Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity often allows you to take management of a Divine Beast. It’s a second that ought to carry some weight for Zelda followers. The Beasts are colossal machines essential to the occasions of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and whereas they’re cumbersome to manage, the degrees by which you play as them successfully talk their damaging energy. If you’ve got performed Breath of the Wild, these moments tackle a portentous air; the ability fantasy of utilizing lasers, bursts of lightning, and volleys of magma to degree mountains and rack up hundreds of Bokoblin, Moblin, and Lizalfos kills is undercut whenever you keep in mind how the individuals who’re utilizing them cannot absolutely management them, and that these instruments of destruction will activate their masters once they’re wanted most and destroy them.
That sense of impending doom is what I got here to Age of Calamity for, however that is the place it blunders hardest. It continually encourages you to put aside that feeling of dread, keep away from coming to phrases with the implications of its apocalyptic premise, and as an alternative simply kill a bunch of baddies and assume the Divine Beasts are cool. Doing that’s enjoyable for some time, however it could not cease me from being enormously let down by that alternative.
Age of Calamity’s narrative failure is very irritating as a result of the disappointing turns it takes to get there appear so clear, and since it does a lot proper till then. The marketing campaign begins with a small, white Guardian-like robotic seeing the Calamity brought on by Ganon in Breath of the Wild and touring again in time to earlier than it ever occurred, when Link continues to be a royal knight and Zelda is working to unlock her potential and cease the Calamity from occurring.
Things begin nicely sufficient, largely because of how Age of Calamity infuses the long-running Musou method with Breath of the Wild’s feel and appear. Mowing down crowds of Bokoblins and Lizalfos is easy sufficient, however bigger enemies like Moblins and Hinoxes require actual effort to take down. Dodging their assaults on the proper time allows you to hearth off a Flurry Rush assault, one of many cooler maneuvers in Breath of the Wild. The unique Hyrule Warriors’ subweapons are changed by 4 Runes (distant bombs, magnesis, stasis, and cryonis), they usually’re built-in into fight nicely; stasis freezes enemies in place and launches them primarily based on how laborious you hit them whereas they’re frozen, whereas magnesis absorbs close by metallic weapons and throws them again at their homeowners. Some assaults from bigger enemies immediate you to counter them with Runes, staggering them and leaving them open to assault. That, together with magic rods that depend on an elemental counter system, offer you loads of choices in fight.
Every member of the playable forged has a definite mechanic or trick at their disposal, too, they usually assist maintain issues fascinating. Link has you holding down the assault button to cost up his spin assault, Impa can mark enemies with magic symbols then accumulate them to provide copies of herself, and Urbosa can energy up her assaults by discharging stored-up lightning, which you’ll be able to then recharge with a button press. Later characters have even wilder ideas, and whereas a number of did not jive with me, they’re all inventive sufficient that I needed to discover them.
Maybe the most important game-changer, although, is how all of the preventing is structured. As somebody who adores Breath of the Wild, I obtained an enormous kick out of Age of Calamity’s interface, and that aesthetic truly provides a significant layer to the expertise. You spend loads of time a map of Hyrule, with mainline missions, facet quests, upgrades, and retailers dotted throughout it. And whereas the principle story missions inform a cinematic story of Link and Zelda recruiting the Champions to manage the Divine Beasts and cease Calamity Ganon, the map tells a extra sprawling story. Getting entry to a brand new store could also be so simple as gathering provides in missions and checking off an icon on the map, however it’s contextualized as securing a commerce route so the store homeowners can correctly do enterprise with different cities, with brief descriptions of what occurs after you full the duty. It’s a small however incredible contact that will get throughout the scope of the struggle you are preventing, and the way Hyrule cared for its folks because it confronted its finish.
As the map will get cluttered with icons and the story begins approaching the key story beats from Breath of the Wild, Age of Calamity explores a few of its historical past’s extra poignant threads. Zelda’s journey to uncovering her potential, how that objective drives her father to push her towards her future at the price of all the pieces else, and the way a lot of a burden that sort of duty places on somebody is instructed nicely. Seeing the Champions of their heyday is enjoyable, too, even when we all know the place their tales are headed.
All of those threads converge when issues begin to flip dire. Hyrule’s hubris in considering it might repurpose know-how it did not perceive begins to destroy it. That sense of doom approaches. But in its most important second, Age of Calamity refuses to look its expectations within the eye and blinks. Without treading into spoilers, I discovered the final act profoundly disappointing. The approach it explores probably the most impactful moments in Breath of the Wild’s story subverts and repudiates a lot of what made Breath of the Wild so resonant. For a recreation meant to offer that story context, it is a deadly misstep.
It does not assist that by this level, the opposite components of the sport begin to wear down their welcome. The new layers of fight are good, however you find yourself seeing a lot of the enemies you are going to struggle all through your complete playtime early on, with later bosses being buffed-up variations of earlier ones. After taking part in the sport for thus lengthy, their tells grow to be easy prompts, missions get really easy they’re tedious, and facet missions are a grind. It’s additionally more durable to forgive the digicam and body price points, which grow to be extra pronounced as you head into extra inside areas and produce extra on-screen results that sluggish issues down.
I had began out fully on board with seeing Age of Calamity’s story via. By the tip, I used to be doing these duties extra out of obligation than anything.
Despite how a lot I’d invested on this model of Hyrule and the nagging feeling of leaving issues unchecked on a map left me with, I ended taking up facet missions, stopped serving to folks construct up Hyrule and put together for the Calamity. I had began out fully on board with seeing Age of Calamity’s story via, being with the residents of Hyrule till the bitter finish, and simply killing some baddies. By the tip, I used to be doing these duties extra out of obligation than anything.
It’s unusual to consider a bungled story leaving me so lukewarm on a Zelda recreation, even when it’s a spin-off. But paying off its premise is the burden a prequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is tasked with. The primary motive I dove into Age of Calamity is as a result of I like its world and the historical past it tries to recollect. So for a recreation to retread them and proclaim to have one thing new to say when its inspiration’s most placing moments come from what it leaves unsaid is a giant ask. But my downside with Age of Calamity is not that it fails to reside as much as that duty. It’s that it does not even strive. It does not have the braveness to see issues via.