Three years after the nearly universally-acclaimed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo is bringing players back to Hyrule, for a prequel set a century in the past, exploring the all-important "Calamity" that befell the kingdom and resulted in the searching quality of the 2017 game, as players slowly pieced together what had happened.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity opens up the world of this game, allowing players to play more than just Link, as they hack and slash their way through hundreds of enemies, courtesy of the Dynasty Warriors franchise, which this game belongs to. It's a follow up to Koei Tecmo's Hyrule Warriors, an action game blended into the wider universe of Zelda, with the 2020 game following a similar route to the 2014 one — only focusing specifically on Breath of the Wild and incorporating its impressive roster of characters.
And while it's not reaching the glowing review heights of its direct predecessor — Breath of the Wild bringing a 97 percent favorable average score on Metacritic, cementing it as the greatest Nintendo Switch game of all time thus far — Age of Calamity is already doing better than its thematic predecessor, currently rating at a 79 percent average score compared to Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition's 78 percent.
While most reviewers enjoyed the musou style of the game that allows players to pull off epic moves on a larger scale featuring some of their favorite characters that other Zelda games might not make playable, some lamented the lost opportunity to do something more interesting and original with the storytelling, a bit of a let-down for a game that was supposed to serve as a predecessor to Breath of the Wild.
And while some details are still under embargo, here is a carefully curated collection of what critics had to say about the game, which comes out on Nov. 20.
IGN (9 out of 10)
"Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity offers a welcome trip back to a world I’ve clocked hundreds of hours in. Its hugely varied roster of characters, solid combat mechanics, fun progression and clever adaptation of Breath of the Wild’s vision of Hyrule is a joy to play and discover. While there are some missed characterisation opportunities, Age of Calamity is still a blast from start to finish." — Cam Shea
The Verge (unscored, favorable)
"For such a conflicted experience, it’s remarkable how well Age of Calamity works. No, it’s not a new Breath of the Wild, and fans coming to it from that perspective will likely be disappointed... Despite some largely superficial similarities, the two games play completely differently. But some of those elements that made Breath of the Wild so beloved — a beautiful world, memorable characters, varied combat — help make an otherwise straightforward experience feel fresh and interesting. It’s not subtle, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t Zelda." — Andrew Webster
PC Mag (3.5 out of 5)
"Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is a fine action game with plenty to do, and a satisfyingly robust combat system. It's denser and more focused than Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition, but that focus removes some of the charm. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition was a love letter to the entire Legend of Zelda series, a game filled with familiar characters and places from several of titles. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is very much a Breath of the Wild-specific game, which is certainly fine (Breath of the Wild was excellent), but not nearly as much of a fan-pleasing barrage of elements from the entire series. It’s a game that expects you to specifically love Breath of the Wild, and be invested in what happened before its events. If you dig that idea, you'll dig Age of Calamity." — Will Greenwald
WIRED, (unscored, mixed)
"Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is an uneasy mix of smart and stupid... If after 200 hours, Zelda: Breath of the Wild began to feel like home, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity may feel like a return after college. Cutscenes and familiar geographies will tug lightly at your heartstrings. And if you’re already a fan of Dynasty Warriors games, you may forgive Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity’s less-than-stellar combat and focus in on what it’s good at: making characters you love do epic shit." — Cecilia D'Anastasio
Game Informer (7.5 out of 10)
"Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity looks a lot like Breath of the Wild, but it lacks the exploration and puzzle-solving elements that define the mainline Legend of Zelda series. Age of Calamity may not resemble a traditional Zelda game, but it’s not a bad time. The action is repetitive, but also relaxed and comfortable. It trades on your love for Nintendo’s classic franchise, and I was happy for the excuse to return to this version of Hyrule. I still feel like I'm chasing Breath of the Wild's high, and Age of Calamity is a small solace." — Ben Reeves
Kotaku (unscored, unfavorable)
"Fans primarily looking for a meaningful addition to Breath of the Wild’s canon can skip this game. It wastes the opportunity to establish the deep connections present in Breath of the Wild, instead serving only as a vehicle for beating up bokoblins as your Breath of the Wild fave. In the absence of other payoffs—for example, I’d forgive every sin named here if, as is typical for the Dynasty Warriors franchise, each character got their own story mode—not even my ardent love for these characters was enough to sustain my interest over the entire, artificially padded game. Again, you can play as Lady Urbosa. That’s it. That’s the game." — Ash Parrish
Eurogamer, (unscored, mixed)
"Age of Calamity is like a remix - a noisy, frenetic and slightly scratchy one too... If you're looking for an entertaining and cohesive addition to the Zelda canon then I'm not sure Age of Calamity will entirely satisfy either, with some hijinks in place that see it eventually move away somewhat from its initial premise - though if you're coming to a Zelda game for its story you're coming to it for entirely different reasons to myself, and I can't say I was ever particularly fussed by its wayward final act. What Age of Calamity does offer is a decent enough heroic arc across its various chapters, grounded in a world I already know and love. On that front, it most definitely delivers... Of all the many musou spin-offs, Age of Calamity can well lay claim to being the best yet." — Martin Robinson
Esquire (unscored, unfavorable)
"Five minutes into Calamity, you’ll find that this prequel is almost nothing like the quiet, meditative open world game from 2017... But I don’t think fans of Breath of the Wild are prepared for just how disorienting it is to drop back into the leafy, watercolor-textured world of an abandoned Hyrule, only to find it resembling something close to a 1990s Major League baseball game, back when all the players were hulked out on performance enhancing drugs... Age of Calamity hardly delivers. I don’t think it’s a bad game; I found a lot of joy in wiping hundreds, sometimes thousands of opponents off the screen. But as a prequel to Breath of the Wild, it’s a monumental disappointment. " — Dom Nero
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity comes out on Nov. 20, it will be available to play solely on the Nintendo Switch.