The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
April 17, 2017
Back in January 2013, Nintendo announced that a new Legend of Zelda game was in development on their personal “podcast like” event simply called the Nintendo Direct. The Legend of Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma proclaimed that the development team’s focus was mainly “rethinking the conventions of Zelda.” This perplexed gamers as alterations can be great to bring fresh air into a franchise, but too many modifications can turn the game into something it is not.
With a release date of 2015 for the Nintendo Wii U, fans waited patiently as the game got delayed multiple times and left many fans wondering if the game was merely canceled. To many sighs of relief, the game was finally named on E3 of 2016 as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. As for the release date, that was not announced until the Switch was unveiled much later in the year. March saw the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild coming out alongside with the release of the Nintendo’s newest console, Switch as well as the previous console the Wii U. So now that the game has been out for about a month, how is it? Let’s find out.
The story of Breath of the Wild is as simple as any other stories in the Zelda timeline. The main protagonist, Link is the appointed knight of looking over the princess of the land of Hyrule. Hyrule was a land of peace until one day the dark force named Calamity Ganon wreaked havoc on Hyrule. Link and Zelda teamed up to fight against the Calamity. However, Link fell in battle forcing Zelda to flee to save her life as well as his. Zelda put Link into a chamber and sealed it up with her magic so that Link can recover from his wounds. By this time Calamity, Ganon has not only destroyed Hyrule but as also taken over the castle that looms over the land. Having no other choice, Zelda uses the last of her strength to seal Calamity Ganon and herself inside the castle to avoid any more catastrophe. One-hundred years has now passed, and Link has woken up to no recollection of his past and now must set off the reclaim Hyrule and defeat Calamity Ganon.
The gameplay is one of the major changes to the Zelda formula as most Zelda games have players go from dungeon to dungeon defeating bosses till Link get the final boss battle. In the case of Breath of the Wild, the gameplay is similar to an open world game as it lets players chart their course and do whatever they want. If the player can see it, they could climb it and visit the area as nothing is blocked off with invisible walls. The game even tells players where Calamity Ganon is so that if the player chooses to, they could fight the final boss within the first hour of playing. Of course, there is still the typical open world game clichés like controlling towers to discover more of the map to random fetch quests, but it never feels like a chore to completing these events because players tend to get distracted by other activities that can happen along the way. An example could be a shrine, an event that holds puzzles or combat challenges that if completed can grant players a currency that can be used to upgrade Link’s health or stamina.
Weapons and equipment have all changed from other previous entries in the series. For one, Link can find bows, boomerangs, and even bombs within the first hour of the game, however, the tradeoff is that everything has durability and once pushed too far will cause the item to break forever. Some weapons have special properties, and perks that can make Link stronger, granting him a higher base damage. So it is up to the player to prioritize their loadout to avoid breaking their best weapons before a big fight. All this also applies to shields as well. Link gains an item called the “sheikah slate” which grants Link abilities like stopping time and creating blocks of ice over water. While mostly used for puzzles, these skills can also be used for combat or for just scaling the massive world.
The environment plays a huge role in BotW, it will force players to think and prepare for the journey ahead. Deserts or hot climates will harm link if he is overdressed, just as the cold climate will harm him if he is underdressed. Players can also cook food with special properties to help Link survive as well. Rain also has the biggest impact of all as it tends to make Link slip when climbing making is traveling vertically much more challenging if not impossible. Plus, with rain comes thunder, which if Link has ANYTHING metal equipped WILL cause a lightning bolt to jolt our hero.
One of the best things in the game that many reviews tend to skip is the Amiibo functionality in the game. Any Amiibo that a player scans will drop food for Link which is essential for keeping Link’s health full. If any Zelda series Amiibos gets scans, not only will food dropped but a chest will fall as well. This chest has a chance of dropping weapons, shields, outfits, or cosmetics from previous Zelda games.
So, for example, if players want to dress Link up in the Tunic from Ocarina of Time, simply scan the Ocarina Link Amiibo and open the chest for a chance to add the outfit to Link’s collection. These particular items are exclusive to Amiibos only with no other way to unlock them making not only the outfits but the Amiibo treasured as well.
Overall, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is definitely the fresh breath of air the series needed after 30 years. While there are some significant problems, with weapons breaking far too easily for my taste (the Dark Souls series is a perfect example of how to do weapon durability) and frame rates drops happening way too frequently, it is only a small blemish what critics are calling a perfect game. As of the time of publishing BotW is sitting on a 97 on Metacritic, with reviews giving the game perfect 10/10s, and this reviewer is also following suit.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 5/5