Almost one year after release (and thirty years after the original), Zelda: Breath of the Wild continues break the mold by being a large open world game full of new adventures that both old and new gamers to the series would enjoy. The graphics are stunning and the soundtrack is beautiful.
The combat in the game is extremely fun and satisfying. It is more fluid compared to its predecessors and action can be found while traversing the land, allowing the world to feel alive. The action also motivates players to think of new strategies when fighting and unique ways to take down bosses, (not the stereotypical keep hitting them in the weak spot with your melee weapon). The weapons have different fighting styles and feeling of weight to them, which immerses the player further into the journey and more so in the moment.
The puzzles that the game provides are clever, and at points frustrating, but that does not deter the player from enjoying them. The various powers and items that Link learns and gathers can aid him during puzzles, (such as the ability to “freeze” objects in place). Like other games in the Zelda franchise, BoTW has many of the typical puzzles and some cool new ones too. One that really grabbed my attention was the way it implemented the Switch’s gyroscope in some of the shrine puzzles. Controlling and guiding a boulder was both one of the most fun and most stressful memories in the game. The use of the console’s features allows the game to stand out of the crowd and provides for the player, a stronger connection to the game.
The details and subtleties are what makes the game amazing. When using the glider and holding a torch in hand, the glider rises as you would expect it to in real life. Depending on the climate, holding an ice weapon in the desert provides some heat resistance for Link. Even standing on tables opens up new dialogue from NPCs. The sheer amount of options open to the player is only limited by their imagination and willingness to experiment. Many speed-runners (players who aim to complete any game as quickly as possible) use abilities in innovative ways to bypass large portions of the games’ dungeons. The ability to interact with almost everything in a multitude of fashion is what gives BoTW its charm.
Cooking is a very well-thought-out aspect of the game with various ingredients to collect and recipes to prepare. From Honey Fruits to Monster Cake to good old Hearty Steamed Meat, BoTW has many recipes that provide boosts to the player’s stats (damage output, speed, stamina, etc.) and replenish health. They interact with each other differently and can potentially create Dubious Food if the player is not careful with what they use. Even items that are not edible in reality, (like Flint, Topaz, and Amber), can be cooked into rocky meal. The game encourages players to cook and has recipes hanging on the walls at outposts for players to follow.
Weapon durability was debated at first by many of the players, some said it was a buzzkill and that it did not reward players for being able to get strong weapons while others retorted that it balanced out the game in the long run. Although, I fell in the former camp at first, I quickly learned that it made for a more survival-esque adventure and provided a way for players to not just steamroll the game by getting stronger and stronger weapons with no repercussions. Many RPG games have a similar system to make sure players don’t get bored of the game. Skyrim scales the enemies to the character’s level and Borderlands puts level requirements to access better weapons. While some people still disagree and say durability is a bad feature in any action-packed game, BoTW handled the idea well.
While the game has many great qualities, it is not flawless. It lacks some variety when it comes to enemies, terrains, and shrines. Variety is the lifeblood of open-world RPGs. New encounters and discoveries are what make the player want to keep playing, but BoTW (while having a bit of variety) does not have enough for the gigantic size of the map. While there should not be a new thing every ten feet, there should also not be the same thing for the next hundred or thousand.
Overall, the game was superb and the love and care that was put into it shines through brilliantly throughout the whole journey. Although 2017 had many other great contenders for Game of the Year, Zelda: Breath of the Wild was leagues ahead of the competition and deserves the title. With that being said, it makes sense that it is currently the most sold game on the Nintendo Switch, with four million being purchased by old and new fans of the Zelda series. Hopefully, they had a blast with the game like I did.