Release Date: 03/03/17
Platform: Wii U | Switch
Here’s what we thought of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
With a new Nintendo console comes a new adventure for Link – but how does it compare to the rest?
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the first true open-world Zelda experience. You can adventure anywhere you want right from the get-go, meaning you will undoubtedly run into enemies too strong for you and invariably die more times than you’d like to admit. The freedom of Breath of the Wild (BOTW) is noticeable as soon as you step out on that first mountain ledge, 10 minutes into the game.
Not only does it take your Breath away, but the views are also slightly daunting. It’s this dare to explore that really draws you in to BOTW, and the intrigue of what could possibly be around the next corner that keeps you playing for hours at a time (three if you’re in handheld mode).
While previous Zelda games have you complete dungeons in a predictable pattern – finishing one will give you the thing that grants you access to the new one, affectionately known as ‘gear-gating’ – the true open-world nature of this game means that old premise is essentially no longer viable. You can go anywhere right from the outset, with the opening area that Link can interact with giving you the basics that you’ll need for the rest of the dungeons. The open-world is so full that there’s always, always something to do/fight/collect. It could almost be incomparable to the rest of the games in the series – if it weren’t for its storyline.
The story of BOTW focuses on Link’s journey to save Princess Zelda from Ganon, as usual, but the twist here is that you can take on Ganon right from the start if you are so compelled. Of course, it’s not recommended, as there are a bunch of improvements to health and armour you can garner along the way, but it might be worth trying once, if just for the fun of it.
One thing you will notice is that this is one of the more difficult Zelda titles. Puzzles are complex, combat is punishing, and your weapons will break, meaning you will find yourself picking up those of your disposed enemies in order to finish the camp you’re at. Don’t get attached to too many of your weapons, ‘cause chances are you won’t have them for too long.
With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it’s as though Nintendo have taken the best bits of the previous Zelda games and improvised the rest. They’ve sat in the wings in the wake of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and even Far Cry 4, and have observed the exploration and compulsive collection habits of players to apply them – rigorously – here.
BOTW takes the dungeons and Zelda of old and applies them to a more modern, more refined yet also more open Zelda experience, giving you the freedom to explore that you just know Link has always wanted. Link’s latest adventure is a welcome breath of fresh air for the franchise, and a brilliant launch title for a console just finding its feet.