Nintendo has been actively releasing demos of their games before they launch, if only to give us a taste of what will be offered in the full version. Most recently, I was able to play through the entirety of the Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity demo. It’s a decently sized experience featuring the entire first chapter, including two major battlefields, three playable characters, and multiple shops for upgrades.
The Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity demo opens with several cinematics that ties directly into Breath of the Wild’s narrative. Graphically and stylistically, it’s a dead ringer for its canonical sequel. Maybe because of this familiarity, I was surprised when I got into actual battles as it differs control-wise from both Breath of the Wild and the first Hyrule Warriors title. However, if you’re fairly familiar with any Warrior entries, these changes will probably be so minor that most won’t be set back by them too much.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity maintains other standards like the “one vs. a thousand” gameplay. Maybe because it is early on, but the gameplay does seem a bit slower than other Warrior titles, but it could also be that characters are at lower levels and ramp up as you become more experienced.
This might also be because some of the sheikah slate items require a bit more calculation and timing to get right. Each character’s use of the items differs in execution and mechanics, so I can totally see how overwhelming this could be for newer players if the speed is increased from the very beginning. Even with that said, you can move fairly swiftly when dodging or directly involved in combat.
Link plays like a well-rounded character. His strikes and items feel standard and consistent with his incarnation in Breath of the Wild, making him a great starting character. The Sheikah Impa uses speedy ninja attacks and dodges circles around her foes. She also has my favorite feature on the demo, which allows her to duplicate herself to unleash wide-ranging damage.
Her use of items is a bit less straightforward, though, and takes some getting used to as you perfect your skills. Lastly, Zelda uses her slate also as the main weapon and can create some exciting combos. Her standard attacks are trickier to get the hang of, but they seem to give you a bit of flexibility, especially on more strategically timed attacks.
While Impa was my favorite to play as a cool feature, you can switch between multiple characters on the field at once. Luckily Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity allows you to do this with all three characters by the second battlefield making for some super enjoyable and diverse combat.
Along with main battles, the demo also includes several shops, a blacksmith to upgrade your weapons, and even smaller achievement battles to earn rewards upon their completion. Collecting enough items can unlock character heart containers and new combos. Thankfully any progress made in this demo can be transferred to the full game when it releases on November 20.
As it stands, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is giving players a few new systems that allow it to stand on its own within the Warrior franchise. There are a few additional layers of care that have gone into the narrative as well, which ultimately creates a foundation for the events of Breath of the Wild.
The demo is currently available for download on the Nintendo Switch eShop.
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