Published on March 14th, 2017 | by Andrew Bistak
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review
Summary: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a beautiful return to the Zelda universe that succeeds on every level on the Nintendo Switch!
The highly anticipated The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has arrived on the Nintendo Wii U and is also a launch title for their new console, the Switch (reviewed) and in my opinion is one of the best Zelda games in the entire series. Like Final Fantasy, Zelda has a huge following from around the world and even the late great Robin Williams named his daughter after the princess from this series. The hero of the game is of course the legendary Link, an adventurer who has awoken from a magical sleep after 100 years.
Unfortunately for hero, he has no recollection of who or where he is but is guided by a mysterious female voice and a strange old man. However as the game progresses, we soon discover that a creature called the Calamity Ganon almost destroyed the world 100 years ago which nearly resulted in the death of Link. However the courageous Princess Zelda has kept this nefarious beast at bay for the last century but regrettably her powers are failing. As a result, the destructive force of Ganon is engulfing its poison over the lands of Hyrule again and it’s up to Link and Zelda to finally end this threat.
At its core, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an open world action adventure with elements of RPG and crafting thrown into the mix. Compared to its predecessors, this game offers the player a plethora of challenges and clever gameplay mechanics to really immerse you into this title. Even from the very first moments that Link wakes from his 100-year slumber to meeting the mysterious old man who serves as your guide and the first time you survey your majestic surroundings, it’s simply quite stunning from start to finish. Best of all, Breath of the Wild is a very dynamic experience and the creators ensure that there are multiple paths to be taken and different ways to solve your puzzles and quests.
Link also has access to an ancient item called the Sheikah Slate which allows him to access devices in the game and shrines which is not only a progression tool but has other useful abilities like using it as a binocular or setting waypoints on the map. Ironically this device looks very reminiscent of a Nintendo Switch plus it supports the gyroscope to use for puzzles and even using it in the real world to observe the in-game environment from a first person perspective or taking photos in the game. Furthermore, magic does play a key part of the game with our adventurer having access to a handful of spells through the Sheikah Slate that allows him to manipulate items in the gaming environment. For example, one of these powers is a magnet that allows Link to move items made from metal or another that stops time.
Furthermore, the Shrines in Zelda not only serve as a teleportation point for quick travel but also as a puzzle in order to get orbs which allow Link to power-up. These puzzles generally require you to use your abilities to manipulate items within the shrine such as freezing water to be able to access a floating ball and then using your magnetic powers in order to move the ball with a large metal dish to access a trigger. In terms of solutions, most of the puzzles do require you to think but the solution is always right in front of you and in more ways than one.
Although you start the game with no memories of your previous life, you soon start to receive a string of breadcrumb clues that help you piece together what exactly happened and what is your role one century later. So as you awake from the resurrection shrine, you only have your underwear to explore the world but before you venture out, you do find a shirt and pants and then further along the way a weapon and even a shield. It should be noted that the controls on the Nintendo Switch work exceptionally well and the game plays really well on both the TV or just on the console itself which I preferred more, especially when you had a pair of headphones connected to it.
So as you explore and defeat enemies, you will be rewarded with additional equipment, items and weapons to help in your quest. This includes a variety of weapons from swords to spears and your trusty bow to even weirder weapons like monster arms and even sticks. When it comes to weapons however, these only have a set number of hits before they become useless which adds to the overall strategy of combat. Armour plays an important part to protecting your character while fighting, however if you are not dressed appropriately and as an example, some areas in the game will kill you faster due to the cold and you can even tailor your clothes. Thankfully there are fires to help warm your character and rest, including the ability of cooking a variety of foods to restore your health and give you other bonuses.
Navigating a Zelda game has never been more enjoyable than Breath of the Wild because you can virtually explore every nook and cranny of this massive open-world game. So whether you’re climbing cliffs or even trees, this allows for some additional excitement to be found. With that said, you do have a stamina bar when climbing and if you don’t have a place to rest like an edge on a cliff, you may find yourself falling to your death. Stamina is also used for running so there’s a good balance to be found in the game while you explore but plenty of power-ups and bonuses to assist. Although the game offers fast travel to certain areas, Link has access to a glider thanks to the mysterious old man which allows you to fly around the gaming world and is quite exhilarating with a touch of vertigo.
Compared to some other open-world games, Zelda Breath of the Wild brings another element that some of these other titles don’t do as well. This is unpredictability in its nature and although the game does start relatively straight forward, the developers throw in some very random elements. For example, I remember using my paraglider to get over a precarious valley with sheer drops on both sides and although I managed to successfully get to the other side, it started to rain. This meant that I was stuck on a ledge and although Link or as another amusing character calls him ‘Linky’ can climb, this is impossible when it’s raining. To compound the situation, a massive storm was headed in my direction which meant I was stuck and all I could do was wait it out. So without spoiling any of the surprises or encounters in the game, Breath of the Wild is filled with them which makes the gameplay quite unpredictable and very dynamic.
Combat is really fun in the game that offers both melee and ranged attacks. When it comes to enemies, they are quite diverse in the game and as you progress, they do become more powerful and quite dangerous towards Link. Some are so powerful, they can kill in just one hit. Given that, there is an element of grinding but because the world is so interactive and enjoyable, this is not really a chore because of how fun the exploring is. One cool aspect about Breath of the Wild is using the environment to take out enemies like pushing giant rocks or snowballs at enemies, cutting down trees and even throwing things at them. So while you’re exploring the world, you meet a wide assortment of characters who will give you quests and also the ability to purchase their wares. If you do get stuck, you can check out the Adventure Log which neatly puts a waypoint on your map.
Graphically, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is quite stunning on the Nintendo Switch and looks amazing on both the TV and the tablet mode with some great attention to detail. Characters have this cell-shaded look to them and move well with the gaming environment with some good textures. However where the Breath of the Wild shines is through the gaming world of Hyrule that is one of the most lush and rich environments to grace this series. The weather effects in the game are also to die for, especially the vicious storms with its lightning and realistic clouds and rain. At times, I could almost feel the pain on Link as he attempted to get through these crazy storms.
So whether it’s the realistic transition from day to night, the excellent reflections on the water, how the foliage moves or the little subtleties such as the fireflies or how Link interacts with this world, it’s pretty much perfect in every sense. The draw distance also gets the thumbs up as well! Furthermore, the audio goes hand in hand with the both the gameplay and the graphics with a Zelda inspired soundtrack, good sound effects and some decent voice acting when used. The only slight negative is that I wish the game contained more voice work when you talk with other NPC’s but thankfully the text is relatively quick and to the point.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the best Zelda games to date and it’s also the perfect game for the Nintendo Switch due to its portability. It’s a very well-crafted game with some wonderful gaming mechanics and nothing feels contrived or limited but rather, it creates a very engaging open-world experience and one that feels real on so many levels. So if you’re looking for a reason to buy a Switch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is almost the only reason you need. As I’ve kept spoilers to a bare minimum, the only other advice I would give is that do not rush playing this game, explore every area because it will make the experience a much more powerful one. Sure, some gamers have finished this title in a handful of hours but like any good relationship, give it plenty of time!
Explore the wilds of Hyrule any way you like – Climb up towers and mountain peaks in search of new destinations, then set your own path to get there and plunge into the wilderness. Along the way, you’ll battle towering enemies, hunt wild beasts and gather ingredients for the food and elixirs you’ll need to sustain you on your journey.
More than 100 Shrines of Trials to discover and explore – Shrines dot the landscape, waiting to be discovered in any order you want. Search for them in various ways, and solve a variety of puzzles inside. Work your way through the traps and devices inside to earn special items and other rewards that will help you on your adventure.
Be prepared and properly equipped – With an entire world waiting to be explored, you’ll need a variety of outfits and gear to reach every corner. You may need to bundle up with warmer clothes or change into something better suited to the desert heat. Some clothing even has special effects that, for example, can make you faster and stealthier.
Battling enemies requires strategy – The world is inhabited with enemies of all shapes and sizes. Each one has its own attack method and weaponry, so you must think quickly and develop the right strategies to defeat them.
amiibo compatibility – Tap the Wolf Link amiibo (sold separately) to make Wolf Link appear in game. Wolf Link will attack enemies on his own and help you find items you’re searching for. We will also introduce new he Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild series of amiibo at E3 this year.
Primary Format – Games – Nintendo Switch
Game Genre – Role Playing Game
Rating – M
Consumer Advice – Fantasy violence
Game Developer – Nintendo
Game Publisher – Nintendo