Community Review: Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

It's time. Let's talk about your Breath of the Wild experience.

My one prevailing regret over the past couple of weeks is that I haven't found more time to play Zelda. That's probably a bit of poor time management, in the sense that I hadn't finished some other games in time. But then life does get in the way sometimes, and the beauty of the Switch is that I can turn train rides, toilet breaks, time without internet into a few moments of Zelda.

It's been interesting listening to how Mark has transitioned from initially hating the open area to completely falling in love with Zelda. I'm not that enamoured by it, but then I don't have a history with the series. Zelda was the top of my Pile of Shame, the series that I'd neglected for decades. I grew up with PCs, not a Gamecube or a SNES or an N64, and so I missed out (and consequently never looked back).

Breath of the Wild was the perfect entry to Zelda for me, though. Having seen many speedruns, videos and retrospectives on Zelda, I don't think I could go back and enjoy them today.

But Breath of the Wild feels almost like a Western RPG with Nintendo's touch. It feels like the kind of game I'd want Zelda to be, a slightly more charming open world than The Witcher. Not as dark, but not limited in size and scope either.

How have you found Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? For me, it's certainly the best game a console has launched with this generation.

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Comments

    Mate of mine referred to it as, "the Witcher 3 for kids... in a great way."
    And honestly i think he's right, initially i was thrown by the change in combat style and the health system, but the more i play the more i discover and love.

    I've been playing for 2-4 hours a day since launch, and i've barely scratched the surface, im still finding new stuff to do, and interesting uses for the mechanics i already know.

    The world is amazing to look at and crazy huge, every time i opened up a new area i was blown away by how much more Map i could see.
    And i totally agree, best launch title i've seen on a console in forever and makes e think that Nintendo knew what they were doing with such a small lineup of games at launch, you need the time to play BoTW.

    After playing it since launch and seeing most of the content, I'm honestly a bit let down.

    It's an incredible game. One of the best. All the design systems work really well with one another. I love the climbing aspect and cooking. That said, I don't think its anywhere near one of the best Zelda games.

    But it does sort of feel like this is Nintendo's first real try and this sort of genre. There are just some things that are lacking, which I notice a lot of devs doing on their first tries at these sorts of open world games.

    1) The world is great but it doesn't feel lively enough and it all revolves around the player. It reminds me a lot of The Phantom Pain. In BOTW, there is the different cultures (Zoras, Gorons, Gerudos, normal people, etc.). There is also the Yiga clan, which are bad guys. I wanted to see these factions interact with the Yiga clan. We see NPCs getting attacked by monsters all the time, so why not do that with the Yiga clan as well.

    It just felt like a massive missed opportunity. I remember Far Cry and Skyrim always did this well. With the other factions interacting, you felt like you were part of a bigger world that didn't just revolve around you.

    (SOME SMALL SPOILERS AHEAD)

    2. It doesn't feel like a proper Zelda game. I mean, where the hell are the big epic dungeons? The 4 divine beast dungeons, while very creative in how you manipulate them, were stupidly easy and small. You're looking at like 20 mins per dungeon. There are no keys or boss keys or mini bosses. I kept thinking that maybe it would be like Ocarina of Time, and that after the first 4 you'd get access to better, more traditional dungeons. They were a big let down.

    3. There was no real main story. There was a bit of an opening and then you are just free to do the 4 beasts whenever. There were no plot points or twists anywhere along the way. It was just go to divine beast area. Meet faction leader. Get directed to faction hero and do dungeon. It was lackluster.

    4. Some characters were awesome. Beedle and I found a lot of the children NPCs to be really well done. A lot of the rest just felt rather generic. I don't think the characters were anywhere near as good as the older games.

    5. Calamity Ganon was a weak antagonist. We learnt nothing about him throughout the entire game. You just fight him at the end and that's it. He's completely disappointing compared to what we got in characters like Skull Kid.

      The story and Ganon are the definitely the weakest things. I suspect there is an element of assumed knowledge with Ganon this time around, but I think it should have been handled far better. The lack of large dungeons is mildly annoying, but hunting down all the shrines (mini-dungeons) sort of makes up for it. There are some difficult ones out there too.

      With a game this size I think giving each NPC a great depth of character is pretty difficult. Not that it couldn't be done, but I guess there needs to be limits on development. There is enough detail where it counts.

      There might not be any epic dungeons of yore, but there are several other fair-sized dungeons in this game, and they're interesting and diverse.

      And the mini-bosses which dot the land are utilised within some on those dungeons.

      I like the new, more streamlined dungeon design. The shrines are concentrated puzzles, some of which are fairly devious. The machines are tightly designed. And the other dungeons have a great air of solving a mystery to them.

      I've kind of been playing like the whole world is a giant Dungeon crawl.

    Loving every moment of it.
    I was a little skeptical at the beginning of the adventure but the more I played the more everything just clicked. It actively encourages exploration and experimentation, which is awesome given the neat physics engine. I felt like I was really crafting a unique unscripted experience when I was playing and I know this game will stick with me for years to come. Its also very distant from what is considered traditional Zelda yet is somehow unmistakably Zelda . . . its hard to explain.

    It was the first Zelda game to pique my interest in years, but as soon as I had to start pressing A to progress through main story quests, I just could not get into it. The gameplay itself was great fun, but for big games I need a big story, and compared to its open world peers, the characters and storytelling has kept this game on the shelf while I play Horizon and Watch Dogs 2

    Simply amazing.

    I have only just unlocked over 50% of the map (although I may have acquired the Master Sword already...cough cough), and i've been pretty solid with my play time since launch. I'm always finding things to do and explore, and it feels organic in a way. I love the weather systems too, as annoying as they can be at times. Need to climb somewhere? Enjoy that lengthy storm...

    Sure, there are barren areas around the place, and without a horse some of these can be tedious to trek through, but the world is such a joy to aimlessly wander you really don't care. This is easily one of the best in the series.

    Words cannot describe how much I want this game. The first Nintendo game in almost a decade. It will be mine. Oh yes...

    It will be mine.

    I'm loving it so far. Spent a straight 30 hours this weekend and I've...
    - unlocked half of the map,
    - taken down four lynels and lost all of my good weapons on the third before building them back up again for the fourth,
    - made my set of ancient armour,
    - surfed down grassy slopes on my shield,
    - snuck into the Castle merely to steal loot and super powerful weapons,
    - cooked tons of meals, the most potent on which gave full recovery plus 16 hearts,
    - spotted two divine dragons and discovered where the green one dwells,
    - discovered my previously unrealised love for both spear and bladed boomerang weapons,
    - got blasted several times by Guardians only to return later and pop them in the eyes with my new Ancient Arrows of Pettiness, then looted their parts to make more arrows and armour,
    - recovered one falling star,
    - claimed Epona with the use of my Smash Bros Link amiibo,
    - discovered the joy of having Wolf Link teleport across planes of existence to accompany me and fight at my side with the use of the Wolf Link amiibo that I trained up in Twilight Princess HD a year ago,
    - watched Wolf Link hunt wildlife and devour their meats to heal himself or do a little sniff-then-happy-jump when I dropped raw meat in front of him to eat,
    - died a noumber of times due to lightning strikes,
    - learned to quickly remove/unequip any lightning-conductive items when green electric sparks begin to a arc across them,
    - completed 30 something shrines,
    - collected 80 something seeds,
    - met the same accordion-playing parrot man three times,
    - took time to appreciate the minute details of the wildlife such as the way wolves huddle together to sleep or the way foxes stretch and yawn in the morning or any of the other behaviors and actions that animals exhibit,
    - learned to fish with bombs,
    - and stripped to my boxers so a century-old mad scientist could inspect the scars on my young, athletic body (no, really, you actually have to do this before he will let you make ancient gear!).

    And I've only freed one Divine Beast.

    The cons I've seen so far are that the story seems a bit disconnected from the game itself. The world does have that post apocalyptic feel in places but everyone seems to have accepted it and moved on to the point where I feel like the leader of an unofficial resistance movement with only a very few members; the rest of the people in the world don't really care one way or the other. Another is that cutscenes can get in your way. For example, on two occasions, I've seen a falling star and marked its location on my map, then set out as fast as I can to recover the fragment only to queue an unskippable cutscene with an NCP as I watch the fragment's own beacon glow in the distance. On both occasions, I did not reach the location in time to recover the fragment. Also, as someone said above, the game lacks the large dungeons of past games and I think that hinders it, as I was looking forward to some unique-themed dungeons to crawl through. I would have even bent over, dropped my trousers, and taken another Water Temple if it meant a new assortment of expansive, puzzle-strewn dungeons to explore and conquer.

    All up, BoTW is a great game. The sheer size and detail in the environment really reflects the four years that they put into it. The combat is intuitive and flows and, with large monsters like Lynels, it feels like Death himself is waiting on the sidelines, waiting to see who will make a wrong move or falter in their timing first; it has that Dark Souls vibe to it rather than previous games' near-omnipotent feel of I am Link, this is the Master Sword, and you're already dead and just don't know it yet. This game didn't have to be a Zelda title; it pretty much could have been anything else such as Tolkien or The Elder Scrolls or The Witcher and it would have worked just fine. However, the fact that this is a Zelda game shows that Nintendo have attempted to break the tropes of what a Zelda game has traditionally been while, at the same time, going back to the openness and unguided feel of the original Zelda on the NES. Want to explore the world and collect and see all there is? Go for it! Want to take the fight to Ganon right out of the gate? Here, do this brief tutorial area, then go storm Hyrule Castle in your shorts!; you'll probably get squashed like a bug but we won't stop you. The game feels a bit like a survival simulator, and maybe that's a good thing. You're not the Hero Of Time this time around. You're not a Master Jedi clad in green. Now you're just like the everyone else, albeit with the know-how to use any weapon and a few magic powers, but you are small and frail in a huge world of creatures far bigger than yourself that does not and do not recognize nor respect your perceived right to the rank of "Hero". Maybe all that changes once you get the Master Sword. As of yet, I don't know but the challenges and battles that I've faced thus far, especially the ones that killed me many times, each give a real feeling of accomplishment that past games haven't always delivered on.

    I would recommend BoTW to most fans of Zelda games and to any fan of massive, ultra-detailed, open-world games.

    Last edited 13/03/17 12:41 pm

    Loving it so far.. I am going through the map with a fine tooth comb to try and discover secrets though, so i haven't progressed that far.

    Wish there was more of an overarching story, but that's a minor complaint for me. The world is big and expansive enough that i still just get lost in the world itself. Days i spent just wondering a map looking for mobs to kill.

    It feels a lot like what you would have envisioned as "the ultimate videogame" as a kid. It's just so vast and full of stuff and little details and wonder and... I think it really does deserve the high scores it's been earning.

    But that said there are aspects of it I find disappointing (which I think tie in a bit with what @xhayden was saying, though didn't read too closely because I'm not that far into the game despite all the time I've spent on it so far). For one, the writing is nowhere near as good as Skyward Sword. SS had characters that were absolutely brimming with personality, it was a joy to come across another scene for Ghirahim or Groose to strut their stuff. Here though everyone feels so flat and plain in comparison, it's back to OoT style. Also your own responses, there were some great dialogue options in SS but here they're again pretty flat and bland, and for the most part seem to result in the same response from the NPCs regardless of what you say which is again disappointing.

    The other aspect that bothers me probably more comes from a place of resentment for the Switch/sentiment for the Wii U. With games like SS, or WW, or maybe even MM (huh... starting to see a pattern here) they felt like showcases of what their respective consoles could do. For a game that is more or less the swansong for the Wii U, this one feels like it barely takes advantage of its unique aspects at all, and that disappoints me. I really would have liked it to have done more with the gamepad, even if it just kept your map on there as you play. And obviously the Shiekah Slate was meant to tie in with it far closely than they ended up being able to do thanks to retooling it for the Switch... so yeah. Thanks for ruining another Zelda, jerkwad (though at least TP GCN was still left pretty well unscathed compared to the Wii one).

    But y'know, other than that... love it :P

    Also Kass is the best.

    Just gonna go get that tower over there.

    5 hours later.

    What was my initial goal tonight again? Oh thats right, the tower.

    In short, an amazing title that will be considered a gem in gaming and the Nintendo crown.
    But behind the new direction and endless Easter egg filled fun ride, it's a lot safer than many will admit.
    It burns bright, but for how long?

    In long, I'm loving it, it's been a while since I've been as glued to a game for so long according to my GF.
    (Every five mins she scolds me to blink)

    The freedom of exploration is amazing, the combination of weather, time and environment is beautifully depicted in the kinds of art styles we are accustomed to.

    The world is initially so small, before becoming almost suffocatingly big.
    Ive sunk a ton of time in and found it shrinks again slowly into a far more manageable area of play.

    Climbing is thing that's really blown me away.
    It seemed so inconsequential at first, annoying even as I would start climbing things I didn't want to.
    I instinctively mapped out paths, looked for the traditional paths up hills etc.
    Now it's a treasured companion that added a whole new level of verticality that Ive never experienced in Zelda or even in games like AssCreed, Uncharted and Tomb Raider.

    I feel many of the complaints, such as story felt weaker against the rest of the game.
    It's a Zelda story, but at times it's too far removed from the world both in plot and in scale.

    The progression is winding down a lot for me now, missions are becoming more angled toward standard repeatable rupee rewards as opposed to new items and gear, but there are strange and clearly functional areas I've found that seem to point at further content and mystery.

    I experienced the "empty" area effect for a while in the early parts of the game, but I think it's a little overblown, it's hard to look anywhere and not find something to get distracted by.
    The only dead zones I've come across are on tops and sides of some mountain ranges, not areas you tend to be going for or staying long anyway.

    The UI can be frustratingly tedious, cooking requires you to stand next to a pot, go to the menu yourself, select the ingredients to hold and exit the menu before you get an option to actually cook.
    It's a shame really because the holding system was perhaps one of the quirkiest features that didn't get much attention.
    (I spent a fair while running around, hands filled with random objects because I found it funny to run in to people's houses and dump random things at their feet)

    I think its a once in a decade game. Its not 100% perfect but it damn sure is close, not many games fall into this category.

    The most i have played my Wii U ever!! It is no longer the "Netflix Machine" Its the "BOTW Box"
    Love the art style and the music. I really feel like Im playing a Studio Ghibli RPG. There have been a few OMG moments that I truly felt like I was witnessing something truly magical. Like stumbling along a "Sacred Fountain" high atop a snow covered mountain. The weapon system is a little annoying. Finding a great set of sword and shield for it to break apart after only a few strikes. All in all, I am enjoying it so much that I don't know when I'll ever get the chance to pop Horizon zero Dawn on and start that... One on the go is enough for me.

      The most i have played my Wii U ever!! It is no longer the "Netflix Machine" Its the "BOTW Box"
      Ha! Can I get that stencilled onto the top of my console.

    I've lost alot of sleep playing this game. even now I'm running on about 30mins and so with my lack of brain functionality I end my review here.

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