In my review of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, I praised its strong narrative that effectively managed to subvert my expectations and satisfying hack-and-slash gameplay. Yet returning to the game for a few weeks to play Pulse of the Ancients, the first round of new content included in the Age of Calamity Expansion Pass, I ultimately came away disappointed. Although there are more challenges to discover, they are nearly identical to the content already available in the base game. However, the new weapon types and new playable character, the Battle-Tested Guardian, are fun additions to an already fantastic game.
Most of your time in Pulse of the Ancients will be spent in the Royal Ancient Tech Lab. This new service location acts as a hub for the DLC’s new challenges, which unlock new weapons and various features. The challenges will often require you to perform specific tasks, acquire materials, and defeat an absurd amount of enemies. The base game would often expect you to repeat stages multiple times just to grind for items, which can become extremely tedious, and Pulse of the Ancients is unfortunately the same except even more severe. There really isn’t much difference when it comes to the DLC’s quests, except for the addition of “vicious monsters.”
Occasionally, a “vicious monster” alert will appear on your map of Hyrule. As the name implies, these enemies are much stronger and deal more damage. However, most of the challenge comes from the monster’s damage output. There isn’t much strategy involved in these fights, as you will mostly be slashing your way through its health until it can’t breathe anymore. For example, I encountered a vicious Stone Talus with a ridiculous amount of health. This encounter took me just under 10 minutes to complete, which frustrated the life out of me; the rewards weren’t worth the hassle either. Most of these missions are locked behind post-story leveling, so prepare to repeat a lot of missions over and over again.
The DLC’s most significant additions are the two new weapons and the Battle-Tested Guardian. However, they require you to complete the majority, if not all, of the Royal Ancient Tech Lab challenges. It will all depend on how committed you are to the repetitive postgame grinding. Link is able to use the newly added Flail, while Zelda can unlock Breath of the Wild‘s Master Cycle for use in combat. They control how you’d expect them to, adding yet another way to mix up the gameplay. Meanwhile, the Battle-Tested Guardian shoots its iconic laser at nearby foes and provides a novel new way to approach combat. Pulse of the Ancients also adds the “Apocalyptic” difficulty mode, which cranks up the game to eleven and enemies hit a lot harder.
Ultimately, your enjoyment of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity – Pulse of the Ancients will heavily depend on how much you liked the main game’s challenge quests. Essentially, the DLC adds more of the same, with a few extra rewards for those who fully complete its content. There is a continued necessity for postgame grinding, which at times becomes extremely frustrating, but the gameplay is still as satisfying as it was before. Playing as the Battle-Tested Guardian changes the pace by a substantial amount, and the new weapon types are fun to experiment with. If you’re just after another reason to beat things up in Hyrule, then this DLC may be for you. Otherwise, you can pass on it.
Wave One of the Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Expansion Pass is now available, which includes the Pulse of the Ancients DLC. Wave Two, Guardian of Remembrance, is expected to launch sometime in November.
A review code for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity – Pulse of the Ancients was provided by Nintendo.