The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review — So Big

In both good and bad ways.

  • Dear lord, 2017 is just chock-full of video games that are ripe for review on this blog, isn’t it? Even if I ignored the non-Japanese stuff like Mass Effect Andromeda and Horizon Zero Dawn (and I don’t intend to), I can hardly go a week without seeing a new Japanese game begging me to play it.
  • And they’re all so freaking long too. I’ve had to resort to online walkthroughs just to get through a good chunk of them in record time. Many people may consider this cheating, but I call it efficiency. Besides, it’s not like knowing what to do in the new Zelda is going to stop you from dying a lot and most people wouldn’t discover that fucking flying raft on their own, so what the hoo-hah?
  • But I digress. I’m sure most of you already know what Breath of the Wild is by this point considering the many critical acclaims it’s gotten along with people hyping it up as the Switch’s system seller. It also curiously came out around the same time as Horizon Zero Dawn and Nier Automata, other big games about fighting ancient machinery in a post-apocalyptic world, although I’ve yet to play either game despite owning them, so don’t expect any comparisons from me.

You knew this blade would return. It always does.

  • The game’s plot is pretty much the same old Zelda stuff as before. Link is a nameless mute, thrust into a big open world where he has to save Princess Zelda from an evil being named Ganon – now named Calamity Ganon because “reasons”. The twist this time is that Link actually tried to beat the dude a hundred years ago, but he lost and Hyrule has turned into a very dangerous place as a result. Not quite Fallout-levels of ruin because Zelda has been keeping Ganon at bay during all that time, but if Link doesn’t hurry, all the green in the world will soon be replaced by Bloodborne graveyards.
  • Oh, and there’s no Triforce this time. Or green tunic for that matter, because apparently the developers don’t think it’s cool anymore. I personally disagree, although Link’s new blue uniform does look sweet.
  • Breath of the Wild is basically Nintendo trying to jump in on the open-world trend that every other popular franchise from Metal Gear Solid to Final Fantasy has been trying to get a slice of, and it differentiates itself from most of them by trying to be as naturalistic as possible while appealing to its fanbase in broad ways. After a short tutorial session where the game pretty much hands you all the tools required to make it through the game, you’re pretty much free to beat Ganon right then and there, or you can explore the vast open world, training yourself up to make the final battle easier, and meeting all the colorful characters Hyrule has to offer.

Aw, it’s okay Zelda. Come cry in my blue chest.

  • I say colorful characters, but really, the only person I’d say has life to her is Princess Zelda herself. Ganon and Link are as generic evil & good as you can possibly get, and the other potentially interesting characters get way too little screen time or story importance to receive proper development. This is probably due to how the creators wanted to make what little story there is in the game optional, but recovering all your memories of the title character is optional as well, and she turned out fine.
  • But with few exceptions, no one really plays Zelda for the story anyways. That said, whether or not you’ll enjoy Breath of the Wild depends on how much you enjoy the many restrictions it places on your open-world adventures in its quest to make Hyrule both a world of wonder as well as your biggest enemy. Because while the game pretty much gives you all the tools you’ll need to conquer the world at the very start, there are so many caveats attached to it that are mostly fair, but the unfair ones really stick out.
  • For example, Link is apparently the equivalent of Spiderman in that he can pretty much climb any surface as long as he has the stamina to do so. However, if it so much as drizzles in the area, he slides down like he’s climbing ice. Actually, he does climb ice in this game, and he never so much as slips whilst doing so.
  • The fact that the weather can hamper your adventures is cool in theory, but sometimes Breath of the Wild takes it too far. Having to not play the game for a few minutes so you can take a convenient route is kind of a drag, and then there’s the infamous Blood Moon aspect where Ganon decides to make the sky red at his own nighttime convenience in order to revive enemies you’ve killed and make you unable to obtain their collectibles when they revive just as you kill them. This includes boss fights by the way, including Ganon’s himself, so you better make sure it’s day time before you decide to take them on.

Despite how cool it looks, fighting on horseback is really inefficient

  • And a lot has already been said about the weapon degradation system, which seemed like a good idea at first, but quickly wears out its welcome when you realize that enemies don’t seem to suffer from it and even the most professional-looking tools break more easily than my own cheap apartment windows. Doesn’t exactly help that the interface to change weapons is kind of shit too.
  • Also, the stamina bar you start with is way too short to the point of annoyance. It takes like four or so upgrades before it gets to a level that I was personally satisfied with it, and those are upgrades I could have been using to increase my health meter since even the best defense can’t stop you from losing six hearts to a heavy weapon, and the Master Sword (which you definitely want to get, even though it comes with its own inconveniences) requires you get a large number of max health before obtaining it.
  • My personal opinion is that while the restrictions are fun at first, they get really annoying the longer you have to deal with them. And you will deal with them a lot because traversing Hyrule takes hours no matter what mode of transportation you use, and unless you’re a speed runner, you won’t be beating the game anytime soon.

Beat one of these first before you even think of completing the game

  • And trust me, most of you guys wouldn’t want to try and take Ganon on at the very start whether for speed running purposes or not. Getting into Hyrule Castle alone is difficult due to the numerous nearly-invincible guardians making the place its home, and if you can’t beat them, there’s no way you can beat their master. Plus, whatever dungeon boss you didn’t kill beforehand decides that they want to have first dibs before their master, and your only reward for dealing with that boss rush is an incomplete ending that makes you feel like a bastard.
  • Having said that, Ganon is a little too easy when you go through the expected route of getting the Master Sword and reviving the four guardians for your final bottle. He starts the first fight with half health when you do so, and his second fight is pretty much a really long tutorial battle. And no matter what form he’s in, his attacks are pathetic. All of them are highly telegraphed, and almost none of them could even touch me as long as I stood close to him. It didn’t stop me from feeling a thrilling exhilaration when I finally beat the bastard, but it did make all the preparation I did before taking one of the ten different routes to his headquarters look rather silly after all was said and done.
  • I highly advise people to practice the shield reflect technique early on, because most of the high power enemies use charged lasers that can knock off all your health in one hit within a one continent radius, so you can bet that they’ll suffer major damage when given a taste of their own medicine. Other dodging moves are pretty much required in order to defeat the tough bosses, and you also get the benefit of making them look like pussies when you use ’em.

You know how they say looks aren’t everything? That really applies to this monstrous motherfucker and how easily I pwned him.

  • While I admire Breath of the Wild for its blockbuster-like ambition and evolution to the Zelda formula, like the Nintendo Switch itself, the many niggling annoyances that came with said evolution wore me down more often than I would have liked. And believe me, there’s a lot to like in regards to discovering the many secrets in its big open world. I enjoy how food is your only source of recovering health or giving yourself heat protection out in the wild, and thus you have to hunt ingredients to throw into a big pot that’ll make your food for you. I enjoy the many different types of armor and the different benefits they give from surviving near active volcanoes to swimming up waterfalls. I like how the only source of rupees is to discover them in chests or mine diamonds to sell.
  • However, in addition to the frustrations I mentioned above, weapon crafting is completely unnecessary, horses are more inconvenient than they should be given how most of your Hyrule exploration is spent climbing shit or jumping off cliffs, and the stealth mechanic is as annoying as it is every time a Zelda game uses it. Also, whoever made that shrine that only appears when you’ve played 1500 in-game hours can go fuck themselves. That’s not as long as you may think, but it’s still pretty damn long all things considered.
  • If they ever make another Zelda game in the future, I do hope for something with continuity to Breath of the Wild so that we can apply these same gameplay mechanics to an all-new adventure that forces Nintendo to be original without being shackled to the same old Ganondorf shit. Y’know, basically what Majora’s Mask was to Ocarina of Time. Now that would be a Zelda game I’d replay over and over again.

There are a lot of fangirls for this manly Zora

  • As it is, Breath of the Wild is a fun blockbuster game held back by some of the inevitable issues that occur when trying something new along with having to reintroduce the same old formula to newcomers. I definitely enjoyed my time with it, but I’m ready to move onto other games after this review is finished.

Minor Quips

  • Actually the green tunic is in this game, but I’ll leave getting it to the obsessives and the Koreans.
  • Gonna need to take a long break before I do Horizon Zero Dawn.
  • Also, the less said about those motion control puzzles, the better.

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