Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity – Review

If you have become a fan of Musou games over the years, and you are a fan of The Legend of Zelda, you might want to give Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity a chance. For those not aware of the Musou games, they are simply a beat ‘em up, hack n’ slash game with “Musou” being most closely associated with the Dynasty Warriors franchise. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity takes that formula, injects some Zelda DNA, and gives us a fun story to play through, although a bit repetitive.

The story in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity takes place 100 years before the events of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. If you played Breath of the Wild and wondered what happened leading up to the events in that game, now you can play through them. With that being the case, if you have gone through Breath of the Wild, you largely know what is going to happen in Age of Calamity. This is similar to how you knew what was going to happen in Star Wars Episode III before watching it because you had already seen Episodes IV, V, and VI. With that said though, I still had fun learning the specifics throughout the story.

As you progress through the game you will gain access to a number of different (and familiar) Zelda characters. You belong with Link and Zelda of course but are soon joined by Impa. It isn’t long before that where you get the chance to visit the Gorons to enlist the help of Daruk, visit the Rito to try and get Revali’s help, or go to the Gerudo’s to see if Urbosa can give you a hand. There are other characters as well but you will find these allies fairly early on in the game by going through the main missions. Each character has different abilities and move sets and can help you immensely in the right situation. By seeking Revali’s help, for example, I learned to stand over a gust of wind and use my paraglider to get to otherwise inaccessible areas. At times it required a bomb or too to remove the rocks that were covering up that gust of wind as well. One of the reasons that it is imperative that you secure the help of these characters is that they can control the Divine Beasts, something that Zelda believes will save Hyrule and prevent the Great Calamity from taking place. There is also at least one instance where you can control one of these Divine Beasts yourself and it is a good amount of fun eliminating large swathes of enemies at the press of a button.

Speaking of the combat, it is your typical hack and slash fare. You can absolutely just go up to a group of enemies and button mash if you so choose. If you want to go another route there are other moves you can to give the combat some variety, such as shooting arrows as Link or conjuring up a giant ice cube that you can ride into enemies to help take them out. If you get your enemy in just the right position you can unlock a quick flurry of attacks where they won’t know what hit them and then sometimes you can launch a fatal blow by essentially hitting a weak spot. As you clear out hundreds of enemies there is a gauge that slowly fills. Once it is completely filled you can press the “A” button to unleash a devastating special attack. This attack definitely helped me out in a number of different scenarios and at times was the difference between victory and defeat. My strategy quickly became to try and save these really powerful attacks for any “boss fights” I might come across as this attack could land a significant amount of damage on my foes. There are also some nice combos that I enjoyed with enemies on every side of me, one of them being where I spin in a circle with my sword out, effectively knocking everyone back and at times, wiping out a whole of enemies with that one shot. This becomes an effective tactic when you see that just like other Musou games, there are thousands of enemies on the battlefield and you need to clear out the majority of them. You can also quickly switch out the characters that are active on the battlefield. For example, if you have Link, Zelda, and Impa as your party during a mission, you can switch between either one with the pick press of the d-pad. It makes it really easy to switch back and forth to help accomplish objectives during battle and I really liked how well it worked.

Once you complete a mission you earn some rewards. These rewards can be ingredients for you to use while cooking, various plants, and weapons too. When you are looking at the big overall map of the game you will also see mini-missions to complete. A lot of these are as simple as giving someone materials they need and you will be rewarded in some way. For example, early on you need to give Zelda five of one item. If you do that, Zelda will become more powerful and as a result, you will earn an extra heart on your health bar. At times you might learn a new regular or strong attack. It just depends but these small “missions” are definitely worth your while to complete. As far as the weapons you come across are concerned, you can only hold a limited amount of weapons at one time. That is ok though because what you want to do is combine the weapons you have found to make an even better and stronger weapon. I would frequently visit the Hylian Blacksmith Guild to upgrade my weapon. Your weapon might be at a Level 1 with a strength of 18 but if you combine a number of different weapons it might raise it to be at Level 3 with a strength of 30, for example. Doing this can give your newly upgraded weapon some extra stats as well, such as raising the “Strong-Attack Damage” by 2% or increasing your “Flurry Rush Damage” by 7%. You can’t do this for free though as upgrading does cost Rupees. The good thing is that you can also sell what you don’t think you are going to need so in addition to earning money for completing missions, you can sell items too.

While going through the game, fans of the Zelda franchise will recognize the locations and enemies they will have to face. The first big battle in the game takes place on Hyrule Field, a place Zelda fans have been to many times over the years. After that, there is Zora’s Domain, Death Mountain, Kakariko Village, and much more. The enemies that you encounter range from Bokoblins to Lynels, and more. If you have gone through Breath of the Wild before playing this game, you will be very familiar with what is presented here. Also, if you have save data from Breath of the Wild on your system, you will receive the in-game Training Sword bonus item. It doesn’t really have that much function in the game as you will come across much better weapons but it is a nice little addition nonetheless.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is a decent sized game that will take you a little while to go through, especially if you are someone who likes to explore and try to find all of the secrets. The world map acts as a hub world and allows you to select what you are going to do next. It shows you everything that is available with missions waiting to be done showing up in an orange-ish type color and missions you have already completed in a blue color. I really appreciated this as it is easy to see with a quick glance at what I have done and what I have yet to do. If you don’t want to pick things off the map itself, you can go into the Chapters menu and select a main story mission from there and that goes for the Challenges in the game as well. Beware though that missions have suggestions for a recommended level of your character. If your main character is Link and you are looking at a mission where it is recommended you be Level 10 and you are only Level 4, you might want to hold off on that one for a little bit until you get a bit stronger. There is a nice visual cue here as well with the Level number being in red if you haven’t quite reached that number yet.

The audio in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is pretty fantastic and something that Zelda fans will enjoy. The first time I heard that iconic tune when I found a secret treasure chest gave me some goosebumps. The soundtrack is pretty fantastic as well doing a good job of getting you going while in the heat of battle and giving you subtle cues when something might be about to happen or when you should celebrate a small victory, such as finding a hidden item. There are Korok seeds to be found in Age of Calamity as well so if you enjoyed those guys in Breath of the Wild, there are more to find here, along with their iconic audio cue as well.

Overall I have enjoyed my time with Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. The game can get fairly repetitive but that is a hallmark of the Musou games and it is what I fully expected before playing this title. Truth be told I have always kind of found these games a little boring in the past but the Zelda license helped pull me through. Fighting in Hyrule with characters I have adored since the ’80s, in familiar locations with familiar enemies, helped me get through some of the repetitiveness and just enjoy the experience. If you haven’t played any of the Musou games but are a huge Zelda fan, I highly recommend you give this game a chance. There is even a demo available on the eShop if you want to try it before you buy. If you are a fan of Musou games, then you should have a lot of fun here with this new Zelda meets Dynasty Warriors crossover adventure.

Score: 8/10

Originally posted on Gaming Target

**Nintendo provided us with a code for review purposes for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity.

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