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Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity’s designers talk about following up Breath of the Wild

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Making a game that’s both prequel and sequel

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, which launched on the Nintendo Switch last week, is a curious thing: a blockbuster release that’s both a sequel and a prequel. It’s a follow-up to 2014’s Hyrule Warriors, a game that mashed together the fantastical realm of Hyrule with the action-heavy gameplay of the Dynasty Warriors series. But it’s also a game that takes place before the pivotal events of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, making it a key piece of lore for diehard fans.

To find out a bit more about how the game came about, and how developer Koei Tecmo partnered with the Zelda team at Nintendo, I was able to ask a few questions of Age of Calamity producer Yosuke Hayashi and director Ryouta Matsushita. Here’s what they had to say about making the game and why weapon durability didn’t make a comeback.

(And if you’re looking for more Zelda insight, be sure to check out our lengthy chat with the directors of Breath of the Wild.)

How did the idea of making a prequel to Breath of the Wild come about? What made this timeline / setting a good fit for the Hyrule Warriors-type of experience?

Hayashi: Nintendo explicitly suggested the idea of using Dynasty Warriors gameplay to show the Great Calamity in Breath of the Wild. We also enjoyed Breath of the Wild as fans, and thought we’d be able to make a really fun game with the idea. So I don’t remember really worrying much while we were solidifying each specification.

Were there specific ways you wanted to build off of or change things from the original Hyrule Warriors?

Hayashi: Something we realized with the previous game was that we wanted to create a story that revolved more tightly around the Link, Zelda, and Ganon trio. While I’d like everyone to experience the rest of the details for themselves, I think that we were even successful in achieving that in the first Hyrule Warriors.

Since this game is so tightly connected with Zelda lore, did it require more direct collaboration with Nintendo? How would you describe the way Koei Tecmo and Nintendo work together on a project like this?

Hayashi: Previously, Hyrule Warriors was a spinoff game where Koei Tecmo had a certain amount of freedom with development. However, since we’re depicting the previously unknown environment of 100 years prior to Breath of the Wild here, we needed the complete cooperation of the Zelda team at Nintendo. While building up the project, we got input on a variety of areas from the Zelda team, including visuals, scenario, sound, and the direction of gameplay.

Matsushita: To ensure that the game inherited the worldview and tone of BOTW, we asked for in-depth reviews starting from the initial design stage. Creating a world that brings together everything in Breath of the Wild, at a high level, is impossible without this collaborative effort. For the gameplay system, we aimed to respect the gameplay of Koei Tecmo’s Warriors series while incorporating new gameplay elements that lived up to the expectations of the Zelda team.

It’s likely a lot of players will be coming to this game after playing BOTW and not necessarily Hyrule Warriors. Is this something you took into consideration? Is the game designed in a way to ease in new players?

Hayashi: Our policy in developing Age of Calamity was to create a game that would be fun for Breath of the Wild players. So I think that it’s fun even if you haven’t played the previous Hyrule Warriors.

Matsushita: It is an action game where you fight enemies, but you can also use creative methods such as items or the environment, in addition to fighting techniques, to defeat powerful enemies. I think we’ve created these elements so that they have hints that are easily recognizable to fans of the Legend of Zelda series.

Aside from the setting, were there any elements specific from BOTW that you wanted to incorporate in this game? Were there key things from BOTW that just didn’t work in a Dynasty Warriors experience?

Hayashi: One system that obviously doesn’t work well is weapon durability. While this was very effective in Breath of the Wild, Age of Calamity assumes that you’re strengthening your weapons as you play, so we’re using a system unique to this game.

Matsushita: Using limited resources, such as weapons or food, was an element unique to Link in Breath of the Wild. Since this game is about a war that encompasses all of Hyrule, we needed ways to depict a different aspect.