- Developer: Nintendo
- Companies/Developer: Nintendo
Review: A silent menu, a dark loading screen with text and stylized animals marching in order, and then a soft song.... The sun fills the screen and reflects off of each blade of cut-able grass and water feature. This is the opening of Breath of the Wild, even now, after putting in 200+ hours into the game, the cell-shaded graphics bring this world to life. The openness of this free-roam world that's been clearly ravaged in a time long… Expand
Review: A silent menu, a dark loading screen with text and stylized animals marching in order, and then a soft song.... The sun fills the screen and reflects off of each blade of cut-able grass and water feature. This is the opening of Breath of the Wild, even now, after putting in 200+ hours into the game, the cell-shaded graphics bring this world to life. The openness of this free-roam world that's been clearly ravaged in a time long ago still teems with life and begs for players, and in some instances NPCs, to venture into it and explore everything it has to offer.
The story is great, especially with connecting to the player. Link awakens with no memory, no real knowledge of the world around him, mirroring the player controlling him. You make your way out of a cave at the behest of an unknown voice in your head to be greeted by the outside world, shining daylight on a plateau over a forest of green and long destroyed temples and buildings. You make your way throughout the plateau, talking to an old man, solving puzzles in odd old shrines that break the laws of physics, killing bokoblins and other demons, mostly naked as you do a "tutorial". I say "tutorial" because there's no real guidance for what to do or how to do it other than the old man who flies in at intervals and talks about the shrines, and I feel that it was a great way to show the freedom that the game was about to bestow upon you after you get the glider from the old man. After you finish your end of his deal, completing all the shrines on the plateau, he gives you his glider and a single objective, and from there, it's really up to you on what you wanna do. Theoretically, you can head down to Kakariko Village, see a not-so-familiar familiar face, and from there go straight to the end game boss fight.
And I love it. I've never lost the feeling that what I do was up to me. I'm not exactly the completionist type, but after all this time, I'm still searching for some hidden collectables, doing side quests I'll randomly find when visiting towns, and flinging myself against the wall that is the Master Sword Trials. I'm never out of places to go and things to do, and I love it.
The open world exploration is made easier, and more fun, with probably the smoothest controls of a Legend of Zelda title to date, as there's now a dedicated jump button that changes the game (pun intended) on how your movement and battle combinations work. From jumping off of cliff to start my glide, to jumping to get enough height for my stamina gauge to get me to somewhere I want to go, to doing sick dodge jumps in bullet time to avoid death by zebra Lynel's, the jump button of Breath of the Wild adds so much more verticality to the game. There is as much to explore by jumping and climbing as there is by walking, as the world is filled with new mountains, cliffs, dunes and valleys to shield surf in.
Even the small things are fun, like talking to traders and townspeople, as lot of them have something to say about the area around them or of some quest they want you to go on for them. There are all these different outfits and armors that you can collect, mix 'n match, upgrade, and even recolor if you want. There are a few pseudo-mini-games like a shield surfing competition and some Korok's testing your trick-shot archery skill. It had never really crossed my mind that something I wanted to see in a Legend of Zelda game was cooking, but here it is, and it's beautiful. Whether you're trying to find new recipes, making potions before battles, or trying to get rid of 76 apples by sauteeing them together like me, the cooking mechanic is great, and watching Link do it is just adorable.
The combat feels as good as ever in a 3D Zelda game, but also completely different. Lock on, run in, and slash the enemy to pieces used to be the best strategy, but if you do that in Breath of the Wild, you may find yourself a couple hearts short of the living, especially early game. Weapons have to be foraged for, and in the case of the start of the game, that can be literal, as I, and many other players, fought our fist battle using a stick that was found lying around. Having breakable weapons scattered around is new for the series, but I think it's a fun turn. Even if you start off hoarding everything you can find, you'll soon learn that there's so many different weapons, and weapon types to choose from, so you can make the combat what you want it to be. Bows, boomerangs, spears, axes, handaxes, swords, and shields all have and effect on how your battles can go, and it definitely ups the intensity when you're about to go in for the kill shot and your weapon breaks and poof into nothingness, but you can always pause to switch to that third giant boomerang you said you were gonna use, but never did.
The music is better than ever. Soft accompaniment tracks follow you as you go, swelling, intensifying, and adding more and louder instruments whenever combat arises, or when the game wants to draw your attention to a possible threat. Even though these tracks often loop, to me, they never got old or boring whenever I would walk or ride Epona 2 for long stretches of time, and I feel that the sound design for that game as a whole is the same way. Frogs croaking in swamps never got grating, hearing harsh winds in deserts with earbuds never got overwhelming, and the natural sounds of resting by a riverside just felt.... natural.
Just to disclose it, I played Breath of the Wild on the Wii U because I unfortunately couldn't get a Switch in it's original release frame. That said, from all the friends I talked to who had played it on the Switch version, we all had the same problems when it came to performance. Slight lag when there were to many particle effects like multiple Guardians firing, some straight up full temporary freezing in the early days, and at worst, my Wii U crashed the game once. All of these can be bad, and definitely break the immersion, but they happened so few and far between, that it was something that was easy to deal with.
All in all, Breath of the Wild is an amazing experience and a new one for the Zelda series. It released a while ago, and yet there's already been 2 DLC's available that add new outfits, chests, modes, and trials for players who want more from that glorious world. I eagerly await more for this game, or a new one in this vein from Nintendo. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild released March 3, 2017 for Wii U and Nintendo Switch. Close
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