Nintendo knows a thing or two about pulling off surprises and few could’ve expected that recent Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity reveal. With no real rumours or leaks foreshadowing it, we suddenly had a brand-new Legend of Zelda game to look forward to. Fans hoping for news on Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2 will have to wait, but in the meantime Age Of Calamity is coming to us this November. Developed by Koei Tecmo, Age of Calamity looks set to retain the Warriors series' hallmark hack-and-slash gameplay — showcased to Zelda fans in Hyrule Warriors — but now set within Zelda: Breath Of The Wild's timeline as an official prequel.
Unlike its non-canon predecessor, which celebrated Zelda’s history in one major crossover, this Warriors game takes place 100 years before Breath of the Wild begins and is set to show us what happened within the Kingdom of Hyrule. It’s something we only saw fragments of previously, enough to detail the Second Great Calamity without revealing the entire picture. By fully exploring this setting, Age of Calamity presents an opportunity to truly develop a certain set of playable characters — the Champions — in a way that Breath of the Wild simply couldn't.
For those who haven’t played Breath Of The Wild, be warned, there’s spoilers ahead...
To understand why, it’s worth re-examining Breath of the Wild’s premise first. At the start of the game we find ourselves as an amnesiac Link, awakening in the Shrine of Resurrection with minimal clothing. Greeted upon leaving by a mysterious old man, we quickly discover him to be King Rhoam Bosphoramus — Hyrule’s spirit in disguise — who reveals just how the kingdom fell in the wake of Calamity Ganon. Without going into explicit detail, he advises Link that he’s Princess Zelda’s appointed knight who nearly died in battle, confirming Zelda still lives but is trapped within Hyrule Castle, using her gradually waning powers to stop Ganon’s full resurrection.
Though Link could face Ganon immediately, Rhoam suggests heading to Kakariko Village first, and there we meet the elderly Lady Impa, one of the last surviving Sheikah that remembers the Great Calamity. Realising Link’s memories are missing, she informs him of the First Great Calamity and how Ganon was defeated by a knight, backed up by four Champions that piloted the ancient Sheikah weapons known as Divine Beasts. Aware that Ganon’s return was impending, King Rhoam sought to replicate this strategy during the Second Great Calamity by excavating the Divine Beasts and mechanical Guardians, appointing four new Champions from each of Hyrule’s major tribes to control them.
Placed under Princess Zelda’s command, they really made one hell of a team and many series fans immediately fell in love with them. Representing the Rito tribe was Revali, a prideful but unrivalled archer, confident in his own abilities and unafraid to show it off. From the Zora tribe we had Mipha, one of Link’s childhood friends and a gentle soul, driven to protect people with her healing abilities. The Gorons had Daruk, a brave warrior with a larger-than-life personality, capable of creating a protective forcefield around himself. Finally, there was Lady Urbosa, fearless chieftain to the Gerudo tribe that could summon lightning at the snap of her fingers.
Setting out to work together, it soon becomes clear they had greatly underestimated Ganon’s strength. Despite making great preparations for his revival, Ganon seized control of each Divine Beast and the Guardians, killing our Champions in the process and imprisoning their spirits within them. With Zelda unable to summon her power, the battle was lost and for a long time, it appeared their efforts were in vain. Almost as soon as their tale begins, we discover how it ends and their loss was greatly mourned across Hyrule.
That's not to say that was the complete end to the Champions’ story. Breath of the Wild holds fleeting moments where we interact with them directly, featured in some of Link’s recovered memories and with each Divine Beast stopped, their spirits are freed once more. These encounters were all too brief though and most of Link’s memories focused on him and Zelda (though the Champions Ballad DLC did expand upon this). The original game did enough to convey their personalities, giving a glimpse of their lives before the Second Calamity took them, but ultimately, many were left wanting more.
By making Age Of Calamity a prequel which directly shows us how the Second Calamity unfolded, Nintendo and Koei Tecmo have a golden opportunity to show these magnificent characters at their peak
However, lamenting this as a missed opportunity would completely miss the point. Throughout Hyrule, the Champions become immortalised as legends and upon visiting each tribe, their influence is still felt 100 years later, particularly amongst their successors. In their grief for the beloved Princess Mipha, King Dorephan created a statue honouring his daughter in Zora’s Domain, remembering her kindness. Similarly, the Gorons carved Daruk’s image directly into Eldin Canyon. Elsewhere, one of Urbosa’s descendants, Riju, now rules the Gerudo Tribe which still holds Urbosa's memory to heart, whilst the Rito remember Revali for his incredible skill and look to him as an inspiration.
Though we might have wanted more, their untimely deaths drive the story forward, creating an excellent foundation for what occurs in the present day as their story is passed onto new generations. By making Age Of Calamity a prequel which directly shows us how the Second Calamity unfolded, Nintendo and Koei Tecmo have a golden opportunity to show these magnificent characters at their peak. Link’s memories gave us a taste of their battle skills, but by making them all playable commanders we can see these legendary figures in their prime, discover how they worked together, learn more about them and get a better look at life before Ganon.
Considering most Zelda games are historically standalone affairs, it’s refreshing to see Age Of Calamity offer something no Zelda title has done before, offering a meaningful expansion to Breath of the Wild’s magnificent story. Whilst we already know how it’ll end, this journey gives these beloved characters a new chance to shine that Breath of the Wild 2 (presumably) won't be able to. There’s only two months to go and with more footage on the way at Tokyo Game Show, we cannot wait to see how Age of Calamity unfolds.
Are you looking forward to Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity? Do you think it'll give the Champions their dues? Let us know in the comments which one you're looking forward to whipping bokoblin behind with.