The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was part of the small offering of launch titles when the Nintendo Switch was released, back in 2017. The last mainline game in the Legend of Zelda series, which wasn’t a remake, was Skyward Sword, which was released in 2011 for the Wii. The Wii U only got HD remasters of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess before Breath of the Wild, as it came out on both consoles, but even then, six years for a new Zelda game was quite a long wait. Now, 3 whole years after its release, and with a sequel in development, it’s pretty safe to say that the wait for Breath of the Wild was more than worth it.
In this Legend of Zelda game, the protagonist, Link, awakens after sleeping for 100 years. With no recollection of what happened a century ago, Link must set out to reclaim his memories, build up his strength, face Calamity Ganon, the game’s antagonist, and rescue the eponymous Princess Zelda. The only “problem” with regards to the story is the lost memories. As I’ll tell you in a short while, Breath of the Wild is primarily focused on exploration and freedom, meaning that no-one pushes you to pursue your lost memories in their chronological order. This ends up making the story feel disjointed, and almost an afterthought, which is a shame.
With this installment, the development team over at Nintendo sought to reinvent the franchise and to break the conventions the series had set in stone over the past games, such as puzzle-based dungeons with a boss at the end, or the series-long linear progression. Breath of the Wild takes the concept of freedom to a whole new level: for starters, the game is now set in an open world, so after completing the tutorial section, you can go wherever you want. You can even head directly to the final boss – though, with only 3 hearts and a weak array of equipment, it’s not recommended at all. In place of the aforementioned dungeons are the new shrines, each filled with new and unique puzzles, left behind by one of the ancient races of the game. For the first time in the series, weapons, bows and shields all have their own durability spans, after which they’re gone, effectively keeping the player on their toes, as you never know when your equipment might break.
Breath of the Wild also significantly changes up the enemies found around the world of Hyrule. They are now much more aware of your surroundings, meaning that they’ll hear and spot you if you’re making too much noise while trying to sneak up on them. There’s the new blood moon feature as well, which occurs randomly throughout the game, and ends up resurrecting all of the enemies you’d slain up until that point.
Let’s talk about Hyrule for a bit: 3 years later, it remains one of the most gorgeous in-game worlds, period. Just look at the trailer linked in this review and you’ll understand what I mean. Though, in size, the world pales in comparison to the ones found in the likes of Grand Theft Auto V or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, while simultaneously beating out the map of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Size and looks aside, there’s no shortage to the detail the developers thought of when building the world of Hyrule. During thunderstorms, you can get electrocuted if you’re wearing any type of metal equipment. You can climb 99% of surfaces, provided you’ve got enough stamina, and then immediately paraglide back down once you reach the top. Boulders can be pushed downhill to topple enemies, trees bear fruit, grass can be set on fire, and animals behave in a realistic way, running away if they hear you coming. There’s hidden puzzles and secrets to discover, and many NPCs and side quests to find, do I need to say more? The amount of content packed in this game can keep you occupied for upwards of 150hrs!
To conclude, as I’ve blabbed enough about it, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a masterpiece of a game, which is still as good 3 years after its initial release. If you’ve been looking into playing it, there’s no better time than the present to go out and buy yourself a Nintendo Switch and a copy of the game. If you’ve already got a Switch, but don’t have this game, what is wrong with you? Go out and buy it, it’s a must!