Written by Steve Nicholls.
Boy does it feel good to be back in Hyrule again!
The Legend of Zelda is one of the most beloved game franchises in history and since first appearing in 1987 has spawned over 20 games. Some are the most highly-rated games ever created, some are best forgotten (I’m looking at you CD-i) and I must admit that Ocarina of Time is my all-time number one game. That was my first Zelda and since then I have managed to play most of the others but nothing ever quite met the same standards… until now!
When you start Breath of the Wild you get the customary introduction and background to the story and go through a few quick puzzles to get you used to the controls and before you know it you are thrown into the wide world of Hyrule where what you want to do is entirely up to you. This is the first main difference between BoTW and the other Zelda entries; this is a truly open world game whereas the others are fairly linear. If you want to head straight to the final fight then you can (but who would want to do that apart from speed-runners, especially after paying £50 for the game!? Or you can spot a location in the distance that takes your fancy and set off, meeting plenty of colourful characters along the way.
The beauty of this world cannot be praised enough, from lush woodlands to barren desert and snow-topped mountains there’s so much diversity that it truly feels like a world rather than a tiny area of land in a faraway country like so many other open world games. The characters I met have their own personalities and truly bring the game to life unlike a lot of other games I’ve played in the last few years, which seem populated by monotone characters giving out the same quests out over and over again with no emotion or reasoning. Zelda’s characters react to the clothes you’re wearing or items you’re carrying, which can be amusing if you decide not to wear anything at all!
Being an open world game there are the now apparently obligatory Ubisoft-esque ‘towers’ for you to climb and open sections of the map which some may find annoying. Not me though, I’ve always enjoyed the climbing aspects of Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry. I do understand why people get tired of them though and am looking forward to developers finding other ways of opening the map. I actually found climbing the towers here a pleasure as the views from the top are magnificent and well worth the effort.
A few aspects of the game managed to annoy enough to detract from an otherwise enjoyable adventure. The worst offenders being the gyro puzzles and Blood Moon. Gyro puzzles make use of the gyroscope in the gamepad to move and twist platforms which is Nintendo being Nintendo, adding in extra ways to play which are completely unnecessary. Much like the use of the Wiimote in Skyward Sword, which annoyed me so much I was only able to play for an hour before never picking it up again. Please just let us play a game without needing to waggle and spin our controllers around!
The Blood Moon is an event that occurs every so often and respawns all the enemies you’ve killed. I understand that this can be a good way to repopulate the world, but the timing of it can be at the absolute worst moments. Like spending half an hour clearing an area of e
nemies only for them all to pop back to life which has happened to me on more than one occasion. I hope that this is something that can be fixed in an update as if it was to happen in the middle of a major battle (which luckily it hasn’t yet) then there’s a chance the gamepad could go through the TV!
There are also a few other gripes that could get on peoples’ nerves such as items breaking after only a few uses, rain making it impossible to climb, and the stealth missions further in the game. I didn’t mind these elements though as I like a challenge and enjoy the fact that you don’t just use one weapon for the entire game. After all, variety is the spice of life!
It’s the extra little things in Zelda: Breath of the Wild that really propel it to greatness though, such as the ability to tame and ride wild horses; the way you might be struck by lightning if you have metal items on you; or the fact that if you use fire in a forest then the whole area can quickly go up in flames.
You can tell so much care and attention, or most importantly, love has been put into making this game and it truly deserves all the high praise it’s getting.
The Short Version: After waiting almost six years for a new console Zelda game, Nintendo has not disappointed. There’s a reason it’s widely being reviewed as one of the best games ever made. It’s beautiful, fun, challenging, experimental, funny, heart-warming and so many other adjectives that are all overwhelmingly positive. Breath of the Wild has taken my breath away but hasn’t quite knocked Ocarina of Time off my number one spot. With so much of Hyrule still left to explore though it wouldn’t surprise me if it ends up at number one soon!
- A good challenge
- The beautiful open world of Hyrule
- Stunning graphics and great characters
- Gyro puzzles
- The Blood Moon
- Breakables and stealth missions can be off-putting
Platforms: Wii U (reviewed) | Nintendo Switch
Written by Steve Nicholls