Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity devs on DLC characters, maps, more
In an extensive interview with Japanese magazine Nintendo Dream, select members of the Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity development team have discussed key aspects of the game’s Expansion Pass DLC, including the new characters and maps. The talk featured director Ryouta Matsushita, producers Yosuke Hayashi and Masaki Furusawa, and artist Yu Oboshi.
Our translation of the interview regarding the Expansion Pass for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is below:
Why was Princess Zelda on the Master Cycle instead of Link in the first DLC pack?
Matsushita: The biggest reason is that the world was set 100 years prior to Breath of the Wild. Zelda fought alongside Link on the battlefield, so it didn’t feel unnatural to have Zelda ride a Master Cycle. Zelda is also interested in ancient artifacts, and it was easy to imagine Zelda wanting to ride it when she saw it (laughs). I’m sure players can imagine that without us going into too much detail, it’s not too out of the realm of possibility for Zelda.
I heard that the idea was suggested by Koei Tecmo. What was Mr. Aonuma (Legend of Zelda series producer) and Mr. Fujibayashi’s (BotW director) reaction?
Matsushita: They gave us the OK, but that’s when things got difficult. (laughs) Princess Zelda is an important figure to many people, we had to make sure from the outset that her movements while on the bike were elegant and delicate – make her look cool, but not unnaturally so. All while keeping Zelda classy, not someone casually riding their bike to the shops. (laughs) Mr. Oboshi also struggled with this, and it took us a lot of time.
Oboshi: We really wanted princess Zelda to continue to look like a princess while riding the Master Cycle and we were able to pull it off with a lot of help from the Zelda team. I ended up contacting them again and again and again… until we finally made it. (laughs)
Did you have any references for Zelda using the Master Cycle?
Matsushita: We thought of BotW’s Master Cycle Zero as an off-road bike. We thought its movements would be based on its basic actions like hopping and jumping. We took additional ideas from the ancient artifacts and finished it off with designs we thought would make it more suitable for musou-style action.
What was the reaction from the supervising Zelda team?
Matsushita: It was generally positive, but we ended up going back and forth to land on the bike’s final design. The bike has three types: basic, hunter and sentinel. We designed two of them, working closely with the Zelda team to maintain the off-road feeling and the princess air around Zelda.
Oboshi: We spent a lot of time figuring out what characters would look like when riding by experimenting with the range of American and racing styles of riding for the final design. The original model was a motocross bike and there weren’t many aspects of modern bikes that fit, so we took additional ideas from the Divine Beasts’ ancient artifact forms, and focused a horse motif for the cycles. We changed the animals around and used things like hawks and bulls this time. We were careful to underscore if the same character rode on the two different Master Cycles, there was a notable difference between the hunter and sentinel designs.
Furusawa: We used many ideas from BotW and its surrounding lore, but always in line with ideas that were uniquely Koei Tecmo. Whenever possible, we kept our interpretations broad for the sake of development. Things were straight forward once we hit that point, but we worked hard to set a good foundation to work from.
Hayashi: As Mr. Furusawa mentioned, the Zelda team always wanted us to bring new, Musou-style ideas to the playing field. I think that came in the form of princess Zelda riding on a Master Cycle. When we were implementing it, there was always a nagging feeling that some ideas might not be suitable for BotW, so we took time to make sure this was never the case.
The Battle Tested Guardian who beat calamity
Could you talk us through how Battle-Tested Guardian from DLC Wave 1 became a playable character?
Matsushita: While talking with the Zelda team about new playable characters, BotW’s art director Mr. [Satoshi] Takizawa said that he had fun moving the enemy guardians around while testing CG. At the time, we hadn’t considered controlling a guardian, but given how much time players spend with them in BotW, it got us thinking. Take Hestu as an example – we don’t see Hetsu fighting in BotW, but because it’s been a character that was with players for a long time, it still felt natural to control Hestu fighting. We applied the same principle with the guardians.
It looks and acts differently to a regular guardian.
Matsushita: The other guardians have been taken over by Ganon, but the Battle-Tested Guardian resisted Ganon’s influence and kept on fighting… That’s the lore behind the character. It was made to serve Hyrule and join the battle against calamity, so you could say it got to accomplish its purpose. That was the motivation behind its special design. And in typical Musou fashion, of course it’s stronger than regular guardians!
Players having the ability to freely use its beam is a lot of fun (laughs).
Matsushita: I imagine that beeping sound is probably traumatic for some players (laughs). The guardian being a playable character means players are on the firing end, I want players to feel it’s an indispensable tool in their arsenal while they play. After locking onto an enemy and firing the beam, I’m sure players will have a better understand of the feeling when it happens to them (laughs).
You start to empathize with the guardians (laughs).
Matsushita: There are some things you can only learn by doing, which is why playing as the guardian allows players to understand them more than text or cutscenes otherwise would. The ideas behind the beeping sound are one example of that.
Playing as the quirky duo
In the second wave of DLC, why were Purah and Robbie added to the game as a duo character?
Matsushita: First of all, we couldn’t pick between the two of them… If only one was chosen, we would have had some explaining to do (laughs). In BotW, the two showed up as an out-of-sync, sometimes good, sometimes bad kind of a pair, and it was an interesting concept. That’s how we landed on the idea to make them a pair.
And there’s a scene where Purah is fiddling with a weapon at the back which caused it to go berserk.
Matsushita: Right. When we were developing them, we thought about how those two interact inside the laboratory… and that’s how we landed on them being so out of step with each other (laughs).
Robbie fights with Sheikah Arms and Purah fights with the power of the Divine Beast. How did these styles emerge?
Matsushita: If the pair were to join the battle, we thought they’d want to show off the fruits of their research. As a playable character however, it makes them easier to control if they have a main weapon, and the Sheikah Arms were chosen. With that said, it’s easy to imagine Purah doing as she pleases, using whatever invention she wants without Robbie’s permission (laughs). In the end, the team forced us to experiment with many of their inventions to get them into the game…
Oboshi: We sure made a lot. It starts with one little button press, through to Purah’s mini Divine Beasts and then eventually riding them in their four legged forms… It wasn’t just the items, but the duo’s actions too. Questions that popped up included things like: If you move Robbie, would Purah follow from behind? Among others (laugh). We wondered a lot about their movements and if they would move without thinking too much, and made them in such a way to bring out their lack of coordination.
Furusawa: The sphere Purah rides transforms into four different shapes, so be on the lookout for that.
It doesn’t get summoned, it transforms!?
Oboshi: Yes, it transforms!
Hayashi: I want to see that played out frame by frame. (laughs)
The Yiga clan top general – The playable character fans willed into being
In addition to Purah and Robbie, Sooga, the Yiga clan’s top general, is also a playable character. As a new character in Age of Calamity, how was he chosen as a playable character?
Matsushita: I originally had no intention of making him a playable character. I thought it would end with the cutscenes he was in.
Furusawa: He garnered more of a reaction from fans than we thought. They kept asking about what happened to him and asked to see more from him. When we started developing DLC, we always had the intention of including him more in the story, but when it came time to choose playable characters, his name was popping up everywhere. That was what made us think to add him in (laughs).
Hayashi: During the meetings where we decided on the additional playable characters, we wondered if there was any reason to go against fan requests. There were ideas for other characters, but we were in a unique situation where we could make decisions after the game’s release. We gave up the fight and went with fans’ requests (laughs).
Matsushita: In the end, fans were so upfront about their requests that the DLC was about making content in line with what they were hoping for.
Furusawa: Which is how Sooga came to be – through fans speaking up. As there were no plans to add him at the start, there were some aspects that were incredibly difficult, but in the end we didn’t want to disappoint our fans.
Matsushita: … so we added him into the plan after the fact!
But from the outset there were plans to include a new story around the Yiga clan in the second wave of DLC.
Matsushita: That’s right. As the enemy, it was too difficult to portray what happened to the Yiga clan in the main storyline. It was hard to wrap up their story, unpack the relationship between Sooga as the head general with Kohga among the other things we could explore. We had the setting and story for the Yiga clan, Kohga, Sooga and the rest of the brave clan members which presented a different charm to the Hyrule Kingdom’s side. As long as we nailed the setting, we thought fans would enjoy it.
Sooga’s movements look amazing. Music stopping during his special attack leaves a lasting impression.
Matsushita: Thank you! He moves so fast, which is why we decided to stop the enemy, the river, and the sky… We put a lot of work into that element.
Oboshi: I remember pointing out that some parts of the seaside were still moving. (laughs) His moves felt mighty and were satisfying to watch, finished off with some Koei Tecmo magic.
Matsushita: New features like the Master Cycle and Purah/Robbie’s action present a brand-new experience to all players. They came from many different suggestions, and we debuted what we thought was the best representation of each of them. On the other side of that, you have Sooga, a dual sword user. That kind of swordplay is a well-worn archetype which presented another hurdle to overcome. It was about making something cool and straightforward to play for all kinds of players.
Amidst the coolness, we can see the comical side of the Yiga clan too, like the idle animation where he eats a banana or the Kohga statue carved from ice (laughs).
Matsushita: Absolutely. I think the fact that Sooga is so deadly serious whenever he does something is part of his charm (laughs).
Furusawa: The Yiga clan and Master Kohga are unusual in the sense they’re human characters who are antagonists. The game is set 100 years prior to BotW, and we received a good response to how their fate played out, which made us dig deeper in the DLC. We didn’t want to overuse Sooga and kept Master Kohga at the forefront to make sure it was centered around their master/disciple relationship.
New stories in memorable places
How did you choose the location for the new DLC maps?
Matsushita: We picked BotW’s most memorable locations and breathed new life into them by depicting them as they would have looked 100 years prior. We started by finding those types of interesting locations as a nod to fans who played the original. The catch was that areas chosen had to be either a battlefield, or an important location where a battle against calamity would take place, so we picked locations with those restrictions in mind as well.
Furusawa: The Coliseum is a great example. Not only was it an important part of BotW, it’s a place that left an impact on many players. One look at its landmarks or a map immediately creates that link for players, as they make the connection to its form of 100 years prior. Connections like that are only possible in Age of Calamity, so we looked for locations we could bring to life with that charm in mind.
It also features many buildings around the Coliseum that weren’t in BotW.
Oboshi: The surrounding areas had a more lively, festive feel to it, as if the Coliseum was still being used.
Matsushita: It’s a gathering of a large group of people and vendors and streets that populate the area.
Furusawa: We altered a lot to make it work in a Musou-style game, but the aesthetic created from the landmarks, maps and colors were crafted to keep the feel of the place. It is said 100 years prior though, so we tried to portray its state before it was destroyed.
Which of the new areas do you have the deepest emotional attachment to?
Furusawa: For me it’s Kakariko Village. I was impressed by where it ended up (laughs). I mean, this is a place hardly seen as a battlefield. As a place that every BotW player visits, there was always the thought of “I want to use this area but…”, so we changed it in a way that would make sense for players, while adding some Easter eggs along the way. Hopefully players pick up on them as they play (laughs).
Matsushita: It would have to be the Coliseum for me. A perfect place for battle that fits in an action game, and serves as an important location for the new story as well. I always wanted to use this place for new storylines, and as a place I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, I’ve become deeply attached to it.
Oboshi: I wanted the weather and climate to have an effect in-game on all the additional stages. With the new experiences that came with the DLC, we worked hard to include things like storms coming out in the Coliseum, and thick fog in Goponga Village. We made the statue that sat in the garden of the forgotten temple easily recognizable as a small Easter egg, giving it a Roman design and paying attention to small details like how the surrounding plants grew to make it look more authentic.
Hayashi: It’s also the Coliseum for me. You can see how it looked 100 years prior, before it was destroyed. While it’s not a particularly important coliseum in BotW, it’s a landmark location in the story that took place 100 years prior that helps tie the two stories together. We wanted people to feel sentimental about the events that took place 100 years prior, and we were glad we could add narrative to locations that had none.
Like in BotW, it’s DLC that can be enjoyed at any time
Lastly, how are you feeling now that Hyrule Warrior: Age of Calamity and it’s DLC are complete, and do you have any parting words to readers?
Oboshi: I think that we were able to create something really appealing through telling the story of the undiscovered memories, stories that could not be told in BotW. This game features key visuals that you can’t see anywhere else, and I hope that people who play the game will enjoy them.
Matsushita: We worked hard to deliver storytelling and gameplay that you can only find in this game. That concept held true in the new Expansion Pass, where we strived to offer experiences from the battlefield of 100 years ago. I know many players who played the main game wanted DLC, but I think as a team we were even more happy to hear about the DLC news, and we had a great year working on it. To meet fan expectations, we included many new ideas and concepts that we couldn’t fit in the main game. Many of those things I can’t talk about here, but I hope that fans will try the DLC and experience it for themselves.
Furusawa: As I mentioned at the top, this is DLC that was willed into being through fan outreach. To those fans: sorry to have kept you waiting over the last year. We made sure to use the time given to us to meet the expectations of BotW fans, so I hope you enjoy every bit of new content. The Expansion Pass is not a continuation of the main story, but something that can be easily accessed by after only an hour of the mainline story. It’s a similar approach to BotW, in that it is DLC that can be enjoyed at any time. The DLC was made so players would enjoy the main game even more, so as the holiday season approaches I hope people will enjoy it.
Hayashi: A part of me thinks that Age of Calamity only exists because of how the four heroes’ depth was expounded upon in BotW’s second DLC pass. I hope that the Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Expansion Pass will also add to the BotW world. The first expansion pass brought more action offerings, where the second pack focused on expanding the world. I won’t go into that additional story any further, as I want everyone to play and experience it for themselves. It won’t change the end of the main story, but I hope everyone will enjoy seeing the characters in these new settings. I invite all fans out there to give it a try for themselves.
Translation provided by centurionnugget and Jarop on behalf of Nintendo Everything.
If you use any of this translation, please be sure to source Nintendo Everything. Do not copy its full contents.