Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Drew Hurley 18.11.2020 2

Review for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity on Nintendo Switch

After the sleeper hit that was the original Hyrule Warriors a sequel was inevitable, and this seems the perfect method of delivering that sequel. The original game captured a "best of" the franchise style experience and to repeat that would just be more of the same. While that's something Omega Force is somewhat known for, it's great to see the team going with a completely different backdrop here, and the Breath of the Wild setting is certainly ripe for such plucking. Set 100 years before Zelda's most recent instalment, this hack and slash, one-versus-an-army experience, retells the events that led up to the game and gives players an excuse to get those Champion amiibo down from the shelves to finally step into their shoes. Following on from the preview, Cubed3 has been engrossed in the experience of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Here's why…

Fans who have wanted to know all there is to the great Calamity that fell, the great war that set the scene for Breath of the Wild, have to bear in mind the nature of this tale. Right from the start, the story is focused on a fantastic addition to the story - a mini Guardian that is flung back in time from the when following the Calamity to this age 100 years ago. This chibi cutie is like a combination of R2D2 and a Clanger - for all the old people out there who remember what a Clanger is! It toots and whistles with glee and is utterly endearing; Nintendo needs to take a page out of Disney's book and merchandise the heck out of this little guy. Get those amiibo in production, stat! Anyway… this unnamed little fella is pulling a Marty McFly in the hope of changing the future of this Hyrule that fans learned to love, bringing back memories of what happened to the eclectic genius of Purah and Robbie.

Like Thanos making use of Nebula, these Elvish Erudites take the knowledge and try to use it to change the future. However, regardless of this, the story still follows the major story beats that were established in Breath of the Wild. Zelda is still sent off in search of finding Champions to pilot the Divine Beasts. Link becomes her Knight. Zelda trains to master a way to seal Calamity Ganon once again. However, it's this added element of the time-travelling Guardian that keeps players on their toes and guessing all the way through the story as to how it's all going to play out. This gets even more intriguing when the forces on the opposite side receive their own little trump card - a second mini Guardian, seemingly hosting some aspect of Calamity Ganon.

Screenshot for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity on Nintendo Switch

Those who checked out the demo on the eShop - and, really, that should be anyone reading this review, with Nintendo allowing the progress to continue over to the full game - will understand the gaming loop here. There's a big map, and icons appear across it that represent either stages to play, vendors to go shopping at, or missions that serve as methods of enhancing the stats and abilities of each of the characters that are playable. Between each of these many icons is a much bigger golden icon that denotes the next story mission and completing each of these results in many more of the smaller icons scattering across the map again - giving opportunity to enhance the characters more and more, and turning them into the legendary Guardians of lore.

Speaking of the characters, there are many, many more than what has currently been revealed, and those won't be ruined here. The announced characters have been showcased already, these being Link, Zelda, Impa, and each of the Champions. Further to these, there is a wide cast of characters to play as, capturing fan favourites that players learned about in the original Breath of the Wild. The best thing about this selection is how very differently they play. Every character has its own fighting style, along with a special move on the ZR button. Mipha is quicksilver fast, for instance, literally swimming through the air on the currents of water she can summon, and using her pools of water can basically teleport around enemies. Revali can keep enemies at bay with his bow, shooting out volleys of arrows, peppered with the odd explosive and, when needs be, he can take to the sky and let off bombing runs. Then there are the BIG characters, like Daruk, who are much slower moving around and attack, but explosive in their power. He can do his best slow-motion Sonic impression, rolling up into a ball to steamroll or bounce through enemies.

Screenshot for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity on Nintendo Switch

It's not just in the core fighting styles, either, with the characters unique, using the iconic Sheikah Slate to have access to the four familiar abilities of Magnesis, Cryonis, Remote Bombs, and Stasis. Each has its own unique flavour on the moves. Zelda's remote bomb can summon a Guardian-esque machine that can be controlled and spit bombs out of its top, Link can summon four bombs one after another, and pitch them into enemy faces, while Daruk summons up a huge single bomb and lobs it into the midst of enemy forces.

For the story missions, specific characters are often required, making it worth levelling up each member of the cast; but for those who don't have time to do so, or don't enjoy a particular type of play, the local Blacksmith can increase their level up to the point of the highest character in the roster. For a hefty fee of Rupees, that is. The side missions, meanwhile, are mixed between requiring specific characters, or just letting any party of three to be assembled.

When it comes to the missions themselves, for those who have somehow managed to let the series pass them on by - first off, shame on you - the game is the familiar Musou style that developer Omega Force has become so very well known for. A team of up to three Hyrulian Heroes that fight against insane amounts of enemy forces, smashing through each in maps that replicate the famous locations of Breath of the Wild. Slicing apart Bokobolins, Lizalfos, Moblins, even up to Wizzrobes, and Lynels. Every enemy from the game is here, along with some surprises, too. Often the missions require taking back camps and capturing the map, along with other such objectives. There are regularly special missions that are unlocked that have more stringent win conditions. Defeat enemies with a specific ability, not getting hit once, or just some insane challenges with huge amounts of boss type enemies. To make the most of these missions, the party can be split out, sending each member off to specific areas of the map via commands, then freely switched between with pressing the d-pad up and down. This works great when characters have been enhanced and are all powerful enough to take on each of the challenges, separating the party into three, then jumping to each to take on the individual objectives.

Screenshot for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity on Nintendo Switch

Each mission rewards rupees, some experience, and some items. There are tons and tons of items to track down and these are often needed to unlock character improvements. As previously mentioned, these regularly appear on the main map and require delivering the items rewarded from missions or drop from enemies. These then give bonus combo attacks, bonus hearts, bonus counts of special attacks, and more. There's a nice little feature here, though, where specific items can be tracked with the Sheikah Sensor. Marking missions on the map where the items can be found. Speaking of finding items, Korok seeds return! Scattered in every map for the eagle-eyed who can spot something that stands out. A pinwheel on a hill. A glowing box mixed with others. Search everywhere!

Items come quite naturally at first, and characters quickly develop, but as the roster is expanded more and more, missions need to be replayed to farm all the necessary items. Thankfully, as fans of Dynasty Warriors will attest, this is not a negative. Players will want to head back into the stages to experience the joy of this title again and again, and this is complemented both by the wide roster of characters that all feel unique, but also by the length and nature of the missions. They are perfectly made for a few minutes of gameplay in handheld mode.

Speaking of handheld mode - the presentation is fine. Omega Force has done a great job of capturing the magic of the Hyrule version of Breath of the Wild. Obviously, docked mode is the preferable option here, with greater draw distances, allowing enemies to be glimpsed as they charge over the horizon, and to up the resolution. Handheld is fine; it's such a fast and fluid experience that the occasional drops in that resolution are not too noticeable. However, when that fast and fluid experience gets explosive, things do become noticeable. The framerate throughout is maxed at 30fps, but when the fighting escalates, and there are special attacks that light up the sky, it can regularly dip to 20 and sometimes below. Bring on that rumoured Switch Pro!

Screenshot for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Forget what you think you know about the history of Breath of the Wild, this takes that story and makes it its own. The result is a hugely satisfying and wondrous adventure. Outside of the main story, it's worth coming back to this again and again. Omega Force has mastered the Musou style and is fully exhibiting that in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. The missions offer up plenty of replayability thanks to their diverse range of 'win' conditions. There is an impressive roster to keep coming back to, and it's filled with some fantastic characters that are a true surprise to discover. Every little element of this game works, and it all comes together so perfectly. While gamers are understandably excited to get their hands on the next-gen, Nintendo is ensuring the Switch isn't gathering dust. This will tear attention away from those shiny new boxes, and rightly so. There is so very much to love here. Frankly, a must-buy.

Developer

Koei Tecmo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Brawler

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

So hyped for this! I am concerned about the frame drops though, although I have to admit that the demo was sort of ok in handheld mode. I'd rather take performance over draw distance if that is the sacrifice that needs to be made!

I've sunk a solid 50 hours into this since launch and I don't see myself stopping anytime soon. If Age of Calamity gets DLC before the end of 2020, I could easily see it being my GOTY. 

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