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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review

The Legend of Zelda series is one of the most well known, and loved, gaming series of all time. The series has been around for over 30 years and every entry in the series is made with a high level of polish and quality. They almost all follow a familiar formula though, and while it has worked well this whole time, the team at Nintendo decided it was time for a major overhaul. This thought process gave us The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Like in all Zelda games, you play as Link, a knight who has slept for 100 years in a restoration chamber. The game starts with him finally awakening, unaware what has happened to the land of Hyrule over the past century.

Not long into the journey, you’re told about Calamity Ganon, an evil being who has been sealed inside Hyrule castle, by none other than Princess Zelda herself. Calamity Ganon is gaining in strength though, and Link needs to act in order to stop him from escaping and causing chaos and destruction on the world.

This game really does a great job of setting up the story, and makes you feel what’s at stake for the journey ahead. Once you’ve completed your initial tasks, the game takes off your leash and you’re free to go about your quest how you see fit.

Breath of the Wild review
The views in Breath of the Wild are spectacular, and you can practically go anywhere you can see.

First thing I need to mention is the land of Hyrule itself- it’s possibly the best designed open world in gaming history. It’s without a doubt set a new gold standard for open world design. It just feels alive and you’ll definitely feel something special and magical about it.

Whether it’s the realistic weather effects, the people going about their business, or the beautiful art style, this game does an amazing job of transporting you to this new vision of Hyrule.

The game’s music also helps elevate the immersion and it makes the world seem peaceful despite the dangers that await you. The gentle sound effects also help give this game personality.

Also what makes it feel so great is that it’s like every little part of this world has been carefully crafted. There’s secrets everywhere, and unlike a lot of open world games, Hyrule is actually fun to explore!

There’s no markers on a map that shows you where things are. The game wants you to explore it and it’s such a refreshing feeling! Every other open world game shows you what there is to do on the map and to me it generally feels like to ‘To Do’ list, which usually feels like a chore.

This game gives you a fresh canvas, only showing on the map what you’ve discovered to feel like a list of achievements.You’ll find treasure chests, shrines, little puzzles that lead to Korok seeds, and so much more.

Breath of the Wild review
Gliding through the air is one way Link can travel around.

There’s a variety of ways to get around the land of Hyrule. Apart from walking, you can catch and tame your own horse. Then you can register them at stables and mount them from any other stable in the world. Link has this Spiderman-like ability to climb up most surfaces, but you must watch your stamina gauge.

Early on you’ll be given a paraglider so you can glide through the air from big heights. It’s a very fun and exciting way to travel. With all these ways of travelling, it adds to all the freedom this game tries to give you, and it’s all executed so well.

Another part of the level design I love is the fact that Hyrule Castle sits right in the middle of the world, so almost wherever you are, you’ll see a constant reminder of your ultimate goal. Once you’ve completed your main goals for your quest, and you’re ready to enter Hyrule Castle for the final battle against Calamity Ganon, it’s a surreal feeling you won’t find in any other game.

All of your hard work and everything you’ve prepared for comes down to that moment, and it’s one I’ll never forget.

Breath of the Wild review
Hyrule Castle is your ultimate goal.

The next best thing about this game are the shrines. They were definitely the highlight for me! Previous Zelda games had about 6-8 big dungeons, whereas this game has decided to do things differently, spreading out over 100 shrines throughout the world and each containing essentially a bite-sized dungeon. Each shrine will generally focus on a particular mechanic and base the puzzle on that.

Occasionally there are shrines dedicated to combat, so you’ll need to come back at a later time if your equip isn’t up to par. At the end of each shrine you’ll receive an orb, and once you’ve collected 4 of these, they can be traded to extend your maximum hearts or your maximum stamina.

There are 4 main dungeons too but they are still smaller than your regular dungeons. These 4 particular dungeons are your main focus for your quest. At the end of each one you’ll face a boss, but I will admit these bosses were a slight letdown.

They weren’t really memorable and felt more like a hack and slack affair. Previous Zelda games had you solve each boss, as though they were like a puzzle, but in Breath of the Wild, it wasn’t really the case.

Breath of the Wild review
Over 100 shrines to discover and complete.

The main thing Breath of the Wild focuses on is freedom. You’re allowed to do things in whatever order you want, whether it be the main quest, exploring, etc. This is what really separates this game from the previous games in the series. Of course there are limits.

Some areas might be too cold, or too hot, and not equipping the appropriate gear can slowly damage you. Also some enemies may be too strong for you too handle. But the thing is this game doesn’t stop you from going to those places and trying your luck.

Combat has stayed fairly similar to previous games and feels as good as ever. Though more has been added to this game such as stealth attacks, flurry rush and parry. The game even gives you multiple options when approaching combat with things like explosive barrels placed nearby, rocks sitting on cliff edges right above your enemies, or even enemies all having a nice nap allowing you to stealth kill them one by one. But this is certainly the most difficult Zelda yet, with some enemies being able to kill you in one hit.

Luckily an RPG element has finally been introduced to the game by being able to purchase (and upgrade) your gear to increase defense. Upgrading gear requires you to collect materials scattered around the world. and it’s always a great feeling getting that extra defense because you’ll need it. There’s also different weapons to collect with varying strengths and uses.

One of the more divisive aspects of this game are that all weapons are breakable, and once they’re gone, they’re gone for good! I hated this at first but eventually got used to it and it made me get excited about finding new weapons. It also ties in well with being able to expand your weapon inventories.

Breath of the Wild review
Link has a good variety of skills for combat.

This game has already won most of the Game of the Year awards from a lot of websites and award ceremonies, and while I fully understand why (and it is deserving), I just don’t think I can give it that same honour, and here’s why:
I feel that the main questline simply needed more ‘meat’. There’s really not a whole lot to it, and it’s the travelling that stretches it out. I just think if a game aims to be an epic journey, the main quest and objectives need to follow suit.

The world of Hyrule is absolutely huge- why not make the most of it!? I just wish the game was a little more narrative-driven, and I know that goes against what this game is trying to achieve, but it would’ve helped me feel more engaged in the game and the journey Link was going on.

Also most of the side quests were just fetch quests, which I don’t understand why Nintendo would take this route with them. I would’ve preferred less side-quests, but them being more fleshed out and memorable. There were a few side quests like this (like the Tarrey Town quest), but collecting 10 Luminous Stones or Crickets for people just feels pointless and uninspired.

Breath of the Wild review
Some townsfolk may have some quests for you.

If it wasn’t for those main criticisms, I would also be calling this game one of the best ever made. But don’t get me wrong, I still consider this game a masterpiece and an achievement in game design. I will definitely be playing it and exploring Hyrule for many more months to come.

The attention to detail, love, and care that went into making this game brings a huge smile to my face. You can really tell that Nintendo want the best experience possible for us gamers.

Score: 9.7/10

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