The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild review (Nintendo Switch)
The only way I can start this review is by trying to explain the sense of awe that this game inspires. Remember as a child, you were so naïve and everything seemed so big around you? But as you grew up, those things started to seem smaller. As you understood more, they didn’t really interest you anymore. Breath of the Wild is a throwback to that childlike naivety. An immersive world that has immense possibility. People, creatures, story and concepts that are, for the most part, new to you.
As someone who has only ever completed two Zelda games, both of which were handheld titles (Phantom Hourglass and Link Between Worlds), and dabbled in others (Majoras Mask, Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess), I’m not coming from a big “superfan” perspective. I wasn’t going to let rose-tinted glasses affect my experience.
Booting into Breath of the Wild instantly had me curious as to what the story behind it was and what would happen going forward. After seconds in the intro section, I was unleashed into a massive open world that I would come to learn but still felt foreign and unforgiving at certain times, even after almost 100 hours of exploration. One of the first things you’ll notice is the genuine beauty of the world. Like emerging into a completely new and untouched world, you want to just see every inch up close.
However, this is short-lived as you’re instantly in a world with enemies that will show no mercy. You’re shown a stick on the floor and there’s your first weapon. Now you’ll notice fast that the weapons in this game are breakable. So you better be keeping stocked on your sticks straight away if you wanna survive those weak Bokoblin fights. You even have to keep an eye on your temperature, making sure you don’t freeze or burn to death. You can tell where Nintendo have taken aspects from the survival genre.
The combat feels very polished and responsive, which is a very generic thing to say isn’t it really? The only real way you’ll know if you like the combat is if you give it a go but from my perspective, even while getting used to the Joycons, it was a blast. In terms of weapons, you’ll be coming to grips with both one-handed and two-handed swords, spears, tridents, axes, clubs, boomerangs and bows. There’s also obviously a range of shields. The vast range of weapons gives so many options for mixing up your style of combat. With weapons all being breakable in this game, you find yourself forced to approach every encounter in a different way. Whether it be stealthily picking off some enemies, blowing up an entire camp with a bomb arrow or rolling a boulder off a cliff onto an unsuspecting Bokoblin standing below . The methods of destruction are just as limited as your imagination. At first, this comes across as very annoying, not knowing whether you can afford to fight some generic enemies as your only weapon might break. After a while however, that feeling became one of the best parts of this game. The uncertainty of survival in the face of seemingly uncertain odds.
Now, I’ve seen some complaints that the in-game world feels empty and that this somehow detracts from the sense of exploration in such a massive open world. I personally think this is extremely far from the truth. If there was a big spectacle around every corner, it would eventually become the norm and exploration wouldn’t be as rewarding. I find it so much better to walk around a seemingly empty field to then end up finding it hides many secrets if you try hard enough to look.
With so much to complete in the game, which can be still continued with and completed after being the main story missions, I feel this game will keep people playing for a long time. I personally finished what I felt like was a lot of side content plus the entire main story within around 50 hours, only to realise I was only around 10% done with the entire game.
With 120 shrines, 900 Korok Seeds (bit excessive isn’t it Nintendo?), the main story, side quests and armour/weapons to collect, you’ll find yourself with a lot less spare time on your hands if you want to even hit 50% completion, never mind 100%.
Speaking of the main story however, I do feel this aspect was a little lacking. With only 4 relatively similar dungeons to conquer and very forgettable boss battles, I feel a lot of effort was put into the vastness of the world instead of what’s generally been the main draw of the Zelda series. Just look up YouTube videos on Zelda timelines and theories and you’ll see the droves of people who want to pick at every story aspect and lap it up so, even though this will satisfy them for the time being, I feel fans will want more as time starts to go on.
Onto the soundtrack. Of all the Zelda games I have played, it definitely stacks up but something doesn’t feel as iconic as the other games. The certain level of magic that other games brought to the table seems a little lost audibly.
Overall, I feel that Breath of the Wild is an amazing adventure, packed with fun exploration, challenging combat and puzzles. It has a bit of a lacking story and some unnecessarily hard requirements to 100% the game but the sense of wonder and new directions the series seems to be heading makes it enough to be one of my personal favourite games of all time and a must buy for any existing/potential fans.