The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Boxart

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (March 2017)

System:
Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Wii U
Publisher:
Nintendo
Developer:
Nintendo
Series:
The Legend of Zelda

It’s no secret that I’ve been excited for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. James and I worked on a series of articles about why you should be excited. I have been excited since the announcement of this wonderful game, and boy, did it deliver.

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While I was in Peru on a religious mission in 2014, my sister sent me an email filled with GIFs and screenshots of the first trailer. I stood up in a tiny Internet cafe and just started jumping and running around. “Zelda, Zelda, ZELDA” was all I could say in front of the random Peruvians that barely understood English. Finally, after 3 years, we got it.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review

Gameplay

New Japanese Breath of the Wild Commercial

Horse riding, sword combat, bows, all of this and more in Breath of the Wild!

Breath of the Wild features an “Open-Air” environment, so you can explore everywhere. Nothing in the world, after getting off of the Great Plateau, is off-limits (well, some quests are locked until you speak with Impa). This is such a welcome idea in a Zelda game that it works so well.

The game developers mentioned that they had a lot of other mechanics planned. They wanted to use the hookshots, for example. They found that making an open-world game required fine-tuning only a handful of mechanics to allow full exploration. Requiring items like the hookshots would inevitably make some areas of the world restricted.

Instead of this approach, they made climbing and the Sheikah Runes work in almost all circumstances. Climbing is so easy to do, and you can do it anywhere. That mountain in the distance? Yeah, you can climb that. Can I use Magnesis on this metal object? Yes. Yes, you can.

The gameplay is absolutely phenomenal. Even after you complete the story, there is so much available to you.

There’s a huge arsenal of weapons that you can use. They all have durability, so you’ll have to sit and think about what weapons you have, what are almost broken, and how you can best utilize them. They add an extra level of depth because you have to learn how to fight with each of them.

Even after you complete the story, there is so much available to you. There are 900 Korok seeds and 120 Shrines to keep you busy on top of side quests, treasure chests, and an entire world full of little secrets. My friends and I have logged over 90 hours into this game and there is still so much for us to do. The gameplay is absolutely phenomenal.

Story

Zelda and Link - A Mysterious Story - Breath of the Wild

I wanted to know more about her and what happened. The story helped.

A lot of people think that the story in Breath of the Wild is sub-par. I don’t think that it is the deepest story that you could possibly have in a Zelda game, but I absolutely loved it.

The developers had to make some hard choices in their first open-air Zelda game. One of these choices was the depth of the story they could present. There was no way they could predict what order you complete certain tasks because you can run off to any corner of the map as soon as you’re off of the Great Plateau.

I was absolutely fascinated by the world presented and ate up every bit of story that I could find.

They had to make the story basic, and I think it is a perfect fit for what the game does. Throughout the game, you collect “Memories” which tell the story of 100 years before the current time. These little memories explain what happened and give more depth to the world you’re in.

I am a big “Mythos” nerd, meaning that I love the little details to a story. As I was running around Hyrule, I would often ask “what happened here?” I was absolutely fascinated by the world presented and ate up every bit of story that I could find. Whether that was told in the cutscenes, by roaming characters, or by random little hints of text.

There are some improvements that could be made to the story to give it a Zelda-feel, but I completely agree with the direction that the developers too. The heavier the story, the more linear the game would end up being. Breath of the Wild struck a very nice balance for me.

Visuals

breath of the wild

Look at that lighting and those ducks. So beautiful.

I think that the game is very pretty. They took design ideas from The Wind Waker, Skyward Sword, and Twilight Princess. The living entities in the game are cell-shaded while a lot of the backgrounds and textures are very realistic. Some people don’t like this combination, but I think that it really works.

The game looks like an animated story or even a dream. Zelda has never been truly realistic (I argue that Twilight Princess wasn’t all that realistic until the HD version because of the muddy textures) but has always gone for a more animated style. I think that this style lets the developers be more expressive with their game. They can easily make huge exaggerations and create rediculous-looking monsters without compromising the “realism.”

The game looks like an animated story or even a dream.

I have to mention that I’ve certainly seen some frame drops throughout the game. However, they were not a big deal to me because they happened fairly infrequently. I realize that the Wii U version of the game has more drops, but it doesn’t make the game unplayable. When it is raining with lots of enemies around, for example, the game starts to chug.

The visuals are fantastic and are exactly what I want in a Zelda game.

Sound

breath of the wild - ambience

The sounds are so serene even as you climb up a tree.

Breath of the Wild doesn’t have as much music as past titles. When I heard that the majority of the game would just be ambient noise with a bit of music sprinkled in, I was a bit disappointed.

Instead of being attacked by music, I get to appreciate the music we do get when it appears.

I’m a hobby musician and have been playing a musical instrument for the majority of my life. In high school, I would nerd out over soundtracks. I downloaded just about every Zelda game’s soundtrack and would memorize them. I thought it was so cool how I could explore while listening to a great soundtrack. Breath of the Wild steps away from this approach.

To be honest, their new approach works so well. Instead of being attacked by music, I get to appreciate the music we do get when it appears. The towns all have great themes and I love the enemy encounter music. It works so well, that I didn’t really miss the quantity of music from past games.

Sound effects are also great. They spent a lot of time working on the sounds in this game. Weather sounds real, the enemies sound real, and everything is just immersive. The Sheikah technology just sounds so mysterious and futuristic. I want to shake the hands of the sound designer because the music is so good.

Difficulty

breath of the wild sneak

Find a particularly hard enemy? Sneak around it or run away!

This game doesn’t offer a lot of forgiveness when you make a mistake. My first few hours were full of that wonderful “Game Over” screen. The game gives you a perfect environment to learn the controls, combat techniques, and other mechanics of the game by throwing you in head-first and letting you die.

You have to think about how you’re going to approach combat or suffer the consequences.

The world is full of enemies to kill. There are some enemies scattered across the land in a rarer fashion but are much harder to kill. These enemies add a challenge to the game that keeps you from running head-first into fights. You have to think about how you’re going to approach combat.

I also had a hard time with the first boss that I encountered. I don’t know if I had too few arrows, or if I couldn’t get the timing of his cycles, but I struggled. It was one of the first times that I died multiple times to a single enemy in a very long time (throughout all Zelda games).

Of course, once you get the mechanics and have a lot of experience with fighting, the game starts to get a lot easier. But, I can assure you, there are some enemies that will challenge you almost every single time.

Later this year, we’re also getting Hard Mode, so if you think the game is getting too easy, you’ll have that challenge in the very near future. I think that the game has a great difficulty as it stands.

Conclusion

I’ve mentioned a few flaws in this title, but I don’t think it detracts from the perfect score that I’m assigning this game. They do not detract from the game unless you are constantly thinking of them, which you will not.

It has been years since I have just craved getting home just to play Zelda.

What’s amazing to me is that all of these flaws are potential fixes for the next Zelda game. Adding a few more enemy types, optimizing the visuals, and a few other fixes will only make the next game better.

The game met all of the expectations that I had internally set in Peru. I still want to shout “Zelda, Zelda, ZELDA!” The 3-year wait was absolutely worth every second. I love this game.

As it stands, if you have not played this game, you really need to. This game has made me feel like a kid again. It has been years since I have just craved getting home just to play Zelda. It is the most perfect game that I ever played. I cannot wait to see where Nintendo and The Legend of Zelda go from here.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
100

Gameplay

10/10

    Story

    10/10

      Visuals

      10/10

        Sound

        10/10

          Difficulty

          10/10

            Pros

            • Fantastic combat mechanics
            • Completely open-world Zelda
            • Enemies of all difficulties
            • Loads to do for the completionist in all of us
            • Fantastic game in every way

            Cons

            • Open-world doesn't allow for deep story



            David Van Komen

            I'm the head honcho here. I love Nintendo, and I love writing about it all. Ask me sometime about why I believe Waluigi is a ghost.