Developer: Nintendo EPD Publisher: Nintendo Series: The Legend of Zelda Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Wii U Mode: Single-Player Genre: Action-adventure Available Now
By Matthew Watts
FANatics Gaming Editor
That moment that so many gamers have been looking forward to long has finally arrived! What felt like an eternity has ended. The game that so many fans have been looking forward to has been released and is taking the gaming world by storm. That game is… drum roll please… The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. A large percentage of the gaming community has been waiting eagerly and with open arms for this game to drop. After many years and delays, everyone was expecting a polished, large game with much to do, see and explore. Did Nintendo deliver? Grab that Sheikah Slate and join me on this epic adventure.
100 years later…
Now, most Zelda games start with a slight backstory, a gentle introduction into the controls and the seemingly peaceful home of Link and his neighbors. Nintendo has taken a completely different approach for this outing, going back to basics like the original NES Legend of Zelda, in that you start with little to no backstory, and work your way from there. With this story, you play as this games Link who has been asleep for 100 years, after a great calamity struck the lands of Hyrule. As you play through the game, you discover more to the backstory, what happened 100 years ago, and even further than that. So, what did happen 100 years ago? Without giving too much away, what I can say is that the land is overrun with monsters, and Calamity Ganon has taken over the land.
What’s new about Breath of the Wild is the ability to play the game how you see fit, amongst other new additions. If you wanted, you could go ahead and tackle the big bad boss within the first hour of the game. Maybe you could defeat the dungeons, shrines, side quests, gather all collectibles and then head to the big bad boss. The choice is yours.
Breath of the Wild is a very big departure from your conventional Zelda game. Where previous games had a very linear structure and set path, with dungeons containing a new weapon that you would inevitably use against that dungeons boss, Nintendo opted for a completely open-world game; a first for Nintendo. Nintendo also dropped new items in favor of new weapons and abilities for the Sheikah Slate, an item you receive at the beginning of the game that resembles a tablet. Nintendo delivered very well with this new path, taking a risk like this can set most developers back and can jeopardize the future of a franchise, but this is Nintendo, and Nintendo always delivers when it comes to fresh content.
For many years before the release of this game, there were complaints about the graphical style for this game, some gamers stating that it should be ultra-realistic because it was on a powerful console. However, just because it is on a powerful console does not determine whether the graphics should be realistic. It is my belief that the graphics need to suit the game, not the gamer. What do I think of the style of Breath of the Wild? Personally, I love it. Going for a more detailed cel-shaded design serves the game very well. When you’re running up a hill towards a sunset and see how the sun hits the grass, it is one of the most beautiful sights in a video game. Being on horseback, and riding through a field is so majestic, you almost forget that you’re playing a game. It is so very easy to get lost in this world, you almost want to forego the missions just to explore, which is a good thing, because exploration is a key element in this game.
The Sound of Silence
Music is something that isn’t very prevalent in Breath of the Wild. Whilst it does appear in the game, it doesn’t take place much in the vast open world. Everyone remembers a place in any Zelda game that a piece of music made specifically for that location, though in BOTW, the game doesn’t rely heavily on music though it can be heard in all locations. It almost seems like it has been made that way not just because it would be too much in such a big game, but more to make you feel really alone in this world. After so much destruction 100 years ago, and waking up with no memories, would there really be cheerful music like there usually is in traditional Zelda games. But there’s that key word, traditional, which Breath of the Wild is not.
Gaming At Its Finest
Where do I begin? Playing this game is so incredibly different to previous titles. You have the ability to do what you want, when you want. You can explore every single inch of the map, which i must point out is the largest ever made for a Zelda game. It’s bigger even than big name games as GTA. Placed within the map are a whopping 120 shrines, 900 Korok seeds (yes you read that correctly, 900), multiple side quests and 4 dungeons, which I will come to shortly.
The basic mechanics of the gaming are different compared to before. Say goodbye to cutting grass to find Rupees, hearts and ammo. Gone are the days of getting to a certain point and retrieving the Master Sword or traditional Green Tunic and hat. You will have to scavenge new weapons, food, and take on missions to earn Rupees. And you can’t just venture into new areas. You have to be prepared, either with certain clothing or food/ elixirs. There are various types of food combinations you can make. Some can heal 3-10 hearts, some can add effects like the ability to climb faster, restore stamina, or withstand intense heat. Oh, and did I mention that weapons can break? That’s right! You will need to gather the best weapons you can if you want to live in this harsh world. All of this brings something completely new and fresh to the franchise. Is it annoying? No. Can it make you poop your pants when up against multiple enemies or one dangerous enemy? Oh yes! Moments like that make for a brilliant game with some intense moments.
In terms of shrines, there are so many puzzles, each one varying in size and difficulty. Some aren’t even puzzles at all, but battle orientated. Not only that, others are a simply a matter of trying to get to them, or being connected other shrines. What you receive at the end of each shrine can go a long way to increasing your health and stamina, so make sure to do as many as you can. If you manage to complete all the shrines, then you will receive something many fans have been wondering about since the game was first announced. The shrines can be a lot of fun, and if you like a challenge then they are right up your street.
Onto one of the matters that has disgruntled fans since release. There are four dungeons total in the game, but what has some fans up in arms is the length of the dungeons, ranging between 30 minutes to an hour. While I myself was a little upset about this, I enjoyed them nonetheless.
Despite some of the controversies surrounding this game, people need to remember that this is Nintendo’s first attempt at doing something completely new for the franchise, and completely new for them. I try to look at it as a beta game, that Nintendo can build and expand upon with future releases. The one thing I am disappointed in is lack of story. It consists of mainly hunting down memories. The impressions that I got from game trailers was that Link would become part of a resistance consisting of Princess Zelda and the Champions. A lot of fans were also unhappy with the new voice acting in the game. I have to ask though, Why? I enjoyed it personally.
Pro’s and cons
Brilliant first attempt at something new
150+ hours, and you can go at your own pace
Vast world to explore
Lots of new stuff to sink your teeth into
It’s Legend of Zelda!
The dungeons could’ve been longer, as well as the missions before hand, or even included more dungeons
Whist there is a story, which is set in the past, there should be a more of a present day storyline
Is it Worthy of the Zelda Franchise?
Despite some lacking aspects, I was still so incredibly happy with this game. In light of Nintendo doing something fresh and new to them, as well as to the series and it’s fans, everything that achieved with this game has been phenomenal. Minimal storyline and short dungeons are the only let down for the game. Regardless of this, I give the game an A. Had it included a more in-depth story and bigger dungeons; this game will have undoubtedly received an A+. Looking at it as a beta game for future games to come, I can guarantee you that future installments with be nothing short of legendary. Fact!
Well done, Nintendo. I commend you and all of the hard-working staff for Breath of the Wild. It is a monumental achievement for the company and the series.