100 years before Breath of the Wild, the Age of Calamity struck.
And now, 100 years after finishing Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, I’m wrangling my emotions over it! Exploring yet another timeline in the Zelda universe, it reveals the catastrophic events that led to Hyrule’s downfall all those years ago.
This time, though, there’s a chance to change everything.
Unlike other Zelda titles, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is less about exploration and dungeon dives, and more about button-mashing hacking and slashing!
Okay, so maybe that’s simplifying it a bit. I almost didn’t buy this game because I thought it was a fighting game like Smash, and Smash bores me (you can attack me later if you like, let me finish). I don’t love small-stage fighting games with minimal story and outrageous difficulty levels.
This game, though, is anything but.
From the start, the controls are relatively easy to grasp, whether you pay close attention to your combos or just slam your thumbs down on the nearest button and pray for good results. More than that, though, you can alternate between characters within each stage (once you’ve completed the tutorial chapter), explore large maps bursting with enemies, and discover treasure chests, Korok seeds, and more along the way! And if those things sound daunting, don’t sweat it; there’s an adjustable difficulty setting for maximum or totally minimal challenge!
So, sure, you’re smashing buttons and smashing heads. Isn’t that a given? But you’re also saving Hyrule, one gorgeous map, one mob of enemies, one sword swing at a time!
This isn’t to say it’s lacking plot, though; in fact, it may be one of the more plot-heavy titles to come out of the franchise.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is so much more than a test of your fighting game skills. Sure, the easy mechanics made for a smooth introduction, but it was the plot that got me hooked. Yet again, Nintendo has tinkered with the Legend of Zelda timeline, crafting an alternate version of the events that happened a century before Breath of the Wild.
(Raise your hand if you’re shocked; none of you should be, given that Nintendo can and will scramble the timeline at any given moment.)
Anyway, this time around, there is a chance to set things right. With the help of an odd, egg-shaped Guardian (whom I have lovingly dubbed Sir Egg Baby in recognition of his noble deeds in service of Hyrule), Link, Zelda, and the four Champions of Hyrule face down Calamity Canon with renewed hope and a fighting chances.
I loved seeing how it all unfolded, particularly the events that must have played out different due to Sir Egg Baby’s presence. Each cut-scene was a lore-heavy glimpse into a world Breath of the Wild showed us in ruins, and I couldn’t look away. Full voice-acting, story-rich scenes, and the ever-looming threat of Breath of the Wild’s doomed future made every second riveting!
Plus, that plot was also interspersed with side quests and optional missions. If the tension scales up too quickly for you and you need a breather, it’s easy as pie to spend literal hours completing these side quests. Some ask you to gather materials, some will require you to pay rupees, and still some others are smaller-scale missions on familiar maps, ranging from combat missions to escort missions. And never fear: the escort missions in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity are surprisingly sensible. Which is a first in all my years of gaming, to be entirely honest with you.
And this one goes out to all the Zelda stans out there.
Possibly one of the very best features of this story-heavy game is the way it centers on Zelda. Sure, Link is still the hero chosen by the Master Sword, because he always is. But this time, Zelda and her goddess-given powers are more important. We come to understand her relationship with her father, with the Champions, even with herself so much clearer with every passing cutscene. Never before, I think, has a Legend of Zelda title spent so much time with Zelda specifically, and I’m completely in love with how much it adds to her character!
Of course, I do wish it added a little more to the Champion’s characters. We see them in relation to Zelda, and as individuals, but I was disappointed in the comparative lack of bonding between Champions. They’re supposed to be a team (even if Revali won’t admit it).
Still. Zelda is at the forefront this time, and I loved seeing her as the scholar, as the princess, as a girl desperate to survive just one more day. She’s a delightful character, wrestling with all her fear and doubt, and I genuinely feel like this game put her in the spotlight like she deserves.
I can’t recommend Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity enough.
It took me nearly 65 hours to 100% the game, and that was only because I flew through it almost non-stop. When my brain latches onto a thing, there’s just no stopping for anything short of sleep! And since it rushed by so quickly, I can say with total confidence that I would buy any DLC released. Give me more missions! More storylines! More Zelda!
In short, Age of Calamity surprised me in the best ways. I think most Zelda fans will get a lot out of this game, especially Breath of the Wild players, and I won’t stop recommending it. That said, it is a Nintendo Switch exclusive. This is unsurprising, given that the franchise is Nintendo to the core, but worth a mention. It also costs $59.99, and can be purchased as a physical cartridge or as an online download.
If $60 is too steep a price tag right now, or you’re on the fence, I recommend taking a look at the official page for the game. And when you’ve done that, try the free demo! It takes you through the first arc, up to the point where you begin recruiting champions, and serves as an excellent glimpse of what the game is about.
Plus, there’s something kind of satisfying about swinging your sword around and destroying hordes of enemies. An introvert’s stress relief, I suppose?
So, have you played Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity? Are you thinking of giving it a try? Either way, we should chat, especially if you love all things Zelda! This series is one of my favorites, and I can never pass up the chance to share my love for it. ⚔️🛡️💙