There isn’t any other series quite like the Legend of Zelda, and the newest installment, Breath of the Wild, is unlike any previous Zelda game. Breath of the Wild released March 3rd, 2017 in the US. As one of the few launch games for the Nintendo Switch, Zelda fans were hoping that Breath of the Wild would be worth the wait.
The last original 3D Legend of Zelda game before Breath of the Wild was Skyward Sword, released on November 18, 2011 for the Nintendo Wii. After Twilight Princess, one of my favorites games, I had very high hopes for Skyward Sword. I felt like Skyward Sword left a lot to be desired. It was a cool back story, but I thought the gameplay was too linear, there was almost no exploration, and the motion controls felt unnatural and forced. Enough on Skyward Sword, I might do a review of it later, let’s get on to Breath of the Wild.
Before I get into any details, this review will contain spoilers for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Including, but not limited to, story elements, items, weapons, gameplay, dungeons and bosses.
Breath of the Wild is one of my favorite video games of all time. It was a highly anticipated launch game for the Nintendo Switch, so I made sure to get both on release day. Since that day I have not regret that purchase even once. From the moment you exit the Shrine of Resurrection, you get to see the beautiful overworld of Breath of the Wild. Everything in the world feels lifelike. Animals behave in believable ways, enemies won’t fall for the same tricks repeatedly, and every corner of the world feels like it was hand-crafted. Scattered with 120 Shrines, nearly 100 Mini-Bosses and scattered Bokoblin or Lizalfo camps, you will continue to find things to do for a very long time. I’m giving the Overworld in Breath of the Wild a perfect 10/10!
Gameplay is another strong area for Breath of the Wild. After you get used to the beautiful Overworld, you can start getting used to the intuitive gameplay. From the very beginning you’re not really taught how to do much. From the opening scene you are encouraged to learn through experimentation. From little things like using bombs to knock down trees instead of an axe to time-stopping enemies who are about to strike, the more you experiment the more satisfying the game is. This game does a wonderful job of encouraging exploration and experimentation. Cooking is another great part of this game. The cooking system is intuitive and makes a lot of sense. Without any practice at all, cooking can be a very beneficial way to survive. Usable for keeping cool, preventing fire, keeping warm, or boosting stats, I wish that I had done more cooking early in the game. Another aspect I wanted to talk about were traditional dungeons. There were really only four of them, five if you count Hyrule Castle. I liked the first four, but they got a little repetitive and I thought they were too simple and didn’t live up to dungeons in prior games. Hyrule Castle in Breath of the Wild is everything I wanted it to be and so much more. From the beginning you roughly know where you need to go, but its up to you to decide how to get there. Will you swim the waterfall to narrowly glide past Guardians? Will you use stealth to sneak past every enemy? Will you run straight in using brute force to cripple enemies? The choice is yours. Another thing that I want to make sure to mention is the various enemies. Enemies in this game are different from any prior Zelda title. In prior Zelda games, most players were never worried about being able to defeat regular enemies, such as Bokoblins and Lizalfos. They were just an inconvenience because at times they were in the way and needed to be dealt with. In Breath of the Wild, there have been times that I have changed my course to avoid certain enemies, especially in the first 10 hours of the games. If you have less than 5 hearts, you can be one-shot-killed by all of the mini bosses, and some of the regular enemies. When playing, my first priority was to avoid death, and that’s something that we haven’t really seen in many other Zelda games. The Gameplay in Breath of the Wild does have it’s flaws, although they’re minor, they are worth a mention. First, when your backpack is full, I wish there were a better system for dropping and replacing items. I didn’t really like having to manually pause and compare all of my items, I wish that there were a “compare weapons” screen that the game would automatically go to when your inventory was full. In Breath of the Wild you are given all of the “powers” early on in the game, at first I wasn’t a fan of that, but the constantly breaking weapons and the endless ways to use those powers worked together very well. My last small complaint is my lack of arrows. No matter how many arrows I find or buy, I will never have enough. This is frustrating but it adds to the survival feel of the game. None of these flaws take too much away from the gameplay as a whole. In Breath of the Wild I truly felt like I could go anywhere and do anything. I’m giving the Gameplay in Breath of the Wild a 9/10.
The Main Story in Breath of the Wild doesn’t really have a lot to it. You spend most of the game discovering flashbacks from 100 years ago when Link died. In those flashbacks you learn that Link is basically a Knight assigned to protect Princess Zelda by the King. In the flashbacks, we see that Zelda has a strong desire to be independent and make her own choices. If you discover the flashbacks in the wrong order, like I did, Zelda can come off as being rude and she isn’t very likable. Those feelings went away after I saw the remaining flashbacks. We get to see much more Princess Zelda in this game than in any prior game. Also, Nintendo does a great job of making all of the characters believable. In some cut scenes it gets awkward that Link doesn’t talk. Characters will talk to Link, then pause, then start talking again as if he said something. That was just strange to me. All elements of the Main Quest can be done in any order, which we haven’t seen in a long time in a Zelda game. I took down the Elephant Divine Beast first, but others could have done the Bird, Scorpion or Camel first. I think that this helps the story feel more realistic. Also, you do not have to finish the Main Quests to go fight Gannon. You have the ability to go there as soon as you leave the great plateau. I felt like the story in Breath of the Wild was lacking, but the elements that were there were believable and realistic. I’m giving the Story in Breath of the Wild a 7/10.
Breath of the Wild has near endless side activities to distract you from the rest of the game. In the Base Game, there are 120 shrines, 76 official Side Quests, 46 Shrine Quests, lots of armor, armor upgrades, and 900 Koroks. By simply playing through the game I stumbled on over 100 Koroks and around 90 Shrines. Surprisingly, I finished the game with almost no armor. One of my favorite available Side Activities are the countless Mini-Bosses that are scattered throughout the world. At nearly 150 hours, I still have not experienced everything that Breath of the Wild has to offer. I’m giving the Side Activities in Breath of the Wild a 10/10.
Breath of the Wild is huge. After completion, you might not even want to start a new game. One of the coolest things about Breath of the Wild that you don’t realize in your first play through is how many decisions you make. Simply changing the decisions you’ve made adds quite a bit to the replay value of this game. Ultimately, I think the story and exploring could be fun multiple times, but collection of Koroks, armor and armor upgrades wouldn’t be fun a second time. I’m giving the Replay Value of Breath of the Wild a 8/10
My Final Grade for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a 9.3/10!
Agree or Disagree? Think I’ve overlooked something? Let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section and on Twitter (@James_Soler).
Stay nerdy my friends,