koei Tecmo games and Omega Force have found a way to perfect the Zelda and Musou style game into a game that can act as both a prequel, as well as a stand alone title. With the great implementation of perfect dodging effects like flurry rush, parrying the big stupid guardians and sending their attacks back in their face, implementation of runes to give the combat more of an edge and faster pace and each character having their own set of abilities, its a no brainer why this game is now the benchmark for all future Warrior games to aim for or live up to, because anything less than this from now on, will just look like an underperformer.
If this is your first journey into the musou style of game, then I feel this is the best place to start. So with that verdict, GameNChick says BUY NOW