Nintendo fans let loose a collective sigh of relief once the studio finally revealed that it was releasing new content for the holiday season with titles like Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, and luckily it’s a step up from the original Hyrule Warriors. The first entry in this Zelda spin-off series has its fans and was certainly well made, but the game was weak in a few key areas that even the definitive edition on the Switch couldn’t fix. Fortunately, Nintendo gave Koei Tekmo the reins to the Zelda franchise once again to learn from its mistakes and make something truly special.
Originally released on the Wii U back in 2014, Hyrule Warriors was a crossover between the Dynasty Warriors series and the Zelda series. It brought the hectic beat-em-up style of combat from Dynasty Warriors and meshed it with the world of The Legend of Zelda franchise. The result was a mash-up of multiple Zelda games that celebrated all of its characters, music, lore, and worlds. However, Hyrule Warriors featured a lackluster and non-canon story which haphazardly mixed characters who should never have gotten a chance to meet. Its concept can be so goofy that it’s frequently distracting, and can reduce immersion for some players.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is the complete opposite from a narrative perspective. Instead of a convoluted plot involving a witch who is unhealthily infatuated with Link tearing apart the foundation of time, Age of Calamity is simply a prequel to Breath of the Wild. While there are moments in which the game provides flashbacks of Hyrule 100 years ago to its players, Breath of the Wild leaves the past largely in mystery. Because of this, Age of Calamity offers players an opportunity to discover what caused the destruction of Hyrule in Breath of the Wild. Not only does it maintain far better consistency with its characters and environments, but its story feels significantly more focused and less ridiculous because it follows the continuity of the mainline Zelda series.
It’s not just the story of Age of Calamity that’s an improvement, but the gameplay as well. Koei Tecmo borrows the flurry rush technique from Breath of the Wild, which initiates an opportunity to blast opponents away with rapid jabs as a reward for dodging attacks at the perfect time. There’s also the new rune abilities which are unique for every playable character and can be used to counter specific attacks. These simple additions make Age of Calamity‘s combat even more compelling than it was previously, since there is a risk and reward factor when defending against enemy attacks.
The playable characters also have extremely diverse move sets now which makes them enjoyable to experiment with. For example, Revali can change his set of attacks by switching between flying and walking modes, and Urbosa can charge lightning to greatly increase the damage output of her strong attacks. Impa can create various clones of herself and Link has different move sets depending on what kind of weapon he equips. Much like Super Smash Bros., it’s likely each player will end up preferring different members of the cast since they all feel so distinct and fun to play. The original Hyrule Warriors is still a quality game, but it’s rare for a sequel to bring as many improvements to the table as Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity does.