Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity review - the best Hyrule crossover yet with untapped potential

Finally scratching the insatiable itch that has bugged anyone who has played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

One certainty for those committed enough to play Breath of the Wild (BOTW) to its completion is that you will bitten by the bug and left wanting more.

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Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity takes us back to events of The Great Calamity we hear so much about in BOTW. But as with all previous Hyrule Warrior games, this is Zelda from a Dynasty Warriors perspective. It has been hugely popular, shipping three million units in the first four days of release last month.

Large scale battles

Like previous Hyrule Warriors games, Age of Calamity mixes the hack-and-slash gameplay of Koei Tecmo's Dynasty Warriors series with settings, characters, and other elements from Nintendo's Zelda series.

Unlike Zelda, where you explore the beautiful kingdom predominantly solo, 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.

In addition to retaining the combat, crafting and weapon upgrading 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.

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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.

The good news is that weapons in this game don't break over time, unlike in BOTW. The game's map is similar to the all time Nintendo classic. Players can choose stages from it and use the Sheikah Tower to explore between regions. There are 18 playable characters, 14 of whom can be obtained via progression in the main story, while the other four are unlocked by completing side quests.

But when it comes to characters in your control the most exciting element for me is the fact you are also able to control the gigantic Divine Beasts enabling you to destroy large numbers of enemies. For those into their amiibo figures, Age of Calamity is also compatible with figures of the Four Champions re-releasing alongside the game.

Minor gripes

Any excuse to revisit any element of Breath of the Wild's story, map or structure is a good excuse. This is Age of Calamity’s huge USP. From the Hyrule Warriors perspective, it single-handedly makes it the best yet.

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Throwing into the mix Flurry Rushes and Runes from the Warriors side, though, is just as key. It gives combat some welcome and much-needed variety. There was nothing wrong with combat in BOTW. But this takes it to the next level.

New moments in the encapsulating story are delivered with the charm of Nintendo and the retelling of parts familiar to BOTW fans go down a treat too.

Like in BOTW, there is some grinding when it comes to missions and resources which certainly sours my enjoyment on occasion. While the combat is rejuvenated by the Runes and Flurry Rushes, that is impacted by the said grind too.

Some camera issues can prove maddening as combat is ramped up to often chaotic levels which adds unnecessarily to the difficulty.

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Bosses are interesting to look at but sometimes offer bland and repetitive fare soaking up your hits and taking what feels like an age at times.

They are pretty minor gripes overall, though. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity takes us on a welcome trip down memory lane to a world we all know and love. The character variety, combat additions and breathtaking beauty of Hyrule is a joy to behold. The best Hyrule crossover yet by far but with plenty of untapped potential left in the tank for future games.

Rating: 8/10

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