Sunday, January 31, 2021

Age of Calamity War Log, Entry 15

Current Progress

  • Difficulty: Very Hard
  • Chapter: 7 (Completed)
  • Battles: 20 / 20
  • Challenges: 161 / 161
  • Quests: 376 / 376
  • Contribution Rate: 100%
  • Map Completion:  100%

Done. Finito. 100%. After two months of playing this game on "Very Hard", I've finally cleared all Challenges and Quests, which earned me the Hyrule Warriors outfit for Link as the last unlockable item:

Link at the beginning of the first mission wearing the Hyrule Warriors clothes

This really takes me back, where my plan is to actually play Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition afterwards, at least as long as there is no DLC for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. But once there is some, I will be prepared...

It's been a while since my previous post and this is mostly because I didn't play as much, where I was busy with some other hobbies and my motivation was quite low for a time. Well, playing the game on the hardest difficulty from start to finish was quite exhausting, so I simply needed a pause. And after unlocking all the characters, I was solely focused on grinding to level up all the characters and build better weapons, which isn't the most engaging task.

The Final Challenge(r)s

I was saving the last open Challenges, so I would have at least one goal left. But curiously you don't actually need all Ethereal Stones to clear all the Quests, where there's one leftover. So, I was trying the Challenges from time to time to see which ones could be already done and then to save the worst one for last. As a reminder, these were the last Challenges in the game:

  • The Fiercest of Foes (Lv. 76)
  • The Heart of the Calamity (Lv. 77)
  • The Siege of Fort Hateno (Lv. 78)
  • Unnatural Disaster (Lv. 80)

Curiously, I did all of these in the opposite order. The one with the highest recommended level, "Unnatural Disaster", turned out to be the easiest of the bunch and I cleared this Challenge early on. It puts you against all five Malice bosses one after another with a time limit, but since you can just fight them 1on1 and there is a lot of grass around for some Fire Rod boosts, it's not really that difficult.

From what I've heard it's also a really good mission to grind weapons with the best possible base attack, where I've also had a lot of luck with "The Siege of Fort Hateno". It's really a mix of having a high recommended level and many bosses.

"The Siege of Fort Hateno" is actually quite a special Challenge, where it's as lengthy as any of the later story scenarios. I would even say that this probably should have switched places with "Unnatural Disaster", because it feels like this was truly supposed to be the final mission in the game.

It gives you this you this feeling of a major threat by the Guardians, probably what "Each Step Like Thunder" should have been. This Challenge also has an interesting mechanic, which is completely unique in the game. While there is a ten minute time limit, the timer only counts down whenever a Guardian is inside Fort Hateno.

So, if you strategically take down all the Guardians out one by one, you're at no risk at losing against the clock here. The trickiest part of this Challenge might be the many Guardian Scouts, especially in the outposts where Astor and Harbinger Ganon retreat to, where it's best to have one or two Special Attacks ready... But with all of this in mind, it was another Challenge that I could beat on my first try.

The next one, "The Heart of the Calamity", on the other hand required some actual preparations. In this Challenge you will have to face all six versions of Ganon one after another: Windblight Ganon, Fireblight Ganon, Waterblight Ganon, Thunderblight Ganon, Harbinger Ganon, and finally Calamity Ganon.

You don't get to use any items and there won't be any apples around either, plus there is a time limit. It could be worse, however, because the time limit of 25 minutes is actually very generous and it doesn't make you fight all six Ganons all at once – instead it's 1on1s again. So, it's just a matter of defeating each Ganon quickly enough.

Daruk fighting Fireblight Ganon

I've chosen Daruk for this Challenge, because you can always stay close to the bosses and immediately retaliate whenever they use their big and slow areal attacks. You can just shield and stay safe within their vicinity. The only exception to this is Waterblight Ganon, where the huge ice blasts will still hurt you, much like the large Lynel blasts. But otherwise you are completely safe while shielding with Daruk's Protection, so the lack of healing items and the time limit doesn't seem like a problem.

Still, when I tried the mission for the first time I couldn't do it in time... Daruk was simply too weak and all the Blights took way too long to defeat. So, I had to do my best Rocky montage with the Goron to level him up and build a good weapon with him. It was even my first weapon in the game with the highest possible attack value for that weapon type. But more on that later...

And once Daruk reached the peak of his potential, this Challenge became almost too easy, where I still had half of the time left when Calamity Ganon fell. So, I overdid things here, but it's fine and this finally scored me the Hyrule Warriors outfit for Link. I've cleared this Challenge on January 21st, exactly two months after the game came out, so this felt like a good timing.

But there was one more Challenge left after all this: "The Fiercest of Foes". Here you have lots of Lynels and Lizalfos with a strict time limit. Out of the final Challenges I've tried this one first and despite bringing all my best warriors at the time it wasn't enough. And even when I returned here with some Level 90+ characters and Level 30 weapons with the highest possible attack value, the mission was still quite tough and far from easy, despite being massively over-leveled.

There is another double Malice Lynel fight waiting for you in this Challenge and this time you can't separate them as easily as at the Temple of Time. In addition, the many Lizalfos are all set to sniper mode and therefore are constantly shooting at you from all sides, which is super annoying and can cause insane amounts of damage very quickly. And there are a lot of them all around the Lynels, not making this easy, because when you try to take the Lizalfos out, the Lynel(s) will most likely hit you.

Well, it's best to save the double Malice Lynel for last and try to get as many Special Attacks ready with all your characters as you can. When you've defeated one of the single Lynels, you want to hit some more Lizalfos for the Special meter and then send the respective character up to the Malice Lynels, so they will already do some damage. But be careful and ready to immediately trigger your Special Attack, should you swap to one of those characters, because you'll end up in hell.

My characters of choice here were Daruk for the shield, which will help a lot with the Lizalfos and the Malice Lynels, as well as Mipha for the healing Special Attack, which can be a lifesaver at the end. Revali with his arrow spam was also a good choice, because you can take out the surrounding Lizalfos a lot more easily with him. And I also brought Link, simply because he was my first character on Level 100 and he's generally quite good against Lynels.

Weapon Building

All Chapters cleared, all Quests cleared, all Challenges cleared... Is that the end of the game? Is there nothing left to do? Well, actually, if you're the type of gal or guy who enjoys some good grinding, then you could say that the game has just started. Not only can you level every character to 100, you can also build good or even "perfect" weapons for them, where having a high damage weapon does you a lot more favors than the levels. But do you really want to do all that?

To grind, or not to grind, that is the question. 

Well, as of now, I've focused on only a few characters: Link, Zelda, Daruk, Mipha, Revali, and Terrako. I could continue with everyone else, but I'm on the fence here, as long as there no DLC announced. If the game were to get some sort of "Master Mode" as a continuation of your current save file, then it would be really worth the effort.

But I've spent a lot of time with building "perfect" weapons in Hyrule Warriors on both the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS and by the time I was done with most of it, I didn't really have any use for them, because there was nothing else left to do. So, I'm not too motivated to go forward right now, since it could all just be for naught...

At least the effort doesn't seem to be as bad, because you don't have any sealed skills, where you need to get thousands and thousands of K.O.s with multiple weapons to unlock it all... Putting together a good weapon in Age of Calamity is not as costly and time consuming as it used to be in the first Hyrule Warriors, which is a good thing.

But you still have the luck factor of finding the right weapons, which have the seals that you want to use. In addition, the base attack value is also random and there is no way of increasing it in the Blacksmith, so you have to be lucky with that as well. Playing any scenarios with a recommended level from 71 to 80 will increase the chances significantly, however. For most weapons the maximum is 70, but you can get above this via rusty weapons that you can find for certain characters.

As for finding "++" seals, any of Blood Moon scenarios will be favorable here, so I'm spending most of my time replaying the story missions and chilling under the red sky. Even with the increased level recommendations, the different Chapters are still much easier to play through than they were the first time, mostly thanks to the better weapons.

If there's no Blood Moon, you can just quickly play "Mysterious Arrivals" as Master Sword Link, which will take less than a minute. It's even the reason, why he ended up as my first Level 100 character, followed by Daruk because of all his training.

Shadow Link with a glowing Master Sword in the cursed Hyrule Castle

If you bring a weapon to Level 25 and 30, it will unlock two hidden seals. These cannot be removed or transferred and are predetermined for each weapon. The first ones I encountered were on the Master Sword and Mipha's Trident, where the Level 25 seals curiously were the exact ones I already had on the weapons: "Damage at Full Hearts++" and "Special-Attack Charge Rate++". Their values are a little bit better, though not by much.

There are also completely new seals that you can't get otherwise, like "Heal a Percentage of Damage Dealt" on the Master Sword. There is even a seal that lets you "Detect Nearby Koroks" with certain weapons, like the Forest Dweller Sword, the Shaka Maracas, or the Ancient Overclock Unit, where there is some irony to this. When I've learned that this ability even exists, I had already found all Koroks...

I wouldn't even have invested that much in any weaker weapons to begin with, where only the Sheikah Slate was on my upgrade list. And again there is some irony to this, because the Sheikah Slate couldn't detect Koroks in Breath of the Wild. You needed the Korok Mask for this...

Originally, I was going to find all of this stuff out by myself, but I quickly had to realize that this is just way too much and it was time to tap into the hive mind of the internet. The people on GameFAQs have compiled a very useful spreadsheet that contains everything you could possibly know about the weapons in Age of Calamity: best base attack values, all (hidden) seals, and so on.

And this helps me with planning, because it's good to know the secret skills of the weapons in advance. For the the best damage bonus of 20 you want four seals of the same shape and then two other seals of a different shape. Six seals of the same shape sadly won't do the trick, but since having six seals of the same shape is rarely ever useful, this isn't much of a problem.

Well, here is my first weapon that has reached the maximum damage output, a Boulder Breaker for Daruk:

It's not the best build ever, far from it. The idea was to go for full heart damage, since he won't take damage that often and can also heal himself with the last seal. And then there's a K.O. bonus on top, where this best utilized in a mission with lots of small foes. In the end you might even want different builds for the same weapons, e.g. one focused on looting with the circle shaped skills.

However, the general consensus seems to be that you want to go with "Attack Speed++" whenever possible and make that three or four times to get what "Hasty Attacks" would do for you in Hyrule Warriors with a single weapon skill slot. And I can't really argue against this, because faster weapons will do more damage naturally and also make it easier to break weak point gauges in time.

But there are certain characters where the increased attack speed might break their movesets and I personally find the focus on Attack Speed to be very boring. So, I'll probably only use it on weapons that I find somewhat too slow, like Zelda's.

Very Hard Conclusion

This ends this blog series for now. And it's been quite the ride, where I'm even getting a little bit sentimental when returning to the early parts of the game. It's been that long.

In fact I've spent over 170 hours on the game already, which is a lot and shows how much of a difference the "Very Hard" difficulty can create here. Each major enemy will take three or even four times as long to be defeated, you will to face several defeats yourself (mainly because of the time limits) and there will potentially be some grinding, even if it's just to refill your items regularly. In comparison, the playthrough on "Normal", which I had joined for some co-op play, took about 60 hours for 100% completion and basically no grinding at all.

To be honest, I had to realize that I was going full "try-hard" with this, where the experience was equally frustrating as it was satisfying. But I don't regret it, because I feel like the challenge made the game better and more interesting overall, while it also gave an excuse to invest more time into building characters and such things. And it's not a true game if you can't lose somehow.

The "Very Hard" difficulty also works quite well with this game, where the focus is a lot more on fighting bosses than handling multiple emergency situations all at once, like it used to be the case in the first Hyrule Warriors. Having a crazy difficulty level wasn't enjoyable at all in that game, where the Twilight Princess Adventure Map on the Wii U was the best example. And there are no A/S ranks either, so there is no penalty for taking damage other than the damage taken and the difficulty only really clashes with the many time limits.

But the most frustrations probably came from the fact that it was taking me quite long to complete Age of Calamity, where I was out of the loop for quite a while. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, because I got a lot more out of the game because of this. And in the end all that counts is that I did it, where the battle records don't have a single entry on the three lower difficulties anywhere in my game and I'm proud of that.

There's also the hope that this blog series has been a little bit more entertaining for it, because I wasn't just quickly checking off all the boxes. And this is where I want to thank you, the readers, for sticking with me for so long (and not throwing any spoilers into the comments). Thank you!

artwork from the alternate credits with msot characters and Terrako at the center

Here's hoping that this journey will continue in 2021 with some DLC. But with the 35th Anniversary of Zelda happening this year and all the missing armor items from Breath of the Wild (which would be perfect for the anniversary, because most of them are based on other Zelda games), I'm certain that this won't be the last of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Until then!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Nintendo Switch: Monster Hunter Rise and Super Mario Special Editions

Well, you know my story... I've been waiting for a Zelda Special Edition of the Nintendo Switch for years and then finally had to get a plain Switch for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity two months ago, because I simply needed a Nintendo Switch for that game and couldn't wait any longer. I do not regret this choice, except for not maybe getting a Nintendo Switch earlier, but I still was disappointed by Nintendo here, where I've been wondering why they wouldn't take such a chance to finally release a "Sheikah Slate Edition" or whatever.

Maybe it was because they didn't want to do such a thing for a spin-off game. Maybe it was because they didn't have the necessary production capabilities during the pandemic. Or maybe they felt like most Zelda fans already have a Switch and therefore don't want a such Special Edition now.

Well... it's certainly not the latter and it also doesn't seem like production is any issue either, because today Nintendo just announced the next shiny Special Edition bundle for the upcoming Monster Hunter Rise:

Monster Hunter Rise Nintendo Switch Special Edition bundle

Source: Twitter

And on top of this, there is a nice Special Edition Pro Controller for the game as well:

Monster Hunter Rise Special Edition Pro Controller

It doesn't have any colored handles, which I personally like to have because they show up like that in the Switch menu as well, but it still looks quite nice, much like the main system.

Also, earlier this month Nintendo has announced a special Mario Red & Blue Edition of the Nintendo Switch, probably as part of the 35th Anniversary celebration:

Source: Twitter

Uh... I can't say I'm a fan of these colors, it looks honestly quite atrocious, but it's certainly something special, because both the dock and the Joy-con grip are fully colored.

Anyway... why does this all feel quite familiar? Right, because we already had Special Edition systems for both Monster Hunter and Super Mario in 2017, see my blogpost from back then. Of course those weren't as special, where the Mario one only had red Joy-cons and that's it. The one for Monster Hunter XX was also only exclusive to Japan. And it's been over three years since then, where fans of Monster Hunter and Super Mario might want something new by now... Or they are disappointed now, because they got a not-so-shiny Special Edition.

Last year we also got Special Editions for Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Fortine... And all of this makes you wonder, why there hasn't been one for Zelda in all those years? Doesn't Nintendo love the money of us Zelda fans any longer?

Well, I'm confident that we will be getting one for 35th Anniversary. But then again, I was also hoping that we would be getting one for Breath of the Wild and Link's Awakening and so on, which wasn't the case... So, I won't be surprised, if there still isn't anything available in a year.

Ideally, a Zelda Special Edition will come together with an upgraded Nintendo Switch model, so Zelda fans wouldn't just be getting the thing for the different looks.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Super Mario 3D World: New Stamp Usage

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury will release next month on Nintendo Switch as the next enhanced port of a Wii U title. I'm on the fence about this title, where I had quite a lot of fun playing the game on Wii U and could see myself playing through it again on Nintendo Switch, but the last world, especially the Champions' Road, made completing the game and collecting all the Miiverse stamps a little bit too crazy for my taste.

Speaking of the Miiverse stamps, the Miiverse sadly is no longer... So, what purpose will the stamps even have in the port? Well, it turns out that Nintendo had a really cool idea for those:

Mario swimming through a tunnel decorated with block and squid stamps

You can actually use them to decorate the environment when you're taking screenshots in some sort of camera mode. This is really thoughtful and the stamps even have been colored for this, where in the original they used to be black and white.

Why is this of interest? Well, the Zelda series also had a Wii U game with Miiverse stamps in it – The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. And ever since Nintendo had started porting Wii U games to the Nintendo Switch, there has been the question of what would happen to the Miiverse features, if they were to port The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD as well...

Now, at least for the Miiverse stamps we could have an answer: just use them for something else. And it would be really nice, if they kept them in a potential port, because collecting the stamps was a lot more fun than finding dozens of chests with only some Rupees in them.

(Check out my Stamp Location Guide for the many pointless Rupees that have been replaced. It's documented all inside.)

This only leaves the Tingle Bottles in The Wind Waker HD... But I'm sure that Nintendo will find an alternative use for them as well or replace them with a new Tingle feature.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

GREZZO Hiring Stylishly

an artwork of some desert land up in the sky

GREZZO, the studio behind the remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening and most of the Zelda titles for Nintendo 3DS, is hiring again and this time it's UI and VFX designers, as well as programmers for the Unity engine. The project is described as "medieval and stylish".

But before you jump to conclusions, let's take a good look at the presented artwork, where we can some gigantic desert plateau up in the sky. With the job offers for Zelda in the past, they were hinting at Zelda directly, usually using the word "legend". This isn't the case here and while it looks like a fantasy game, it doesn't really look much like Zelda. Link's Awakening also seemed like it was made in Unreal Engine 4, instead of Unity, where I would not expect an engine switch for the next topdown Zelda game.

Anyway, to me this looks potentially more like Ever Oasis 2. The Nintendo 3DS game was well received and a sequel for Nintendo Switch could be interesting. It could also be something else entirely, of course.

Source: via ntower

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Age of Calamity Spirit Event


The Japanese Twitter for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has teased the next Spirit Event for the game, which features characters from Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. And it's really nice to see my two most played Nintendo Switch games (so far) coming together like this. The event will start this Friday and will actually be the first Spirit Event I'm participating in. How fitting!

Since the Champions are already present in the game as Spirits, they went with the following three characters here:

  • "Diminutive Guardian": represented by R.O.B. on Hyrule Temple
  • Impa: represented by Sheik on Gaur Plain
  • Master Kohga: represented by King K. Rool on Suzaku Castle

And this is really cool. I see what they are going for here with King K. Rool and his giant belly, as well as the cannonballs, for a good Kohga impression. And R.O.B. has been used for the normal Guardian already, so this is not a surprising choice.

I've seen some disappointment about this, because people were hoping that Impa from Age of Calamity could become a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. But I can't say I've shared these hopes in any way. If they were to add Impa, they would most likely go with an incarnation from the main series, where the one from Skyward Sword could have even worked as an Echo Fighter for Sheik.

Overall, if I'm not mistaken, this is the first time that something from a Zelda spin-off title has been added to Smash. There aren't any Spirits from the first Hyrule Warriors, for example, nor any music. So, so far they have been solely focusing on the main series and getting these Spirits now is actually quite special.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Age of Calamity: Ideas for DLC and Updates

When Hyrule Warriors first was released on Wii U in September 2014, Nintendo already has revealed their DLC plans for the game at launch with the "Hero of Hyrule Pack". Likewise, even before the release of Hyrule Warriors: Legends on the Nintendo 3DS in March 2016, we got the DLC plans laid out for the game with the "Legends of Hyrule Pack", where both of these season passes contained four individual DLC packs.

Now, with Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity things are looking quite different. It's been over a month that the game has been released, but other than mentioning the possibility of the Lucky Ladle and Training Sword bonus items becoming paid DLC, there haven't been any news about downloadable contents at all.

But this doesn't mean that there won't anything for download later, instead the current pause is most likely a consequence of how Nintendo has marketed the game this time around. A majority of the playable cast has not been revealed as such, where they were left as surprises in a Warriors game that is much more story-focused than the one before.


And with that people need time to play through the game and find out themselves how the current roster of playable characters looks like. If Nintendo had announced DLC right at launch, it would have raised questions and maybe even spoiled surprises of the main game, which they didn't want to be revealed yet.

So, it's only a matter of time and rest assured that a Warriors game as successful as this one will be getting some add-ons... Now that this blog has reached the very end of the game (with only a few Challenges left) and thus has seen the full picture, it's finally time to speculate about what contents could enrich Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity digitally throughout 2021.

Warning: there will be spoilers about the full playable cast and some story parts, so don't read this article, if you're still planning to find things out for yourself!

New Playable Characters

This is the most obvious part, so let's start here. Of course the game will most likely get a couple of character additions, where some ground work already has been laid out. First of all, it couldn't possibly be any simpler to add new characters to this game, where there are already a couple of bonus characters that don't have many attachments.

All a new playable character needs is a Training Challenge, as well as a small number of Quests to unlock Bonus Combos, Bonus Hearts and additional Special gauges, as well as their enhanced ability. That's all there really is, which is why Koei Tecmo could potentially sell DLC characters on their own again, which is something that they already did with the first Hyrule Warriors in Japan.

However, things didn't work out too well in that case, because in Hyrule Warriors the normal characters had Pieces of Hearts, Heart Containers and additional weapon unlocks to obtain from almost everywhere in the game. And the paid DLC characters, like Twili Midna or Tingle, didn't get any of this and therefore felt somewhat lacking in comparison...

Now, in Age of Calamity things are set up very differently and additional DLC characters could be integrated the same way as the other bonus characters, like Monk Maz Koshia. It's only a question of how they will be unlocked, which could be happening via new Quests, Challenges or story scenarios.

And the game already has a number of suitable candidates, who are currently non-playable characters, but who could potentially be upgraded to fully playable characters via DLC. These are mainly the following four:

  • Purah
  • Robbie
  • Sooga
  • Astor

Astor and Sooga are pretty much in the same position as Cia, Volga and Wizzro used to be, when the first Hyrule Warriors got released for Wii U. They are original boss characters that are already part of the game's action, where a lot of the work is already done. Cia, Volga and Wizzro therefore even got released as playable characters in a free update, but you still had to buy the "Master Quest Pack" DLC to get their weapons and additional Heart Containers.

Anyway, Sooga's weapons would be a special type of Yiga wind blades and he could simply be added as a bonus character after you've unlocked Master Kohga, maybe with some small story details about what happened to him after fighting Astor.

Astor himself, however, won't fit as easily anywhere in the current game, but more on this later. His weapon would be different corrupted Guardian parts, like Giant Ancient Core that he keeps using.

Robbie and Purah studying the Sheikah Slate

As for Purah and Robbie, they only appear as pure NPCs on the battlefield, where they don't take part in the fighting. So, unlike Sooga and Astor, they don't already have moves and weapons in the game, which could be used for their playable versions, but in the least they already have character models.

Purah could fight using a Torch, which is curiously absent from Link's large inventory, where she lights ancient machines with a blue flame to aid her. Robbie on the other hand could come up with Cherry and invent his ancient weaponry, like the Ancient Bladesaw, 100 years earlier in this story, where he could use these items for combat himself.

Otherwise there are some variants of Ganon in the game that are currently a boss, but could potentially become playable. About that...

For now let's go with Purah, Robbie, Sooga and Astor. With these four characters the roster would grow to 22, where two more slots are available without completely re-arranging the character select screens. And there probably isn't much need to do so, because Koei Tecmo has done a remarkable job of covering most potential characters, where there isn't much left without getting too obscure.

Kass playing the Champions Ballad on the Great Plateau cliff

The biggest fan favorite left from Breath of the Wild, who isn't playable yet, is arguably Kass. And if there's one more character who could have been called from the future by Terrako, then it's certainly the Rito minstrel, who has guided Link through his adventures in 100 years.

Kass would have the bandoneon / accordion as his weapons and fight with music, which used to be a little bit more common in the first Hyrule Warriors. But all the more reason to add Kass to the game.

Otherwise there don't seem to be many characters left. King Dorephan would be a possibility in the current timeline, but he might actually be too large, where he's even bigger than the currently largest fighters in the game, who are so big that they need to be teleported through the bridges at the Sacred Grounds...

Another candidate, who has already made a cameo appearance in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, seems to be Kilton, where you can get his monster masks from a couple of Quests. It could be an ancestor of Kilton or he simply is very old in Breath of the Wild, we don't know yet. But we do know that Kilton loves monsters and that the Spring-Loaded Hammer isn't part of Link's current weaponry, much like the Torch... And this could lead to something. (The weapon is actually in the game's data, but it's not obtainable as of yet.)

Last but not least, there is one more merchant, who could finally take action in battle: Beedle. It's likely that one of his many ancestors has already been around 100 years before Breath of the Wild. After all Beedle lived during the times of The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass, but also about 100 years later in Spirit Tracks. And he has been around long before that in Skyward Sword and The Minish Cap.

Now, with all of this in mind, it's possible that Koei Tecmo might want to save Beedle as a playable character for the next Hyrule Warriors game. But never say never and maybe he'll already be searching the battlefield for beetles in 2021. He would with all certainty an addition that's recognizable to all Nintendo fans out there.

New Weapons

It's also possible that existing characters will get new weapons and with that new movesets. But the front-runner here is arguably Link, who already has three different weapon types, but where one of the most interesting additions would be the Master Cycle Zero. This could be similar to adding Epona as one of the first DLC weapons in the first Hyrule Warriors.

New Story Chapters

Adding new characters is good and all, but for a certain amount of spice and excitement it will be better to add them alongside new story scenarios, which could act as a prologue, another epilogue or a side story. The Legend Mode in Hyrule Warriors (Legends) got even expanded in a similar way.

Here are some ideas that all go hand in hand with adding some of the new characters mentioned above:

  • Astor's Tale
  • Ancient Research
  • The Song of Time

Astor's Tale would be basically like "Cia's Tale" in Hyrule Warriors, where you primarily play as the bad guy and learn where he originally came from. You could experience his first encounter with Harbinger Ganon, how he "cooperated" with the Yiga and so on.

Astor standing in front of Kohga and Sooga

Ancient Research would be an epilogue story about Purah and Robbie, where they are put in a situation, which gives them the need to defend themselves instead of relying on the other heroes. This is where they learn to utilize their technological know-how in order to fight.

The Song of Time would be a side story about Kass, who came from the future to experience the birth of a new world, where things are taking a much more hopeful turn. He might also meet the younger self of his Sheikah teacher during his new adventures.

Master Mode

Unlike the Master Mode that came with the DLC for Breath of the Wild, this shouldn't be a do-over, but more of a New Game+. You would switch between the modes on your map using the ZR and ZL buttons. Both modes keep your unlocked characters, weapons and Quests, so all this progress is shared between the two modes.

The story scenarios and Challenges will be different in Master Mode, however, where you can play through the Chapters again with increased difficulty and unlock new Challenges on the way. The scenarios in the Chapters would be altered in the following way:

  • The recommended level is raised, even further than during Blood Moons, starting from Level 81 onwards.
  • More foes appear and enemies will be upgraded in their tiers, if possible.
  • There are new Korok Seeds and Treasure Chests to find in different locations.

The upgrades of the enemies will work in the same way as in Breath of the Wild, where this would not affect elemental or Malice enemies. But this also means that there will be new enemy variants added to Age of Calamity:

  • Golden Bokoblins, Lizalfos, Moblins and Lynels
  • Blizzrobes, Meteo Wizzrobes and Thunder Wizzrobes
  • Guardian Scouts II

Completely new Challenges will be unlocked when playing through the story again in Master Mode, so you won't be playing through all 161 old Challenges a second time. These could range from recommended level 81 onward, but there wouldn't be as many as in the base game. They are mainly used to add some new rewards...

EX Quests and Levels

With the new playable characters and more Korok Seeds to find comes also a series of new Quests on the map. These are labeled as "EX Quest" and probably shouldn't count towards the overall contribution rate of the game.

Some of the new EX Quests would benefit all characters in the game. The new Korok Seeds could go towards a third weapon page for every character, there could be another rod upgrade for a sixth usage and there could be additional bonus hearts and stat increases for all characters.

With the raised level recommendations in Master Mode, the level cap of all characters would have to be increased as well, where 100 is the current maximum. This could go to 150 or 200, but probably not to 255 again, since there is no need for any 8-bit references.

The current maximum of Heart Containers for every character is 33, which is a really odd number and creates a third row of Heart Containers waiting to be filled as well. This could at least go up to 40, but not necessarily the full 45, because you can get five bonus hearts from food.

Actually, you can get twelve of the yellow bonus hearts from food, where the 33 normal Heart Containers really might be the intended maximum. With that in mind, there also wouldn't be a need for increasing the level cap of 100.


Additional Attire

Of the 107 armor pieces that Link gets to collect and wear in Breath of the Wild, 60 of them return in the base game of Age of Calamity. The exceptions are the following:

  • Old Shirt and Well-Worn Trousers
  • Nintendo Switch Shirt
  • Ancient Soldier Gear set
  • Divine Beast Helmets
  • Korok Mask
  • Items based on other The Legend of Zelda titles (33 in total)
  • Salvager set

It's likely that some, if not most of these items will make a return as DLC later on. As a start, the Old Shirt and Well-Worn Trousers would a perfect bonus item for a season pass.

The Ancient Soldier Gear could go hand in hand with some new Challenges or Quests that get unlocked together with Robbie as a playable character. The Divine Beast Helmets could then be the reward for some new Challenges for the Divine Beasts. Likewise, the Korok Mask could be a reward for collecting some of the additional Korok Seeds in the Master Mode DLC.

Link wearing Majora's Mask and the Island Lobster Shirt

Then there's all the cameo items from other Zelda games, like Midna's Helmet, Majora's Mask, the Hero of Winds set, Tingle's set and so on, which either came with the DLC for Breath of the Wild or were amiibo unlocks. Well, they all would be perfect for some 35th Anniversary celebration, where these items cover all previous 3D Zelda games, as well as A Link Between Worlds. Of course none of them are really new, but it would still be nice to get them all in Age of Calamity as well, just for fun.

Only the Nintendo Switch Shirt and the Salvager set from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 might be a little bit questionable here, since these were promotional items for other things, but it's not impossible that they could be re-added as well.

As for other characters, Zelda still doesn't have her blue dress available for her attire, the one that she wears at the beginning of the game and during some ceremonies. You can play in her winter outfit, so why not this one as well? And while other characters don't have such things, Koei Tecmo could come up with some completely new items for them, e.g. a Goron Link outfit for Daruk.

Keep in mind that the original Hyrule Warriors on Wii U also didn't have many alternate costumes at first, only a few for Link and the pre-order costumes based on Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword for Link, Zelda and Ganondorf. Everything else was added later on via DLC and Hyrule Warriors: Legends. So, it's not unlikely that Age of Calamity will get a lot more outfit stuff for everyone.

Improvements & New Features

Next to new content via (paid) DLC, the game will most likely see a couple of free updates for improvements and such. The performance of the game won't leave everyone happy, especially those playing in two-player co-op, and there were already have been a couple of small bugs discovered, where Koei Tecmo should take a look at these things.

Otherwise the game actually leaves quite little to desire, where Koei Tecmo has thought of almost everything. The only real suggestions right now are the following quality of life improvements:

  • The Classic Zelda button layout should return from the the first Hyrule Warriors.
  • The options menu should provide the "Retry" and "Restart Battle" functions during battle without the need of being defeated.
  • There should be a new service that lets you refill your elemental rods and apples in between battles. Here you could trade your excess Trophies for the refills.
  • The Blacksmith should get a new feature that lets you upgrade seals to their "++" variant.
  • The Blacksmith should get a new feature that lets you increase the base damage of any weapon up to its maximum.

While weapons found in Breath of the Wild also had random base damage values, there everything broke anyway, so it didn't really matter. As for Age of Calamity, it's quite disappointing to build a strong weapon only to realize that you could have found an even better version of the same weapon later on. But with this new feature, every weapon could still reach its full potential.

Both of this would heavily decrease the need for grinding and that's a good thing.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Age of Calamity War Log, Entry 14

Current Progress

  • Difficulty: Very Hard
  • Chapter: 7 (Completed)
  • Battles: 20 / 20
  • Challenges: 157 / 161
  • Quests: 373 / 376
  • Contribution Rate: 99%
  • Map Completion:  98.74%


Warning: Major post-game spoilers incoming! Don't read, if you haven't fully completed the game yet!

Against Two

Last time I was only missing five Terrako parts, locked behind the Challenge "A Royal Investigation", where you have to defeat a bunch of Lynels on a timer with Zelda. My plan was to improve my Bow of Light with a Special-Attack Charge and to get some more levels on Zelda, which worked splendidly. Since you're fighting the Lynels inside outposts and there quite some enemies outside as well, you can make good use of Special Attacks here.

The real Challenge started afterwards, however, because once you're done with the three elemental Lynels, you have to fight two Malice Lynels inside the Temple of Time... at once. And with another timer, of course, because fighting two Lynels of the strongest kind at the same time isn't already challenging enough... I wasn't even able to beat "Taming the Savage Lynel" yet, but at least here you can use rods and have other enemies around to build up Specials, so it's a different story.

It's still easier said than done, so my strategy quickly turned into screaming in terror and running from the Lynels, first outside and then back into the Temple of Time. Curiously, this strategy worked like a charm, because on the way back one of the Malice Lynels got stuck, where he was busy blasting fireballs against the still sturdy walls of the citadel. So, this way I could take care of one of the Lynels without getting flanked for 20 hearts of damage by the other...

The Legend of Terrako

After Zelda had finally done her part, it was time to welcome back Terrako to the family. And the little Guardian won't just return as a companion for Link during the battles or as a nice distraction during loading screens, but as the next optional character who's playable:

Terrako near the top of Hyrule Castle during Chapter 5. You can see Hyrule and an inactive Guardian in the background.

And he's awesome, probably one of my favorite characters in the game. He's tiny and cute, but shouldn't be underestimated. Terrako's ZR "pew, pew" ability is really fun, especially once you've upgraded it for the full laser. But you can charge the laser at any time, like during combos, while you block and even while you're running, so it's extremely versatile.

Otherwise, he has one of the best Cryonis moves in the entire game, because he creates a large cage that can capture multiple enemies at once. When fighting two or more Moblins with spears or other enemies that like to charge at you, you often get into a situation where you might want to hit them all with a Cryonis attack, but it's difficult to pull off with most of them. Terrako makes it very easy, though.

His usage of Stasis, where he fires lots of blasts onto the enemy, is also a lot of fun. And overall he has a good kit, where the tornado can be quite useful. I also love how he turns his legs into a propeller to mimic one of the Guardian Skywatchers.

So, Terrako is amazing and his revival gets a nice cutscene, which is both funny and emotional, as well as an alternative version of the credits, which was designed in the same style as the loading screens. It's also reminiscent of the silhouette levels in Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, where there's a nice sunset background and everything in the foreground is black.

Alternate credits showing Terrako with Kohga and Sooga

And look at this... Sooga is still alive...! I hope there will be a little DLC story that tells us what happened to him after we last saw him fighting against Astor. This guy needs to be a DLC fighter, badly.

Anyway, Terrako also gets a little upgrade on the loading screen, where you can bring out his blades with the Y button for even more interactions. Unlike the little hatch, which gets triggered by the X button, he still will move with the crowd if you swap between the two modes. But it's still a little awkward how the little guy came with blades included into him...

His weapon type are none of the Guardian Scout weapons, however, instead it's special Guardian parts, like screws, springs and gears. And despite having unlocked Terrako, there is still no signs of the ancient weapons and armor stuff that Robbie has created in Breath of the Wild 100 years later... Might be another thing for DLC, together with a playable version of Robbie.


Against Two, Again

After unlocking Terrako and doing his quests, there was mostly a series of tough Challenges left that revolved around fighting the four Blights in different ways. In "Blight Ganons Resurgent" you have to face them in a Shrine one after another, with a time limit of course.

"Harbingers of the Calamity" on the other hand was another Challenge, where you pick four characters and have each of them locked in a different outpost with one of the Blights inside. Sadly, it seems to be entirely random which character gets matched with what Blight, so you can't say that you want to fight Fireblight Ganon as Daruk and so on.

That's actually a really good match, because Daruk's protection keeps you safe and steadfast from those fire hair attacks. Makes you wonder how he could lose to Fireblight Ganon at all... Overall Daruk is a really good choice against the Blights, because you can simply shield and stay close to them, whenever they are doing their large area attacks.

This still might not help you with the next Challenge, however, called "Remnants of the Calamity". Here you go with two characters on the Great Plateau, where each of them is greeted by two of the Blights... at once.

And this is a pain, because whenever you're trying to hit one of the two Blights, the other will most likely hit you for some insane damage. It's especially troublesome that some of the Blights might teleport behind you, so you're suddenly surrounded and getting hit in the back. This is causing flashbacks of the "Boss Rush" Challenge Battle on the Rewards Map of the first Hyrule Warriors, which pitched you against multiple strong bosses at once and which was way too difficult on the Wii U at first...

There is some grass around for Fire Rod boosts, but it won't help you out as much and on first glance it seems like this is another Challenge that couldn't possibly be done on "Very Hard". However, there is one thing suspiciously absent from this one: a time limit! And by now this is extremely curious, because Koei Tecmo puts a timer on nearly everything, even when they throw multiple boss enemies at you at once. If you can't do it fast enough, it doesn't count – that's their motto.

Now, if you keep this in mind, as well as the large terrain around you, it allows you to cheese this Challenge like no other. And my strategy was the same as when I faced two Malice Lynels with Zelda before: run for your life and hope for the best.

This does work, though, because in this battle they've paired one Blight who likes to teleport a lot with one who doesn't – Waterblight with Windblight Ganon, as well as Thunderblight with Fireblight Ganon. This way it's actually more likely that the "faster" Blight will keep following you, while other will return to his starting position after a little while.

Link fighting Thunderblight Ganon on the Great Plateau

I had some good success with this method by going up to the hill, where the old cabin resides. And once the Blights are separated, it's a very easy and straightforward task...

After "mastering" this battle, the only Challenge that was still left was "Taming the Savage Lynel" (which already came up in Entry 12), another two for one battle against Lynels. But with a timer, no items and no way to run. So, there is no real way of cheesing this, or is there?

Well, Daruk says "hi". Just hold the shield button and you're fine, because Daruk's Protection keeps you safe and steadfast here as well. The only exception are the large Lynel blasts, in this case you should get out of range or use a Special Attack, if you have one ready. I used some food to help out with this...

Of course just playing defensively won't help you much with a timer breathing down your neck, so I've been busy leveling Daruk and building a decent weapon for the guy by playing a lot of Blood Moon scenarios, so he does the right amount of damage.

During the battle you'll have to show a lot of patience. The best time to strike is whenever one of the two Lynels uses his swirling attack that can be countered with Stasis, because it will freeze the other Lynel for a short while as well. The Bomb Rune attacks are also really good to work with, because you will briefly be invulnerable during Bomb usage. Just not when using Daruk's ZR blasts afterwards, so you have to be really careful with those.

Ideally, you will wear down both Lynels at the same rate, so when you defeat one of them, you can quickly take out the other afterwards and then can fight the Malice Lynel normally for a quicker victory.

Afterwards it unlocks "Hold the Line" at the Korok Forest, where you have to defend two strongholds with two characters, while taking out four Hinox in all corners of the map. This one feels overwhelming at first, because the game keeps sending Moblins in regular intervals to your bases... However, they come from the outposts, where the Hinox reside, and once you take out one of the Hinox, the respective Moblin will stop respawning.

Here it's a good idea to focus on freeing one keep from regular attacks first, which I did with the one to the north. Then you can defend the other keep, while going for the remaining Hinox without going back and forth. Well, mostly, because it will also summon two Lynels in between, which you better fight before they make it to your strongholds.

Beating this Challenge gave me my last five missing Korok Seeds as a reward, so I could finally get another apple usage, as well filling the second weapon page for every character. Link and Zelda even have a third page, because the Master Sword and Bow of Light created orphan slots, since these are fixed weapons.

I also expected a follow-up quest for the Korok Mask, but this wasn't the case and this armor item doesn't seem to be part of the game yet, just like the Ancient Armor...

Charging Calamity

There was also a series of new Challenge all around Hyrule Castle, which were all uncharacteristically quick, nice and easy this late in the game. "Mysterious Arrivals" has you fight all four Champion Hollows at once, followed by Hollow Link. But since the Hollows all die very quickly, this can be done in under a minute with the right character, which makes this one of the shortest Challenges in the entire game. You're not getting much out of it, though, maybe one good weapon, but this might be good for leveling.

Additionally, you get two Challenges that let you fight Astor and Harbinger Ganon individually, which is ideal for practicing these two bosses. And you might want to do this a little bit for what comes next...

Clearing absolutely all available Challenges at this point in the game will unlock "Versus Calamity Ganon", where you fight the final boss of Age of Calamity in a Challenge for the first time. This naturally has a time limit and before you get to Calamity Ganon, you need to beat Astor and Harbinger Ganon first... And you need to hurry here, because Calamity Ganon tanks like the tankiest tank in the entire game.

However, the fight takes place within Fort Hateno, where it rains. Unlike in Breath of the Wild, where bad weather is mostly a nuisance, rain is your best friend in Age of Calamity, because it super-charges your Lightning Rod all the time. In addition there are water puddles around to super-charge your Ice Rod...

Calamity Ganon struck by lightning

Calamity Ganon is completely steadfast, so even a weak-point smash won't blow him away like any other enemy in the game. But you can use this to your advantage whenever he's parked above a water puddle. You can effectively unleash all your Ice Rod and Lightning Rod rounds one after another on him for ten easy weak-point smashes. Which still wasn't enough to finish the guy on "Very Hard", by the way, but it will buy you enough time.

Now, beating this Challenge will unlock something special and I will put this in a spoiler box just for extra spoiler safety...

Almost Done

I only have one Quest open at this point to finally get that Hyrule Warriors outfit for Link. It's curiously a 10% discount for West Hyrule, but it costs four Ethereal Stones, which you get from clearing Challenges, one per Challenge. I have four more Challenges left open as well, where this should be all that's left in the game. The final push:

  • The Fiercest of Foes (Lv. 76)
  • The Heart of the Calamity (Lv. 77)
  • The Siege of Fort Hateno (Lv. 78)
  • Unnatural Disaster (Lv. 80)

I still will leave these open for a while, because I want to focus on character building for a bit, before I fully finish the game. Plus, it really might be needed to push my characters to their limits with some of these.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Dawn of a New Year – 2021

Hyrule Castle in Age of Calamity with view on Hyrule Castle Town

The year 2021 marks the 35th Anniversary for The Legend of Zelda and with that we can look forward to an interesting year, filled with surprises, new Zelda games and goodies. Well, the 30th Anniversary only had a bunch of amiibo and an artbook under its banner, so it's not a given that every anniversary will be celebrated extensively, but we also got Twilight Princess HD and Hyrule Warriors: Legends in 2016, so it was still a strong year.

The new Hyrule Warriors already got released in 2020, but Age of Calamity will most likely see some additions in the form of updates and DLC throughout 2021. Additional playable characters, new Challenges and outfits, maybe even a new map or mode – there are many possibilities here. In the very least the Lucky Ladle and Training Sword might become available for purchase.

From the prequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild we will then slowly, but surely move to its sequel, which was already teased at E3 2019, but hasn't been shown ever since. We have learned very little about the game so far, where only Nintendo knows when it will be released. It might be that it's ready for late 2021, as the highlight of the 35th Anniversary, or it could be that we won't be getting it before 2022. It's really hard to say right now, but it's likely that Nintendo will tell us more about the game this year.

And with the 35th Anniversary Nintendo will probably distract us otherwise. The biggest candidate is arguably an HD remaster of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which will be getting 10 years old in 2021 and therefore could follow in the footsteps of The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD. Speaking of, Nintendo loves porting their Wii U games to the Nintendo Switch, where Super Mario 3D World will be next, and the Zelda HD remasters could follow, maybe even in a collection.

Otherwise there is always the possibility of getting a new top-down Zelda experience in some form. It might be a little bit too early for GREZZO's next Zelda project, e.g. remakes of Oracle of Ages & Seasons or a new multiplayer title, but maybe we're in for a small surprise here.

To celebrate the 35th Anniversary early on, they could do something with the original The Legend of Zelda for example. While GREZZO hasn't touched the remake of Link's Awakening since launch, its Chamber Dungeon feature would be absolutely perfect to include a remake of the first dungeon from The Legend of Zelda, with Aquamentus as a new boss enemy. As a free update this would be really cool.

But as the 35th Anniversary of Super Mario has taught us in 2020, you can never know what to expect. Except that we shouldn't expect the same things, since they always like to do something different with Zelda's anniversaries, like the concerts in 2011. An anime movie based on Breath of the Wild could be amazing or maybe we hear something from that rumored Netflix series...

However, while marveling over all the options that Zelda's 35th Anniversary could bring, let's not forget that it will also be the 35th Anniversary of Metroid. Nintendo has yet to celebrate any anniversary of the Metroid series, where its always overshadowed by its older Action Adventure sister, but 2021 could finally bring some news about Metroid Prime 4 and maybe a new 2D Metroid.

In any case 2021 should give us lots of new things to talk and be excited about... So, Happy New Year, everyone!