EDITOR'S NOTE: Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity won a "highly recommended" honor for best Switch game at the Tom's Guide Awards 2021 for gaming.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity looks like it could be the perfect stopgap until The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 comes out. The second game to mash up The Legend of Zelda mythos with Dynasty Warriors gameplay, Age of Calamity will finally tell the story of what happened 100 years before Breath of the Wild.
The game essentially came out of nowhere, when Nintendo debuted a standalone trailer for it in September. Since then, though, fans have eagerly snatched up any new information about the game, eager to dive back into Breath of the Wild’s enchanting world and learn a little more about its quirky characters, only with a little less exploration and a lot more hack-and-slash. Here’s what we know about Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity so far.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity release date
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity will come out on November 20, 2020 for the Nintendo Switch. The game will cost $60, and players can pick it up in either physical or digital formats. Those who pre-order a digital copy will get a special weapon (the Lucky Ladle), but otherwise, the two versions are identical.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity trailer
The first trailer for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity debuted on September 8. While a lot more footage of the game has surfaced since then, this is still the best source of information we have on the game’s story and setting:
Unlike the original Hyrule Warriors, which had only tangential connections to Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, Age of Calamity is a direct prequel to Breath of the Wild. In it, players will learn the full story of how Link and Zelda initially tried to stop Calamity Ganon, and eventually found themselves overmatched. While Breath of the Wild filled in some of the gaps through flashbacks, there’s still a lot of uncharted territory here.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity gameplay
To understand the Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity gameplay, it helps to understand a little bit about the first Hyrule Warriors game. Hyrule Warriors was a hack-and-slash action game that debuted for the Wii U in 2014. Something of a sleeper hit on its initial console, it picked up steam with a 3DS port and a Switch re-release called Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition.
The central concept is simple: Dynasty Warriors gameplay with a Legend of Zelda skin. Dynasty Warriors (sometimes called “musou”) is a long-running series of historical action games, in which you take control of semi-historical Chinese heroes who fend off hundreds of faceless enemy soldiers as they advance across a contested battlefield. The games are a little strategic, since you have to control checkpoints and decide where to assign your allies, but they’re generally too fast-paced and chaotic to get bogged down in the details.
Hyrule Warriors put some fun Zelda spins on the formula, with fan-favorite accessories like bombs, boomerangs, ocarinas and hookshots. But the big draw was getting to take control of a cast of Zelda characters beyond Link himself. The first game had almost 30 playable characters, from mainstays like Zelda and Impa, to deep cuts like Ghirahim and Marin. When you consider that each character has different skills and upgradeable weapons, it can be a pretty deep rabbit hole.
Age of Calamity looks like it will have very similar gameplay overall, from the musou formula to the big cast of playable characters. The weapon selection looks a little deeper this time around, as does the world map, but it shouldn’t take too much effort to jump in and play. You can view more than 20 minutes of uninterrupted gameplay on Nintendo’s YouTube channel, which we've embedded above.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity multiplayer
Co-op partners can rest easy, as Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity will have multiplayer features, just like the first game. We know from the game’s official listing that it supports “up to 2 players,” just like the original game, and that you can use a single Joy-Con as a full controller. This should make spontaneous multiplayer sessions pretty simple to facilitate.
We don’t know exactly which modes will support multiplayer yet, but in the original game, players could collaborate on the story campaign, challenge missions and “free mode,” which let them set their own mission parameters.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity characters
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition had almost 30 characters, so there’s no reason to think that Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity will be stingy. Link and Zelda will be playable, naturally, as will the four guardians from Breath of the Wild: Daruk, Mipha, Revali and Urbosa. Impa, Zelda’s handmaiden, will also be a playable character.
We also know that Purah, Robbie and the King of Hyrule will appear in the game, although they’re not guaranteed to be playable. But we imagine there are plenty more playable characters on the way, and we’ll learn more about them as the game gets closer to launch.