“Breath taking, man vs. wild adventure! A new Zelda at the cost of what we loved about the old!”
After hundreds of hours of game play over a period of a few months I am officially ready for the anticipated moment of writing this review for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild! This title has stood out among all Zelda titles as the best yet and has received spotless ratings and record-breaking sales since its release date on March 3rd of 2017! Now that I’ve completed extensive experience playing this game on my Nintendo Switch I would like to share a thorough review for this Latest and greatest Zelda Release!
The Legend of Zelda: Best of the Wild
To start out, there is a lot of reasons why this game is as awesome as it is and why it rates as one of the very best Zelda releases of all time! I’m going to share with you the greatness of this game and all the areas I found to be absolutely incredible during the hundreds of hours I spent in Hyrule!
“Open your eyes…. Open your eyes” comes a feminine mysterious voice waking me from a slumber to find that I have been in a stasis like sleep for the last century, locked away in the confines of a chamber called the shrine of restoration with nothing more than a pair of shorts that are more like swim trunks in appearance. The distant female voice provides me direction in finding my way out of the shrine from which I’ve awoken. I obtain a hand held device called the Sheikah Slate which (little did I know) would later become my best friend along with a shabby pair of clothes that apparently don’t even fit me! I than open a door leading to the outside world via my new device and am met with an amazing opening cut scene as Link sprints to the edge of a cliff side and gazes over the vast landscape that surrounds him. This is Hyrule, a once prosperous civilized realm, now littered with nostalgic ruins.
This is the beginning of the grand adventure and in my opinion, the pinnacle of the entire game! The immense world shows promise of endless adventure ahead while having absolutely nothing to my name but the clothes on my back! It is in these early moments especially, that I felt a tremendous sense of danger and vulnerability as I pressed forward in this seemingly unforgiving world!
The Beauty of Survival
Starting out is excruciatingly primitive but surprisingly satisfying when required to make use of items such as sticks for weapons, pot lids for shields, and the environment to turn to your advantage (or against it if you are not careful!) Fire is equally dangerous to you as it is towards foes depending on which way the wind blows or who wields it, lightning will be the bane of your existence if you are carrying metal during a storm or even around it, rocks are awesome bowling balls as long as your enemies are the pins and not you! Rain is great for stealth but limits your mobility when scaling cliff sides, and while water might drown most enemies, it will do the same to you if the stamina bar runs dry. In many cases you will find yourself against all odds and required to take different approaches to battles and circumstances in order to turn the situation in your favor.
Resourcefulness is key to success and one of the most rewarding aspects of exploration! The land is rich with plants, minerals, critters, monsters, and animals. Gathering of these things is imperative to your survival! all manner of plants and meat gathered from wildlife can be cooked into scrumptious meals, critters paired with monster remains make excellent potions, minerals and gems typically serve the purpose of getting rich, while lumber and flint is your means to make a fire.
Something I really appreciated in this game is the climate and terrain changes paired with the corresponding variation of tactics and buffs made available to counter the opposition. Whether you’re staying warm in the cold, cool in the heat, increasing speed in time sensitive matters, or going stealth mode instead of loud and proud, consumables and optimal attire are obtainable to better suit you for the occasion!
Food and potions created don’t serve strictly for the replenishment and boosting of health/stamina but also (depending on ingredients used), provide status buffs! These buffs include resistance to the elements and increase in things such as damage dealt, damage taken, stealthy movement and movement speed. Be sure to keep a good supply of all ingredients and use them in accordance with their intended purpose. Same applies to the gear being worn, many outfits serve specific purposes just as food and potions do, granting a significant advantage when worn at the appropriate times.
Horses have made their appearance in this series as well and are more interactive than ever before. They are wondering the realm wild and free as can be of which you will be required to tame and train in order to ride them or have them do your bidding. With a little time and a fair share of apples and carrots you will have yourself a trusty stead.
Liberty Taken Literally
One of the many ways The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild surpasses its predecessors and other similar titles for that matter, is in its unbridled freedom! NEVER has a single player title presented this level of liberty in gaming history! after the short prologue on the Great Plateau you are (in the most literal sense) free to do whatever you please, however you please, whenever you please. It’s entirely up to you, including going up against the final boss of at the very start of the game. The world exceeds that of Skyrim by a long shot in size and also offers a lot more variations of climate, weather, and terrain! While playing, I kept finding myself drawn to the next mountain, the next cliff, the next forest, or whatever it was that awaited me in the unknown, or could be seen out on the horizon!?!
Beasts of a Dungeon
If you are at all familiar with Zelda video games than you probably are aware that dungeons are a large part of each one of their releases and are typically the highlight of the game. In The Legend of Zelda: breath of the Wild, dungeons have been given quite a twist as Nintendo opted to place 120 shrines throughout the land in place of the full length dungeons we’re use to. These shrines have received a lot of mixed feelings from fans and although I found them to be well-designed with their puzzles, challenges, and combat trials and in part, on par with what you might find in the typical Zelda dungeon, there is certainly some issues to be addressed of which I have done below under “The Legend of Zelda: Mess of the Wild, Holy Sheikah!”
Aside from the shrines there are the four Divine Beasts, the massive sheikah designed mechanical beings that were initially piloted by the four champions who perished 100 years ago during the calamity as Ganon seized control of the behemoth machines. The majority of the game’s main story mission revolves around dominating these contraptions by first meeting the tribe of whom the beast way initially entrusted, taking down the beast’s defenses, infiltrating it, and finally taking back control so as to once again be used against Calamity Ganon. I had great anticipation for each of these epic moments of the game and enjoyed them thoroughly as each Beast is quite literally equivalent to a dungeon. What they lack in length they make up for in exhilaration. Very memorable moments to be sure!
The Art Plays the Part
Something in particular that I thoroughly appreciated about Breath of the Wild is its awesome story book graphical artwork. It accents the fantasy aspect perfectly! I’ve been torn between Windwaker’s toon style graphics vs. Twilight Princess’ more realistic approach and Breath of the Wild seems to have nailed it perfectly! A real masterpiece in the realm of visuals.
The Legend of Zelda: Mess of the Wild
So now that I covered the greatness of this game it is time to fill you in on the areas that I personally believe could have been better! In my opinion these issues do not necessarily ruin the game as I thoroughly enjoyed my play through despite its shortcomings and would rate it still one of the best Legend of Zelda games to date!
Holy Sheikah! What the Sheikah!? Sheikah this and Sheikah that! Sheikah here, Sheikah there, Sheikah everywhere!! Are you tired of the word Sheikah yet? Exactly! In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild you will feel the same. I never knew when I had left the ancient Sheikah ruins called the shrine of resurrection at the beginning of the game that I would have to go into 120 more shrines that are identical in appearance but arranged differently for their respective challenges, puzzles, and combat trials! I mean, I didn’t have to, I am only required to complete four but what can I say, I’m a completionist and completing the shrines is how you obtain heart and stamina containers along with the garbs of the wild! Irresistible but painfully monotonous. For every shrine completed you get a spirit orb from a Sheikah monk. 4 spirit orbs are required for a single Heart or stamina container! Why!?
I personally believe that a container could have simply been granted per shrine completed, amounting to merely 30 shrines in total, eliminating the repetition of the following 90 more they decided to incorporate. In fact, had they drawn them out a little more in length instead of their painfully short 10-15 minute challenges followed by the gifting of a complete container of choice, the experience would be more rewarding and finding a shrine would feel exciting and rare!
There is clearly a little bit of a Sheikah overkill and I believe it might be because they spent most of their time on the massive landscape and found themselves at a loss on how to fill it!
There has been many complaints regarding the all new addition of the stamina wheel to the Zelda series via this new release and I personally would like to start by saying that the stamina aspect is certainly a good thing! Especially considering that The Breath of the Wild is a survival game and more RPG style than any of its predecessors. If I had a complaint with the stamina system, it would be specifically directed to the initial starting quantity of stamina given prior to upgrade and the fact that the act of running is WAY to costly and should not deplete within only a few seconds of running. This in and of itself does not make the stamina a bad idea, its just not done right. Before any upgrades are done Link’s sprint is equivalent to that of a 30-year-old smoker and serves as a terrible set back in a world so vast where even running covers very little ground. Swimming also requires the use of stamina and just like running, it depletes too fast making swimming a bit of a risk and frustrating.
There is obviously the option of upgrading your stamina up to three times its initial capacity which is in my opinion, mandatory to alleviate the irritation of the pitiful quantity you start out with but in order to simply double it, you will need five stamina vessels! That means in order to max out your stamina you will need to complete 40 shrines at which point your stamina will than be sufficient. Why you couldn’t start out with this amount from the beginning and add to it if you so please is aggravating to say the least! There is no reason to have to go through that level of work just to feel comfortable in a game, without it you feel terribly restricted
The Pain of Rain
Wow cool! Weather changes like crazy in this game! It’s sunny, its cloudy, its thunder storming, its raining… its raining…its still raining… and wow… more raining… yay! I never really felt this way when starting the game I actually found rain to be pretty awesome and as expected, deserts have like none while rain forests just keep dumping it by the buckets.
As cool as the weather system is in Breath of the Wild, whoever designed it must of had some bad history with rain, like parents screaming at him not to play in it maybe, I don’t know. What I do know is rain is an absolute nuisance in this game as it prevents you from climbing virtually everything whether its a sprinkle or hurricane-like downpour.
So many times I would be mid-climb up a sheer cliff side and out of no where comes these drops of … you guessed it, rain… just wonderful! Should I stay stuck to this wall for the next five to ten minutes waiting for it to end or give up and resume later. Climbing is such a crucial part of this game, it surprises me that Nintendo made something as common as rain a hindrance to the ability.
This issue is so systematic too, every fifth time Link grabs up on the wall it is a guaranteed slip just for you to slide three quarters of the distance you climbed taking a huge chunk of stamina to catch yourself. We could blame this on realism because hey, climbing up a vertical surface with no tools or climbing gear is totally realistic to begin with right? Should have at least made picks, gear, or just made the slip way less frequent.
Durability Be Killing Me
When it comes to weapons and shields (aside from a select few) everyone breaks with use. The stronger the item the longer it lasts. Considering that this is after all a survival game, it makes perfect sense to incorporate this element of wear and tear, what doesn’t make sense however, is how they didn’t bother to make the survival aspect as well-rounded and solid as they should have.
If your weapon is going to have wear and tear issues than there aught to be an item repair functionality or system to counter the disadvantage. There isn’t even a health gauge provided aside from the obvious inventory indicator showing a sparkle when the item is new or a red blinking indicator when its about to blow up.
Honestly, acquiring weapons and shields is as exciting as it is sad and at times loses its purpose when knowing that each swing or use of it gets you that much closer to it being permanently gone.
In my opinion this game took some costly shortcuts in the realm of survival/resourceful game play that it had so much promise of giving us right off the start. Why are we scouring the land specifically for resources that can only be put into potions and food!? Hello!? The majority of monster parts and ore mined could be used in the crafting, repair, or upgrades to weapons and shields! What if some outfits could be crafted from animal skin and such… oh well! The game did very well in the crafting and survival area that they did incorporate into the game but it simply feels excruciatingly incomplete.
Defeating This as a Completionist
I have a little bit of a problem when playing games, at least in this case its proven problematic. I am a die hard completionist when playing a game, I cannot stand not accomplishing absolutely everything. Let me tell you, in Breath of the Wild you would do yourself a favor to not be a completionist!
The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild is best played and most thoroughly enjoyed I’d say in just following the main quest loosely. By loosely I mean find the memories scattered around the world, liberate the towers, and maybe even conquer all the shrines if the monotony doesn’t conquer you first. That will be your best experience for sure and as long as you are collecting on your journey while completing these things your inventory will be quite plentiful.
These are the reasons why I advise against a full completion of the game:
Finding the korok seeds will be the death of you. Roughly 450 will be required to fully upgrade the carrying capacity of weapons, bows, and shields while the remaining 450 after that is all for the sake of a pointless tacky (although comical) item of no value or purpose. Finding nine hundred Korok seeds is a chore I wouldn’t wish on anyone, not even my enemies. after acquiring the first couple hundred I had about enough of hunting them down.
This game certainly has the largest map known in single player gaming history for sure but it seems to have came at the price of a LOT of wide open spaces lacking much purpose other than simply looking great. Traversing these areas has a tendency to become a bit exhausting. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of awesome things to find but it will cost you some miles as the world tends to be anything BUT compact. It’s contents is a bit like butter spread over too much bread… a little thin at times.
Unless you play on master mode included in the DLC content, thorough exploration and completion of this game results in OP Link. Over powered Link makes game uber easy, so easy in fact that it might feel like you broke the game. So, if you want to keep the challenging edge present throughout your adventure, stick to the point.
- Huge, beautiful, immersive world to explore
- Complete freedom in game progression and exploration
- Survival aspect is very real and rewarding
- Interesting, engrossing, story with a powerful conclusion
- Fresh concepts introduced to the Zelda series through this new release
- Heavy influence of elemental threats, advantages and resistances
- Epic bosses/dungeons
- Great variety of weapons, items, and gear
- Over 70 side quests
- Able to traverse nearly any surface
- Smooth combat mechanics including slow motion for parry and mid-air archery
- Innovative new abilities including the manipulation of magnetic force, stasis, ice pillars, remote bombs and special powers obtained from champions of the Divine Beasts.
- The standard Zelda dungeons have been done away with in place of what now is called shrines,
- 120 shrines that only differ from each other in minute ways and can become monotonous
- Divine Beasts are the closest to dungeons you’ll get and although they are epic and enjoyable they appear much like the Interior of a shrine and are still lacking in size
- Stamina wheel is a nice addition outside of the fact that they start you out with a pitiful amount making it more of a nuisance than anything else
- Weather transition is great but rain is a terrible irritation with the way that it prevents any climbing.
- No health bar for weapon or shield durability
- No means of crafting or repairing weapons. Upgrades only through fairies
- Koroks seeds are fun for the first couple hundred or so, about four hundred fifty is required for full inventory upgrade and the remainder of the nine hundred seeds is just ludicrous especially considering the pathetic reward for collecting
- Land so mass that it seems to have made the activity spread thin in some areas more than others
- Not a game for the completionist, too tedious
- Horse combat is still a little rough but better than others
- Ultimately this game way made massive and it appears that it way maybe a little too massive to properly fill the landscape richly enough to consistently occupy the player leading to some bland moments. Its good content, just not enough for the enormous world provided. Exploration is great but not entirely fruitful.