Hyrule has run into ruin, and Zelda has waited 100 years for Link to wake up to serve his destiny, which kind of puts the wait for this game into perspective. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is nearly here. Originally to be released in 2015, this fresh new Zelda title is just about ready to hit store shelves.
Will The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild be worth the long wait, or would your time have been more effective watching paint dry? Find out in our relatively spoiler free review, after the break!
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo Switch
Developed by Nintendo EPD
Published by Nintendo
Released: 3rd March 2017 (NA/Europe)
Review copy provided by Nintendo
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS REVIEW IS BASED ON THE NINTENDO SWITCH VERSION.
As soon as you launch The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you are instantly presented by a nearly nude Link laying in an ancient tub, only to be rudely awoken by a mysterious voice. You are told to collect the Sheikah Slate, an ancient technology which you will find mot helpful in your adventure. Once you’ve clothed up, you are ready to venture outside of the Shrine of Resurrection. You can of course choose not to put on clothes, but would you really want to venture into Hyrule topless? Well, I suppose if certain people want a bit of eye candy!
From here on out, you are pretty much set up to your own devices, you are free to do whatever you want, though though there is one quest, which is automatically activated, which we recommend to follow to be able to explore more easily. Doing so will unlock a range of Runes you can use for your Sheikah Slate, as well as a Paraglider, which will allow you to get off the Great Plateau unscathed. The sense of freedom in a Zelda game truly is refreshing. No longer do you have to follow a specific structure of going from a specific temple to another. Now you can create your own adventure, so to speak. I also love the fact how little guidance you receive after getting off the Great Plateau, it truly immerses you into the game.
Breath in the Wild has this motto where if you can see it, you can go there. Look through the scope of your Sheikah Slate, and you can place a waypoint at exactly where you are looking at. If you want to go high, and I mean really, really high, then you can go there. Just about every cliffside and wall is climbable. Just walk towards it and you will start climbing. Be careful though, you only have so much stamina, so ensure that you are able to find flat surfaces to rest, or that you have some food to regenerate your stamina. You can, of course, upgrade your stamina bar to make excessive activity more achievable.
Just because you can go anywhere in the game at anytime, doesn’t necessarily mean you should do so blindly, especially if you plan on thwarting Gannon early. You’ll get your butt whooped a lot if you choose to go this route. Which brings me onto the difficulty of the game. Breath of the Wild can definitely become difficult, pretty easily too if you aren’t suitably equipped. You have to truly be strategic when it comes down to combat, for several reasons too.
For one, weapons can now break, including your bow and shield, so it is important that you choose which ones you use wisely. Each weapon has a different damage rating (how much damage it deals), so be sure to take that into consideration. One thing which is sort of disappointing is the fact that you are unable to craft or upgrade weapons, or even repair them for that matter. There are certain NPCs which can grant specific weapons if you give them enough materials, but the variety of this is very limited.You also have to be careful as you can only carry a certain amount of weapons, shields, and bows. However, trading enough Korok Seeds to a charming fellow will reward you with extra slots.
Luckily, you can both purchase weapons and finding them laying about, you can even steal weapons from enemies. It can also become easy to get ambushed by several enemies at once, even low level enemies can induce quite a bit of damage. It isn’t recommended to rush into enemy camps, swords a blazing. Instead, see if there is anything you can do to whittle down the numbers, such as shooting a nearby explosive barrel, or even using a bomb to cause a distraction.
It is also worth mentioning that you will no longer find recovery hearts to replenish your health. Instead, you’ll have to prepare and eat food to do so. You can eat some food items raw, but those give very few hearts. Cooking them at pots is the best way to get the most out of your meal, you can also create elixirs. Some meals will even give you special effects, such as attack strength, defence boost, and fire resistance. You can only have one effect at a time, so choose wisely if you want to have you strength boosted, or if you’d rather not catch fire in Death Mountain… I’d recommend to not catch fire if I were you.
Another thing thing to watch out for, is the weather. The weather around Hyrule will change dynamically, and randomly. One moment you could be strolling around the Temple of Time ruins on a nice sunny day, all of a sudden a thunder storm can rush right in. While it’s raining, it can be difficult for enemies to hear your footsteps, but it will also make it impossible to climb most surfaces. During thunder storms, lightning will strike anywhere, and quite possibly cause fields to set ablaze or tear down trees. If you have any weapons, bows, or shields equipped which are made of metal, there is a high chance that you will turn into a lightning rod. Getting struck by lightning is usually a one hit kill!
There are also a range of temperates too, which can also change from night to day. Strolling up Death Mountain without fire resistance will quickly set you alight, along with any wooden items. The Gerudo Dessert may not be as hot during the day, but it can still cause some damage. Be careful though, setting out at night in the dessert may also cause you to freeze to death! Elixirs can be useful to avoid certain death in unsuitable climates, though your armour and clothing may also provide a lending hand. Not only does armour contribute to defence against attacks, but some may also give resistance to elemental forces too. Some even say that some armour sets can make you completely invulnerable to said effects. These are just some of the features which help add strategy to your adventure. In some aspects, Breath of the Wild almost feels like a survival game.
Earlier, I mentioned that you are able to unlock Runes. These are special abilities which are used through your Shiekah Slate. These abilities include Magnesis, that allows you to control metallic objects in the environment, Stasis, which gives you the ability to stop certain objects in time temporarily, you can even store up energy and make the object fly, Cryonis allows you to create ice pillars in bodies of water, and finally, you are also given round and square remote bombs… which are pretty self explanatory. You also have an Amiibo Rune, this allows you to scan your Amiibo to generate a chest and some items, or even call on Wolf Link as a companion. There is one other neat little Rune, but I’ll let you find out about that one yourself.
The are loads of these places around Hyrule called Shrines. These act as trials for you to complete in order to receive Spirit Orbs. These Spirit Orbs can be exchanged for Heart Containers and Stamina Vessels, which will increase your maximum health and stamina respectively. Most of these trials are small, yet extensive trials in themselves. One has you using magnesis to swing suspended platforms to get you across gaps, and then you have to use magnesis, followed by stasis to get onto a moving platform. Another has you using stasis to build up energy in boulders so that a path can be cleared. Some of these can actually be fairly difficult and fun to solve. They may be short, but there should be around 100 of them scattered across Hyrule. One small issue I have, is that there are certain elements in some Shrines which require motion controls. I’m usually not against motion controls, but when used in the shrines, they can feel a bit too sensitive, and really require a light touch.
Without spoiling too much, dungeons still make a return, though they are fairly different from previous Zelda games. There are probably around five dungeons, and each one act as a massive puzzle. There are even elements which you can control from the map, such as where a jets of water are sprayed. Also, the boss in each one, are incredibly difficult, and require perfect timing sometimes.The dungeons are great fun, but it would be nice to maybe have one or two more… even then, there is a lot to do in the overworld.
Speaking of other things to do, you will find various villages throughout Hyrule, who were lucky enough to not be destroyed 100 years ago. These are populated by various NPCs, some of which can be found travelling around the overworld. Some NPCs will activate a side quest for you to complete. These can range from collecting certain ingredients to defeating a bunch of enemies. There are also some quests called Shrine Quests, these act like like trials in themselves to uncover a secret Shrine. Usually, you will be presented with a riddle, which is your only hint to find the shrine. There’s even one quest that will strip you of all of your armour, weapons, and shields on an island full of dangerous enemies and environments.
Other side-quests include finding Koroks to get Korok seeds to upgrade your inventory, finding Great Fairy fountains to upgrade your armour, helping rebuild a destroyed village, and more. There is so much you can do around the world of Hyrule other than following the main story. However, it would be nice if there were some really secret caves, or a bit more going on in the overworld. It doesn’t happen often, more of a rare occasion, but every once in a while there may be gaps in the excitement. Then again, it’s the perfect opportunity to really take in the beautiful environment.
The overworld is huge… and I mean HUGE! It can take a very long time to get from one end of the map to the other. It’s bloody beautiful. If you want to get to where you need to go with more haste however, every Tower and Shrine you unlock will unlock a warp point. If you want to travel in style however, you are able to tame wild horses to become your trusty steed. Sneak up on a horse in the wild, and rapidly hammer the tame button, and you’ll be ready to ride like the wind in no time. If you want to keep the horse, you can bring him or her to a stable to register for 20 Rupees, where you can name the horse and receive a saddle. It’s really fun travelling Hyrule on horseback.
One this that is very odd about Breath of the Wild, is that it doesn’t have a typical soundtrack like previous Zelda games. Those who are hoping there is a proper Hyrule Field overture may be disappointed, but the absence of a strong overworld theme kinda fits the atmosphere. It truly immerses you into the world. There are little bits of music that play in the overworld, but not much. There are, however, proper themes for different villages, temples, and shrines, and they are all beautiful.
One thing I have yet to talk about is the story, but that is something I am going to remain silent on this for now. I will say that those who have played previous games in the series will be pleasantly surprised as there are various references throughout the game. One other thing I will say is that a lot of the story is completely optional to witness, and it revolves a lot around Link’s memories.
The visuals of Breath of the Wild are amazing, Nintendo have definitely outdone themselves here. The art style is almost like a combination of Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, and Skyward Sword. It is also very obvious that the game has taken influence from Japanese animation. One thing I love are all the small details, this really helps to make the game that much better. Whether it’s blades of grass being blown by you running, or when Link’s cheeks go rosey red when almost nude in the cold.
The performance of Breath of the Wild is generally good too. However, I have noticed a few frequent dips in frame rate. It isn’t necessarily anything that could hugely affect gameplay, in fact, I’ve only experienced it outside of battles. One thing I have noticed however, is that there are far fewer dips when playing in handheld mode compared to the console being docked. This is likely due to having to commit extra processing power.
The Zelda charm is definitely there too. It’s always enjoyable to speak to all the characters of Hyrule, especially love those seal puns in the Gerudo Dessert. Even the enemies are hilarious to watch sometimes, especially when they sit around a campfire enjoying some roast Cuccoo, or when they are sleeping and snoring! Another cool thing is how the world reacts to the current weather. Once, I was horseback riding in the middle of a thunderstorm, then all of a sudden, I found a traveller who ran quickly for some shelter, he even talked about the storm when I spoke to him. People in villages will also try to go inside when it starts to rain.
Breath of the Wild is the first Zelda game to receive voice acting, and it is actually quite good for most of the characters. There were one or two characters who I felt could’ve done a better job, but for the most part it was great. Unfortunately this is only limited to cutscene, regular conversations with NPCs will only be accompanied by the odd non-verbal sound or two. I would actually love to see an entire Zelda game to receive voice acting!
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is likely one of Nintendo’s most ambitious games ever. There are likely a few things which I have missed, which just shows how vast the game is. Breath of the Wild introduces great new mechanics into the zelda franchise, and completely subverts the general progress of most Zelda games. The sense of freedom and immersion is amazing, and it is fantastic that you really have to strategise combat and venturing. The voice acting is also generally good, the visuals are amazing, and all those small details really make the game better. Other than the limited crafting options and the occasional framerate dip, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild truly is a game worth waiting for, therefore we fully recommend it.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be releasing for the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Wii U on Friday 3rd March!