Unleashed in 2020 as the groundbreaking Breath of the Wild‘s prequel, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is only worth it if you decide it to be. It’s not as straightforward Legend of Zelda as most people would want, but I’m here to clear up the confusion for you. Here are 10 things you MUST know before purchasing Age of Calamity. Don’t waste your rupees!
10. Superficially Resembles BOTW
The gameplay of AOC is nothing like Breath of the Wild, but there are some little superficial details that are taken from its predecessor. Mechanics like collecting apples and using the Sheikah Slate runes are reused, and field enemies like Moblins, Lizalfos, and Bokoblins return. However, the Remote Bomb and Stasis runes are used a little differently in AOC. Stasis can now be used on a large group of enemies, and Remote Bombs are thrown at enemies in multiples and in slow motion. Even the arrows are shot in a shower instead of one at a time.
9. Hordes of Enemies
Like Hyrule Warriors Legends, the original Hyrule Warriors on which AOC’s gameplay style is based, your main opponents are hordes of enemies that may seem intimidating when you first start. They will eventually become only light nuisances in your path as the game progresses, though. 90% of the game is consumed by fighting these huge groups of field monsters – the other 10% is cutscenes – and if this sounds boring, you should opt out of purchasing AOC. If you came for the characters and storyline, just Google up a YouTube compilation of all of AOC’s cutscenes. All of them add up to about an average movie’s length.
8. No Dungeons or Puzzles
There are no dungeons or puzzles in AOC. As I previously stated, all time spent playing the game will be fighting crowds of field enemies. The Divine Beasts are present as giant elemental weapons, but they don’t act as dungeons as they did in BOTW. There are also no puzzles; even strategy is minimally needed. As long as you know how to jam on the Y button to fight your way through BOTW’s enemy camps multiplied by a million and follow the given directions, you’re good to go.
7. Branch Timeline
AOC is not in BOTW’s timeline. A time-traveling egg-shaped Guardian basically travels from BOTW’s tragic timeline to AOC, before Calamity Ganon arose and when the Champions were still preparing for the grand fight, as the Guardian tries to warn Zelda of her fate. It’s essentially going back in time in a desperate attempt to fix things and save Hyrule.
6. Lots of Playable Characters
Unlike BOTW, AOC has lots of playable characters, including the four Champions, Princess Zelda, a young Impa, Link, Calamity Ganon, and even the lovable giant Korok, Hestu. No more tedious modding to awkwardly put another character’s suit on Link. No more getting tired of only being able to play as everyone’s favorite elf knight. Resembling its ancestor Hyrule Warriors Legends, you’ll be scrolling through pages and pages of playable characters that come in a pack of related quests of their own, too.
5. Prequel, NOT Sequel
A common mistake many make is thinking AOC is BOTW’s long-awaited sequel, but no. It is merely a prequel centered around time travel to make it possible. Sadly, we’re still awaiting BOTW 2, as it was delayed for a spring 2023 release (sorry, I know). But if you’re not already turned away by how much fighting is in AOC, you could consider picking it up during the waiting time.
4. Two-Player Mode
Unlike BOTW, AOC has the big bonus of a two-player mode. That means two people can use the power of teamwork to take down enemies and be in two completely different corners of the map at the same time! I mean, how cool is that? There isn’t much exploring, but technically one person could just be collecting materials while the other is completing the mission. Not ideal, but possible. All you have to do is get a buddy to tag along, and both of you can be playing happily away on your Nintendo Switches slashing through billions of Bokos.
3. Side Quests and Koroks
Side quests in AOC work much differently than BOTW. On the map, there will be an icon on the map showing which character the quest is related to (i.e. Princess Zelda icon if the quest relates to Hyrule’s royal family). Simply select it, and you won’t have to travel all across the map to harvest materials for someone: all you have to do is select the give button to hand over the materials. One click. It’s that easy. Not to mention the Koroks are back, hiding in the middle of a mob… Luckily, there are only 160 of them here, not 900.
2. Not Made by Nintendo
Let’s get this clear now: AOC is not part of the Legend of Zelda franchise, and therefore is not Nintendo-crafted to their highest standards. It is considered a Hyrule Warriors game (hence Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity) and was made by another Japanese video game company, Omega Force. They are known for making other warrior style games. While the game was published under Nintendo’s name since AOC is related to their BOTW, Omega Force is behind the hack-and-slash design.
1. Hack-And-Slash, NOT Open World
The #1 thing to remember before purchasing Age of Calamity is that it is 0% open world, but 100% traditional Japanese hack-and-slash. If you came looking for another relaxing open world game modeled after Breath of the Wild, head back to where you came from. AOC is not for you. Throughout the game, you will see unrealistic numbers of the enemies you fought in BOTW (such as herds of Lynels, groups of Igneo Taluses, and quadrillions of endlessly appearing Bokoblins and Lizalfos), and that’s basically it. No climbing. No swimming. No paragliding off the cliff to reach a beautiful place in the distance. Just a lot of dashing between outposts to fight sub-bosses scattered across the already busy map. There aren’t even those relaxing songs you could almost fall asleep to, only fast-paced orchestral compositions that fit with the intense and constant fighting.