How does the flagship title for the Nintendo Switch hold up against modern games and previous Zelda titles?
Does Breath of the Wild hold a torch to older Zelda titles?As most longtime Zelda fans are likely aware, Breath of the Wild bucks many conventions and staples of the series. Puzzle-filled dungeons seem to no longer be the franchise’s primary focus. Instead, players are encouraged to see every inch of the world by climbing, gliding, and puzzle-solving to their heart’s content. Combat has been revamped, the story has been overhauled, and a severe emphasis has been placed on gathering and survival.
The question remains: do these changes help Breath of the Wild better the series?
After about 10 to 15 hours in the experience, I can wholeheartedly shout “YES.” Once I grew accustomed to how this new Hyrule worked, I found every second to be a pleasant one. Nintendo has done a marvelous job at creating meaningful content. I never felt as if I was wasting time on some chore or errand that didn’t matter. Every step I took or hill I conquered was another satisfying page in this continuously written book.
While I was an avid fan of dungeons and temples in previous entries and disliked many open world games, Breath of the Wild has changed my mind. Older dungeons now seem archaic, while this natural, intelligent “open-air adventure” feels to be the one and only future for the series. Every region is vast and different, with secrets and goodies hiding in every nook and cranny. Whether it’s an awesome sword, an item for upgrading, or a small, puzzle-laden shrine, I always revel in my discoveries and clamor for more.
Likewise, the survival mechanics never feel tedious or boring. Weapon degradation never ends up chastising players, as many fans had feared it would. Rather, it encourages them to switch combat tactics by swapping a broken sword for a shiny new Moblin club mid-fight. It’s a smart solution to a simple question: “How do we ensure that each fight feels unique and new?” This philosophy goes beyond just the combat, though.
Every tree, stone, and river in Breath of the Wild is crafted for the sole purpose of creating wonder. Each discovery is unique from the last. The land begs you to discover its secrets, to see every field and forest. It allows you the peace, time, and space to amply do so, while also reminding you that you’ve accomplished but a fraction of your larger quest. Players will enjoy raiding Bokoblin camps and finding treasure, while seeing a flaming mountain or barren desert in the distance.
“I can go there,” you think. And for the first time in a long time, that doesn’t sound like a buzz phrase or focus keyword. It sounds like a journey–one that will yield stories, challenges, and treasures galore. For a moment, you reflect on your adventure, and feel your heart race as you ponder on what’s to come. With that, you hop back into your own imagination and wonderment, ever eager to explore just one more valley.
Dylan Bishop – Hyrulian Veteran
How does Breath of the Wild stack up for a newcomer?Prior to this title, my experience with the Zelda franchise has been little more than occasionally attempting to emulate the original title on my smartphone. Little did I know, this series has breathed huge amounts of lore, fascination and excitement into it’s latest effort. Breath of the Wild has, quite simply, blown me away. From the moment I watched the launch reveal trailer during the Switch presentation, I knew this was a game I needed to play. Irrespective of TLOZ’s roots, I was captivated. A couple of months on, and this vision has come true.
It did not take long for me to realise that this was a game I needed to respect. Soon after charging headfirst into an early Bokoblin encampment, I was retreating with my tail between my legs. I instantly appreciated that this game was punishing, but also relied on the player to prove their intelligence. Most modern RPGs task you with simply following a mission directive, but in Breath of the Wild, players are challenged to try their best, only to realize they lack the necessary tools to complete a mission. It’s a breath of fresh air, and incredibly humbling.
Everything from the art style, depth of equipment, and beauty of the world screams ingenuity. It borrows many tropes and mechanics from other popular titles, but ties it up in a uniquely fantastical world that cannot be mistaken for anything other than a Zelda game. I’m shocked at the sheer depth of everything. I am constantly reminding myself that this is a title that has been years in the making, yet it still continues to amaze me. Small details in the game mechanics, as well as the creativity within it’s “shrine” system, is something that clearly took great efforts to achieve. These small inflections lend themselves to the grander scheme of things. This brilliantly diverse world is full of potential. You can experience so much by simply following it’s main plot, yet exploration is also never thrown by the wayside. It’s exhilarating and engaging.
As a great appreciator of video game soundtracks, Breath of the Wild is a delight to listen to. The sound design compliments the game to great effect. Soothing tunes play as you traverse it’s vast landscape, and serve to set the scene for your grand exploration of Hyrule. In contrast, tense battle music will be thrown at you when you face the most perilous of foes. I can’t praise every aspect of the game design enough, it truly is awe-inspiring.
I have spent hours in this game already, yet I feel as if I have barely scratched the surface. As defeating as that sounds, Breath of the Wild has captivated me in a way that no game has for many years. I will be returning to Hyrule time and time again. This is an adventure that everyone needs to experience.
Henry Melville – Rupee Rookie
It’s obvious that two of our editors love The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild! Stick around for more Zelda content, and our full upcoming Breath of the Wild review!