Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

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Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Hyrule Warriors Age Of Calamity.jpg
Cover art featuring Link, Princess Zelda, the Four Champions, and Terrako
Developer(s)Omega Force
Publisher(s)Nintendo
Director(s)Ryouta Matsushita
Producer(s)
  • Yosuke Hayashi
  • Masaki Furusawa
Designer(s)Kenta Shiraishi
Programmer(s)Masayoshi Yamada
Artist(s)Yu Oboshi
Writer(s)
  • Yuki Ikeno
  • Mari Okamoto
  • Ryohei Hayashi
Composer(s)
Series
Platform(s)Nintendo Switch
ReleaseNovember 20, 2020
Genre(s)Hack and slash
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity[a] is a hack-and-slash video game developed by Omega Force. It was published by Koei Tecmo in Japan and by Nintendo internationally for the Nintendo Switch console in 2020. In the story, set 100 years before the events of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,[1] Link and Princess Zelda must gather allies across Hyrule to fend off forces led by the evil Calamity Ganon, who is attempting to revive himself and destroy the kingdom.

Like the original Hyrule Warriors (2014), Age of Calamity is a crossover mixing the world and characters of Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series with the gameplay of Koei Tecmo's Dynasty Warriors series.[2][3] Upon release, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity received positive reviews for its gameplay, varied character playstyles, amount of content, visuals, soundtrack, characterization, and expansion of the Breath of the Wild setting.[citation needed] However, some criticized the technical performance, chiefly its inconsistent frame rate, and the story drew mixed responses, particularly the introduction of time travel elements. Age of Calamity shipped over 3 million copies worldwide in its first four days, making it the best-selling game in the entire Warriors franchise.

Gameplay[edit]

Pre-release screenshot showing Link fighting hordes of Bokoblins

Like the previous Hyrule Warriors game, Age of Calamity mixes the hack-and-slash gameplay of Koei Tecmo's Dynasty Warriors franchise with the characters, locations, and other elements from Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda series.[4] The basic gameplay is participating in large-scale battles against enemies, while also completing objectives and taking strategic actions such as capturing bases and commanding troops.[5]

In addition to retaining the combat, material crafting, and weapon-upgrade systems from Hyrule Warriors, the game incorporates environmental puzzle solving and the use of the Sheikah Slate tool and paraglider from Breath of the Wild.[6] Players can upgrade their characters, complete missions and challenges, use resources to access new areas, build weapons, and cook foods that can be used as buffs. Weapons in this game are invulnerable and will not break over time, unlike in Breath of the Wild.[7] The game's map is similar to the one for Breath of the Wild. Players can choose stages from it and use the Sheikah Tower to explore between regions.[7] The game features 18 playable characters; 14 are obtained via progression in the main story, while four can be unlocked by completing various side quests.[4][8][9] Besides the characters, players are also able to control the gigantic Divine Beasts to destroy large numbers of enemies.[10]

The game also features compatibility with Nintendo's Amiibo figures, with the figures of the Four Champions relaunching alongside the game.[11]

Plot[edit]

During the Great Calamity, a small Guardian awakens within Hyrule Castle. Seeing the destruction being caused, it escapes through a time portal, followed unbeknownst by a portion of Calamity's Ganon's Malice. Arriving before the Calamity began, the Guardian is found by Link during battle. When it uses Impa's Sheikah Slate to raise a Sheikah Tower, they take it to engineers Purah and Robbie for study, learning it came from a future in which Ganon reawakens. Being informed of this, King Rhoam sends Link and Zelda to meet with the four candidates selected to pilot the Divine Beasts.

With the Champions assembled, King Rhoam commands them to find a knight able to wield the Master Sword, which rests in Korok Forest. There, they encounter the dark prophet Astor, who seeks to revive and control Calamity Ganon, but Link draws the Master Sword and forces Astor to withdraw. With Purah's research revealing the presence of other towers hidden underground, the Champions set out to activate the towers and in turn using the maps provided by said towers to lead a preemptive strike on the Yiga Clan hideout. Learning from the Guardian's records that Calamity Ganon will return on Zelda's birthday, King Rhoam sends her for training in hopes of awakening her sealing magic in time, while deploying the Divine Beasts to prepare for the Calamity's impending return.

As Robbie and Purah finish analyzing the Guardian's memory, they are captured by Yiga spies, but the Guardian escapes with the Sheikah Slate and delivers it to Zelda just as the Calamity arrives. As Link, Zelda, and Impa retreat from the castle, King Rhoam seemingly sacrifices himself to cover their escape. As Calamity Ganon emerges from the castle, Impa shows Zelda the Sheikah Slate, revealing that Ganon had taken over the Divine Beasts in the other timeline. Believing the same is happening to them as well, the group moves out to aid the rest of the champions. Mipha, Daruk, Urbosa and Revali are about to be killed by Calamity Ganon's Blights, as in the original timeline, but Sidon, Yunobo, Riju and Teba appear from the future via time portals created by the Guardian, buying enough time for Link and his allies to help defeat the Blights. With the Champions saved and the Divine Beasts at their disposal, they begin to help reclaim Hyrule and clear the way to Hyrule Castle. Astor, aware of the change in the current situation, kills many of the Yiga Clan and uses their life force to revive the Blights. When Link is cornered by the Blights, Zelda moves to defend him, finally awakening her sealing magic and forcing Astor to retreat. The Yiga Clan defect to Zelda's side, seeking revenge against Astor. The group also discover King Rhoam survived thanks to a special relic Zelda gave to him earlier, and the two subsequently reconcile.

With their allies gathered, Purah uses the Sheikah towers to transport them all outside of Hyrule Castle and begins their final battle against Calamity Ganon. Although the Divine Beasts weaken Ganon's spirit form, Astor arrives along with Harbinger Ganon, the small Guardian from the current timeline infected with the Malice that came back from the future, only to be defeated by Link, Zelda, and the Champions. Astor attempts to summon Calamity Ganon to destroy them, but is instead consumed as Harbinger Ganon manifests itself into Calamity Ganon. Calamity Ganon corrupts the little guardian and turns it against the group, forcing Link to fight it. Upon its defeat, Zelda remembers she activated the little Guardian as a child, naming it Terrako, before her father took it away so she would focus more on her training. Zelda and her allies march towards Hyrule Castle and confront Calamity Ganon, but are unable to damage him until Terrako uses the last of its strength to self-destruct, weakening Calamity Ganon. Now vulnerable, Calamity Ganon is defeated by Link, and Zelda uses her power to seal the Calamity once and for all. With Calamity Ganon defeated, the future heroes are returned to their time while Link, Zelda and their allies look out at the now peaceful Hyrule. In a secret ending, Purah and Robbie repair Terrako, reuniting Zelda with her old friend.

Development[edit]

Age of Calamity was revealed in a trailer that was released on September 8, 2020, presented by Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma and Koei Tecmo producer Yosuke Hayashi.[12] The game features the same art assets as Breath of the Wild, but uses the more combat-focused gameplay style of the previous Hyrule Warriors game.[13] More information was revealed at the Tokyo Game Show on September 26.[14][15][16]

The game came into fruition when Breath of the Wild's director Hidemaro Fujibayashi and art director Satoru Takizawa pitched the idea to Aonuma, who liked the idea and after discussions. Aonuma then approached Hayashi, a producer from Koei Tecmo, to make a new Hyrule Warriors about the events of the Great Calamity, which were mentioned but not properly shown in Breath of the Wild.[17] Aonuma felt that the battles would complement well with the style of a Warriors game.[18] Nintendo's Zelda developers worked more closely with the development team at Koei Tecmo than on Hyrule Warriors, providing advisement and assistance with gameplay, graphics, world, and dialogue.[19]

During Nintendo Treehouse Live gameplay presentation on October 7, Nintendo stated that the game will explore more backstories and relationships between characters, aspects that were not thoroughly examined in Breath of the Wild.[7] At the end of that month, the demo became available to download from the Nintendo eShop, which includes the first chapter of the game.[10] Kotaku noted from the demo that the game felt more connected to Breath of the Wild than to a Warriors title.[6]

Downloadable content[edit]

In a February 2021 Nintendo Direct stream, the "Expansion Pass" featuring downloadable content (DLC) for the game was announced. A purchase bonus was made available on May 28, 2021, featuring a new weapon and costume for Link. The costume is a prototype of ancient guardian armor and the weapon is a prototype of an ancient guardian sword. The first wave of content, titled "Pulse of the Ancients," was released on June 18, 2021 and features an additional playable character (Battle-Tested Guardian), new weapon types (the Flail for Link and the Master Cycle for Zelda), new challenges in the Royal Ancient Lab, and newly-added challenging enemies. The second wave of content, titled "Guardian of Remembrance," is scheduled for release on October 29th 2021, featuring an additional story, new stages, new battle skills for existing characters, and two additional characters: Purah and Robbie, who function as a single unit, and one character yet to be revealed.[20]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Age of Calamity holds a score of 78 out of 100 on review aggregator Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[21]

Four reviewers for Famitsu gave the game a total score of 36/40, the second-highest score for a 2020 Nintendo Switch game at that point of the year (with Animal Crossing: New Horizons receiving 38/40 in March of the same year).[26] TJ Denzer of Shacknews gave the game a 9/10 rating, giving high praise to the gameplay, differences between character playstyles, and story; they called Age of Calamity "the most fleshed out and well-crafted [Dynasty Warriors-style] game I have ever seen". They claimed that the game "expands upon [Breath of the Wild] masterfully in both the iconic battle locations of the game and the soundtrack that accompanies them". [37]

Giving the game a 4/5 rating, Scott Baird Screen Rant stated that the game "offers a fascinating look into the world of Breath of the Wild alongside great gameplay", praising the "phenomenal combat system" which "rarely feels repetitive or dull", the differences between the character playstyles, the "hundreds of hours worth of content", and the character development. However, he criticized the camera, which "tends to get stuck during the indoor stages, which is especially frustrating when trying to dodge enemy attacks". While Baird praised the game for offering "a fascinating look at the world of Breath of the Wild", he also pointed out that the setting "severely limits the types of enemies that the players will encounter [compared to the first Hyrule Warriors], and the few additions to the lore (like elemental variations of monsters) feel less than impressive."[41] Michael Goroff of Electronic Gaming Monthly also gave the game a 4 out of 5 review, praising the game's gameplay, and use of the universe, style, and gameplay elements from Breath of the Wild, calling it "one of the most fun games I’ve played all year". However, he was critical of the story's choice to feature time travel.[25] In his review, Daniel Dell-Cornejo of Nintendo Wire gave Age of Calamity an 8.5, praising the gameplay, art style, cutscenes, music, and large roster but expressed disappointment with the story direction and occasional drops in framerate.[42]

Sales[edit]

In the United Kingdom, the game placed sixth in physical sales during its launch week, selling nearly 324% more copies than Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition during the same timeframe in 2018.[43] It also sold 173,215 physical copies within its first week of release in Japan, making it the second best-selling retail game of the week in the country.[44] It was ultimately the 16th highest selling game in Japan for 2020.[45] In the United States the game was the sixth best-selling game during its launch month.[46]

Four days after its release, Koei Tecmo revealed that the game has shipped over 3 million digital and physical copies worldwide, becoming the best-selling Warriors game of all time and outselling all previous games in the entire Warriors franchise including all Dynasty Warriors games and their spin-offs, Fire Emblem Warriors, and the previous Hyrule Warriors games.[47] The game has shipped over 3.5 million copies by the end of 2020.[48] As of April 2021, the game has sold over 3.7 million units. [49]

Legacy[edit]

Starting in January 2021, three characters from Age of Calamity cameo as collectable Spirits in the crossover fighting game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. These characters are Impa, Master Kohga, and the Diminutive Guardian.[50]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Zelda Musou: Calamity Apocalypse (Japanese: ゼルダ無双 厄災の黙示録, Hepburn: Zeruda Musō Yakusai no Mokushiroku) in Japan

References[edit]

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