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  • Writer's pictureNoah Yard

What I'm Playing: Hyrule Warriors Age of Calamity

I have been hotly anticipating the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild spin-off/prequel Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity ever since it’s announcement. Zelda is my favourite video game series, I’ve played around 10 different games, and Breath of the Wild is arguably the franchises best game. So obviously there’s some concern, would Calamity mess with a classic? Was the merging of the Warriors franchise, with its focus on “hack and slash” instead of open-world adventure a good idea?

Short answer yes, long answer HELL yes. I would argue, while Calamity is a Warriors game it has more in common with and is more faithful to Breath of the Wild than to, say, the original Hyrule Warriors. With it’s creative and challenging gameplay, it combines combat with a fantastically rich storyline, with beautiful cut scenes that are individual yet respectful to the original Breath of the Wild game.

Firstly though, you should know, that the gameplay is incredibly different, so you shouldn’t go into the game thinking you have a boundless open world to explore. The game is split into linear stages that you follow, but they are set in BotW locations like Zora's domain or Hyrule castle. Your job, as Link and his friends, is to go through each level securing the sections of the stage from massive hordes of enemies. You slice through hundreds of formidable, familiar enemies with two buttons mostly, and it’s immensely satisfying. However, there is also a skill element, as for tougher enemies or larger swarms there are weakness counters, short windows where you can use rune abilities, and different attack combos. The combat, in my opinion, is far more dynamic and interesting than in the original Hyrule Warriors, it involves more than just slashing through moblin hordes, there is a strategy. Those more familiar with Breath of the Wild’s more relaxed, unique combat style may be frustrated by Calamity’s limitations or may find the levels repetitive, but there is so much in the game that makes it worth it.

The game takes place 100 years before the events of BotW, as we see how the great calamity came to be. So one of the major draws that I think will pull a lot of people in is the ability to play in and view an intact Hyrule that has yet to be obliterated, and characters that haven’t perished or aged 100 years.

Without giving spoilers I can safely say that the story develops and finishes in a satisfying and compelling way. It has, like, three times the amount of cinematic cutscenes with the original voice actors from Breath of the Wild. You grow to care for each character, cheer for their successes in battle, and sweat when it looks like they might lose. Everyone assumes that the game ends the way the original game begins, with everyone dead. Just play through and you’ll see what happens for yourself.

The game has hours, days of playable content. Along with the 20 storyline quests, there are countless missions and training scenarios across the land of Hyrule. The original map is used and the missions and quests, trading requests, practice ranges, blacksmiths etc all cover it. It’s actually overwhelming looking at every action, and you have to be a true die-hard to finish 50+ hours of content.

While Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity might not play like regular Zelda games like Ocarina of Time or Twilight Princess. But I would argue, with its fun slasher gameplay and deluge of incredible story and lore, the game feels like a substantial addition to not just Breath of the Wild, but the franchise as a whole. I highly recommend picking yourself up a copy and getting lost in the world of Zelda again.

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