Koei Tecmo’s hybrid prequel to Breath of the Wild is finally out, but the latest chapter in The Legend of Zelda lacks the franchise’s penchant for high quality polish. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity might be a first party Zelda game, but it’s also a spin-off that wasn’t designed by the main team – and it shows. As addicting as Age or Calamity is, the latest Hyrule Warriors is already in need of major gameplay & narrative fixes.
Failing to live up to the original Hyrule Warriors’ own volume of content and Breath of the Wild’s striking attention to detail & layered immersion, Age of Calamity straddles the line between being a fresh look into BotW’s world and a derivative one that destroyed the entire allure of the game’s backstory. Age of Calamity is worth a playthrough from any Zelda fan, but temper those expectations accordingly.
10 Better Undocked Performance
There’s just no ignoring how poorly Age of Calamity runs undocked when it comes down to it. Gameplay struggles to hit 30 fps as is, but the dips when playing handheld – coupled with general performance issues like noticeable slowdown – make for a relatively unpleasant playing experience, especially when compared to both Breath of the Wild and Hyrule Warriors Legends.
It’s worth keeping in mind that Age of Calamity was developed exclusively for the Switch and not the Wii U like its predecessor games, but that in itself should have warranted better performance overall, not worse. While future patches can fix these issues, Age of Calamity shouldn’t be running so poorly to begin with.
9 Improved English Dub
It was only a matter of time before The Legend of Zelda started featuring proper voice acting rather than just Hylian babble, but Breath of the Wild set a very bad precedent as far as the English dub was concerned. With Zelda putting on a fake English accent and the supporting cast suffering under poor direction, Nintendo of America’s dub has only gotten worse heading into Age of Calamity.
It was one thing when Breath of the Wild’s cutscenes were few and scarce. AoC’s are constant and make use of non-stop voice acting. While this is mostly fine when playing in Japanese, anyone sticking to the English dub is setting for a blatantly inferior experience. This is one of Nintendo’s worst English dubs in years.
8 Varied Soundtrack
Many fans lamented the loss of loud, bombastic tracks in Breath of the Wild’s soundtrack – the score instead opting for soft, subtle sounds that played off the environment without becoming repetitive. In terms of atmosphere and presentation, BotW’s soundtrack does everything it sets out to do.
As Breath of the Wild’s action counterpart, it makes sense Age of Calamity would opt for more energetic music befitting the gameplay. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long to hear how BotW’s compositions don’t lend themselves to high octane action for long. While most of the soundtrack is strong, what few tracks there are become repetitive fast with nowhere near enough variety.
7 A Larger Roster
The original Hyrule Warriors didn’t launch with a large roster, which should give fans both hope and expectation to see more characters added into the gameplay. Nonetheless, it’s hard not to feel disappointed at the size of the base playable cast. There’s very little in terms of villain representation, and the modern Champions – while welcome – feel painfully out of place due to narrative contrivances. Without the raw fan service of the first game, Age of Calamity’s roster falls a bit flat, even if it does make sense.
6 Greater Enemy Variety
Age of Calamity has inherited what was arguably Breath of the Wild’s greatest flaw: enemy variety. To their credit, Koei Tecmo have done a better job in regards to enemy and boss variety than Nintendo did with Breath of the Wild; but that’s to be expected of a Musou game. In practice, it becomes tiring to cut through the same hordes of enemies over & over again.
Some missions do spice things up by allowing players to fight against armies of Rito or Gerudo, but that in itself doesn’t do much to help with enemy variety. When it comes down to it, Calamity Ganon’s forces are still fairly one-note, opting for recolors instead of unique tiers of enemies like in previous games.
5 More Missions
Age of Calamity certainly isn’t short, but it’s nowhere near as long as Breath of the Wild or Hyrule Warriors Legends. Even when taking all the side content into consideration, Age of Calamity won’t be pushing into the triple digits like its predecessors. Of course, this is almost certain to change in the future. Hyrule Warriors was updated an absurd number of times following its launch and it seems extremely unlikely that Koei Tecmo will simply leave Age of Calamity untouched now that it’s out: whether or not any new missions will actually be substantial is another matter entirely.
4 An Alternate Story Mode
The fact the original Hyrule Warriors featured a campaign for its main cast of villains did both wonders for the game’s story and cast. Age of Calamity does feature a similar story beat near the end of the game, but nowhere on the same scale or with the level of commitment as its predecessor. An alternate story mode that gives the villains a chance to shine (while fleshing them out and perhaps adding more through time travel) could be the gameplay fix Age of Calamity needs.
3 A Bad Ending
On that same token, the fact Age of Calamity does not end with the entire main cast falling in their fight against Calamity Ganon is a tremendous disappointment. Time travel’s role in AoC had to throw a wrench into the narrative in order to justify the playable roster in-game (something the story didn’t actually need,) resulting in a plot that fails to deliver on the unique tragedy of Breath of the Wild’s backstory.
An alternate mode that follows the Calamity as it was – removing time travel from the equation entirely – would make for a fantastic post-launch update. Not only can it be done rather easily by reusing in-game maps (they’re all the canonical battles anyways,) the new mode can transition into a “bad ending” that sets up the events of Breath of the Wild proper.
2 Smoother Graphics In-Game
Age of Calamity’s cinematics look fantastic, making use of the same expressive character models and vibrant cinematography seen in Breath of the Wild. This doesn’t extend to gameplay, however, even when docked. Stemming from Age of Calamity’s many performance issues to begin with, the in-game graphics need some smoothing out.
It’s not a matter of AoC launching alongside next-gen consoles, either. Even for a Switch game, Age of Calamity is a bit on the ugly side during gameplay. Great art direction and hyper stylized combat so help in this regard, but there’s little excuse for all the performance hiccups.
1 Outfits For Everyone
The original Hyrule Warriors – and even Breath of the Wild – made a point to play up all the different outfits players could wear & unlock. Breath of the Wild made it a core part of Link’s personality specifically, something that’s translated over into Age of Calamity. Although Link has a massive wardrobe of gear to choose from, his fellow playable characters don’t have the same luxury. Zelda and the Champions have a few variants, but the rest of the cast are stuck in their default clothing. Future updates will almost certainly add outfits for everyone, but only time will tell how long that’ll take.