FYIG’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review is here! Find out what we thought about the Nintendo Switch’s most anticipated game!
|Release Date||March 3, 2017|
|Platforms||Nintendo Switch/Wii U|
|ESRB Rating||Everyone 10+|
The Legend of Zelda is one of the most iconic series in the Nintendo library. No matter what direction they take this series, each new release seems to gain the praise of both critics and gamers alike. It’s a universally loved series. The latest game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, takes the series to even greater heights introduces many new game mechanics while keeping the main feel of the series in tact. There’s a reason why people lined up to buy a Switch and this game on launch day, it’s an incredible experience.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a game with a massive scope and feel to it. Nintendo goes all out on these games and really tries to make them the best action-adventure games possible. The vast open-world sets the tone for the adventure you’re about to take on from the very moment you step out into the wild. Right from the get-go, you find landmarks, puzzles, and enemy camps to raid. The beauty of it all is that the game doesn’t make you do any one thing. You can explore at your leisure for the most part and only occasionally are you pulled back to the main path. The scope and scale of this mysterious world is both fascinating and exciting imploring you to venture on.
The land of Hyrule is a beautiful and vast game world full of the ruins of an ancient past. It’s a very diverse setting with everything from lush forests to arctic mountains. The thing that surprised me the most was how realistic the game actually was. It mimics many things that would happen in real-life with fairly good accuracy. Enemies and animals behave as they would if you encountered them in the wild. One of the biggest ways I noticed this was when I was blind-sided by a ram out of nowhere as he tackled me. Another encounter saw a bear stand up to intimidate me when he felt threatened. These types of examples are littered throughout Breath of the Wild and help to make the game world feel like a living, breathing ecosystem.
Every object in Breath of the Wild seems to react like its real-life counterpart. Every object from sticks to rocks to swords are made up material and those materials respond to elemental forces like fire and magnetism accordingly. It’s executed in such a great way that I can’t recall seeing in any other game to quite this extent. Flames quickly spread through tall grass. You can hold a torch to an apple and watch it bake the fruit before your eyes. Lightning strikes rain down on metal objects (including any objects you may be carrying on your back). The world reacts very organically and it allows you to think more logically about how you want to tackle each new problem you encounter. There’s even a temperature system in play where link needs to use heat-resistant and cold-resistant gear to survive the elements of certain areas on the map. It’s all implemented so organically and never feels at all overwhelming.
Breath of the Wild is unlike most open-world games in that it really does allow you the freedom to do most quests however you see fit. Once you leave the starting area, the map is yours to explore. Virtually anywhere you can see, you can travel to. That doesn’t mean that the game makes it easy to get to some of these places, but solving how to get to a distant land is part of the fun. This is where the paraglider comes into the picture.
The paraglider is an exceptionally useful tool to get around the map in Breath of the Wild. It can be used to glide down across the map from high points or tow ride updrafts in the wind into different areas. It’s really helpful to see the map from a different perspective than on foot and allows you to coordinate how you’re going to proceed to your next quest or find a hidden area. In the air, you can see each area’s characteristics a lot more clearly. This sense of freedom must be exercised with some caution, though. If you glide into the colde mountains without proper protection, you’ll freeze to death. If you drop in the middle of a lake, you’ll drown before you reach shore. It’s a calculated tool that can both help and hurt you depending on how you use it.
One of your biggest obstacles in Breath of the Wild happens to be the wilderness itself. Rain and thunderstorms occur randomly throughout your journey making certain surfaces very slick. Lightning can also strike without much warning if you’re wearing any metal as mentioned earlier on. Additionally, the day/night cycle brings some subtle difference depending on the time of day. At night, monsters jump up out of the ground and it’s also easier to different items and secrets that you may need on your journey. If you do prefer a certain time of day to another, you can go sit by a campfire to pass the time.
The crafting system in Breath of the Wild is based on cooking. It’s a really fun system to utilize because there are so many combinations to use and experiment with. The basic premise of the system is that raw food and quick snacks cooked in a fire will replenish a small amount of health, but the real dishes that boost stats and help replenish help completely are made by throwing food into a pot and cooking it. Each type of food comes with a description of what type of effects the food may have when cooked. They’re are plenty of ingredients to experiment with that can boost things like stamina, health, and elemental resistance. If you add too many odd ingredients together, you get Dubious Food which is comically censored out because it’s apparently too gross to look at. I particularly enjoyed the little jingle as you cook food which ended up being pretty catchy.
I really enjoyed the combat system in Breath of the Wild. It really felt very diverse with all the different melee weapons that you could obtain and the way in which they were used. Link can use anything from swords, staffs, spears, tree branches, and even a bony arm of any enemy to attack with. In a bit of a change for the Zelda series, these items will wear down over time and cause you to swap weapons consistently to defeat enemies. It fits in well with the survival element of the game and the durability increases as you get better weapons. The bow makes a return in Breath of the Wild and it’s a pretty quick weapon to use when you need a well-placed shot against an enemy at medium range. The nice selection of special arrows like fire or ice arrows also gives you a different method of attacking. There’s even a slow-motion attack that’s triggered by jumping off from a higher point to enemies below. This is tied to the stamina system and each stamina upgrade will give you more time.
The Sheikah Slate is a really cool tablet-like piece of technology that sees Link attempting to reclaim his memories of Princess Zelda after a major event left Hyrule in ruins. This is a game that is far less traditional than most Zelda games and is full of surprises and interesting characters. There are many side quests and even secret quests that show up for you to do, so it’s important to always keep your eyes peeled for any clues that may lead you on another adventure.
Puzzle shrines are a nice way to gain some useful rewards in Breath of the Wild. These are short simple puzzle rooms that require you to use clues to experiment and solve the puzzle for materials and weapon upgrades. The only complaints I had with these were the ones the use motion control that really were a lot more difficult to get down than they should have been due to the odd physics. The shrines will prepare you for the dungeons to come later on and serve as practice for them.
There are optional bosses you can fight that pop up in the game world when you least expect it like the Steppe Talus found early in the game. He ended up popping out of the ground as I walked by and scared me to death. The beauty of these is that you can run away from them and do them later if you don’t feel you’re powerful enough yet. I can’t say the same thing for the dungeon bosses, but I’m not going to spoil anything there.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is definitely a masterpiece in gaming. It’s amazing to me how big this game actually is in every single way. The effort that Nintendo puts into these games never ceases to amaze me, but this may be the best of all-time. The perfect review scores definitely aren’t lying. This is one of the best games ever made this is a journey that will easily span 50 to 100 hours of gameplay. The Switch may not have a very big library right now, but it certainly has a monster of a game. Everyone should check out Breath of the Wild!