The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch) Review

Title Screen

Title: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Nintendo EPD Kyoto
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: March 3rd, 2017 (NA)

Here’s something a little different, and by that I mean I now intend to publish more reviews of games NOT based on review copies but just games I’ve bought on my own and feel like reviewing!

Anyway, here we have the newest Zelda game, a game that we first heard of what, in the January 2013 Nintendo Direct? Well it wasn’t until E3 2014’s Digital Event that we got our first look at the game finally in the form of that teaser with Link on a horse (Epona?) and fighting the Guardian (who’s probably not named Bob). So after a LONG wait, Nintendo let slip that the game would be delayed until 2017, BUT, the good catch is that it would now be released at the same time on the mysterious console with a brand-new concept; the NX!

Well the time has come (the Walrus said) and the game finally arrived on the now named Nintendo Switch as a launch title (oh and the Wii U version came out alongside it, but no one REALLY cares, right? Right? Ah just kidding lol!) Anyways, so after YEARS of waiting, how does the game turn out? Does it, indeed, take your breath away? I think I’ll just go sit in that corner…

View

A nice view of the world from up high at the beginning.

So you start the game in the Shrine of Resurrection. Apparently Link has been asleep for a good while, but he’s lost his memories (what else is new?). He’s awoken by a strange voice, and upon doing so, he stumbles upon the Sheikah Slate, a mysterious device that’s capable of interacting with the world, in ways which we’ll get to shortly!

You then proceed to leave the shrine, and as soon as you reach the outside world, the music gets dramatic and shows you just have ENORMOUS the world really is, and it’s far bigger than it appears even then! Truly that old joke of “you see that mountain? You can go there” really applies here. You see it, you can go to it, the game is just that free to explore.

After speaking with a mysterious old man and getting things rolling, you’re basically left to your own devices. You can proceed to pick up a weapon (mostly tree branches at the moment), fight some enemies bopping around, pick up apples to heal your health (which starts at three hearts), etc. One of your primary goals throughout the game is to find these shrines. Shrines are essentially the game’s dungeons. In each, you have to traverse this indoor area and usually have to reach point B, but some require you to defeat an enemy, or solve a sometimes tricky puzzle. At the end, you’re presented with a Spirit Orb as a reward. You need to collect 4 of these to bring back to a statue near the Shrine of Resurrection, and the statue will give you a Heart Container (for an extra heart), or a bit of extra stamina in exchange for those 4 orbs.

Skull

One area where you can bump into a group of enemies.

Stamina is a vital meter in which determines how long you can run, climb, and perform other actions before Link tires out. Just simply walking will quickly recharge the stamina bar. In my personal experience, stamina is VERY important and I spent a large chunk of my buffs on that alone. To me it’s most vital for climbing as the more stamina you ave, the higher you can go, which opens up new horizons for you if you’re able to reach certain high area.

After collecting your first 4 orbs, the old man returns and gives you his paraglider. This is likely THE most important item in the game as it allows you to glide for ridiculous amounts of distance. This is required even to bypass the immediate area you’re in to be able to progress through the game.

Another important thing are the towers. these are VERY high areas which allow you to unlock more visibility of your map, and also to add more travel spots, which also include every shrine you reach. You can go to the map and select any of these activated areas (which is done by using the slate upon arriving to each) and you’re there within seconds. AKA; fast-travel!

Shrine of Resurrection

The Shrine of Resurrection. Also showing a fast-travel location.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’m not even certain how much to say without risking spoiler territory. Really the best advice is to go in blind and experience all of this yourself, half the fun is in the discovery after all.

One aspect that’s key to the game is the breakable weapon system. Here your weapons, from sticks to swords, will shatter after extensive use. This is likely to get you to experiment and try new things, rather than just stick to one weapon for hours until you get a better one. You also have bows and arrows, with the bows also breaking over time, but what’s neat is that you can recollect your arrows when they hit the ground. That’s amazing. Shields are back and do the same also, but I don’t use them much other than for those Octoroks. But, the game has a special feature with the slate that gives you special abilities called Runes. These are gradually collected in the shrines you reach (mostly at the beginning), and one of which is the remote bombs. these bombs are thrown one at a time and can detonate on command and are pretty strong. The best part? No limits. So if you’re in a pinch and weaponless, use the bombs. The bombs do get a bit less effective as you progress (you do get to upgrade them later), but it’s a fair trade-off. Other runes include the ability to freeze time, move things with a magnet, and create ice blocks to stand on. And again, there’s no limit to the use of runes in terms of them breaking like weapons, so go nuts!

Visually the game is certainly beautiful. But it was made for Wii U and it shows. It got a resolution bump from 720p on Wii U to 900p docked on Switch with it still being 720p in portable mode. The framerate is a pretty consistent 30fps IMO. The art-style is a bit hit and miss. What I mean is, at times the game goes for a more singular color (like green) on most of the imagery on screen. Other times will will get more vibrant and vivid looking (like the original E3 2014 trailer).  I much prefer it when it’s the latter, but you get used to the style as a whole pretty quickly so it’s not even bad when it gets too dominantly a single color.

Audio is really good in the game. The game focuses more on ambience so don’t go in expecting many big scores or anything. There’s also neat audio cues like when you hit an enemy and other things happen which add to the neat factor. You do get songs for larger enemies and whatnot (like Shre-I mean Hinox) which sound awesome.

There’s just so much exploring and so much to do and collect, it’s impossible to go over it all. Like I said, go out there and see for yourself! It’s more fun seeing what you can do rather than just read me describe it all lol!

You’ll Love:
+ So much to do, so much to see. Seriously, it’s a massive game and you can spend hours collecting and exploring and not even realize it.
+ It’s very pretty, bar the Wii U roots (not to say Wii U couldn’t make beautiful games).
+ Music is great and atmospheric, with songs of certain enemies being highlights of mine. Gotta love Hajime Wakai’s work (he was Sound Director and did some songs himself).
+ 900p bump over 720p on Wii U is very appreciated. Shame they couldn’t get it to be 1080p, but what can you do?
+ Framerate is consistent enough. The game’s been patched numerous times addressing issues throughout and it shows.
+ amiibo support is neat for giving you bonus goodies like food and whatnot daily. So having lots of amiibo is very handy here.
+ Fast travel is vital. Especially with how huge the world is.

You’ll Hate:
– Weapons breaking. Not fun when you’re attached to a weapon and it’s pretty strong. And finding ideal replacements isn’t exactly easy.
– Colors get too singular at times, meaning it can look very green, or red, or what have you.
– The game can be difficult at least if you dedicate your orbs towards stamina rather than heart containers. Some enemies are hard to run away from in certain instances.
– The world can be a bit exhausting to travel in long stretches if you’re going to a new place. Some shrines are difficult to locate also since a shrine radar you’re given only detects in a single flat plane. Depth and height are important and can lead you around in circles when it’s under your feet the whole time.

Score: 9/10

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