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 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Ross, David - totally with you there! Glad people agree about the positive side of weapons breaking!

Az - in portable mode, the first time I saw a close-up of the water pouring off the side rocky mountainside, my jaw dropped. For all the washed out parts, there are many other stunning moments!

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

point is, there needed more control options for remapping.

I'm intrigued to hear from anyone that's tried this on Wii U. I know that Jorge and Lex are currently playing it on that system, so it'd be interesting to get their perspective.

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

Quick question for anyone that bought the DLC...

Did you just get random crap in your treasure chests? Well, the Nintendo Switch shirt was for everyone, but the other two chests were just a ruby and 5 bomb arrows. Wth? I paid money for this DLC, and yes, while it is mainly for the story content, how on earth they shoved generic items I've picked up a hundred times on my quest in DLC chests is beyond me. It was a bugger finding the things too - I came back multiple times to the plateau to see if I was missing something, until I decided to thoroughly explore it again, finally finding them near to the shrines. Then to be 'rewarded' with a ruby and arrows... Jesus.

Anyway, rant over. *goes back to finding the remaining shrines*

a game with such lame check box quests and and all dungeons being the same metalic rooms doesnt deserve a 10/10.

i feel like you guys got this one wrong.  :\

I can see why people are giving this 10s, but I do think there a small number of little things that add up to it not quite being masterpiece material. It's probably the first Zelda that really actually does achieve the 'adventure' feel since the original NES game, and it deserves its accolades for pretty much getting that feeling spot on. I think the fact it's such a shake-up compared to all the crap Nintendo forced into other Zelda games is the reason this has been so well received. It's like they finally get it, and so it's kind of shocked fans, like "Whoa, this is the Zelda game we've been waiting 30 years for!"

Whereas critics were so quick to throw 10s at the awful Skyward Sword, I do feel this deserves the praises much more this time. Debatable if it quite hits the masterpiece mark, but I do feel it gets a hell of a lot right, and those other slip-ups are just up to the individual if they are enough to dock it slightly.

But you're right - there are definitely areas I would have liked to see improved, and dungeons are one aspect. I defo welcome the shrines - totally fine with those - but where it's really lacking for me is in the core dungeons. I am totally fine with four main dungeons if they are done well like Majora's Mask. But these were too boring and small compared to genuinely great thematically designed ones like Stone Tower, Great Bay and Snowpeak. The Beasts were clever in their own way - actual moving dungeons and could be controlled to alter the layouts - but as the core dungeons of the game, they were lacking when compared to themed, larger ones of previous games. I feel the shrines are great in addition, but it shouldn't have meant sacrificing the core dungeons' sizes.
 

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