Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Developers Discuss the Challenges of Developing the Divine Beasts
Posted on June 25 2021 by Judy Calder
The developers of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity recently spoke with Japanese video game site Dengeki Online and discussed the challenges of developing the Divine Beasts and their gameplay. Producer Masaki Furusawa and Director Ryōta Matsushita offered the site’s writer Azuki Shinanogawa special insight into how the team brought the Divine Beasts to life.
Age of Calamity was a feat of epic proportions, and of course the developers took care with character selection. Naturally, debate should arise as the team strove to decide whether playable Divine Beasts should be a reality. Shinanogawa went right to the center of that in the interview:
You said the character selection was a smooth process, but were there any disagreements within the team?
Matsushita: About Princess Zelda fighting and the Divine Beasts.
Furusawa: Oh yeah, the application of the Divine Beasts was greatly debated.
Matsushita: That was much harder to picture compared to the other elements we incorporated, which is probably why it ended up taking a lot longer to fit that in in a way that all of our staff could agree with.
With the decision made on the application of the Divine Beasts, the development team would need to address how they would work during actual gameplay. These gargantuan weapons gave only a small hint to their true power in Breath of the Wild, and so designing the machines to operate accordingly under the player’s command was sure to take some hard work and imagination:
What were the challenges or unique aspects of designing the Divine Beasts’ attack patterns, which in Breath of the Wild are mostly only shown from the inside and from their single firing shot at Ganon?
Matsushita: The hard part was that they obviously don’t fight as allies in Breath of the Wild. Instead you face them as enemies, and we took the attacks they used in each of those sequences – such as shooting ice or thumping its tail to rain down magma – as clues to their attack options. But more than that we made their attacks by imagining what kinds of things we’d want to do based on the physical appearance of each Divine Beast.
The Divine Beast of water, Vah Ruta, has to use its long trunk to attack, and that’s what feels best when controlling it. Those animal-like qualities form the motifs. The Divine Beasts have motifs in Breath of the Wild too, but it’s a bit different.
The Divine Beast of fire, Vah Rudania, for example, is an odd being without a clear, “Oh, it’s this animal.” We designed its actions by looking at how it walks and its body structure, and imagining how that would dictate its movements and how it could be used to play a tide-shifting role on the battlefield.
Taking control of the Divine Beasts was a feature of this game that had to be treated very carefully. I think the Divine Beasts were treated as the key to the War of the Calamity because of how they can be used to half-negate the entire battle, in a way that can’t be achieved in normal Warriors gameplay. We conceived a style of gameplay that could convincingly convey what a great impact they had.
The Divine Beasts were a surprise to many Warriors fans, standing out against the standard expectation of battle in Age of Calamity. The ability to take on such a wide variety of enemies in the droves of which they appeared really shook things up, showing the true effect of the colossal machines. Even better, the player could physically grasp the enormity of the weapons they controlled, which was exactly what the developers wanted to emphasize:
Furusawa: Fighting with the Divine Beasts can be described as a “change of pace” from the regular battles. “Bonus stages” is probably an overstatement, but they do take on a different position. We didn’t have any intention to make it especially difficult, but it ended up that way because there aren’t any ways to recover health and because, taking the Divine Beast of Wind, Vah Medoh, for instance, it takes a while to get lift and to turn and so forth, and you can get killed if you aren’t careful.
In that regard I think we handled those parts well. It would be hard to feel the magnitude of their size if their movements were too sharp. The feel of their enormous size in comparison to the enemies was a point we wanted to emphasize by making the Divine Beasts so cumbersome and unwieldy to control.
How do you think the development team handled the Divine Beasts in Age of Calamity? Would you have changed anything? Let us know in the comments below!
Source: Dengeki Online
Translation by Dark Isatari
Judy Ann Calder is a Copy Editor and member of the Management team at Zelda Dungeon. She joined the ranks back in 2018, bringing some good old British charm to the table.
Contact Judy at: email@example.com