Hyrule Warrior: Age of Calamity is a pit stop on our long wait for Breath of the Wild 2, and I mean that in a positive way. The game lets us visit Hyrule again, and it feels good to return. Whenever I dig my sword into a Moblin's back, I'm back on Link's home turf. Even Age of Calamity's hack-and-slash Musou mechanics emulate Breath of the Wild in important ways, e.g. performing a perfect dodge grants you the opportunity to perform a "flurry rush" that lets you drive deep into your enemy's defenses.
Moreover, whipping through Age of Calamity is making me excited for Breath of the Wild 2—and I'm sure I heard a Nintendo exec mutter "Just as planned" from all the way over in Kyoto when I typed that. Now, whenever I play Age of Calamity, I find myself tending to a growing list of wants and desires for Breath of the Wild 2. Listen to me, Nintendo. I have needs.
More Enemy Variety, Please
Age of Calamity revolves around the Hyrule Champions' attempts to defend Hyrule against the imminent revival of Calamity Ganon. Setting things right (or attempting to set them right) requires you to hack through tens of thousands of Breath of the Wild monsters. This action quickly prompts you to remember one of Breath of the Wild's biggest problems: the disappointing lack of enemy variety. On the grasslands, you fight Moblins, Bokoblins, and Lizalfols. On Death Mountain, the Talus golems try to block your progress. And of course, the incorrigible Yiga clan is everywhere and it never misses a chance to try and trip up Link.
In other words, Age of Calamity has you struggle against the same enemies you take down in Breath of the Wild. It's fine; Age of Calamity's gameplay is honestly more fun and involving than I thought it would be thanks to the implementation of Breath of the Wild's battle mechanics. I expect that kind of uniformity from Age of Calamity, given its role as a prequel story. When Breath of the Wild 2 comes out, however, I really hope we're up against more than the same ten enemies with color and elemental variants.
(Keep the Lynels, though. Man, Breath of the Wild's Lynels are awesome. And a little terrifying.)
More Story, More Character Development (But Not Too Much Jibber-Jabber)
Age of Calamity has already shown me a few compelling narrative threads, and that's something else I'd like to see more of in Breath of the Wild 2. The Legend of Zelda has never been a hugely story-oriented series, and that's fine. I don't want long moments of exposition from Princess Zelda and Link (whose response to people dumping the weight of the world on his shoulder is, as always, a blank stare).
I just like little interludes that pack narrative and character development into bite-sized chunks; just enough time for Mipha to cast a lovesick glance at Link. (You know you ship it.) It's true, Breath of the Wild already has some great story cinemas. I just want more. Age of Calamity's story is turning me into an addict.
Keep Breakable Weapons, Though. Breakable Weapons are Fine.
I usually don't jump into (poisonous) conversations about whether Breath of the Wild 2 should keep the original games' breakable weapon system. I'm fine with breakable weapons, but I would've been fine with Breath of the Wild 2 abandoning them, too.
Long story short, Age of Calamity has changed my mind on the issue. Weapons don't break, and you're rewarded with additional weapons at the end of missions. These junk swords usually become upgrade fodder for rare arms.
I like fusion/upgrade systems in video games, and I like it in Age of Calamity. It's satisfying to collect useless weapons and give them a second life as the essence of Whatever Cool Sword I'm Wielding. I'm therefore surprised to learn I kind of miss the background urgency that comes with breakable weapons. In Breath of the Wild, the breaking weapons motivated me to learn how to master every blade I picked up off the ground, and it also drove me to find the (technically) unbreakable Master Sword. Age of Calamity lets Link equip everything he handles in Breath of the Wild, but I'm sticking to my sword simply because I can. There are lots of side-fights that encourage Link to practise with spears, clubs, hammers, and myriad other weapons, but I've fallen into a comfort zone—a rut, really—and I don't want to climb out of it, even though Age of Calamity offers creative fighting styles based on the weapons I'm ignoring.
Am I saying I want breakable weapons back in Breath of the Wild 2? Yes! But also no. Our reviews editor Mike Williams has said multiple times that he wants Breath of the Wild to give us the option of mending our weapons. That might be a decent compromise. Either way, I've come to learn that mild, background awareness of your weapons' status is just one of the many specks of light that makes Breath of the Wild so memorable.
Age of Calamity is engaging in that irresistible Musou way: It's not my favorite genre, but I can't deny it's addictive to mow down Ganon's hordes by the hundreds. Given Age of Calamity's apocalyptic narrative—the monsters' frantic push to overwhelm Hyrule—the Musou format suits this particular piece of Hylian history very well.
Personally, I'm stoked for both Age of Calamity and Breath of the Wild. Playing through Link's doomed adventure makes me eager to see what Nintendo has in store for what might be one of the most anticipated sequels of all time. In the meantime, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is a filling snack that should hold you over until Breath of the Wild 2. Try it for yourself when it arrives on the Switch on Nov. 20.