This game is something special.
I have never fallen in love with an open world game as much I have with the kingdom of Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Sure, there have been open world games I’ve enjoyed in the past, but all of them pale in comparison to the enjoyment I found myself having while playing the latest Zelda title.
The world of Breath of the Wild is what captivated me throughout the entire game. You’re pulled into a land in decay and given a simple goal; defeat Calamity Ganon. That’s pretty much all you know when you start. You’re given a goal, and it is up to you to use the resources given to you to meet it. Achieving this however, involves a journey across a huge and unfamiliar land to get the help you need to defeat the evil of the land.
When I say “huge,” I mean it. When many games promise a world with many things to do, we’re often given a game that is large in scale, but not in depth. Breath of the Wild takes the idea of an open world, and populates it with puzzles, interesting places, and curious things you want explore. It’s hard to find yourself in a situation where what is in front of you doesn’t encourage you to take a few steps forward to see what you can find. The more you find, the more you feel rewarded, and that gameplay loop is what drives the core of Breath of the Wild.
Breath of the Wild feels like a Zelda game in many ways, but it also deviates from what the series has become since the first entry in the series. Removing the linear path accustom to the franchise for decades, Breath the Wild lets you unfold the story in any order you want. Too often would I ask my friends where they were on the map and discovered they took an entirely different path than I did. This openness is not only something that surprised me with how well it worked, but it also allowed me to feel a sense of control over my own journey, something long lost in the franchise.
While the large world is good on its own, it would be nothing without things to do in it. Luckily, Breath of the Wild is populated with a multitude of interesting things to do. Want to tackle some shrine challenges to upgrade your gear and stats? Want to explore an open plain, only to find a subtle puzzle that will make you feel like a genius for finding it? Maybe you want to stay on the main quest, searching for the machines that will ultimately defeat Calamity Ganon. Cooking, hunting, mountain climbing, these things are open for you to do in Breath of the Wild. Not only does everything feel rewarding, but you still feel like you are progressing to the end goal, even when sidetracked.
Throughout your journey, you will encounter enemies of varying difficulty. Breath of the Wild is not an RPG, so you do not level up Link to have stronger attacks. To be able to overcome the challenges ahead, you must gather countless amounts of outfits, weapons, gear, and abilities to push forward the game. While gathering items to progress the game is not new to the Zelda series, Breath of the Wild takes this convention into a new direction. Gone are the instances where getting a new weapon acts as a key to the rest of the game, but replacing it is being able to use any enemies’ weapon to use as your own. The sense of weapon permanence is replaced with weapon variety. Clubs, spears, and swords can be collected and used in several different situations. Growing attached to a single weapon is not an option, but in exchange, this system encourages you to approach combat situations differently every time you encounter an enemy.
While I love this game, I do want to point out the flaws it presents. There are moments during the game where frame-rate dips do occur. While these are noticeable, and make the moving image seem choppy at times, they happened so infrequently that I tend to forget about them in just a few moments. They did not ruin the experience of the game for me personally, but I can see if people find it a bit annoying. Another complaint I found myself having was the mapping of the buttons, specifically the sprint and jump buttons. Jump by default is assigned to the X button, a far reach from the default jump button B. While the game gives you the option to swap both buttons, running into a jump never feels as fluid as it could be. While this is a minor complaint, it did bug me a bit until I found myself familiarized with the controls. I have used both the Joy-Con and Pro-Controller, (I’m playing on Nintendo Switch by the way) and I found myself having this issue on both, even with the Pro-Controller’s bigger face buttons.
What I was surprised to find was how well the world is crafted technically. Games like Fallout and Assassin’s Creed often are riddled with technical glitches that can ruin the atmosphere, or even ruin the gameplay. Breath of the Wild has little to no issues like this. Throughout my entire playthrough, I not once experienced physics issues, clipping through objects, and similar issues commonly found in other open world games. It feels so polished, showing that the long development time and multiple delays have payed-off.
Overall, Breath of The Wild is one of the best games I have ever played. Mechanically it is one of the most addicting games to explore in, and the story that unfolds is emotional and worth investing in. The fact that you can craft the story in the way you want, and that your story will, (not can, will) be different than another player’s makes this game something special. If you think you can do something within the world’s rules, you probably can. It is a masterpiece. This is the most fun I have had in a game in a long time.