It has the word “Hyrule” in the title and takes place 100 years before Breath of the Wild. If you’re a Zelda fan like I am, that means you just had to buy this game called Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity… which kind of makes my review pointless, but I digress.
Ease and monotony are not two things well-combined.
If you don’t know Warriors games, you basically play a hero in the field who murders small army after small army. This starts the game off on a mediocre foot, to be blunt, and is further hampered by a mostly abysmal framerate (more on that later). You just go from yellow dot to yellow dot on the map obliterating scores of enemies. This ranges from the usual fodder to actual bosses. But it all doesn’t matter because you’re going to do the same thing anyway: combo your way to a glitzy finish. While it does initially feel cool and fun, it wears itself out quick after several hours, and even though you end up having a relatively decent size roster towards the end, and the ability for Link to use various weapons, the truth is that once Link gets the Master Sword (that’s not really a spoiler, right?), he becomes OP. And then, to make matters worse, once waifu Impa is upgraded, she, too, becomes massively OP. They are the closest characters to Zelda through the game, so it makes sense, but it becomes tiresome when you use anyone else and realize how they mostly pale in comparison to Link and waifu Impa. There is some attempted variety in combat through the use of the sheikah slate and elemental magic, but those only serve to make things easier. Ease and monotony are not two things well-combined. But you’re excited to pilot a divine beast, right? Be prepared for an even worse framerate and what boils down to on-rails shooting. While I admit I derived some enjoyment early on in the game, the only thing keeping me going forward was the story.
The core content of this game is actually the story itself…
Just shy of 20 hours, I watched the credits roll. On the way there, I found myself only being pulled by the storyline because it’s Zelda. The map is filled with icons, hollow icons which are mostly administrative delivery quests for upgrades. The side missions themselves hold to the same yellow-dot-pattern as the core game with mildly different objectives, but I hate to break it to you: the mid-game grind that sort of forces you to do these to level up only reinforces the monotony. Sure, you can upgrade your weapons, maybe cook some food for almost unnoticeable boosts, but that all holds little weight. The core content of this game is actually the story itself, which gives you insight into the past, and is pretty much the only content that genuinely pulls you along.
…the animation is surprisingly good.
The framerate here is absolute murder on how well my eyesockets and button-pushers coordinate. I admit, coming off the other two current gen consoles has spoiled me, but this is far beyond just being a dip here and there. It is almost ALWAYS a bad framerate, sometimes even dipping into what is likely between 10-20fps due to the lack of adaptive v-sync. This is clearly a technical limitation of the Switch, holding back a smoother experience simply because any further downscale of the graphics would have had it falling too far below Breath of the Wild. But, and I say this with gleeful positivity: the animation is surprisingly good. I can only surmise Nintendo themselves did the cinematics and animations, as they are of rather high caliber. This also leads into the only character that really matters: Zelda Wall-E. Terrako is easily the star of the show, and I don’t want to spoil his almost Pixar level of existence. Though, waifu Impa sometimes stole the show, too. But the story itself? Just know that all the things you know don’t pan out like you would expect, and this is simply “just another victory”.
Nintendo themselves is the only saving grace for this game…
It’s Zelda. It’s the Breath of the Wild universe. I pre-ordered it because there was no question in my mind I had to play it despite knowing what the Warriors core gameplay meant. And yet, I can’t help but recognize that this is just filler. Nintendo themselves is the only saving grace for this game, bestowing their quality into the animation and characters, bringing them to life (once again, the highlight being Zelda Wall-E) and keeping me going. The rest of the game is only cool and fun for several hours, and the framerate absolutely destroys the gameplay. All this game did was show me how much more I just want Breath of the Wild 2.