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

By Athanasios 22.05.2017 4

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

The Legend of Zelda. Only a handful of series have managed to remain relevant to this day, and maybe not a single one has ever done so as gracefully, because, in all honesty, there truly are no bad Zelda games out there… CD-i ones excluded, of course. One of the reasons is that Nintendo knows damn well that this is its true flagship franchise, thus, it takes real good care of it. The second reason is that every single title follows a specific formula, and it's one that works very well despite its simplicity - so why change it? …Then comes 2017. The Nintendo Switch is out, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild gets released along with it, and it does exactly that…

It's almost like a rule. Every Breath of the Wild review must start with a description of the gargantuan place that Hyrule has turned into - and how could it not, as the result is stunning, to say the least. From the moment Link steps out of the chamber he has been sleeping in for 100 years, he will come across a magnificent view of the microcosm that he'll have to brave. The fantastic thing about it isn't just that it is beautiful, though.

All Zelda games have been non-linear, but this makes them pale in comparison. After the initial and somewhat "small" (big quotes there) tutorial-like location, where some important tools will be acquired, the player can simply draw a line and follow it, as Link now has some pretty neat climbing skills. In fact, while experimenting with the limits at hand, yours truly accidentally finished this 50+ hour odyssey under four hours, by simply going straight to the final boss' hideout!

Some will laugh at the thought, but it's impressive how similar this feels to the very first game, with the almost total lack of hand-holding being one of the main contributing factors. Shigeru Miyamoto started it all influenced by his childhood experiences in Kyoto, where he would go "adventuring" in the nearby fields and woods, searching under rocks, and exploring small caves, and the newest Zelda manages to have the same vibe, albeit with a much larger "miniature garden" to traverse.

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

In all honesty, those who are still in love with the 1986 original will feel like small children again, something that's greatly aided by Breath of the Wild's storyline. In a sea of exposition-heavy video games, it's great that Nintendo follows the route of mystery, by leaving most of it all to your imagination, with one example being the way it handles the main antagonist. Ganon, just like in the NES classic, has become a big question mark - an unknown, mythical, undying force of nature…

The world at hand is insanely atmospheric, borrows elements from many past games, and actually feels like a place of history and lore. Long story short, it feels great to be immersed in a child-friendly fantasy fairy tale once more. Thankfully, this is not just another Zelda like the rest. It has a heart of its own, and plays a lot differently, despite the similarities. The thing that separates it from the series is that most of the action actually takes place outside the dungeons.

The central goal is to save princess Zelda by defeating big evil porky Ganon. Before that, Link is advised to conquer four separate "dungeons" (basically, the insides of some mechanical beasts) before doing so… but reaching those is a whole game in its own, with tons of distractions in between. After all, why go straight for the dungeon, when you can explore around, awake towers that unveil parts of the map, find all sorts of goodies, slay monsters, do side-quests, and then some?

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

Sure, it's disappointing that there's no large and complex underground maze. Hyrule is filled with tiny shrines that act as some sort of mini-dungeons, each one posing its own special challenge, not to mention that finding some can be a puzzle in its own… but it would be great if there was a more "typical" Zelda-esque dungeon at hand. As previously mentioned, though, this is more about exploring the overworld, and there's plenty to do out there.

There are tons of pieces of equipment to find, quests to accomplish, secrets to unveil, and, generally, a great deal of variety hiding everywhere. A nice addition is the ability to cook all sorts of meals and concoctions, with each one providing a different kind of boost, whether that's better attack, a resistance to cold weather, and so on - not to mention that collecting ingredients and experimenting in order to find different recipes is simply a joy…

Generally, don't go in expecting just another typical Zelda. Breath of the Wild is meant to be experienced slowly. Forget about quests and dungeons, and just let yourself get engrossed in its colourful locales, taking your time to search in every crack and crevice. Yes, some will say that this is not a "true" Legend of Zelda, since it feels more like a fusion of Hyrule and The Elder Scrolls, and yet, for all its flaws and absence of some specific elements, the gameplay simply makes up for it.

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

The combat mechanics are especially well-done, with this Link being the most battle-ready one yet. Besides finally being able to try out some pretty decent stealth tactics, he's now an insanely agile warrior, and the perfect controls make it easy to go from sword-swinging to arrow-shooting, and from dodging to parrying in a matter of milliseconds, with enemies actually posing a real threat this time around. Battles are fun, exciting, fast, very experiment-friendly, and all all about skill.

…But it's now time to talk about the flaws. For starters, weapons now have - a very low - durability, and while it's actually something that forces a more strategic approach to things, it can surely get annoying once in a while. In terms of audio-visuals, first, forget about the epic OSTs of the past, as this exchanges music themes for the sounds of nature (and rightfully so), and, secondly, while a gorgeous game, the Wii U production values can get pretty obvious from time to time.

These are nit-picks compared to the main issue, however, which is how this is not as fantastic as it could be. Yes, that sounds stupid, like saying "This rough diamond hasn't been cut yet!" but, while Breath of the Wild nails the whole open-world thing, and is arguably one of the best and most immersive and fun time sinks ever made, there's not enough Zelda in it as there should be. It mostly feels like a glimpse at what a "true" Nintendo Switch Zelda game could be like, because if Nintendo ever combines what's here with some of the more typical elements of the franchise, then the result would probably be the best Zelda title ever made.

Oh, and by the way, cross-dressing Link. Take that, 1986!

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

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Is Breath of the Wild one of the best in The Legend of Zelda series? Yes. It's addictive, immersive, insanely atmospheric, varied and deep, and, most of all, fun… but it's a few tiny steps behind perfection. Maybe that perfection will come if Nintendo ever combines this flavour of open-world goodness with some of the franchise's more "traditional" concepts. Fingers crossed.

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

I think that's the thing with this game. They absolutely nail certain aspects of it, including the sense of adventure, the freedom, the scale, but really let up on others, like the dungeons. Can you remember any highlights from the dungeons/shrines? There is really nothing memorable at all, unlike the countless ones I can recall fondly from past Zelda games. Even the combat is lacking in general, as well as the bosses. And I have to say that I was mislead about how the story worked. I did wish for more interaction with Zelda in that regard, so I hope the DLC successfully sorts that out and lets her reach her potential to be a good character.

There is a great analysis video here that I recommend all fans watch:

https://youtu.be/T15-xfUr8z4

It's nearly two hours long, but I watched it in pieces. It goes into depth on the dungeons, combat and just what the game does well and fails at.

I think in the end, most people will forgo the nitpicks and things it doesn't do so well at because the overall sense of adventure was that good. It is very easy to overlook the faults. But in particular, I can't overlook the lacking dungeons in the end. I'm not sure when I'll return to the game because of this (well, I don't think I can start a new game anyway, because your old data gets wiped).

I was glued to this for 160 hours straight, without playing anything else, so I can't begrudge it too much, but there are definitely things that Nintendo slipped up on, surprisingly. It seems so much effort went into the open world aspect that they neglected other areas - the most surprising of all being the series staple dungeons.

I think it can only mean the potential for the next game will be an even better game that gets all of these things right. They have a solid formula in place now, and I could easily see the stone tablet and runes returning in some form. It'll be interesting to see where they go, but I just hope they don't fuck it up. Still, it'll be a long time before that comes around, so I wonder if the DLC will be a chance to experiment and hint at the type of game they're going for next.

Oh, yeah... forgot to mention the disappointment that is the bosses.

Giant robot
Ganon 1
Giant robot
Ganon 2
Giant robot
Ganon 3
Giant robot
Ganon 4 and finally Ganon and Ganon

Sheeesh.....

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

Yup. Bosses and dungeons have always been the best parts of Zelda, and BotW probably has some of the worst of the lot.

i dunno... this game feels like a 7 to me.

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