Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity review: different, but still Zelda

By | November 18, 2020
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity review: different, but still Zelda

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity overview: completely different, however nonetheless Zelda

On the outset of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the fantasy realm of Hyrule is in a nasty place.

Monsters rule the land and once-great cities lie in ruins, all due to a devastating occasion often known as the Nice Calamity. It was one thing gamers heard about consistently as they ventured throughout Hyrule however didn’t truly get to witness firsthand. That’s the place Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is available in. The brand new recreation for the Nintendo Change is a prequel that explores that essential second that created the ruined world. The twist? It does so with a recreation that’s virtually fully in contrast to Breath of the Wild.

To know what Age of Calamity is, you first want to know a long-running franchise referred to as Dynasty Warriors. It’s a hack-and-slash collection that defines itself on scale: you aren’t combating only a few foes however actually lots of on the identical time. It may be senseless at instances, however it’s additionally extremely thrilling; you’re an omnipotent hero turning the tide of an enormous battle. Over the previous couple of years, the collection has expanded with spinoffs based mostly on in style recreation franchises like Dragon Quest, Persona, Fireplace Emblem, and, in 2014, The Legend of Zelda. The unique Hyrule Warriors was basically an enormous dose of fan service, mashing collectively an iconic world with simple motion. The sequel is a bit more bold.

What makes Age of Calamity so attention-grabbing, except for the narrative potentialities, is the truth that, philosophically talking, Breath of the Wild is about as far-off from Dynasty Warriors as is feasible. It was a recreation constructed on subtlety and restraint, rethinking what an open-world journey could possibly be with a concentrate on quiet, purposeful exploration. Dynasty Warriors has none of these qualities. It’s brash, loud, and straight to the purpose. If Breath of the Wild had notes of Studio Ghibli, Dynasty Warriors is extra like a Dreamworks blockbuster.

And but, it really works. For probably the most half.

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The core of what you’re doing in Age of Calamity is roughly the identical as in its contemporaries. That’s to say you’ll be operating round pretty giant maps, slashing your means by means of lots of, and infrequently 1000’s, of enemies. The dangerous guys are virtually comically dumb. Excluding bosses and different {powerful} characters — that are apparent as a result of they’re bodily big — most of your opponents stand round in giant teams, simply ready to get walloped. The technique comes from combating these bosses and managing the chaos. Along with being a soldier, you’re additionally basically a basic directing {powerful} hero characters to essential skirmishes so that you simply don’t get overwhelmed. Often, there are twists like cut-off dates or the dreaded escort mission, however this isn’t the type of recreation the place you’ll get confused about what to do subsequent or the place to go.

Age of Calamity performs with this components in a number of methods. The obvious is the fight. Breath of the Wild launched physics-based motion to the collection, with {powerful} runes that might fireplace distant bombs or put enemies in short-term stasis. Age of Calamity’s system isn’t fairly as sturdy, however it’s nonetheless quite a lot of enjoyable. Sure enemies are extra inclined to completely different rune talents, type of like in a roleplaying recreation, so there’s a pleasant little bit of technique. Plus, it’s simply entertaining to place a gang of bokoblins in stasis, smack them a number of instances, and watch them fly. There’s quite a lot of spectacle to take pleasure in, from the sheer scale of battles to elaborate, screen-filling particular assaults.

Even higher, although, is that you simply play as a number of characters. Although Hyperlink stays the principle hero, the early chapters of Age of Calamity are all about assembling a staff of champions, and as you achieve this you’ll unlock them as playable characters. Every one has their very own distinct really feel. Hyperlink is a standard Dynasty Warriors-style melee fighter, however Revali can fly and rain down arrows from above, whereas Urbosa has {powerful} electrical assaults. Princess Zelda is probably the strangest of all: she doesn’t struggle immediately however as a substitute makes use of the Sheikah Slate to assault remotely utilizing runes. The various forged goes a good distance towards making an in any other case repetitive recreation really feel attention-grabbing for the numerous hours it lasts.

Not the entire modifications are for the higher. Age of Calamity additionally lets gamers pilot the Divine Beasts — towering, mechanical creatures that performed a pivotal position in Breath of the Wild — which sounds cool, however usually boils all the way down to some generic turret missions with cumbersome controls. Equally, many of the aspect missions are painfully simple; normally you merely need to kill a specific amount of enemies inside a selected window of time. Fortunately, you don’t have to grind ranges an excessive amount of, so these missions are largely optionally available.

However the factor lacking most from Age of Calamity is any sense of journey or exploration. The degrees might be giant, however most maps are a collection of interconnected corridors which you’ll comply with in an easy method. And when you’ll go to loads of stunning and memorable areas, you get there by merely selecting choices from a menu. It’s onerous to not miss the huge open areas of Breath of the Wild and that feeling of not realizing what’s across the nook.

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I must also be aware that there are a number of technical points. Whereas the sport runs pretty properly when your Change is docked, taking part in in handheld mode type of feels such as you’re pushing the system to its limits. There’s plenty of slowdown and blurry visuals, notably when there’s rather a lot taking place on display, which, given the premise of Age of Calamity, is a quite common incidence. It was by no means unplayable for me, however it was positively noticeable.

In fact, the different purpose to play this recreation is for the story. Nintendo sneakily put essential Zelda lore on this spinoff, and there’s rather a lot to dig into. Once more, issues are far more simple in comparison with Breath of the Wild — there are many voiced cutscenes and narrated moments — however I actually loved studying extra concerning the world and characters. There are even some pleasant twists that I received’t spoil right here, together with an lovely little guardian character that appears like a long-lost Star Wars droid. As quickly as its Amiibo goes on sale, I can be shopping for it.

For such a conflicted expertise, it’s outstanding how properly Age of Calamity works. No, it’s not a brand new Breath of the Wild, and followers coming to it from that perspective will seemingly be disenchanted. (Fortunately, an actual sequel is within the works.) Regardless of some largely superficial similarities, the 2 video games play utterly in a different way. However a few of these parts that made Breath of the Wild so beloved — an exquisite world, memorable characters, various fight — assist make an in any other case simple expertise really feel recent and attention-grabbing. It’s not delicate, however that doesn’t imply it isn’t Zelda.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is on the market on the Nintendo Change on November twentieth.

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