For those that played Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, they might feel like the game ended on a pretty high note. Given, Ganon was defeated and peace has now returned to Hyrule. If you want to learn more about what happened 100 years ago, however, you might want to check out Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, the prequel to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild that was just released this November. Let’s take a look at the new Hyrule Warriors Switch game and if it’s worth the purchase.
What Is Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity?
Let us first take a look at what type of game Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is.
What Type of Game Is It?
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is a hack-and-slash action video game created by Omega Force. The game is published by Koei Tecmo in Japan and worldwide for the Nintendo Switch. It hit the shelves last November 20, 2020.
The game hearkens to the old Dynasty Warriors series but adds a Zelda twist. This is different from other Legend of Zelda titles that are primarily RPGs.
It’s a successor to Nintendo’s Hyrule Warriors released back in 2014, and as the original Hyrule Warriors, is a gameplay crossover that mixes the beloved characters and universe of the Legend of Zelda series with the gameplay of Dynasty Warriors. However, unlike the original Hyrule Warriors, which was in its own separate and specific universe that fused the three timelines that Legend of Zelda has, Age of Calamity is part of the official canon. This makes it the first Hyrule Warriors game that has bearing on the official canon of a Zelda timeline.
How Is the New Hyrule Warriors on Switch Connected to the Legend of Zelda?
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is an alternate timeline of the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It diverged from the moment that Terrako, a small guardian that Zelda fixed herself, was awakened during the calamity due to Zelda’s power. Immediately after awakening, and seeing the state of the kingdom, Terrako created a portal back in time before the Calamity happened, thus creating a new timeline. However, a portion of Ganondorf’s Malice followed after its wake, corrupting the Terrako from the past and becoming its agent in this new timeline.
Hyrule Warriors on Switch: The Good and the Bad
There’s one thing that people should know before diving into Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. It’s that, unlike the original Hyrule Warriors, Age of Calamity is an actual prequel to Breath of the Wild.
The original Hyrule Warriors, as many Zelda fans know, is a celebration and quite honestly a crossover of all the Zelda games and timelines that people know and love. From A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, you name it, there’s a distinct possibility that they’re going to be in the Hyrule Warriors game.
Age of Calamity, on the other hand, is different because it’s a canonical prequel, and there’s a bigger emphasis on several other characters that are in that timeline 100 years before Breath of the Wild, from King Rhoam of Hyrule, the four Guardians—Mipha, Daruk, Revali, and Urbosa—the Shiekah Clan ninja Impa (who’s not an old granny here), Purah and Robbie to Terrako. Any other names to mention would be going on spoiler territory and shall be avoided.
Now for some people, this might be a bit sad, in the fact that they won’t be able to play as other Links and Zeldas from another timeline. However, it’s great in that the game instead chooses to put more emphasis on the events that led to the Breath of the Wild.
Let’s take a look at what the new Hyrule Warriors game on Nintendo Switch did well and not so well.
Graphics-wise, the game is similar in tones to the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Vibrant greens and various other colors dominate the landscape of Hyrule. The various monsters are colorfully rendered and the game takes advantage of every ounce of performance that the Nintendo Switch has to offer to show the player Hyrule at its prime before the Calamity struck.
However, this comes at a price. This price we’re going to be discussing below on the gameplay portion of the review.
The story of Age of Calamity is an alternate timeline in comparison to Breath of the Wild. And while some events in the original game are shown prominently, other things that hardcore fans know are true on the original timeline aren’t true on this one. Many things changed due to Terrako’s time-traveling stunt, and we’re going to be seeing that, and more on Age of Calamity’s story.
As for what these changes would be? Spoiler alert!
- The Guardians don’t die.
- Several key events don’t pan out like in the original game.
- There’s a new villain that’s the dragon for Ganondorf here, and he’s pretty dangerous.
- And some surprising individuals work with our heroes.
Anything else said would border on the spoiler territory and will be avoided like the plague here.
Gameplay and Combat
Gameplay-wise, the game functions similar enough to a Dynasty Warriors game, and veterans of the genre would find familiar ground treading even if the controls are different from what they remember. There are still light and heavy attacks, abilities are still overpowered, and your characters can clear entire groups of mobs like they are nothing.
There is, however, an addition to this. And that’s the various Shiekah Slate abilities that the player gets relatively early in the game. Players get the usual Shiekah Slate abilities available on Breath of the Wild, from Bombs and Cryonis to Stasis and Magnesis but with some special flair depending on which character they’re using. An example of this would be Link and his ability to aim his bombs. Zelda on the other hand, can make use of her knowledge of Sheikah Technology to improve on the capabilities of the runes, and so on.
In addition to these runes, the characters themselves have their unique attacks and quirks. Zelda can change from using the Shiekah Slate for her attacks to the Bow of Sealing, unleashing her holy power. Link is a Jack of all Trades that can use any weapon and has several unique special attacks corresponding to a said weapon. Daruk is a tank who can throw magma rocks, Revali is a master archer, and so on.
Unfortunately, there are some times when the Nintendo Switch can screw players over through some slight frame drops. It’s not as bad as some games currently out there (Godfall takes special mention), but it’s enough to be an issue. Luckily, Nintendo did patch the game to improve this, but it’s something to consider.
All the things we’ve mentioned above should be enough to convince you of how good Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is. Plus, what the amount of replayability would be. However, if you’re still looking for some convincing, here’s why.
For one, there is quite a bit of character that players can unlock on the game, each with different and unique abilities and fighting styles. Truly devoted players can also look for Guardian parts throughout the various maps, to unlock a secret character. There are Secret Characters that players can endeavor to unlock throughout the game.
Other than the secret characters, there are also various post-game challenges. These challenges test the players on how good they are in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Also, it’ll test not only their mettle in combat but also in how they read the battlefield.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity vs Other Legend of Zelda Games
Of course, we will compare the new Hyrule Warriors Switch game with past Zela offerings.
As you already know, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is part of the Legend of Zelda franchise. Thus, the gameplay that it has from the original Legend of Zelda games is fundamentally different. Due to this, we can’t compare the game with the original Zelda Games. We can, however, compare this game with the original Hyrule Warriors game, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
In terms of overall graphical quality, Age of Calamity beats the original Hyrule Warriors. This isn’t something that is debatable since the first Hyrule Warriors was released back in 2014 for the 3DS. Gameplay-wise, there’s no difference because they’re incredibly similar there. There is a point of contention regarding the various Sheikah Slate Runes. These look to add some spice to Age of Calamity’s gameplay. But, we’re going to point you to the other special abilities that the characters have in the original to refute that notion.
This then leads us to how many characters there are available between the two games. This is where the original Hyrule Warriors has Age of Calamity beat, as it has 43 characters versus Age of Calamity’s 18, though that’s pretty understandable since the former is drawing from various Zelda games.
So for the final verdict on the winner for each category:
- Graphics: Age of Calamity
- Gameplay: Tie
- Character List: Original Hyrule Warriors
Final Verdict on Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
For those who enjoy the Legend of Zelda series, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is a must-have on Nintendo Switch. Not only because it’s a Zelda game, but also because it’s a pretty good game overall. We recommend it for those that want to find out what happened 100 years before Breath of the Wild.