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

By Lex Firth 18.03.2017 6

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

With the buzz surrounding the launch of the Nintendo Switch, it's easy to forget that its flagship title (reviewed here) wasn't developed with the new console in mind. Fans have been waiting years for the latest entry in the Zelda franchise, with modern remakes of classic 3D adventures, the Hyrule Warriors sub-series, and even two brand new adventures on Nintendo 3DS doing little to dissipate the anticipation surrounding the latest highly secretive entry in the series. Has it been worth the wait for those yet to pick up a Nintendo Switch with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild?

By now, most will be familiar with the premise of The Legend of Zelda's latest outing, but for those that aren't, a brief recap: Breath of the Wild breaks the franchise free of its linear chains - a huge point of controversy stemming from much-criticised predecessor, Skyward Sword, in favour of a Skyrim-esque open world, with completely free reign over the path that Link takes. Dungeons can be tackled in any order, and truly tough players could even feasibly make their way to the final boss during the game's opening act. It's a formidable attempt from one of gaming's forefathers to truly shake up a series in danger of being stale, and one that pays off in droves.

The perfect mixture of classic Zelda content and formula-breaking structures is present here: the plot is as familiar as a Nintendo game can get (Link is tasked with rescuing Princess Zelda and defeating Ganon in order to save the kingdom of Hyrule - again), but it's presented in a unique and genuinely interesting way - supporting characters are absent for a large portion of the game, leaving a newly-amnesiac Link to find "memory spots" around the game world, each of which plays a cut-scene that explains a little more of how Hyrule came to face the great calamity that precedes the story.

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

Similarly, the classic Zelda tropes are still present - that is to say, dungeons and bosses - but with the fresh coat of paint they so desperately needed. Gone is the tired structure of a set number of dungeons, each with their own item to be used on its specific end-boss; instead, Link is tasked with discovering over 100 temples dotted around the landscape, with each one containing a small puzzle. Bosses are found in the wild, and are incredibly strong, often best being left alone.

It's an exciting development that genuinely revolutionises a formula that was fast becoming far too predictable, but it's not without its flaws. Finding the temples may be a great diversion, but the puzzles they contain therein are often quite simple and, as such, they don't always feel worth the effort. Similarly, while the world of Hyrule has clearly had a lot of time and care put into it - so much so that spending twenty or so hours simply exploring, with no headway into the game's main plot being made, doesn't actually feel like a chore - there are times where it feels a little too daunting, and there are some swathes of land that are completely barren and uninteresting.

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

Thankfully, these parts are few and far between, and Breath of the Wild is a genuinely incredible adventure. As the name suggests, the world around Link is a character of its own, with the constantly shifting climate being one of the main obstacles. Trying to go into an area that's too cold without adequate protection won't just make Link shiver, he will actively lose health the further into the snow-capped mountains he ventures. Wielding a metal weapon during a thunderstorm will cause it to act as a lightning rod, drawing a deadly thunderbolt to him at a moment's notice. It's realistic, too - there's no chance of lighting a campfire during a shower, and rain-slick rocks are much more difficult to climb up.

It's this that means that Link's journey never actually gets boring. There's always a new obstacle to avoid, be it the deadly heat of the volcanic mountains, or the "blood moon" that appears at the stroke of midnight every few in-game days, creating a creepy environment in the game-world before reviving every fallen enemy slain over the last week.

This is all wrapped up in a sublime package. To put it simply, Breath of the Wild is gorgeous. From the moment Link emerges at the game's opening, breathtaking landscapes aren't hard to come by, and the soul poured into each and every character is amplified ten-fold by the brilliant art style, which - just like Skyward Sword before it - does well to hide the limits of the system's graphical capabilities. It's a shame that there aren't many instantly memorable tunes to go along with it, with Nintendo opting for a more ambient environmental soundtrack this time around, but when the music does get turned up, it works brilliantly - the piano riff that plays when one of the mechanical Guardian enemies sets its sights on the player is one of the most genuinely terrifying songs of the franchise.

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

Of course, the most obvious question on the minds of Wii U players is with regards to the performance of such an ambitious title on a system that's less than impressive by modern standards. With occasional graphical and frame-rate issues on the more powerful Switch, you would be forgiven for assuming that Breath of the Wild would chug along at a snail's pace in its natural home; thankfully, that isn't the case. Whilst frame-rate drops are slightly more common, and graphical pop-in occurs fairly often, it's barely more noticeable than on Nintendo Switch; for a game this large, it's a genuine surprise to see it running so consistently well.

That it plays so smoothly on a constant basis does wonders for the immersive environment that Nintendo has tried so hard to create. Where other open-world RPGs fall apart due to constant load times, frustrating freezes and laughable glitches, Breath of the Wild stands out as one of the most tightly-developed games of recent times. Captivating from start to finish, and just as comfortable on the system it was designed for as on the Nintendo Switch, Link's latest is impossible not to recommend.

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

Cubed3 Rating

10/10
Rated 10 out of 10

Masterpiece - Platinum Award

Rated 10 out of 10

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is undoubtedly the most ambitious project to come from Nintendo since Super Mario 64 revitalised the platformer, more than two decades ago. Its first attempt to bring Zelda into the open-world era isn't just a formidable attempt, it's one that ticks all the right boxes and shows other, more genre-seasoned, developers how it should be done. If it really is the last major title that the Wii U ever sees, then it's a fantastic way to bow out - The Legend of Zelda has never been so perfect.

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

Great read. Happy to hear it's the same experience on the Wii U.
 
I'm probably about 70% through it now, and I think I am arriving at slightly lesser impression of the game than most.
 
It's just that, and I think I said this before launch, Nintendo really have had all this time to observe the countless other open-world games of this nature play out. While I will commend Breath of the Wild for finding its own slant, a suitably tasteful Nintendo take on all that, after a good decade or so of this genre I feel a little aggrieved to say it's a near perfect experience. There's definitely a grind factor that I'm hitting right now, a familiar pattern, which can be a bit of a slog.
 
Echoing what I said in anticipation, it's not really doing anything new, rather nailing almost everything it does do. The balance seems pretty great to me, I love that Nintendo properly modernised the series (whilst returning to the original) - and hope to see them do the same with other series. But overall, when I look at the experience, the one thing I will say is they could have made this exact game a while ago.
 
For me that counts against it, but yeah, don't get me wrong, this is nit-picking. I love it too! 
 

That's a really great review, Lex! Pleased to hear the Wii U experience is just as good as the Switch one.

Tom - what grind factor is getting you down? Having to complete lots of shrines to slowly build up hearts/stamina, needing to get the right ingredients for cooking, collecting enough weapons...? There are some aspects that could be seen as being a bit grindy.

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Adam Riley said:

what grind factor is getting you down? ...., collecting enough weapons...? There are some aspects that could be seen as being a bit grindy.


The weapons thing is starting to piss me off, but otherwise the rest of the game is fine for me. However what's really interesting is the replayability...once i'm done with this game I just can't see myself re-treading it like i'd do with MM or OoT.....well that is until undoubtable re-release in 10 years time on the 'NXII' 

However what's really interesting is the replayability...once i'm done with this game I just can't see myself re-treading it like i'd do with MM or OoT.....well that is until undoubtable re-release in 10 years time on the 'NXII' 

I'm the opposite to this. This is the first Zelda since The Wind Waker I really want to replay through. I love it so much, I could easily replay from the start again right now.

Adam Riley said:
That's a really great review, Lex! Pleased to hear the Wii U experience is just as good as the Switch one.

Tom - what grind factor is getting you down? Having to complete lots of shrines to slowly build up hearts/stamina, needing to get the right ingredients for cooking, collecting enough weapons...? There are some aspects that could be seen as being a bit grindy.


Fast-traveling about far too much in order to get more spirit orbs is a bit of a disconnected pursuit if you ask me. That's what the largest portion of my experience has been, aside from the main objectives, I'm trying to get the Master Sword at the moment as so I've just been in the midst of the most 'incoherent' part of the game- which is of course my own doing since I'm anxious to press on before having anything spoiled. I'm more than a bit disappointed at the lack of themed dungeons, for sure. While there's a lot of elements about the shrines I like, I think if you make them your focus, they draw you out of some of the game's spontaneous joys. 

I now have one main dungeon left, so things have started to pick up again. And I definitely admire the less is more balance in place whilst exploring the lands, which makes an event feel significant rather than randomly generated- but I can't get away from the fact they've been watching open-games develop for all this time. 

And I quite like foraging for specific items, but again, if you feel like the main quest or plot hasn't been touched in a while, it can feel a little too fragmented. 

Then again, I feel this way about many open-world games of recent times- I'm probably being a bit over-critical. 

I sort of know what you mean, i am at the 40/50 hour mark (i think) , and playing it today was the first time i feel that i am a bit bored of running around aimlessly. The novelty has sort of got the best of me today. With that said i could continue with the main quest. I feel like I could be half way through (although i am disappointed if i am because it doesn't feel like much has actually happened).

I have been trying not to use  a guide to do anything, i haven't stumbled across the master sword yet...i am hoping that it's glaringly obvious...a few NPC's have mentioned a legendary sword...but i have yet to actually find it. 

I've been playing a game of 'Zelda snap'/'Zelda logbook which is adding all the scans in via the camera function.

It is a good game but i just can't see the replayability in it. 

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