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Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity beginner’s guide

Hack and slash through Hyrule with these tips

Link deflects a laser in front of Princess Zelda in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Image: Koei Tecmo Games/Nintendo via Polygon

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity takes place 100 years before the events of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It adopts the visual style, story, and characters of the 2017 Nintendo Switch title and merges it with the combat of developer Tecmo Koei’s Dynasty Warriors franchise, combining many of the best aspects from each.

In this Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity beginner’s guide, we’ll explain the basics of combat, which systems you should pay attention to, and how you can make the most of the game when you’re outside of combat.

Understanding combat in Age of Calamity

Hyrule Warriors is a combination of the beat-’em-up combat of Dynasty Warriors mixed with the action-adventure elements from Breath of the Wild.

Each warrior — including Link, Zelda, Impa, and the four Breath of the Wild Champions — has the same basic attack categories (Regular and Strong), and chaining those attacks together forms combos . We’ll explain those basic attacks — which make all the difference between each character — below.

A menu screen showing all the buttons in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Learn your buttons early so each character becomes easier to learn
Image: Koei Tecmo Games/Nintendo via Polygon
Regular Attacks

Regular Attacks (Y button) make up your most common combos for all characters. You can deal damage to scores of enemies and larger foes just by hammering the Y button repeatedly. As you progress throughout Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, you’ll add more button combinations to your regular attack combo string, making it deadlier.

Strong Attacks

Strong Attacks (X button) are where you’ll begin seeing how each character performs differently. These more powerful attacks hit harder but also express each character’s play style.

For instance, Link’s Strong Attack charges up a spin move. If you keep the X button held down, Link will walk with his sword, ready to unleash an attack in the middle of a large group of enemies. Impa uses strong attacks for powerful strikes on a single enemy and Zelda creates large-scale projectiles with her Sheikah Slate.

Strong Attacks don’t usually combo into one another, but most characters have unique combo enders if you cancel a Regular Attack string with a Strong Attack.

To see how character transitions between them, experiment by hitting Strong Attack in the middle of several Regular Attacks.

Special Attacks

Special Attacks (A button) are powerful moves that can be unleashed once you build up enough power. As you defeat enemies, a yellow gauge on the top right of your screen under your health will grow. Once filled, you’ll be able to unleash a single, devastating attack on your enemies.

Each character’s moves are different, so keep their utility in mind. Link’s Special Attack is a massive spinning sword strike which works great when engaging a fresh horde of enemies. Impa’s attack is a unique move that targets a single enemy that should only be used larger enemies like Moblins.

Unique Actions

Unique Actions (ZR button) are special abilities that complement the play style of each character. The moves on their own aren’t especially powerful, but rather they augment the capabilities of each of the game’s brawlers.

Link’s Unique Action is a volley of arrows, adding much needed range to his typically close range set of moves. Impa gains seals with her Unique Action that allow her to create clones depending on how many seals she gathers.

Sheikah Runes

The rune attacks screen in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Rune attacks are strong, but have a cool down
Image: Koei Tecmo Games/Nintendo via Polygon

The Sheikah Runes attack requires you to hold down the R button and then the A, B, X, or Y button.

By the end of the second mission, you’ll gain access to the four Sheikah Runes that were in Breath of the Wild, and each character can unleash a different rune ability using the Sheikah Runes attack.

  • Stasis (X button) freezes groups of enemies for a short time and makes large creatures more vulnerable than usual while they’re doing a spin attack.
  • Remote bombs (Y button) allow players to toss a handful of explosives at enemies and break the shields of larger monsters.
  • Cryonis (A button) creates a wall of ice you can jump off of, freezes nearby enemies, and also staggers big baddies who are performing a charging attack when they hit the wall.
  • Magnesis (B button) grabs any metal objects around you, causing bolts of lightning to fly around, and it disarms huge foes carrying large, metal weapons.

Items menu

Holding down the L button brings up your Items menu. Press the B button to consume any food you find and restore health.

Wizzrobes

You can also cast spells based on any fire, ice, or electricity Wizzrobes wands you find. These magical enemies are highlighted on the map with a wand icon, and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity usually tells you when one appears. Defeat them, and you’ll grab one of their wands. Each use depletes the weapon’s energy, and defeating Wizzrobes of the right element will restore the power of the corresponding wand.

Controlling other characters

The Allies screen / pause menu is a vital tool for tackling objectives across Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity map.

The allies screen in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Split your party up to instantly tackle multiple objectives
Image: Koei Tecmo Games/Nintendo via Polygon

By pressing the + button, you’ll pause the game and bring up the allies screen. You’ll get a full view of the map and the option to direct your companions. Choose an ally, and then move your map marker with the left stick to set a destination. Once set, your teammate will run over to that spot and begin fighting any enemies there.

Direct your allies to different areas of the map when you have to complete multiple objectives at once. While you tackle one destination, your ally can run to the other and begin working on it. Once you’re done, press up or down on the D-pad to swap control to another character and finish the job, instead of having a single character running across each level.

Unlocking the map

After the introductory mission, you’ll get access to the map. While it’s the same map from Breath of the Wild, you won’t be exploring by foot for hours. Instead, icons will appear across for new missions, places to learn new recipes for power-ups, and other unlockables. Selecting an icon will bring up a menu or load up a level for a mission or challenge.

The overworld map in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Highlight each icon to see what it reveals
Image: Koei Tecmo Games/Nintendo via Polygon

Pot icons show locations where you can turn in food items and learn recipes to cook. Making meals before missions grants temporary buffs for that level.

Horse and vase icons unlock shops and merchants who buy and sell items.

Crossed swords icons represent main story missions which further the game’s narrative and allow you to unlock new characters.

Single sword icons are challenges that may help you bolster your skills or put you to the test so you can level up your characters.

You’ll also find icons representing each character. Completing the requirements for these vendors allows specific characters to learn new combat skills.