Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 – The Year of Champions

Let's resist the urge to call this the "Year of Calamity" and solely focus on what the year 2020 had to offer for fans of The Legend of Zelda. The series will be celebrating its 35th Anniversary next year, where it was already the turn for Super Mario in 2020. So, if you didn't expect anything major for Zelda during this year, there is no blaming you.

And while we didn't get a new entry for the main series in 2020, it was a year for Zelda spin-offs to shine. First came Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the Necrodancher featuring The Legend of Zelda, which was already released on Nintendo Switch in 2019, but got a series of three DLC packs and a physical release this year.

The highlight of the DLC was probably the "Symphony of the Mask", a completely new story campaign, where you play as Skull Kid. But there was also a Character Pack, featuring Impa among others, as well as a Music Pack with a bunch of remixes.

For the longest time it looked like Cadence of Hyrule would be the only thing worth mentioning in 2020, but in September we got the announcement for a completely new game: Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, which was going to be released already two months later... Quite the surprise!

The first Hyrule Warriors already came to Nintendo Switch two years prior with its Definitive Edition, so this new Hyrule Warriors game focused entirely on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, taking place 100 years before the main events, where you get to meet and finally play as the infamous Champions: Mipha, Daruk, Revali and Urbosa.

And of course these were not the only playable characters, where this game is certainly a beast of its own and you can get entertained for many hours with tons of content in what is essentially just one giant love letter to Breath of the Wild. Maybe it will even set you in the mood for the sequel, where we may hear about the next major Zelda game in 2021. But more on that tomorrow...

Otherwise 2020 has seen the rise of new Champions in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Even though nothing of it had anything to do with The Legend of Zelda, the DLC for Smash has been going strongly with four Challenger Packs in total, three of which came in a new Fighters Pass. While the additions of Byleth, Min Min, Steve and Sephiroth had all sparked some controversies, you can't deny that all these fighters turned out to be quite unique, especially the ones from ARMS and Minecraft. And it will be interesting to follow the development of the upcoming DLC, even if there probably won't be anything in it for Zelda fans, but you never know... So, let's see.

PS: For me it was also the "Year of Champions", because I've played a lot of Quake Champions this year, where it's my most played game in 2020, even more than Age of Calamity. It also features an array of different playable characters from the Quake universe, as well as guest appearances of the Doom Slayer and B.J. Blaskowicz. If you're a fan of classic Arena Shooters, then give this a try.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Age of Calamity War Log, Entry 13

Current Progress

  • Difficulty: Very Hard
  • Chapter: 7 (Completed)
  • Battles: 20
  • Challenges: 143
  • Quests: 341
  • Contribution Rate: 90%
  • Map Completion:  90.12%

Endgame spoilers incoming! Don't keep reading, if you haven't beaten the main story yet!

Malice Castle

Here we go. It was time to revisit Hyrule Castle to finally face Calamity Ganon. And I'm not sure I like what he has done with the place. The "malice" has spread significantly, where it covers the castle in a much greater rate than even 100 years later in Breath of the Wild.

Zelda standing in front of the top part of Hyrule Castle, everything is covered in a dark red tone

Of course Ganon was sealed for most of that time and here he probably had a couple of days more to spread his goo. Another explanation would be that he grew much more hateful in this timeline, mainly because the heroes became much more powerful. In German the "malice" was even translated as "wrath", where this makes kind of sense. His wrath has truly grown here.

While it shares some areas with the previous Hyrule Castle stage, the visuals are entirely different. Also, some of the paths that you could previously take are cut off, while you can now explore other areas. So, like the Hyrule Castle Town battlefield before, it feels very different from its predecessor.

But other than the walls of malice, the castle seemed less threatening than in Breath of the Wild, mainly because they weren't as many strong monsters present. If Astor weren't there to summon the four Blights yet another time, you'd only have to face a couple of Guardians and a Stalnox, really. The only Malice Lynel you get to fight during the story already died at the front entrance.

So, while his malice grew, Ganon has seemingly lost a good part of his army, which again makes sense, but still felt somewhat underwhelming at this point. It's like Ganon was saving all his fiercest monsters to anger you during Challenges instead, where he certainly got his priorities wrong.

Well, luckily for Ganon, at least Astor is there to do the job and he gets a beating for it... From absolutely everyone!

Astor completely surrounded by special effects caused from all of Link's allies' attacks

This was quite the hilarious scene and I don't think this is supposed to happen. Most of your allies are actually waiting outside of the keep, while you fight against Astor inside. But I managed to blast him away to where the others were and then they all started targeting him at once, following him back inside for some comical brawl. He was covered in so many special effects all at once, I couldn't even see the guy any more.

But this is something that I really enjoyed in this mission: everyone was here. Well, everyone except for the two bonus fighters, but if you pick them for the scenario, there should be everyone present, joining the battle. And this was quite the satisfying sight.


Of Guardians and Ganons

We also get to finally meet Astor's buddy, called "Harbinger Ganon", who turns out to be the little Guardian from this timeline, which has been taken over by Calamity Ganon's Malice from the future. And the transformation was certainly quite disturbing. Similar to the "pendant" from Zelda's mother, which turned out to be a Guardian Shield, you could have seen it coming that the little Guardian is basically a modified Guardian Scout, so it comes with the weaponry and all.

But Harbinger Ganon seems to be another boss character, like Sooga and Astor, who isn't playable (yet). He gets added to the gallery as another NPC together with Astor after this scenario, but I'd say that Astor, Harbinger Ganon, and the four Blights could all become playable characters in a DLC villain campaign.

However, the game might already have Harbinger Ganon's counterpart ready as a playable character: the cute, little Guardian itself, who now gets corrupted by the malice and you have to fight him as Link for an emotional battle, where afterwards his name gets revealed from Zelda's early childhood memories: Terrako.

And I have to agree with King Rhoam here: this is no toy for a child! No matter how cute it might seem, this thing has sharp blades built inside... Better be sorry than not safe.

Now, the moment Terrako turned basically into a Guardian Scout, my mind was screaming "another playable character". This is the way Hyrule Warriors handles its playable cast. You wouldn't get to play as any Guardian, it has to be a special Guardian with a name, unique design and everything, so this makes perfect sense. Similar to how Sooga wouldn't be just any Yiga Blademaster if he were playable. Or if they were to add a playable Lynel, it would be a unique Lynel. (Called "Lionel", with an eye-patch or something.)

But right here and now you have to trash the possessed, little thing, which is super sad, and in one last attempt of helping the heroes it goes full self destruct into Calamity Ganon, who has transformed into a copy of Mother Brain in this timeline...

I'm not sure which mutation of Calamity Ganon I like more (or less), but everyone fighting Calamity Ganon together with the different themes of Age Calamity in the background was certainly great. I enjoyed this a lot, even though the battle itself felt somewhat underwhelming as well.

After the Calamity Is Before the Calamity

I was looking forward to beating this game for a while now, mainly because I wanted the adventurous map music back, "Overlooking Hyrule", from the beginning of the game. I was kind of sick of the Calamity version, but it looks like I will have to get used to it...

While there is now a new version of "Overlooking Hyrule", which is very calm, peaceful and maybe a little bit sad, the game also introduces the new Blood Moon mechanic, where it plays the Calamity theme again. While I like that you still both versions somehow, the Blood Moon appears so frequently that you're rarely get to listen to the other theme. Well, at least Link is humming the main theme from time to time.

Now, what does the Blood Moon do, really? One randomly selected story scenario will have a Blood Moon icon instead of the regular one, where it basically just raises the recommended level. During the battle it also adds the Blood Moon filter, so you can experience all of the battlefields with these different visuals.

Zelda wearing her blue clothes on the Great Plateau during the Blood Moon with Silver Bokoblins and the castles behind her

This is nice, if you want to replay some of the scenarios and get more experience points, as well as a visually different experience. It's perfect for hunting down some remaining Korok Seeds or treasure chest, though in my case I've already got every one of those, so the Blood Moon missions are really just another way of grinding.

However, you won't get better loot, from what it seems. So, the collected weaponry will still be low-tier garbage if you're playing an early scenario.

This also would have been a good opportunity to introduce golden enemies by increasing the tiers of all the enemies that come in the five standard colors, just like Master Mode in Breath of the Wild. But it seems like this is another thing they'll be saving for DLC.

Alternate Attire

Beating the game also finally lets you change the attire for Zelda and the four Champions. This is something I was hoping for and it's always great when the game delivers and satisfies your expectations. You can even play with Zelda's winter clothes from now on, which is quite lovely.

Zelda wearing her winter clothes during the Blood Moon. She stands on the Sacred Grounds with Hyrule Soldiers at her side.

Her blue princess dress isn't available, however, at least not yet. Maybe you can still unlock it somewhere later. As for the Champions, the only one where the original outfit might look better is Urbosa, where she wears the black skirt and her crown. Revali's old scarf looks good, too, but Mipha and Daruk just look weird without their Champions garments.

Meanwhile Link's armor collection has grown to three pages, where there were a couple of new Challenges that unlock an entire set for him. You get the Gerudo Vai set from a funny "Vai Contest" Challenge, as well as the entire Radiant Armor set from Challenge in the jungle. And you can even already get the entire Hero of the Wild set from a Challenge about fighting Hyrule's greatest heroes, which curiously includes Kohga and a surprise at the end.

You can also finally complete the Zora Armor for Link at this point with another Challenge for Mipha. Here I'm a little bit disappointed that there wasn't much story about Mipha's feelings for Link. In fact this has been covered even more briefly than in Breath of the Wild...

Otherwise, the only armor pieces from Breath of the Wild that I couldn't locate yet are the Old Shirt, the Well-Worn Trousers, Korok Mask, the Ancient Armor set and the Divine Beast helmets. I suppose, the Ancient Armor stuff will be available in the real final step of the game, but I'm not there yet (see below).

Likewise, it would be funny, if the first two armor pieces that you can find in Breath of the Wild are among the last pieces in Age of Calamity. And the Korok Mask might be another reward for collecting all Koroks...

This isn't counting any armor pieces from other (Zelda) games and Nintendo franchises, like the Nintendo Switch Shirt, the Salvager set from Xenoblade Chronicles 2, or stuff like the Fierce Deity set, Ravio's Hood, Midna's Helmet and so on. Though, the Zelda fan service items would be perfect for some (free) 35th Anniversary DLC.

R.I.P. – Rest In Parts

Facing new Challenges, collecting more armor pieces and playing Blood Moon scenarios is all nice, but not the main aspect of the post-game in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Instead it's main focus is all about bringing back the little Guardian guy, Terrako, by collecting new parts for him.

This is some truly great motive for a post-game. After the heart-breaking finale of the game, where you had to fight the little guy to save Zelda and it then sacrificed itself to save everyone, of course you would want to repair Terrako. And even if you weren't emotionally impacted by any of it, you'd do it for getting him back on the loading screen alone, which are super boring without controlling the little robot.

And the game makes it seem easy at first with a couple of Quests, where you can quickly gather over half of the needed parts already... The rest is locked behind a series of new Challenges, where everyone has to contribute, so the characters are always restricted to specific ones. Link and the other Champions, Zelda, Impa, King Rhoam, and even Kohga – they all have to do their part in this, which is quite nice and gives you a reason to play with a majority of the cast.

Zelda and Kohga standing next to each other at the end of the Nap Quest Challenge

Most of these missions focus on capturing outposts with a time limit, where there are always stronger enemies waiting within the outposts, like Guardians or Lynels. However, if you can't do it in time, there is always the possibility to push or lure the strong enemy outside of the outposts, so that the weak outpost captain appears. If you then defeat that Bokoblins or Lizalfos, you won't have to beat the strong enemy any longer... And I made good use of this when things got close...

A quite interesting Challenge is called "Hunting Partners", where Revali and Hestu have to chase after a Bokoblin through the Lost Woods. All you have to do is defeat the Bokoblins, but every outpost on your way will have its gates closed behind the Bokoblin and you need to defeat some stronger Moblins first.

When we played this in co-op, we finished this mission so quickly that we didn't even have to fight the three Black Moblins in the center. Of course in my "Very Hard" play-through things didn't go as well, where in the end you have to chase the guy through a path plastered with Guardian towers. And I was like eating one apple after another to not die there...

But otherwise things were going quite well. The Challenges were all tough, but doable. And I was getting close to re-assembling Terrako with only five parts missing that can all be gotten from one final Challenge for Zelda, "A Royal Investigation". It's very fitting that Zelda is the one to collect the last parts, but the mission itself was a huge blow in the gut. The game was effectively just saying "nope" and all my hopes for getting back Terrako were crushed by another over-the-top Challenge, which simply wasn't balanced well.

You have to capture outposts defended by three Lynels of the three different elements within a strict time limit. It's just one of these very unreasonable Challenges yet again, where it would have been a lot more reasonable if the Lynels were replaced with Guardians. And since I'm not really as good with Zelda, I didn't even manage to beat the second Lynel, before the time ran out... Everything in the game was telling me that I wouldn't be able to do this, that little Terrako would be lost forever.

So, I just gave up and closed the game, where thus this blog series finally comes to an end. I had a really nice time with Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, where I consider it to be better than the first Hyrule Warriors in almost every aspect. Except for keeping me motivated, so thanks for reading, everyone!




No, of course I'm not giving up... But I surely will have some work to do here if I don't want to lower the difficulty now after coming this far. While Zelda used to be one of my favorite characters in the early game, I haven't played her as much ever since Chapter 2 and also haven't made any real use of her awakened moveset yet. And because of this I went into the mission with my strongest Sheikah Slate, which was a mistake.

Zelda in her ceremonial dress standing in front of Gerudo Town during the Blood Moon

Now, I'm currently working on leveling Zelda, while practicing her second moveset and building her Bow of Light with the Special Attack rate increased. Since you're fighting these Lynels in outposts full of Bokoblins, using lots and lots of Special Attacks might be the key to victory here. Special Attacks will freeze the timer for their duration and do good damage.

And of course I can also resort to the method mentioned above, where I simply lure the Lynels out of the outposts and then capture them normally. However, this should only work with the last one, unless I want to fight two Lynels at once...

But I'm slowly preparing for this Challenge, where Zelda has already become my highest leveled character so far. Replaying the different scenarios during the Blood Moon really helps here. If you reach Level 77 with a character, you also get the final Heart Container, if you've done all the Quests so far, for a total of 30 hearts. (Correction: there are even more Heart Containers going forward, adding a third line.) Of course Zelda will be severely over-leveled for this Challenge, which has its recommended level at 61, but I'm taking no chances here.

Now, will my powered-up Zelda succeed? Will she overcome this final hardship to bring back her beloved childhood toy? Find out in the next entry!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Age of Calamity War Log, Entry 12

Current Progress

  • Difficulty: Very Hard
  • Chapter: 7
  • Battles: 19
  • Challenges: 127
  • Quests: 286
  • Contribution Rate: 76%

Link wearing the barbarian set standing in Hyrule Field at dusk with the cursed Hyrule Castle in the background

The End is the Beginning, Part 2

To the castle! This is the second time in the game, where we're revisiting a battlefield after the Calamity. But while the Akkala Citadel was primarily a visual change, here you get to fully explore Hyrule Castle Town and the battlefield was even named after it. So, it's technically a different battlefield from the Hyrule Field in the beginning of the game, but they share some of the environments, mainly the large field and the areas to the west and east of this field.

There are some inconsistencies between the two battlefields, though. The biggest one is probably around Mabe Village with the Lon Lon Ranch imitation. In the Hyrule Field map this looked remarkably similar to the original from Ocarina of Time with its buildings:

Hermit Rhoam standing in front of the Lon Lon Ranch main building

Now, after the Calamity it looks like this:

King Rhoam standing in front of two separate smaller buildings at the same spot

Okay, what happened here? Did the Guardians and monsters destroy the original building, but then King Rhoam jumped in with his crazy carpenter skills and quickly built a replacement house? I would believe it! It's important that they keep selling their Courser Bee Honey, after all...

But of course the most interesting part of the battlefield is the town, where you finally get to explore it, before it was destroyed completely. It did take quite a lot of damage already, but unlike in Breath of the Wild there are still some buildings standing. In flames...

Barbarian Link standing next to the fountain at the center of Castle Town

I would pay good money for a Zelda game that let's me explore this town before the Calamity. Maybe the sequel to Breath of the Wild will have something in store here? From what's left here, it looks quite nice and it would be amazing to experience both this and Hyrule Castle during times of peace with actual people. Of course this is nothing I would have expected from a Hyrule Warriors game, so this setting here is fine, but in the least a cutscene within Hyrule Castle Town prior to its destruction would have been nice nonetheless.


The Blood Moon Rises... For the First Time

While writing this series, I've always wanted to make a Blood Moon joke somewhere, how all the tough enemies I've barely defeated would just come back. But look who's laughing now... I love that they made this a mechanic for one of the scenarios, but the execution was somewhat flawed.

First of all, Zelda seemed to be well informed about this event. So, this didn't come as a major surprise and she knew that this could be happening. But why are they attacking Hyrule Castle at a time like this, then? Why not wait for the next day, where they wouldn't have to beat monsters twice?

A good explanation would have been that they knew that the Blood Moon was coming and that they had to weaken Ganon before he can revive his entire army or something. Because in this scenario the Blood Moon only revived a couple of enemies, but not all of them. Imagine if all the Guardians came back as well. Or what about the 30.000 enemies slain by Vah Naboris just the other day?

Barbarian Link standing in front of a closed gate with a Malice Lynel waiting behind

Anyway, you have to defeat a couple of new Malice enemies at this point: a Malice Igneo Talus, a Malice Frost Talus, a Malice Hinox. And there is a Malice Lynel waiting for you at the end. So, are there any combinations of the elements and Malice possible? Could there be like a Malice Electric Lynel as well? Oh, the nightmares...

If they really wanted an upgrade for the Hinox, they could have started with a Silver Hinox, which for some reason was just not a thing in Breath of the Wild and Age of Calamity could have made up for it. I'm still disappointed that the Master Trials DLC didn't introduce this, because it made so much sense.

And still no sign of golden enemies yet... I suppose they'll keep them for even later, but maybe they'll already appear in the next story scenario. Or they'll keep them for DLC, but right now I don't think I would want some kind of "Master Mode", so I hope they'll show up in some post game stuff.

As for the new Malice boss enemies, you have to defeat them and their Moblin friends to make it to lower a barrier at first, but they will be revived by the Blood Moon. You have to defeat them a second time, but in this process they might be revived another time... and I'm not sure how this mechanic works yet. Maybe the second revival is a scripted one time event or it's bound to a timer, which would be much worse.

But right now I'm playing each new story scenario in co-op first and then alone in my "Very Hard" run afterwards. This gives me the advantage that I already know what's going to happen, so I can prepare accordingly. Bring the right characters or do things in a way that normally wouldn't occur to me, which might prevent me from a frustrating restart.

In this scenario you are not allowed to use Mipha or any of the other Divine Beast pilots, so slaying boss enemies again and again isn't something that I could easily afford. But my strategy was simple: weaken all of the enemies, so that one final weak point blow will take care of them and then quickly finish them all one after another by switching between the characters. This at least saved me from the trouble of having to defeat the Malice bosses a third time.

To the Castle not just yet...

Hyrule Castle awaits and the preview looks quite frightening, so of course it's time for some sidequests. However, the game only unlocks two new Challenges at this point, which was the lowest amount so far. Not that I mind... I've done my fair share of Challenges already.

Oh, well... of course it's not that easy and the developers were trolling here again. Beating one Challenge unlocks three more, which goes on for a total of at least a dozen new Challenges. Also, one of the two Challenges, "Hunting for Gemstones", introduces a nice new restriction called "No Carried Items". With this in place you won't be able to eat apples or use any rods, so have fun.

Mipha fighting a Malice Igneo Talus in a Shrine

In this particular Challenge, where you have to beat a bunch of Taluses / Tali, it's not really needed if you use a character, who can easily damage an Igneo Talus without climbing on it.

For the most part the new Challenges were quite nice. One example is "Gerudo Fury", where you have to defeat a series of elemental monsters as Urbosa and Riju, but there is no time limit and the game even lets you fight within one of the hot springs of Death Mountain. How considerate!

Another fun Challenge puts Sidon against an army of Octoroks, which can be super deadly if you're not careful on "Very Hard", since every hit costs you about one or two hearts. So, the safest strategy was to play baseball with bombs to take them out from a distance...

Sidon batting bombs against Octoroks at Zora's Domain

Mhhh... this reminds me of something... Playing baseball with Octoroks...? Where have I seen this before? Well, I must be imagining things, so let's move on...

Nah, I'm just kidding, of course this is with all certainty a reference to the Octoball Derby mini-game in A Link Between Worlds. Except that the Octoball Derby didn't throw a Lynel at you at the end.

A new trend with Challenges also seems to be picking the right character for the right slot, where a good example would be "Elemental Uproar". Here you have three separate areas, each one featuring Moblins and a boss for one of the three elements. Coincidentally, I put Mipha against an Igneo Talus, Daruk against an Ice Hinox and Revali against an Electric Lynel, which was overall a good fit, except maybe the latter.

Another example is the "Reclaim the Land" scenario on the Great Plateau, where you have to conquer four outposts with different boss enemies with four different characters. Of course you can still swap characters in between, but this will cost time. 

Daruk fighting an Electric Hinox where he stands close to his electric blast with Daruk's Protection

About Daruk, I've really learned to appreciate Daruk's Protecion. Not only does blocking here protect you from all sides, so you can't be hit in the back, it also makes you immune against elemental effects or anything that might break your shield. Whenever you block and get hit by a strong elemental attack with other characters, they will tumble and can't do anything for a while. This usually makes fighting the elemental Hinox, especially an Electric Hinox, a lot more difficult. But Daruk is absolutely steadfast, so you can simply stand close and retaliate, whenever they do their thunderous body slams.

What seems to be a common theme around this part of the game with the Challenges are the Champions and their descendants. There is a whole series of scenarios, where each Champion fights together with their new comrade, like the "Gerudo Fury" scenario, which  I've mentioned above.

And here I have to say how much more I like playing as the original Champions in each case. Sidon and Yunobo are quite alright, where I'm really liking the latter now that he has his cannon move unlocked. That one is super satisfying to use. But Mipha and Daruk are among my absolute favorite characters in this game to play as, so they are no real match.

Teba and Riju on the other hand are simply not that easy to use, especially Teba. Riju is mostly fine, but she is heavily focused on crowd pleasing, so I struggle a bit with her against officers and bosses. I wouldn't want to fight a bunch of Lynels with her, for example. But Teba is just absolutely erratic and I have no idea how to use him properly and safely, except for loading his ZR ability while blocking. But this is like the slowest way of killing any enemy in the game.

Now, it's almost like the game could smell my resentment of the new generation, which is why it introduces the "Generational Conflict" Challenge as the culmination of all those Champion-focused missions. Here you have to face each of the Champions using their respective descendant, all in separate, isolated outposts. With a time limit of course...

This sounds tough at first, but this turns out to be a funny, little story, where the Champions go easy on their successors and give up after a single weak point blow. Well, all except one... Of course Revali's pride wouldn't allow himself to lose on purpose and he gives Teba a hard time. So, the whole Challenge was basically just about fighting Revali as Teba, which was challenging on its own right, because as I already said, Teba is my least favorite of the bunch.

Off to the last Challenge that was left, "Taming the Savage Lynel", I finally hit the end of the road here... The game dares to do what even Breath of the Wild wouldn't put on you:

Daruk facing two Lynels

Fighting two Lynels at once! The only way to do this in Breath of the Wild was luring one Lynel into the other at the Tabantha Tundra, if I'm not mistaken, but even that wasn't so easily done, since they like to stay in their territory. In Age of Calamity they might chase you all over the map, so you could achieve this earlier if you really wanted to..

Now, fighting two Lynels at once alone is already challenging on its own right, but of course this had to be the next Challenge using the "No Carried Items" restriction on top of a time limit. So, you can't heal, you can't play too defensively and you can't easily stun both Lynels at once with the rods. It's a nightmare... and I haven't felt as overwhelmed since "In the Clutches of Yiga".

Well, I gave this up for now, but I think I can do it with Daruk, once he's a little bit stronger. As mentioned earlier, Daruk's Protection is a great tool to stay safe. However, if you play it too safe, it's hard to do enough damage in time, so I'm also considering bringing back Revali for this one.



In any case, the double Lynel whammy was my 128th Challenge in the game, which is an important number, because that's the same amount of battles as the first Adventure Map in Hyrule Warriors had. The original Hyrule Warriors on Wii U without any DLC or updates had 13 playable characters, 14 different battlefields, 18 story scenarios and 128 battles in Adventure Mode, where Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity has already surpassed all these numbers for a truly extensive Warriors game. (Edit: Actually, it was 133 battles in Adventure Mode, because I forgot to count the Rewards Map, but Age of Calamity does top this number as well.)

The only thing of which the first Hyrule Warriors had more were different movesets, but as I said in an earlier post, I prefer having more characters with a single moveset over getting another Link or Lana, who had way more than they needed.

And while the quantity is already better, the quality is overall better as well. Yes, the mission goals are often similar, where it's all about defeating certain enemies or taking outposts within a time limit. But the Challenges all tend to use different parts of the main battlefields, usually doing quite different things with them. And certain Challenges are highly unique, where they often even have a small story to them, which makes them so much more charming than the motley scenarios in Adventure Mode, where it was just all thrown together somehow without much thought.

So, kudos to Koei Tecmo and Nintendo for all the efforts that went into making this excellent Warriors game.

All the Koroks... For Now

Since I wasn't fully successful with the Challenges this time, I decided to at least collect all the Koroks up to this point, where now I've gotten all Korok Seeds (and treasure chests) in the story scenarios, as well as all the Koroks found in Challenges.

The latter are extremely rare, where there are only ten so far in nine Challenges. It's so rare that I often miss it whenever the Challenge shows one, which they do before you've even beaten the battle, but the icon is so subtle that I usually don't even notice it before going into the battle.

Which was true for "Hair-Width Trial: Expert+", one of the nastiest Challenges so far. And the Korok was hidden in an Octorok hole... But I was able to beat this one time, so I can do it again, where this time I at least made good use of the Master Sword, which does tremendously well in these "Don't get hit!" missions.

Overall, I feel like the Challenges should have had a lot more Koroks, at least one in each Challenge with a larger terrain. It often feels like a missed opportunity and this way you would always look for them while playing the Challenges, instead of missing the few rare ones.

As for the story scenarios, I revisited the "Water and Fire" and "Air and Lightning" battles for the first time since I've rushed through them originally. In the latter I didn't even get a single chest or Korok, even though lots of them are actually right at the wayside. This is how focused I was on rushing from one target to the next to have enough time to beat the enemies.

Hestu fighting Windblight Ganon

Well, but now that my characters have grown, I was able to take my sweet time, look around, even conquer the outposts on the way and so on. And do some silly stuff, like following my joke from last time and actually enter Vah Medoh as Hestu to help out Revali and Teba. Imagine Revali's face when silly Maracas guy comes in to save his proud butt...

Now, the last missing Korok was on the Great Plateau, which finally was another stage where you get to explore a lot outside the scope of the mission goals. I wish the game had more battlefields like this, where there is just a lot to discover.

Link standing in front of a pile of leaves in the forest on the Great Plateau

So, if I haven't miscounted, I have found a total of 121 Korok Seeds so far, not counting any Korok Seeds that you get as rewards from Challenges or Quests. And I'm ready for more.

I suppose, now it's time to finally go the castle...

Monday, December 21, 2020

Age of Calamity War Log, Entry 11

Current Progress

  • Difficulty: Very Hard
  • Chapter: 7
  • Battles: 18
  • Challenges: 116
  • Quests: 271
  • Contribution Rate: 72%


The End is the Beginning

It was finally time to advance to where it all began: the Great Plateau. This is where you took your first steps in the grand adventure of Breath of the Wild. It's one of the best video game tutorial areas ever made. It's a place so rich of ambient storytelling that it paints a picture of its history in ruins. And now you finally return there to explore how it all supposedly looked like 100 years before...

Shirtless Link standing in front of a set staircases leading up to the Temple of Time

And it's quite impressive at first. The most interesting part is certainly the ascent and main gate that connects the Great Plateau with the rest of Hyrule. In the timeline of Breath of the Wild this got barricaded and flooded, so the plateau was fully disconnected. But in Age of Calamity there was no need to do this (yet), so you can look at the whole thing the way it was supposed to be.

If you find the time... It's another rescue mission and unlike your main allies, which normally don't take any damage, the Hylian Soldiers are in actual danger and you have to hurry. This had me frustrated a little bit, because I just wanted to explore the place, but you have to keep moving to get to those screaming soldiers and save them.

Only at the very end of the scenario, where a bunch of monsters are advancing on the Allied Stronghold, you can take your time, curiously. Nothing will really happen then or you can simply leave the one Silver Moblin, where only Master Kohga will be endlessly busy with fighting, just to be safe. But this is the moment where you can look around in "peace".

Mipha standing in front of the Goddess Statue in the Temple of Time

So, with all the nearly dead soldiers in need of rescue, this was another mission for Mipha, but I couldn't help it and also sent shirtless Link on the way for some true early Breath of the Wild feeling. Sadly, you don't have the Old Shirt and Well-Worn Trousers in this game, at least not yet, so I couldn't accurately match the look.

Zelda at the entrance to one of the small cathedrals

The freshly awoken Zelda had to come as well, of course. She must fulfill her duty and all. Though, I didn't use her much throughout the battle.

Maz Koshia at the entrance to the Shrine of Resurrection

And otherwise I had to bring Maz Koshia, because this is basically his home turf. For a moment there I even thought that our heroes might have learned about the fifth Divine Beast and this will be the reason why you're going to the Great Plateau, but nope, it's just another rescue mission.

Overall I was somewhat disappointed that the mission goals were quite similar to the scenario at Fort Hateno and Akkala before: rescue a bunch of soldiers and then fight all the monsters coming out of nowhere. This scenario even used the same music as the one in Akkala... It's an awesome music track, so I didn't really mind, but I still can't help but feel that things are getting a little bit repetitive.

Up to the beginning of the fifth Chapter, where the Calamity strikes, each scenario was heavily distinct with music, mission goals and everything. Except maybe the fact that you had to fight Sooga over and over and over again. But otherwise it was all rich of variety... Now it's all "rescue allies here", "rescue allies there" and "oh no, where did the Hinox suddenly come from?"

The one thing that made this mission more unique was the teleportation aspect, but this was silly to begin with. It's already quite discomforting how narrow certain parts of the map were, where it just feels so constricted compared to the freedom you had in Breath of the Wild. But that our heroes can't even get past a fallen tree blocking the road is just absolutely ridiculous.

You can easily fell trees with everyone on the battlefield, but this one is a little bit too thick, eh? If only we had some guy with a large axe in our team... then this wouldn't have been a problem. Too bad. And it also seems Link's ability to climb almost everywhere 100 years later is literally the game changer that saved Hyrule. No wonder that everyone died when they can't even move past a tree.

Anyway, once you got past this "obstacle" and have saved everyone, you can now start exploring. And it's truly something else...

Link standing on the hill in front of the Shrine of Resurrection, looking over Hyrule... it looks quite barren

I get that Koei Tecmo couldn't easily replicate everything in their Warriors engine, where it's impressive how close the game looks to Breath of the Wild often enough, but standing on that infamous cliff didn't really do it for me here. Also, like earlier in the game, the scale of everything seems somewhat smaller here, which is especially notable in the Temple of Time.

It's still really cool to explore the fortifications and buildings before they got destroyed, where it looks completely different in certain areas. Other areas feel like they were directly copied over from Breath of the Wild, however, especially around the Woodcutter's House. I've always imagined how this is a place that the Old Man has build for himself over the century, even though this might not make sense, but it was already there 100 years ago and hasn't changed.

Maybe he has build this house as a hobby back then? It looks a bit silly to have this measly house next to all those impressive cathedrals. The jump from poverty to nobility is almost instant on the Great Plateau, which takes us to...


The Hermit King

Like the previous scenario, this one ends with the addition of yet another playable character and probably the last one: King Rhoam Bosphoramus Hyrule. So, he survived and meeting him again in the Temple of Time on the Great Plateau was the most fitting place, since this is also where you got introduced to the King in Breath of the Wild.

I love the twist with the ancient artifact, which Zelda still had from her mother and then gave to her father. While I wondered what it could be, I never gave this any real thought. So, the reveal that this was Guardian Shield all along was really surprising, while in hindsight it also was something that you totally could have seen coming – and maybe you did. But that's what makes this twist so great and satisfying.

And since he was saved by Zelda's interest in ancient technology after all, he finally apologized to his daughter for a heart-warming scene.

King Rhoam: "I'm sorry for the kind of parenting that would cause a narcissistic personality disorder in the best of us."

Zelda: "But you love me, daddy!"

Ugh... Good thing the Yiga were there for some comic relief. It's funny how in these scenes, where the Yiga show the most emotion of all people, you always only see Kohga and normal Yiga, but not the badass Blademasters. Wouldn't befit them, hehe.

I really love the company of these guys, though I personally wouldn't have trusted them with R2D2 there. I'd watch my back with those Yiga around me all the time, since they may double-cross you... Of course Kohga has sincere motivations to join your cause, but you never know.

Anyway, King Rhoam instantly demonstrates his amazing skill right at the beginning of this scene by already having rebuild all those benches and candle stands in the Temple of Time, which got destroyed in the battle just minutes ago. That's some true carpenter skills, where Mutoh and Bolson could only learn from the guy.

Old Man felling trees in Akkala
Gotta fell that tree!

And it's so cool what they did with the playable character. When considering new fighters for the next Hyrule Warriors game, it was either "Old Man" or "King Rhoam", but here you get effectively both in one, where you can switch from proletariat to aristocracy with the press of a single button. This is probably my favorite ZR ability in the entire game.

Switching between the two makes for a difference in speed and power, where the hermit is faster, but the king is more powerful, which is an interesting trade. The moveset itself is pretty basic, though. The combos are for the most part just stylish spin attacks, no crazy summons or whatever, but I like that. Not every character has to be completely over-the-top and King Rhoam really shows who's boss in all of Hyrule.

Old Man holding an axe right next to Hestu
Gotta fell that tree!

I also love the default pose, where he holds his claymore / axe above the head like an executioner who's about to behead someone. It makes for some hilarious scenes in combination with other characters.

Challenging Challenges

Last time I finally managed to clear all Challenges and Quests before going into the next main scenario and I want to keep up with that. And for the most part this was perfectly doable.

Both Yunobo and Teba got some new Challenges at this point, where these are two characters I rarely ever play. Overall it feels like the Champion descendants were only really there for the fan service and helping out a tiny bit with rescuing the Champions. Afterwards they hardly played a role in the main story, where only Sidon got to shine by piloting Vah Ruta in Mipha's stead.

And even with Sidon they could have done much more. For example his younger self is effectively vanished from the game by now, where it would have been interesting to see adult Sidon meet young Sidon...

Otherwise it unlocked the "Expert" variant of  the "Hair-Width Trial", which gave me an excuse to finally play some Revali again. When it's about safely doing damage from a distance, he's still your best guy. Too bad the battle takes place inside the close quarters of Akkala Citadel, where Revali's ability doesn't really work well. In hindsight, Master Sword Link probably would have been the best choice, because you're guaranteed to have the Sword Beams during the entire mission.

And you have to fight three Silver Moblins at once in the beginning (or the end, depending on the route you take, but I jumped down). I still did it and it was quite hilarious how Revali then died to a single Keese after this overcoming this intense hardship. Luckily, the game offers a "Retry" function at this point and you can get back into the battle right after defeating all those Moblins. Otherwise this could have turned out to be really frustrating...

I really disliked the "Don't Get Hit!" scenarios in the Adventure Mode of Hyrule Warriors, because for the most part there was no room for error, if you wanted that A-rank, at least on Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. And you had to start over then... While the "Hair-Width Trials" in Age of Calamity give you an instant defeat instead of the fallback to a quarter heart, they are still much more manageable, because they are shorter and you get the checkpoints.

And just when I finished this thought, the game unlocked the "Expert+" variant, which had me eat my words from almost a month ago, when I first played this type of Challenge at the Breach of Demise:

"I bet they let you fight a Lynel or so without getting hit..."

Cool, I won that bet. For better or worse, this game keeps doing what I expect it to do. And it even threw a Hinox on top, how nice.... But then I realized that it's an Ice Hinox and a Fire Lynel. "Okay, gg, ez." Of course the strategy here is to unload your Fire Rod on the Ice Hinox and your Ice Rod on the Fire Lynel for some safe weak point attacks. So, in the end the hardest part was not getting hit by archers or those annoying Octoroks, which I already hated before, but even more now.

Hair-Width Trial: Expert+ Victory

Too bad that I didn't see that this Challenge also has a hidden Korok... I'm starting to hate this game, really... I keep missing whenever Challenges have a Korok, because the icon is so subtle, and since only every 20th Challenge or so has one, you don't really think about them, especially not with a difficult mission like this one. And missing this Korok basically nullified my victory here, because I'll have to do it all over again.

The remaining Challenges all revolved defending Akkala, where for "Defend Akkala Citadel" I protected the base as the King, while his new Royal Guard, Link, went for the outposts. I love that the game has this outfit as well, which originally used to be DLC for Breath of the Wild. I'm still missing the pants, like with many of the outfits, but that's not an issue. Who needs pants, right?

And in this game the outfits don't make a difference in defense, so you can just wear whatever you want in battle, without any downsides. The DLC armor pieces in Breath of the Wild can't be upgraded by the Great Fairies, so you would only wear the Royal Guard uniform if you either wanted a challenge or were relatively safe.

Anyway, when Link finished his new job, the game celebrated my victory with "The Allied Stronghold was kept safe", while it was swarming with Malice Guardians at the time... Yeah. Sure. I kept it safe. Totally...

Moving on to probably the toughest of the new Challenges, "The Guardians Counterattack". Here you get 20 minutes to defeat a dozen Guardians of all the different types, which sounds perfectly doable... Except that the Guardians are now pack animals and the game keeps regularly spawning Guardian Scouts to add to the madness. To make things even harder, the only Bokoblins you get are always near the Guardians, so you can't just easily fill up your Special Gauges.

Oof... I suppose, this is what Link must have felt at Fort Hateno in the original timeline. Taking down a single Guardian is easy enough, maybe even two of them, but if you're getting swarmed by them and they all start firing their lasers split seconds apart from each other, it's impending doom.

So, what did I do here? First of all, I went for some food that boosts your Special gauges. There is one where you get some orbs with Special boosts for every KO. And others just increase the rate of filling your Special meter slightly, but better than nothing.

Then I brought Mipha, because she makes everything easy. Originally, I was going with Urbosa instead, because she is the only character next to Link who is able to deflect the Guardian beams with a shield. But this didn't turn out to be as useful as I hoped. And who needs to deflect Guardian beams when the Guardians can't even fire at you, because they are too busy being juggled by water fountains? That's right, not Mipha...!

She then had to rush from the bottom area to the top to save the others with her three filled Special meters, because they aren't able to take down Guardians as easily, but I finished the Challenge and that's what counts.

Maz Koshia in front of Kohga's spiked ball shrine

By now I've also fully completed all scenarios in the first four chapters with all treasure chests and Korok Seeds. And I can only repeat myself here how it's a blast to revisit these battles that previously gave me nightmares. The best example was the Yiga Clan hideout, where you had to fight Kohga and Sooga at once, which I only survived with a quarter heart on both fighters...

Now two stomps of Maz Koshia do the trick and I feel insanely powerful. But it's this feeling that makes me glad that I went with "Very Hard" from the get-go, because it really lets me appreciate how much stronger you become during the game.

PS: R.I.P. Sooga. Last time I didn't notice that he was added to the gallery, right below Robbie and Purah, to what's essentially the list of important non-playable characters. And I also got the Windcleaver weapon now for Link, so it wasn't for Sooga after all, though it made sense for the guy. Too bad, too bad. But yeah, there is always DLC...

Friday, December 18, 2020

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Sephiroth Released

Shirtless Sephiroth

Officially the next Challenger Pack won't be available for download until December 23rd, but the update 10.0.0 is already there and you can play the "Sephiroth Challenge" to unlock the fighter and stage ahead of time.

Since you can do this on "Easy", they might as well could have released the fighter today. And even if it were restricted to "Very Hard", it wouldn't be much of a problem for owners of the Fighters Pass, because you can simply min min the guy into oblivion. I did it on my second try and later even managed to beat him fairly quickly:

Very Hard done in 16 seconds

So, there he is: big, evil dude with long hair and long katana. It's no character for me, but something tells me that I'll have to play against (shirtless) him quite often... The range is very respectable, where I'm curently struggling a tiny a bit as Zero Suit Samus, but he is no match for my other Main Main, as you can see above.

Sephiroth's Classic Mode is pretty awesome, where he basically gets a boss rush mode. I still feel like this should be a Stadium mode like in Brawl, since here you are restricted to a single character in single-player. But it's certainly one of the coolest routes for Classic Mode so far.

The "Northern Cave" stage doesn't have any hazards, where it's like a smaller version of Kalos Pokémon League with hazards off and could potentially become tournament legal. The background is quite busy and distracting, however, where it's even worse than in Final Destination at times. In certain areas the stage also gets quite dark, making things even harder to see. So, I personally hope the stage will be banned, like any DLC stage so far, but it's not like I'm playing that much competitive Smash these days.

Anyway, I'm more excited about some other character with a big sword, who I've just unlocked in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, so I'll be moving on here for now.


It was probably good how yesterday's presentation started with the Mii outfits right away, because this got Geno out of the way. I have to admit that there was a time where I felt like Geno would be a possibility, solely because of all the support he has gotten ever since Sakurai mentioned that he would like to add the puppet during the Brawl days, maybe even before that.

When Geno's Mii outfit got introduced for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U, it even got a splash screen like any new fighter. But while Geno fans might see this as a confirmation of how "important" this character is, I personally see this as the end of the line for him. This is as good as it gets for certain characters.

You have to consider that legends like Dixie Kong or Bomber Man are also only playable as Miis right now in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and I'd say that they are somewhat more important than someone from a single spin-off game, which originally didn't even make it to Europe. No matter how great this spin-off might have been, it's just a very obscure choice. Even in the Mario realm there are still more important fish to fry, like Captain Toad(ette), King Boo, Kamek or Waluigi.

It's not that I'm totally against adding Geno, it's just not the right time. It would be like adding Linkle from Hyrule Warriors now, when other Zelda characters like Midna or Skull Kid are still stuck in Assist Trophy hell. Linkle would be cool, but still a rather questionable choice.

That being said, they could have upgraded the costume with his actual face and maybe also add the "Beware of the Forest's Mushrooms" music track he's known for, which got even used for the presentation. That would have been really nice.

Anyway, from the DLC Mii costumes that originally were released for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U, only Llyod Irving and the Monster Hunter stuff remains. I think Lloyd will most likely be re-released alongside something that fits somewhat, e.g. Rex, similar to how Heihachi got sold alongside Min Min, while the Monster Hunter outfits will probably come with a Monster Hunter Challenger Pack.

My Music

Sakurai also showed that they fixed the issue from version 8.1.0, where the random music on the Battlefield stages and Final Destination now always pull from the My Music lists of all stages. There's now a toggle, where you go by all stages or use your My Music list for the stage only.

However, I don't have this option yet... Maybe I need to unlock all music first or something, maybe this is supposed to show up in a later update, I don't know... (Update: we're getting version 10.1.0 on December 23rd.)

And while it is really considerate that they've changed this, it's now over two years that I've been waiting for them to include a stage hazard toggle on the stage select screen or that the game remembers my last choice of fighter in Smash mode... How hard can it be?

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Age of Calamity War Log, Entry 10

Current Progress

  • Difficulty: Very Hard
  • Chapter: 6 (Completed)
  • Battles: 17
  • Challenges: 107
  • Quests: 245
  • Contribution Rate: 65%


I haven't progressed in the story yet, where for the last evenings I was solely focused on clearing Challenges. So, this is more of an appendix to the previous entry.

Master of Elements

After finally finding a good mission to refill rods and apples ("Nap Quest!"), thanks to Master Kohga, I really wanted to have that next rod usage upgrade, so I gave the Thunder and Ice Training III Challenges another try. Link is already in the middle of the 60s and also got a Royal Broadsword with a base damage that makes the Master Sword look puny, so it was definitely doable.

The most challenging part here were probably beating the elemental Lynels within three minutes, but I've gotten really good at dodging their attacks by now for some regular Flurry Rushes, which helps tremendously. Earlier in the game I was playing a lot more defensively, often just waiting for the Rune weakpoint attacks, but with a defensive play style the time limits are simply not doable, so you need to take the risks.

Link fighting Waterblight Ganon in the Hebra region

Curiously, the Blights gave me much less trouble, where you get five minutes for each. Waterblight Ganon is simple enough by now and Thunderblight Ganon didn't perform his clone trick for some reason. He still did this when we played this mission in co-op last weekend, so I was a little bit worried, but the game was uncharacteristically nice to me here and I could finish this boss without facing such shenanigans.

(Also, no love for Windblight Ganon here. I guess, that "wind" just wasn't an interesting enough "element" for this game, where in Breath of the Wild only the Korok Leaf really made use of it as a weapon.)

Next up were all the "training" missions combining the elements, four in total. They all give a relatively generous time limit and you are allowed to use two fighters, except in the last one, so it was again Mipha's time to shine, who is my second character in the 60s. I was somewhat over-leveled for these missions, but I really wasn't in the mood of doing some last second finishes again and I just wanted to be done with these Challenges, so this felt right.

And when I was finally done with all of them, I realized that I forgot something important... You need 30 Courser Bee Honey for the rod upgrade! It's ridiculous enough that this Malon knock-off is still selling goods despite the fact that her farm is swarmed with Guardians, but you can also only buy three at once, so I really should have kept purchasing the honey between every Challenge.

But I simply replayed some older Challenges that I've only played once or twice to pass the time and finally claim the reward of having five rounds for every rod. Oh, the power...! The POWER!

Only the Best

Playing all those hefty missions with Mipha gave me the resources to build a decent weapon for her, the second weapon in my game which hit the first maximum of Level 20. Since this came up in the comments previously, I've experimented here with four slots, where you can actually get a boost for two different types of seals by adding two of each type:

A Lightscale Trident with four seals, two star seals and two square seals

Update: The damage bonus will be lower, however, where it's +15 for four seals of the same type. Still, this might be a good choice if you want to combine certain seals of different types, e.g. Flurry Rush Damage and Perfect Dodge Timing Window. (Update for the update: You will later have six seals and then a combination of four and two is actually the best outcome for a total of +20 bonus damage.)

Well, with so much power, I was finally able to beat the cursed "In the Clutches of the Yiga" mission, a lot more easily. It helps tremendously when you're able to defeat Sooga right away, instead of facing him as another extra in the turmoil at the end. Three minutes were still quite close for Kohga, but with all the rods in the world this can be done in any case...

In addition, I was able to finally beat "Stronger Yet", a Challenge where you have to face two Hinox and a Lynel, potentially all at once, with a five minute time limit. I previously wasn't able to do this with Mipha, but now I even had one and a half minutes left on the clock. It made that much of a difference.

Now, while it's great that I'm finally able to beat all these Challenges, it has this spiraling effect, where you keep relying on the same characters. It's only normal that you tend to play with fighters that you're good at, but here your good characters get better on each step with the leveling and new weapons, thus making them automatically the best choice whenever things are getting even more difficult.

So, maybe it's good that the remaining Challenges forced me to play specific characters, namely the Gerudo ladies with Riju's "Chief-in-Training" and its follow-up missions. The first one can be quite tough, because Riju doesn't seem to be as good against officers as she's against crowds. So, fighting a bunch of Yiga Blademasters and also Sooga can be a bit of a challenge.

Luckily, her Special Attack is quite powerful and I also now have all the rods in the world, where I've learned to use the environments more and more to my advantage for some cheap weak point smashes, other than the obvious things like water puddles or grass. In this case you can find some old wooden carts in the area, which boost your Fire Rod. This also works on any wooden beams inside the Yiga Clan Hideout for example.

The next two missions were about helping the Zora and the Gorons with your lightning powers and this reminded me of how I always thought that it might have been a good idea to give the different characters elemental resistance or weaknesses. The Gerudo ladies could be nearly immune to lightning attacks for example, while the Gorons shouldn't take damage from fire. The Zora would be weak to lightning, but they could potentially take less damage from fire and ice. Likewise, the Rito might be weak to fire, but resistant to the cold.

This way I would have an incentive to play different characters in missions with a certain elemental focus, instead of relying on Mipha all the time, just because she is my second best character at the moment. In the least my best character (other than Link) changed throughout the game, where early on I was heavily relying on Revali, even calling him the "Chosen Hero", who now doesn't get chosen this often these days, mostly because my play style has heavily changed.

But it's probably time to focus on the other characters a little bit more...

Challenges Complete... For Now

With all of this I've finally finished all available Challenges and Quests, before going into the first story scenario of Chapter 7, the Great Plateau. Since this place is where the whole Breath of the Wild saga started, this felt like the right time to clean house and basically create a new start where I've left everything else behind me.

When I played the game in the early chapters, it was my plan to do this at each step of the story. But then the Challenges started to become more and more ridiculous, mostly because of the time limits, where either I was under-leveled for the "Very Hard" difficulty or simply not skilled enough, most likely both. So, I've kept postponing certain missions for quite a while, always leaving these unfinished marks on my maps. But both my characters and my skills have grown since then, where I might be able to continue this trend. Unless the game comes up with even more ridiculous stuff...

The only thing I haven't done yet are getting all treasure chests and Korok Seeds from every story scenario, but I'm keeping those for later, because replaying older scenarios is very relaxing and a good way to refill rods and apples, so it's perfect for in between some tough Challenges. 

Maz Koshia at the Breach of Demise in a meditative pose and Hyrule Castle in the background

Anyway, at this point in time I've completed 17 scenarios, 107 challenges and 245 quests, which is already quite the number. My "Hope of all Hyrule" completion rate is at 65%, about a third of the game. And this had me curious about the contribution levels of each individual area.

  • Central Hyrule: 57%
  • Akkala: 58%
  • Necluda: 59%
  • Gerudo: 64%
  • Faron: 73%
  • Hebra: 76%
  • Eldin: 81%
  • Lanayru: 83%

To my understanding these contribution rates are only for the Quests (and not the Challenges) and most of those are character-specific, where it's highly interesting what areas have a relatively low rate. The homes of the Rito, Gorons and Zora are near completion, so there probably isn't much else to find here.

Of course Central Hyrule is still at the lowest, where I suppose lots of it will be for King Rhoam. And  the next story scenario(s) will take place here, probably spawning more quests afterwards.

Interestingly, the Gerudo area isn't even at two thirds yet, which gives me hope that Sooga might become playable in the base game after all, with most of his personal Quests placed around the Yiga Clan Hideout, similar to Kohga. I would love this very much, because this is such a cool original character.

Likewise, there is a lot open in Akkala and Necluda, which would be a perfect fit for Robbie and Purah... But I don't really want to get my hopes up here. I haven't looked at the full roster yet and even if it's only the King left, it would be already quite tremendous what Koei Tecmo has achieved here. 16 characters for a new Warriors game is a lot and I'm very happy with the roster so far.

Update: Sooga was put into the gallery behind Robbie and Purah as another character without their own icon. So, that doesn't look so great for the guy.

Sorry again for speculating about something that already is known to the world, but I simply like to share my thoughts from my limited view for documentation. I will play the Great Plateau mission probably this evening and I might be a little bit smarter afterwards. I'm very excited for this mission, it looks so cool from the previews images.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Age of Calamity War Log, Entry 9

Current Progress

  • Difficulty: Very Hard
  • Chapter: 6 (Completed)
  • Battles: 17
  • Challenges: 96
  • Quests: 240
  • Contribution Rate: 64%


It's been over a week since my last post and my current speed of progression is quite slow with only one major story mission done per week. But for now I have only little time to play the game and I've also continued to play in co-op on the other Nintendo Switch, so I'm playing most of it twice. We try to keep both my single-player "Very Hard" run and the "Normal" mode co-op save-game about on the same level, so that playing either one isn't a spoiler for the other person.

Chain of Challenges

Before going into the next main mission, "Each Step Like Thunder", I wanted to complete as many Challenges as possible. And I did exactly 86 of them at the time, which isn't everything possible, but the majority.

I still have some missions open because of the time limits, mainly "In the Clutches of the Yiga", "Stronger Yet" (though, this is a close one), and two of the three anti-elemental trainings III with a Blight at the end. I did the "Anti-Flame Training III" already, mainly because it doesn't throw a Fire Lynel at you, but five minutes for Fireblight Ganon was still cutting things quite close.

In co-op we already did all these Challenges, so I already know what's ahead of me here, where you get four more elemental trainings unlocked on top with different combinations of elements and lots of elemental Lynels, Hinox and Moblins on a timer... This game can really be relentless. The reward for all these efforts seems to be a second upgrade for your elemental rod usages (after completing Chapter 6), but I feel like this upgrade is like getting the better Master Sword after the Trial of the Sword: you already will have the worst behind you. Or maybe you won't and this will be totally worth it...

Treasure Hunter

Another set of Challenges, though a much smaller one, is about treasure hunting, which starts in the Gerudo Desert after clearing the "Grains of Salt" mission (I think). Those Challenges were a lot nicer and therefore I've already completed them, which also gives you access to a cool new feature: you now get a sensor for any missing treasure chests in the main mission, similar to the one for Korok Seeds.

While I was aware that any treasure chests that aren't Skull Chests are a one-time deal, I haven't actively searched for them yet, so there were quite a few missing chests in almost all the story scenarios left to find. And this gave me an excellent excuse to play through the story missions yet another time.

My enthusiasm about this didn't last long, though, because here I was, back to Hyrule Field, searching for one last missing chest for multiple hours... This took me back to playing the demo in October, where I also was missing one last Korok and couldn't find it, since this battlefield is simply so large.

So, here I was looking again...

Urbosa on Hyrule Field with the Dueling Peaks at the background

And again...

Riju at the entrance to Mabe Village

And again...

Teba next to some soldiers in the keep near the Lon Lon Ranch

I swear, I probably wasted most of my playtime last week just looking for this chest... I didn't even find it at the time, I gave up after a while. It's much easier in the other missions, because the battlefields are much smaller and simpler. But Hyrule Field is so vast, it's easy to miss something there. And this makes me miss the way you used the Sheikah Slate Runes in Breath of the Wild, where holding Stasis basically lets you "scan" the environment for anything that can be interacted with. You don't get anything like this here, where a little bit of help would have been appreciated.

Well, it later turned out that there is more than enough help and the punchline is yet to come, but we'll get to this... And searching for this chest on Hyrule Field at least gave me a different experience in multiple ways. While I like the background music for what it's worth, here it gets quite repetitive after an hour of listening to what's just a remix of the standard battle theme from Breath of the Wild. So, I turned the music off, listening to solely the ambiance, which felt a lot more like actually playing Breath of the Wild.

The ambient sounds aren't as good, of course, and you don't get those nice, little piano tunes from time to time, but it's still interesting to experience the battles like this. This game has some really good music and I enjoy listening to the different tracks a lot, but it also takes away from the ambiance here and then.

The other thing was playing the battle sort of backwards. After defeating the first Moblin, you can go and capture any of the three keeps, not activating the whole tower sequence until near the end. And this is quite cool, where you can also sneak on all those club throwing surprise Bokoblins from behind.

I also went back to the Breach of Demise and Zora's Domain, where I was a lot more successful. And I could have continued to look for treasure chests in all previous story missions, but since replaying these missions is a very good way of refilling apples and rods, I decided to do this in between more difficult Challenges and keep some of it for later.

Each Step a Guardian

Well, I've kept procrastinating this story mission for way too long, so it was finally time to face what could have been one of the worst scenarios yet. But it starts quite nicely with another Vah Naboris battle of mass destruction. It's my favorite Divine Beast, hands down, both as a dungeon in Breath of the Wild and as a playable titan in Age of Calamity. They can throw a whole army of Guardians at you, but with this thing there is no stopping you.

If you hold the L button and just tap the R button to fire, the shield will stay up and you can safely attack and take out most enemies by doing this. And this works with every Divine Beast, except for Vah Rudania, because it doesn't have a shield...

Vah Naboris in front of Mabe Village

What's weird about this mission, however, is that the Guardians seemingly already did 100 years of terraforming. Mabe Village and the Lon Lon Ranch are still there and I guess they'll have to be, since the "Mabe Ranch Co-op" is still selling me some Courser Bee Honey in the middle of this inferno.

But the rest of Hyrule Field is a lot closer to what we've known from Breath of the Wild. All of those fortifications and villages that you get to explore in the first story scenario? Gone! It's just grass now... As if all of the Guardians completely took down every stone and then carefully covered everything in soils and planted grass seeds everywhere in the meantime. But maybe this is the whole story... Calamity Ganon just wants to bring back nature, embrace the wild.

Awakening for Real

After obliterating 30,000(!) monsters and a ton of Guardians as a nice warm-up, the game brings you to Fort Hateno with an uneasy feeling. After all, this is all about the infamous moment, where Link has fallen in the backstory of Breath of the Wild and where Zelda finally gets to awaken her sacred powers...

But since Vah Naboris and the other Divine Beasts have destroyed almost every Guardian out there, how do you even get Link in the same kind of peril? By throwing all four Blight Ganons at him at once, that's how! Not going to lie, this moment didn't really do it for me... I like the parallels to the scene at Hyrule Castle where she seemingly lost her father, but how she ran blindly into the Blights to defend a slightly overwhelmed Link seemed kind of silly and just didn't have the same impact as Zelda saving Link's life in Breath of the Wild.

And while she is quite overconfident all of sudden about how she will take care of the Guardians, her new moveset doesn't really reflect that. Of course you don't have all of her combos unlocked yet, but it just doesn't feel as powerful, where I couldn't take out the Guardians with the same ease as with Link or Mipha.

Mipha next to a burning Guardian

The latter was the real star of the mission, because her Special fully heals any ally around her. You only get a couple of hearts yourself, but I was able to completely heal Link and Zelda after they had struggled in battle. So, it's a good idea to summon any hurt fighters to the next big enemy and then unleash Mipha's Special to both damage the boss and heal your allies.

Apropos allies, Zelda's Daenerys speech to the soldiers at the end may seem funny, because it usually doesn't feel like all those soldiers are good for anything, but they actually were quite helpful during this mission. The Hylian Soldiers did a good job at separating groups of stronger enemies by keeping one of them busy.

The best example is the keep near the south-east, where a White-Maned Lynel and two Silver Moblins are waiting for an assault at Fort Hateno. Taking on them all at once can be quite tricky, but thanks to the Hylian Soldiers the Moblins left the Lynel behind, so I could focus on taking it down without any interruptions.

So, overall the mission wasn't as bad as I had expected. And this is despite the fact that you're fighting two of the Blights, two Lynels, and a small army of Guardians... But you can take your time and look around, where the atmosphere is pretty great, especially with all those Guardian beams firing into the sky in the background. And maybe I was somewhat over-leveled here already, where the recommended level was at 42, but all of my characters are in the 50s and Link is already in the 60s.

Kohga, Kohga, Kooloo-Limpah!

Now, this is where you get the next playable character out of nowhere: Master Kohga, who bows his head on the ground in front of Zelda Targaryen. No words, no big story scenario, just like that.

While I expected Kohga to join the good guys after the cutscene with Astor at the end of Chapter 5, I thought it would be a little bit more impactful. Like our heroes are facing a desperate situation, where they are surrounded by monsters and Guardians. And things seemingly get worse when an army of Yiga appears, but then they suddenly start attacking the monsters and Guardians to help out and save the day...

But it's just Kohga bowing and then you can freely play as him after the main mission, where he feels more like one of the optional characters right now. You get a funny training mission, where the badass Yiga Blademasters are praising you like some Banana Jesus, as well as some side quests, but it doesn't seem like Kohga will play an actual role in the story (though, this might change).

Kohga in the middle of the Hyrule Outpost mission

Well, the character itself takes some getting used to, but Kohga has some potential if played right. The "stress laser" is a super powerful tool to break weakpoint gauges, though a little bit hard to control. And overall the moveset is hilarious, where I see him as the Tingle of this game. He is just so goofy and I love the humor, where he summons the Yiga Blademaster to carry or support him.

Update: When it comes to the moveset, there are also some similarities to Zant. You have a laser gauge, using Cryonis as a pillar feels a bit like Zant's Forest Temple totems, and they both move around quite quirkily. Throwing the spiked ball is also reminiscent of Zant throwing those orbs.

I still lack some of the moves that he does as a boss, though, like when he walks around on one of those giant spiked balls. Speaking of, based on the artwork I thought that the spiked ball would be his weapon type, but it's actually the Yiga sickles, with the Demon Carver as the strongest version.

This really speaks for Sooga getting the Windcleaver further down the road, but at this point it's unclear what happened to him, similar to King Rhoam. He might have sacrificed himself for Kohga or he might turn up later on... I just hope that he will be playable eventually, even if it's as DLC.

Purah standing in front of an ancient furnace holding a torch with a blue flame

And it's kind of ironic how after two story scenarios that are focused on rescuing Sheikah, you'll unlock a Yiga as a playable character... But if Purah were to be playable, her weapon could actually be the torch, where she carries a blue flame around and activates machines for fighting, similar to the last story scenario. Come to think of it, I've never gotten a torch for Link and Koei Tecmo so far hasn't skipped any opportunities to give Link joke weapons, so it really might be used for someone else (or I simply haven't found one yet).

Anyway, it's of note how every chapter so far has given you at least one new character to play as...

  • Chapter 1: Link, Impa and Zelda
  • Chapter 2: Mipha, Daruk, Revali, Urbosa
  • Chapter 3: Hestu
  • Chapter 4: two optional characters
  • Chapter 5: Sidon, Yunobo, Teba, Riju
  • Chapter 6: Kohga

I think King Rhoam will be the last character and you'll get him in Chapter 7, for a total of 16 base game characters in the end, which is quite impressive. And I'm sorry to speculate about something here that's already wildly know, but this is simply what my expectations are at this point.

Purah and Robbie are certainly not playable or else they wouldn't have gotten those entries in the gallery, but they might be promoted via DLC. Astor seems to be a pure boss character for now, who might get his own DLC campaign later on. Unlike Kohga (and maybe Sooga), he certainly won't join Team Link & Zelda and this seems to be the only way a character will fit into the game at the moment. I'm just not sure about Sooga right now, where this could go either way. I'll probably see soon enough, but it would be very disappointing if he was also a boss-only character.

Treasure Hunter for Real

Kohga wasn't the only thing unlocked at the end of Chapter 6, of course, where one of the new side quests gave me an enhanced treasure chest sensor already, which shows you any missing chests on the mini-map... Okay, okay... Why not right away?!!

Yikes... Seems like I was a little too hasty with my endeavor of searching for any missing chests. All of the time looking for that one chest in Hyrule Field was basically for nothing, where this could have saved me the trouble. Well, and were was the missing chest...? Behind a house at the Lon Lon Ranch:

Kohga standing in front of of an opened chest at the ranch

Not sure what happened there... I suppose the stone chest was somewhat camouflaged against the brick wall and in some kind of blind spot, where each time I went by these houses I was looking in a different direction. This is a little bit embarrassing, but at least I won't ever forget this chest ever again.

So, this is one useful feature, but I'm afraid this will make looking for all the other missing chests a trivial chore instead of a challenge. Overall I enjoy searching for secrets in the environment, where I've played the remake of Link's Awakening without using the Seashell Sensor and so on. Well, but at least the Koroks should still be there as a secret, unless they also get marked on the map later on.

There is also a useful new Challenge for Master Kohga  (and a second fighter) called "Nap Quest!", where you fight two Fire Wizzrobes, two Ice Wizzrobes, and a Stone Talus. Since there are a lot of chests in the hideout, this is ideal to refill apples and your Fire and Ice Rods. The Stone Talus is also the simplest boss, which can quickly be defeated. And refilling the Thunder Rod can quickly be done via the "Anti-Lightning Training I" Challenge.

Otherwise there weren't too many new Challenges at this point, mostly just side quests, where some of them were unintentionally funny again. There are some new quests at Hyrule Castle for Zelda about some research in her study and doing a feast... IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CALAMITY!

I know that Zelda has awakened her powers now and might feel unstoppable, but it seems a little bit too early to already relax at Hyrule Castle, a place still swarming with Guardians, right now... It's like these side quests weren't supposed to be unlocked until later and then they've changed this around at the last minute.

But I should be already ready for the next mission, the first scenario of Chapter 7, which takes you to the Great Plateau in its prime. I haven't started this yet, but the preview already shows the village next to the Temple of Time. So, this should be really interesting and I'm excited.