Like others before me I will continue to heap praise on Breath of the Wild
It is very rare I get to play computer games these days and even rarer that I blog about them. That alone should tell you how amazing I think The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is. I know I am a little late with a post about it but I could not help but add to a growing list of items that heap praise on the game.
I remember when I was in my late teens and ended up playing Morrowind for 14 hours straight one day (I felt pretty rough after that!). Never before or since have I dedicated so much time to one computer game. However, that is what I feel I could do with Breath of the Wild were it not for work and having children. I have already fired up my Switch for a quick session and lost track of time, saying I will play for an hour and ending up on there for nearly three. It is that brilliant blend of open world sandbox style game play along with a gripping (if not pretty much the same as every other Zelda game) storyline to follow. I cannot get on with massive multiplayer online games and I find sandbox alone does not offer enough incentives to make me play, I like a bit of old school but with an added twist of new age stuff. Oh yeah, before I go any further I must say I am a bit of a Nintendo fanboy but I am not ashamed to be biased towards the Japanese giant. If you want a nice balanced review you have come to the wrong place.
So I suppose the real questions are why do I love the game so much and why is it better than previous Zelda games? I think it is because they have ripped apart the Zelda rule book, keeping some of the best features but changing many. No longer is the game linear, you can do any dungeon in any order. If you can call them dungeons, more like a few puzzles. Although I do not think there is a bad Zelda game in the main series, they all were starting to resemble not quite so good rehashes of Ocarina of Time, usually adding in one or two unique elements. But this new incarnation is so much different.
I really like the shrines, they condense the ideas of dungeons into one or two puzzles and in turn do not need to conform to the dungeon you are in. I feel this makes them more creative, it is not a case of, “oh I have just unlocked the hookshot so all the puzzles in this section of the game will require that.” You actually get given all the powers you need at the start of the game so have to really think about which you use where, making some puzzles really clever and meaning there are more than one way to solve them. The idea of combining shrines as travel portals and the way you get extra hearts and stamina from the spirit orbs they give you also make them fit into Hyrule much better.
Link is going to be poor now he can’t get rupees from grass, might find a few in pots though!
There is a great Zelda t-shirt that has Link as a hobo holding a sign that says ‘will cut grass for rupees.’ You can now no longer do this, you have to be a lot cleverer with your money. This goes for hearts as well, now you need to be a skilled chef and combine ingredients well and take what you create on your journey, stocking up before you set off. It all requires a bit of forward planning, almost as if Zelda has grown up. I cannot tell you how many times I have died in battle due to being ill prepared or just rushing in.
The world too is huge, so many areas to explore but it has been designed in such a way that you will not wander for hours before finding something. I mean you will wander for hours just to see what is over the next hill, and the one after that, and the one after that but there is always something there. Along with this you can use the travel portals so you can get to an area you know quickly if you are lost.
I really like the different armour that you can change for different situations and the fact you can upgrade these as well as accessing increased skills such as climbing, stealth and swimming up waterfalls. It would be nice if you could do the same with the weapons. Some break far too easily and if you have not stocked up on good weapons you can come unstuck in a battle when your best blade bites the dust. Maybe a Morrowing/Oblivion/Skyrim form of fixing weapons via an item, or a blacksmith you can access to mend them for rupees would help.
I am, rather sadly, really excited by the camera app on your Sheikah Slate (yes I know it is a medieval iPad!), the idea of collecting images of each item to make an encyclopedia of all you will encounter on your travels excites the collector in me. I know you are supposed to use them with the detector to help you locate items but I just want a full set of pictures, much like a small child with a sticker book.
This post may be a loved up splurge but all in all The Legend of Zelda:Breath of the Wild is a world-class game and one I hope will win game of the year. There is enough to draw in old Zelda fans with links to previous games, such as characters and locations, as well as gameplay for new fans; there is even enough new features to make hardcore Zelda fans feel it is fresh and new. The only real improvement I would like to see is a level system where the more you use a weapon the better you get at using similar ones, like a stat for spears, swords, bows etc. As well as this there could be an overall set of stats that could be levelled up. Maybe that is a bit too much Elder Scrolls or maybe it is because I am the archetypal level grinder, trying to upgrade my characters and find as many secrets as I can before I embark on the main quest.
My other hope for future Zelda titles is we get to explore a new world, so many are set in Hyrule now that it is all getting a bit boring. Even though Hyrule is central to the plot I would like to explore new locations and meet new creatures. Link’s Awakening and Majora’s Mask were set in different locations and were both strong games in their own right.
I hope this homage to Breath of the Wild makes sense, it is more spilling thoughts onto a page than a balanced reviewed but I wanted to post about it because, more than anything else, it is affecting my writing schedule. Right I could go edit one of my manuscripts but instead I am off to see if I can find a bear to ride on, because that it just plain awesome!