The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Adam Riley 02.03.2017 31

Review for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch

It has been a long time coming, but after extensive looks at both the Wii U version, as well as early builds of the Nintendo Switch edition, Nintendo is about to unleash The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild upon the world. With it arriving on the same day as Nintendo Switch, hopes are high, but when did a Zelda adventure really let anyone down? Even the so-called 'weaker' entries are normally a cut above the competition, but has this new outing managed to live up to the massive hype surrounding it…and maybe even exceed expectations?

Link awakens from his slumber and has lost his memory, which leads the way into this new adventure nicely, as it means newcomers can just jump in without fear of having to play catch-up on the series, feeling like they have missed out on core story elements. It is one of the benefits of the series in general, to be honest, rather like how most Final Fantasy titles have independent tales, but it applies more so here because the adventure in general has a 'newcomer friendly' feel to it, right from the off. Jump on in and away you go - take Link wherever you please, within the early confines of what seems to be an isolated land, surrounded by fog and deathly drops. The initial area is - at first shockingly - only filled with four shrines (mini-dungeons), yet this is where Link gains four key abilities that will serve him well for the rest of the epic journey, and 'epic' is probably somewhat of an understatement for how vast this new Zelda is. The idea, though, is all about getting people setup for an exhilarating excursion across an expansive land, easing them in, not overwhelming them, yet also giving enough to older fans to keep them hooked, as well.

"Expansive land"? Yes, that is exactly right, as the first section is merely a taster, albeit one that can on its own last for several hours, with players lapping up the gorgeous surroundings, roaming around, exploring every nook and cranny, collecting anything and everything there is to find. Link has a little stamina gauge that depletes when running or climbing, and it is not until after the first four shrines are brushed aside that this can be expanded, along with his outlay of three health hearts. That means the more adventurous out there will be pushing the poor chap to the very limit, using his Spider-Man levels of climbing prowess to reach cliff-tops that look just out of reach, but are just about manageable if approached from the correct location, resting on flat enough parts of the cliff face.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch

The same limits will be tested when first approaching a colder than normal zone, where hearts start to deplete because of the harsh conditions. It is actually possible to check Link's body temperature to see how it varies from day to night, and area to area, but he also gives off telltale signs, like shivering and breathing into his hands. In the icier locations, perhaps you may think it is impossible to cross a cold land. However, cook some dishes at a nearby campfire (or make your own fire using tools collected on Link's travels) and mix-n-match ingredients picked up so far to create all manner of weird and wonderful dishes, some of which are disasters (but replenish a few hearts nonetheless, useful since hearts do not appear from slashing grass like in the past), and others that provide status boosts. Manage to create spicy cuisine, in this case, and expect to be kept warmer than usual for a short span of time (normally a few minutes, but sometimes more if extra goodies are stirred into the pot). Is that long enough to dash across the cold land, though? Desperately checking the map to find shortcuts, climbing over rocks if necessary, and dodging enemies, left, right, and centre…and finally diving into a shrine for safe haven - can it be done? Maybe, maybe not…but that urge to give it a go is inherent from start to finish.

This is the sort of feeling players will have continuously once the first four special orbs are acquired from the early shrines and a makeshift paraglider is bestowed upon the hero, in return for handing them over to a strange old man. Then the true sprawling nature of the world becomes apparent, with Link leaping majestically off the edge, of what appeared to be the ruins of a defensive kingdom perimeter, through the dense fog, and coming out of the other side, landing in the wider realm, ready to properly discern what wonders lie ahead. The Kingdom of Hyrule, 100 years on from when Link was hero, has been devastated and now it is plagued by Calamity Ganon and the Blood Moon that brings out all sorts of evil creatures, with only Princess Zelda able to hold Ganon back for the time being. It is not a deep, twisting-and-turning yarn, but it does the job. The first time that Blood Moon comes out, during the middle of wandering around, is quite a shocking experience, as evil monsters start emerging from the ground, ready to take on Link and his array of weapons - sword, bow, or anything that can be grabbed and swung or thrown.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch

Why so many weapons? Well, they break - it is as simple as that. As annoying as it may be, and it is highly frustrating to start with, once grown accustomed to, this use-break-replace programme adds to the already steep challenge. It becomes a balancing act, snapping up whatever lies in Link's path and how much he can cram into the inventory. The race is on before current supplies break - so, whether it be a rusty broadsword, or merely a tree branch, there is a need to have a back-up in cases where an onslaught of beasts come a-charging, and *smash* that wonderful form of offense suddenly break into smithereens, leaving Link defenceless and having to dash away, and then readying to fight another day. At least having something to hand can stave off the threat slightly until the next battle. This is why, though, it is with a huge sigh of relief that hearts and stamina be increased by completing the plentiful supply of shrines and trading four orbs each time at the Temple of Time for upgrades. There over well over 100 of these shrines, taking the place of much larger dungeons. Never fear, though, as there are still a handful of proper dungeons for those not satiated by the puzzle-like affairs, all linked to the four main objectives.

In addition to hearts and stamina, the inventory can also be expanded. This is done by collecting special seeds from impish little tree folk dotted all over the place, normally in the oddest of areas, requiring some form of trigger to make them pop out, or task to be completed before they reveal themselves and hand over a precious collectible that can be used later for trading. Battling against foes can be done using some of the powers gifted in that very first opening section, with bombs (square and round-shaped versions) to be launched, a magnet to lift and swing metallic objects around, or time freezing that suspends whatever is pointed at, only for it to store kinetic energy if hit repeatedly, flinging it off in the direction of travel at great force once it unfreezes. For fights, the best course of action is, then, sometimes to perch high atop a rock, or cliff edge, and basically just lob bombs at groups of enemies encamped where you need to pass by. Wading in, sword a-swinging, is fun but the game tries to discourage that, teaching how it is best to save weaponry for when it really matters.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch

Being crafty is essential, since the enemies listen and start to gang up on Link if heard rustling around in the trees and undergrowth, or pounding his feet about whilst running (becoming even louder when in the rain, with a noise monitor in Link's HUD, also, that can be checked). Some enemies will try to surround the hero, others will fire arrows from a distance, with remaining ones venturing directly at Link to catch him off guard, and there are instances where enemies will grab whatever they can find nearby and chuck it at Link! This game is smart, and does not let gamers walk all over it, and that includes veteran fans that remember the tough cookies that were the first two NES outings. That means smart thinking is required to counter it, and sneaking in at nightfall to slay beasts, or shooting arrows from far away, and even trying to roll bombs strategically close to dynamite stores to cause chain reactions, is the way forward - playing the game...at its own game.

Despite being cartridge-based, with there being so much content packed in, there are indeed loading times - not awfully long ones, for the most part, but still noticeable ones. Thankfully, however, Nintendo has included a plethora of tips and tricks that will be extremely beneficial to read on the waiting screen, and these can be skipped through with a quick button press if already seen, in order to access newer ones. Breath of the Wild is so open-ended, allowing not just for personal choice in how the land is traversed and how/when shrine challenges and other missions undertaken, but also in terms of the lack of hand-holding; therefore, more often than not, these tips are imperative for picking up handy hints that otherwise would not have reared their head, and can be the difference between life or death (the Game Over screen will be seen far more than in other Zelda releases!).


 
To help with navigation, because it is so easy to eventually get lost after trekking around for ages, large towers can be found in new sectors, and once figuring out how to scale them (some are initially too high to climb, may have spikes all around, be defended by ridiculously powerful contraptions like the mechanical 'Guardians,' and so on), they download map data onto Link's handy tablet device, the Sheikah Slate (the same place where all the additional power-ups are stored). It is on these maps that data is placed regarding shrines that have already been visited, plus markers can be placed for keeping track of where items of interest may lie that cannot be accessed straight away, or points of interest seen in the far distance that you may wish to explore later after completing a few side-quests, plonking a coloured marker on the map for future reference.

Another handy feature is how once shrines have been activated (not necessarily conquered, just linked with the Sheikah Slate), they can be warped to whenever, meaning if Link is aimlessly meandering, lost in the wilderness, or in a tight bind with monsters all around, simply transport out and head back to a shrine. That also proves useful for those that actually do not like 'wasting time' and want to get to the heart of the main story, meaning that jumping back and forth from place to place when on quests saves time and hassle.

There are so many little features that make the grandiose excursion even better than it already is, and the attention to detail - like rain hammering against rock faces, for instance, making them too wet for Link to get a firm grip of - is mind-blowing. Everything is polished to perfection, making for an enchanting adventure that feels fresh, but still includes familiar enemies, battle mechanics, and a whole host of quirky characters to meet and interact with. Nintendo has thrown everything into Breath of the Wild, including the kitchen sink, pipe work, underground structures, …and… well, you get the idea. The ultimate in the long-running The Legend of Zelda series, and it surpasses all that have gone before it.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

10/10
Rated 10 out of 10

Masterpiece - Platinum Award

Rated 10 out of 10

This is the pinnacle of adventuring, Zelda style. It takes the core elements that fans know and love from Nintendo's long-standing series, and mixes it smoothly in with gorgeous open-world exploration of Xenoblade Chronicles, to craft something so breath-taking and absorbing that hours upon hours will pass by without notice, and barely any progress will have actually been made in the main story because there were so many other aspects to take in and play around with, as well as sub-missions that fit so naturally into the core quest. Nintendo has outdone itself with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - absolutely sublime work.

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   

Comments

Jason (guest) 03.03.2017#1

One of the best games of all time?

Without a doubt! The sense of openness is second to none. It makes you feel like you're actually Link, feeling your way around this foreign land, trying to figure out what's going on and how you're involved in it all. The exploration alone is stunning, and the puzzles in the shrines add so much to the experience.

Please let us know your thoughts when you tried it Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

10/10 despite brutal frame rate drops?

You could think of it like 10/10 = >95%. Doesn't mean perfect perfect. (as if anything could be)

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Insanoflex said:
10/10 despite brutal frame rate drops?

Nothing that affects the gameplay in any fashion whatsoever, and also doesn't happen that much in the Switch version, anyway, compared to the Wii U version. This isn't a review of its technical qualities, anyway; it's a review of one of the most sublime adventures I've ever played.

You'll notice I didn't mark it down for sometimes having a slightly washed out look to its graphics, or having left over textures that are a hang-over from its Wii U roots, or even that wandering the world is more often than not done without any background music, just the surrounding sound effects to keep Link company.

Darkflame said:
You could think of it like 10/10 = >95%. Doesn't mean perfect perfect. (as if anything could be)

I gave Xenoblade Chronicles 10/10, as well, but would actually say BotW nudges that out as my favourite game of this generation. However, I wouldn't mark Xeno down to 9 because of that, if you get what I mean. It's still a masterpiece in its own right.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Well said.
I've got mine all setup and ready to go here, vastly looking forward to beginning this new story.

Darkflame said:
You could think of it like 10/10 = >95%. Doesn't mean perfect perfect. (as if anything could be)

Image for

perfect games do exist

Insanoflex said:

Darkflame said:
You could think of it like 10/10 = >95%. Doesn't mean perfect perfect. (as if anything could be)

Image for

perfect games do exist

only ONE aspect of SH2 is perfect.

As for Zelda, I find it hard to believe that this is so freaking good...
...which means that I now want to try it even more to find out Smilie

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dadadaa (guest) 03.03.2017#9

Plus it still looks way worse than any other open world game in 2017 this far. 
All looks the same, pretty dull world with almost nothing in it but the same fruits and eggs all the time. 

This game is good but not a 10/10 for someone who doesnt give a Zelda Bonus 

dadadaa (guest) said:
Plus it still looks way worse than any other open world game in 2017 this far. 
All looks the same, pretty dull world with almost nothing in it but the same fruits and eggs all the time. 

This game is good but not a 10/10 for someone who doesnt give a Zelda Bonus 


ehhhh.... it looks ok/

dadadaa (guest) said:
Plus it still looks way worse than any other open world game in 2017 this far. 
All looks the same, pretty dull world with almost nothing in it but the same fruits and eggs all the time. 

This game is good but not a 10/10 for someone who doesnt give a Zelda Bonus 


That really sounds like someone who's only played about an hour of the game.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

i can confirm the durability in this game is particularly low, especially for metallic weapons.

it is not realistic or fun for a steel claymore to break so easily, especially the way Link uses it. in real life you would never be able to shatter such a massive metal blade no matter how many times a human swung it at enemies or stone walls.


durability in games like this or RPGs in general have always been less fun than theyre worth.

as for the argument of "realism", the thing is about it is that realism is only good for a game if it makes the game more fun. breaking weapons is never fun. its a pain. especially since link cant fight with his bare hands.
 

I've been loving every minute so far. I've hardly even touched the story stuff, I'm just spending most of my time exploring and testing the waters. I get a lot of enjoyment just taking in the scenery. It really is a wonderful game, and so deserving of the reviews it's been getting

Yeah, taking this very slow right now. Got myself a horse.

dadadaa (guest) said:
Plus it still looks way worse than any other open world game in 2017 this far.
All looks the same, pretty dull world with almost nothing in it but the same fruits and eggs all the time.

This game is good but not a 10/10 for someone who doesnt give a Zelda Bonus.


What?!! Clearly you are not playing this masterpiece, I've gotten 8 hours of sleep since Friday and I've barely scratched the surface.Replace worst with best and your on the right track

( Edited 05.03.2017 22:43 by Adam Riley )

So...a few months ago I decided to not get a Nintendo Switch on launch, and while I knew Zelda was coming to the Wii U I thought I'll just wait until I get a Switch so I wouldn't have to re-play through the beginning bit multiple times.

Then the reviews came in, and I gave in and preordered on the Wii U. Now I've seen it playing on the Switch for myself, I'm worried I'm going to play it too much on the Wii U. So far I've only played the opening hour, but I only stopped because of food. Now I'm scared to go back to it.

The morale of this over complicated story. Go buy a Switch and Zelda.

This game just keeps delivering. Just so overwhelmed right now.

Seriously, I can already see this being my favourite game ever.

it is certainly impressive in its scope and vast size... but i gotta say i still think majora is the better overall game.

breath seems like its only a bit better than TP.

It's doing all the right things so far for me. It's clear this is one of the biggest Zelda games, but I'm not going to get hasty yet in deeming it the best in the series. Still definitely need to get through the meat of it, but it's certainly on the right track. It really feels like Miyamoto's original vision for the series realised, but just a shame it took 30 years to get there.

I'm hoping for more memorable characters, because the majority of NPCs are pretty plain. There's been a few notable ones creeping in though.

I'm really annoyed at Nintendo forcing the sprint button onto the face buttons too - for an open world game, or even any 3D adventure/RPG, sprint NEEDS to be on a shoulder button or the left stick button so you can move the camera around as you run. It becomes pretty important, especially when running around corners and such, as you can't see where you're going unless you let go of sprint and adjust the camera. It's one of the minor gripes I have with the game, but it has been extremely noticeable to me since it is a basic feature of most 3D games that keeps gameplay flowing and helps players see what's ahead immediately.

I have found myself upgrading the stamina meter more than my health. I find stamina has been much more important. Other observation is that this is a brutal game. Definitely forces you to get good at counterattacking and urges cooking for added defense.

Really good so far tho. I haven't got much sleep myself this weekend because of it.

i feel like sprinting should be pushing in the left analogue stick and crouching should be left shoulder.

targeting should be right analogue.

both jumping options are not natural since all past zelda games had A be jumping (side stepping or back flips) just feels weird and unnatural as is.

the absurdly low durability is a real issue. its retarded to have to carry multiples of the same weapon you like.

I'd defo keep targeting to ZL shoulder, since that's what Zelda has always used since the GameCube. Just comes naturally now. Trying to target with the right stick would be crap to me. But they have options to move sprint somewhere more useful, like L shoulder button or left stick, whilst crouch goes to either L or the X/B button where sprint is now. Then the slate item selection goes to whichever is unused. Really wish they provided more options instead of switching jump/sprint to different face buttons.

I'm okay with the jump where I have it now - on my B button. I didn't feel like the default of X to jump was best. You don't have to move your thumb with jump on B and attack on Y.

I think there is a case for durability being a tad over the top, but I don't think I've had too many issues with it so far. Depending on the situation, I might feel differently. It is annoying when you quickly lose a weapon you like.

If I knew a weapon was on the way out (flashing red in the inventory, or getting a warning message), I'd slam it against something hard just to get rid so I didn't get caught in an awkward situation. Sad when you've got a great weapon, but it's the reality of the game to keep you on the lookout for more stuff rather than relying on one item until the next upgrade possibly many hours later. It's meant to be a "adds variety" thing rather than "this is more realistic" thing, I felt.

One issue I've just remembered - once locked on to an enemy that takes some time to defeat and trying to constantly strafe around...had anyone else ended up accidentally crouching? I found that the way I pushed the left analogue when moving actually clicked the L3 function one too many times. More a flaw of the way I used the stick, possibly, but caught me out a few times, especially as I'd push deeper into the game quickly to test my skill against enemies I shouldn't really be taking on too early in the adventure. That's where I had so much fun - *just* making it up that cliff face, *just* scraping by against that super tough enemy, *just* getting across the icy plane before Link froze to death, etc.

( Edited 06.03.2017 21:24 by Adam Riley )

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Not had any problems with durability yet. I like it, personally (even though I wasn't so sure before I got the game)  it encourages you to try out new weapons. There always enough weapons around, too. Either way, it's not like there won't be stronger weapons later on, the whole game you're constantly getting upgrades, just like any other Zelda game, it's just done in a different way.

I usually hate durability in games, but BotW handles it well. It's almost like a meta puzzle in itself; you have to really carefully consider what to bring along as well as what to use and when. I like this system a lot. It also expands the gameplay by forcing the use of different weapon types.

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It's part of exactly what Zelda needed to shake up the formula. It's all well and good making enemies tougher, but there a fair few new mechanics and skills to consider in order to succeed in battle here.

Just want to say how awesome the weather changes are. The density of fog, heavy winds, sunsets, water effects, thunderstorms (which are genuinely scary and amazing at the same time) all look gorgeous. Really impressed with the graphical side of things, despite the obvious poor performance in some respects.

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