The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U) Preview

By John Son 30.07.2016 6

Review for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Wii U

With perhaps the exception of The Adventure of Link, no game in the Zelda series can really be said to represent a genuine departure from the conventions of the series and its own preset rules. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild very much changes all that. While other games have rarely strayed off the beaten path of conformity, it's obvious that Nintendo is now dead set on looking towards a markedly different direction for its latest title.

It's already been made very clear that an obvious selling point for Breath of the Wild is its huge, fully traversable overworld, but it isn't until you take the controller in your own hands, pick a direction and start running when you realise just how big the game actually is - that is, deceptively big. Cliffs, mountains, lakes, ruins of old buildings, and great grassy plains slowly unfold like a sweeping shot of a Peter Jackson film - and we're told that this is only a mere fraction of what the full overworld will have to offer. The graphics in the game itself look stunning, of course, but that somewhat goes without saying.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Wii U

When playing the game for the first time, one of the most noticeable aspects is the atmosphere, namely due to the lack of background music. Overworlds in games such as Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker employed music to drive home very pointed themes of dynamic heroism and adventure. Breath of the Wild's sound design appears to deliver a different kind of experience. As you begin exploring, you start to pick out the seemingly innocuous details in the ambient noise of the world as you travel. The gentle thuds of Link's footsteps on grass. The distant chirruping of birds. Leaves being rustled by the wind. The restless crackling of fire. Every sound is gorgeously well-realised and adds greatly to the intoxicating feeling of immersion - it's all too easy to let the minutes and hours trickle by as you lose yourself in this vast, meticulously detailed garden of discovery.

The gameplay, of course, has also seen some fairly drastic changes. There is heavy emphasis on survival elements in this game, as Link now largely needs to rely on living off the land to stay alive and defend himself. Hearts are no longer found in the wild, and items of food, such as apples, mushrooms and steaks, must be consumed to replenish health. Venturing into colder areas of the land necessitates the donning of warmer, thicker clothing. Skyward Sword's stamina meter also returns, largely unchanged from its first incarnation. It sets strict limits on how far Link can run or climb a wall before running out of energy - making careful judgements on whether a certain wall or cliff face is scalable or not becomes somewhat of a precise art.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Wii U

The Wind Waker's original system of being able to pick up enemy weapons also returns as a feature, now greatly expanded to also include shields and an array of other assorted weaponry. Players are able to switch between items quickly and intuitively using slight button presses, which will no doubt come in handy when in the heat of the battle. Many weapons break after light or heavy usage, depending on their sturdiness, meaning that it'll probably be prudent to get into the habit of stocking up on supplies as and when needed. BotW is also the first Zelda game to date where arrows, once shot, do not disappear and can actually be picked up again from their landing point and reused; one of many small, yet charming details in the fabric of gameplay.

The game also introduces a number of novel ways to interact with items and the surrounding environment. Link's shield, for example, can be used as a board to navigate inclines, snowboard-style. Arrowheads can be set alight using campfires to add extra firepower to projectiles. Updrafts from fires can be used to give Link an extra lift when equipping the hang glider. These are but to name a few; certainly as we learn more about the game's world and other items available, the potential for wilder and more experimental gameplay mechanics will only grow as time goes on.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Wii U

There are still a few unanswered questions and doubts surrounding the game, despite the impressive demo. Probably the biggest is regarding the overworld and the potential for it to fall into the trappings of Twilight Princess; that is, size for the sake of size. Much of the land in TP was taken up by vast, featureless expanses of nothingness, and the game ended up feeling somewhat bloated as a result. Breath of the Wild's full overworld is twelve times bigger than Twilight Princess' apparently, but it remains to be seen whether this enormity will be justified, or if it may even just be posturing on Nintendo's part to flex the Wii U's technical muscles while the company still has the chance. In regards to other concerns, such as the apparent lack of settlements, NPCs, enemy variety or companions, these will no doubt be addressed as more of the game is revealed over the course of the year.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Wii U

Final Thoughts

From this perspective, it is now easier to understand the game's constant delays throughout the past years - seemingly no expense has been spared in making sure that Breath of the Wild will be the first Zelda since Ocarina of Time to genuinely mark a turning point in the series. Much like how the arrival of 3D gaming forever changed the scope of the series, perhaps in the future we'll look back on BotW as the game that drew the line in the sand, marking the end of one era of Zelda and heralding another. Until the game comes out, however, we can only speculate for now - but from all we've seen of it so far, it may be safe to assume that we are indeed in for something good.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

Comments

A few things I'm concerned about are the stamina bar - I hope it won't prove to be a pain; the overworld - don't want it to be too barren, like TP; and progressive difficulty - if it truly is free and lets us explore dungeons in different orders, how will difficulty levels adapt? Don't want it to be too easy all the way through.

Other than that, looking forward to it. Certainly looking forward to what they're doing with the story.

I never found TP that baron, mostly due to all the heart piece puzzles littering the landscape.
Both TWW and SS seemed far more sparten when navigating (even if the initial fun of a new mode of transport hid it at first). 

The key for me thus is that landscape has to be packed with little puzzles. Or things I can only get once I have a item, thus have to remember (or mark the map?) to come back for.
Idealy, these needs to be secrets and upexpected bits. Not things we see miles off.

One thing that worries me a bit is I dont think  "Weapon stat +1 that breaks" is going to feel as much a reward as 1/5th of a perminate health upgrade.​


"BotW is also the first Zelda game to date where arrows, once shot, do not disappear and can actually be picked up again from their landing point and reused; one of many small, yet charming details in the fabric of gameplay"

Are you sure? 
Pretty sure I remember picking up arrows stuck in walls in a past Zelda title if you were quick enough.

http://www.fanficmaker.com <-- Tells some truly terrible tales.
Last update; Mice,Plumbers,Animatronics and Airbenders. We also have the socials; Facebook & G+

Azuardo said:
A few things I'm concerned about are the stamina bar - I hope it won't prove to be a pain; the overworld - don't want it to be too barren, like TP; and progressive difficulty - if it truly is free and lets us explore dungeons in different orders, how will difficulty levels adapt? Don't want it to be too easy all the way through.

Other than that, looking forward to it. Certainly looking forward to what they're doing with the story.


Yeah, the stamina bar is the only thing I'm worried about, from what we've seen so far. Everything else looks amazing though. Just seems way too short for running around. My hope is it will expand like in GTA games, the more you run. So basically, Link gets more fitter the more you run and climb. No mention of it though. :/

My hope is it will expand like in GTA games, the more you run. So basically, Link gets more fitter the more you run and climb. No mention of it though. :/

I like that idea. Makes a lot of sense. So it definitely won't be in the game lol.

Yeah, I don't expect it really, even though it's a fantastic mechanic and I think it would work really well for this Zelda given the massive map to explore (just like a GTA game). I did see Link can cook food to create different buffs, though, but not sure how long those will last and if there's one for improved stamina or someway to slow the meter down.

Perminate stamina upgrades would be good. -  another meaningful reward that could sprinkle the map.

http://www.fanficmaker.com <-- Tells some truly terrible tales.
Last update; Mice,Plumbers,Animatronics and Airbenders. We also have the socials; Facebook & G+

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