Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity First Impressions

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity have a demo out on Nintendo Switch which is free to download ahead of the launch on November 20th. Much more Breath of the Wild than it’s predecessor Hyrule Warriors, Nintendo have done a great job of marketing this as a Breath of the Wild prequel and it’s got fans hyped up and looking forward to the release.

The visuals and mechanics of the game are very Breath of the Wild with Koei Tecmo bringing in Sheikah slate abilities like bombs, ice and magnetism. The battle mechanics of Hyrule Warriors has been mixed in really well here, with Link and other party members feeling really powerful when you run into battle. Moblins and other enemies going flying in their hundreds.

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The game has been set up as a prequel and as such Age of Calamity is set 100 years before Breath of the Wild. We saw glimpses of this battle in Breath of the Wild itself, with the Champions falling in battle against Calamity Ganon. The snippets we saw were in cutscenes and memories and Age of Calamity looks to finally fill in the blanks for us. There are various playable heroes in the game including Link, Impa, Zelda and the Champions themselves.

I had not played Hyrule Warriors previously but the battle system is super fun. You face off against waves of enemies in their hundreds, much more than you’d face in a standard Zelda game. Battles take place on the map around Hyrule with the map filled with friendly and enemy foes. There are pockets of enemies but also objectives marked on the map where you have to secure a location or take out a big enemy. In the demo, there’s a great battle with a Guardian, where you have to enable sleeping guardians with the help of Zelda, Impa and a mini-guardian.

There’s a variety of attacks including light attack, heavy attack and various special attacks which have a cooldown. As mentioned before there’s also the Sheikah slate which allows you to use bombs, cryonis, stasis. Bombs are great for destroying a bunch of enemies, you can also freeze enemies and with the stasis, you can smash enemies off into the distance which is still as much fun as it was in Breath of the Wild.

Age of Calamity’s battles feel really fun and the characters you can play feel really different. It’s easy to switch between different character during battle by using the d-pad. Impa in particular is very powerful as she can make duplicates of herself. Zelda makes creative use of the Sheikah slate but she doesn’t feel quite as powerful as the other two characters I played. Impa for me is the most fun, so definitely give her a try. I’m looking forward to playing as the Champions, in particular Daruk!

Related to the narrative in the game there’s a mini-guardian who can travel through time. He appears to be in Hyrule Castle sometime in the future, then hops into a wormhole to escape from a big Guardian. The narrative is super interesting as you pretty much know the fate of the Champions, Link and Zelda. Similar to Star Wars Rogue One, tragedy awaits… but how we get there is going to be full of twists and turns.

At first, I wasn’t sure about this release. Not having played other titles like Dynasty Warriors or Hyrule Warriors, I wasn’t too sure about this Zelda spin-off. The fact that Nintendo has given arguably their top name to a third-party says a lot, which no doubt Nintendo will be across this much more than ever before. The great thing about the demo is you can jump in and try it out without having to make that expensive commitment.

Age of Calamity is going to have a job on it’s hands coming out in November with many big hitters around it, PLUS new consoles, but this definitely is something Nintendo fans are going to be checking out going into the holiday season. If you’re on the fence I’d say pick up the demo and give it a try. I for one have been persuaded and can’t wait to jump in come November 20th.

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