Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Is Truly Stunning

There was a moment in The Witcher 3, in Skellige, where I just stood and watched. The wind was blowing through the trees, the sun was just peering over the mountain tops and the light was breaking through the branches. It was truly beautiful; the world felt alive.

I've been remembering that Witcher moment this week, because I've been thinking the same thing about Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

There's no photo mode in Breath of the Wild, but if there's one thing the Switch does really well, it's screenshots. The system captures them in a heartbeat, which is great when you want to capture one of the game's more beautiful effects - like Link becoming ethereal.

Image: Kotaku

But even then, there's a great deal of beauty in Breath of the Wild for a game that, on a technical level, has a lot of flat textures. It's really quite clever in the cuts Nintendo has made in some areas to maximise the scope and scale of the in-game world.

It's not as photogenic as The Witcher, of course, or a dozen other open-world games released in the last couple of years. But the charm is in the smaller details, the way the grass clears as you cleave it with your sword, the way a regular arrow lights up when you put it in a fire, the way the shadows roll across your field of view as the day passes, the way a fire blazes across the ground when you wave a Korok leaf at it.

Breath of the Wild isn't perfect, as Jason wrote in his review. But it's pretty good, and goddamn does it have some charm.


Comments

    I'm guess I'm just going full "bah humbug" but I'm still not seeing it - especially when you specifically juxtapose it against something as breathtaking as TW3.

    Guess you had to be there.

      Gotta remember that when you're playing, you're viewing all of these on a tablet. It loses a bit when you blow it up on a larger screen, and you don't have the ambience of the wind and the rain to soothe you as you play.

        Any chance you could record a short ambience video to show the motion and sound of some of these scenes? I agree that screenshots don't do things like that justice but a video would be pretty convincing.

        Edit: you'd need some kind of capture device that sits inline between the dock and your TV screen, I assume.

        Last edited 03/03/17 3:22 pm

        I've been playing this game for about 130 hours, 80% of it on the wii U controller, and I've been trying to figure out why I'm so drawn to the graphics in this game.

        A lot of people are comparing the graphics to the Witcher 3. Of course it has beautiful photo realistic characteristics comparing it to BOTW is like comparing Bresson (a photographer) to Norman Rockwell (a Painter).

        Or to put it in comic book terms - comparing Jim Lee to Bruce Timm - they're both draw wildly different versions of the same character, and you can appreciate two different art styles equally because they make you feel different things as you play.

        From an interactive standpoint though, the climbing in this game makes the landscape tactile and real, less about putting props and renderings of landscape in there to look pretty and immersive, but actually making sand hot, snow cold and rain wet - that completely adds to the beauty of the game.

        Link, Zelda and the rest of the characters look like these expressionistic bursts of colour too, and the way they emote in the game to me at least looks much better than the motion captured stiff faces you see in more 'realistically' beautiful games.

        David Mazzucielli of Batman Year one provided a beautiful visual essay of making things more 'realistic' that border on campy to clean line work that sings on the page.

      Thought it was just me, wasn't going to say anything but a lot of those screenshots look dated to me and not impressive. I guess on a tablet size screen it looks nicer

    Why can't Nintendo just dp what the other companies do and make a straightforward but powerful console?
    They refuse to move on from their silly gimmicks and it's a real shame.
    Graphics are near the bottom of my priority list, nut those screenshots look like they were taken on a PS3 and that Iis basically inexcusable in 2017.
    I get that the console is limited by its portability, but that's exactly the problem. $469 for a portable is disgusting, particularly when it only gets 3 hours of play time on a charge so the vast majority of people will simply use it as an underpowered console.

      Yeah absolutely. I think their logic has been to position the Nintendo consoles as a separate entity in the market, like it's in it's own category of gaming machine instead of being a competitor to the XBOX/PS or whatever else. That way it doesn't matter how much less power (or whatever comparison is being made feature wise) it has because they were never competing for the same market share in the first place. Same approach for the switch - not a console, not a handheld, but something of both, with sole access to Nintendo titles and perhaps more importantly, no direct competitors.

      If you haven't used it I wouldn't review it. It's far from perfect but my first 8 hours on this console are pure bliss. And really isn't that what you want? It's not a pissing contest, size doesn't matter if you know how to use it ;)

      Last edited 03/03/17 4:59 pm

        Except it does matter. In 12 months when people complain there's no new games comming and no third party triple a games coming to it because it can't handle them that's the issue. Nintendo games will always look great on it but in this day its hard t really succeed without thirdparty support. I guess the hope is if they merge the 3ds line eventually it'll have those developers

    That open world looks pretty empty. I'd also rather they toned down the washed-out pastel tones and made it really vibrant. That gameplay must really be something.

    Then again, long-awaited game with a new console boost can do funny things to a person's mind.

    Looks underwhelming. I hope they've focussed their efforts on the gameplay and story because those graphics and art style do nothing for me.

    I don't really get why people are saying it's a beautiful game. It had a lot of potential to be gorgeous but to me almost all of the screenshots and gameplay videos have shown a blurry, muddy mess of low contrast colours. The main offender is that hazy fog effect they're using for whatever reason which desaturates a lot of the colour. If they got rid of it then the colours would be more vibrant and interesting. Maybe it's just one of those things that doesn't work well unless you're seeing it in motion.

    The atmosphere in this game is magical. Sure it's not crazy GTX1080 smoking level graphics, but it has an incredibly immersive art style and design in general.

    Screenshots don't really do it justice.

    I... actually don't care about the graphics. This game looks like one sick adventure and it's convinced me to buy a Switch.

    I wasn't going to buy a Switch, I thought I'd get this on the Wii U then call it a day for Nintendo (I hardly touched the last two consoles). At the last minute I said "screw it" and got one anyway. So far, this is the most fun and most lost I've become in any game in years. I am absolutely in love with it. I'll sell the Wii U now to try and recoup some money and hopefully the Switch gets a few more games that pike my interest, as the portability of it is actually a useful gimmick, but if nothing else Zelda is amazing and it really does look great when you're there playing it. Maybe not 'Farcry 1 standing on the beach in 2004' great, but great in that way that is super charming and makes you forget that the outside world exists.

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