When you hear the word ‘Nintendo’, you automatically think of several key titles within the franchise. Pokémon and Mario would be the first two to pop into your head. These two titles made their debut onto Mobile Apps in 2016, with Pokémon GO taking the world by storm. Companies made a killing when they sold portable Pokéball-shaped USB chargers during the summer. However, there is one title within the franchise that has a special place in gamer’s hearts. They often mix up his name with the princess’; it’s the Legend of Zelda.
In this article, we will be reviewing the newest release in the Legend of Zelda series, ‘Breath of the Wild’. We will be looking at how this game stands out from others in the series, new features we have never before seen in a Zelda game and we ask the question, is Breath of the Wild one of the greatest games of all time? There are very, very mild spoilers about certain aspects of gameplay features but we have not included any the main plot details of the game that aren’t already known.
From the moment I started playing, I couldn’t put this game down. It was around 4 o’clock in the afternoon when I started, it was 3 o’clock in the morning before I stopped playing. The game begins with you waking up from a 100 year slumber to find the land of Hyrule in ruin. You are isolated in this starting area called the ‘Great Plateau’ and must complete four challenges known as ‘Shrines’ to get a paraglider. This starting area is a tutorial, but it doesn’t feel like one due to the expansive size of the land. The game does not follow the standard rules of a tutorial; it doesn’t tell you how to fight or how to get around. Instead you learn as you play.
In the first few moments of the game, when you push a button the game freezes for a few seconds to show you what each does. For example, the first time a weapon is obtained, you are alerted to the properties of the weapon, how to use it and how to switch quickly between other weapons; this is your tutorial. The starting area lets you learn the basics and allows you to practice your skills. You learn how to use a bow, how to hunt and cook food, as well as how to use abilities unlocked from the starting 4 shrines and many other necessary skills that you will need throughout the game.
From the moment you get that paraglider, you can go anywhere in the world. If you see a mountain that you want to climb, you can go and climb it. If you want to go to a small island in the middle of the lake, you can swim there. If you want to go to the final boss at the start of the game, you can go there. You play this game, the way you want and that is the true beauty of it. You create your story and I guarantee you whenever you speak to anyone about their experience, everyone will have a different story to tell. There is no set way to play the game, you play how you want.
This game is unlike anything we have ever seen in the Legend of Zelda series, and now we are going to discuss the changes of this game that make it stand out from the rest of the series.
The Game World – The world is tremendously big, it’s approximately 1.5 times the size of Skyrim to be exact. You’d think because it is so big that it would be so empty, but the developers have managed to fill it with life. It is not uncommon to meet NPCs travelling between villages and see wild animals roaming in their natural habitat. Furthermore, the weather system of the game affects how you play, making it difficult to climb whenever it is raining. The list of features added by the developers does not stop there. The world is one to be explored and secrets can be found if you simply look around.
Enemies – Enemies are a lot tougher than you can imagine. Like the NPCs in the game world, the enemies also have a daily routine. During the day, they would hunt for food and attack those walking along roads. At night time, they would rest and sleep. If you wake them up, they will run and try and grab their weapons to attack you. I saw a Bokoblin get very annoyed at me whenever I took his club, you can see him jumping up and down, looking very upset.
Stamina Gauge – First introduced in Skyward Sword, the stamina gauge makes a return. It is used for everything in the game. Some see this as a flaw in the game; others see it as an added challenge. You need stamina for the following:
- Mount climbing
- Slow motion jump off horse whilst shooting arrows thingy (see below)
The main point I’m trying to make is that sometimes it can get annoying and may be the cause of your death.
Shrines – Shrines are like mini dungeons in the world. If you took a main dungeon, and split them into smaller rooms then that’s what shrines essentially are. Shines are normally rooms with a puzzle in them. At the start, they are very easy and straight forward but as you progress throughout the game, they become increasingly more difficult, sometimes adding on more rooms or there may even be puzzles to get to the shrine itself.
At the end, you are awarded a Spirit Orb for completing each shrine. If you get 4 Spirit Orbs, you can go to a statue of the goddess, Hylia, pray to her and choose to receive a heart vessel (thus increasing the number of hearts you have by one) or a stamina upgrade (which increases your stamina gauge by adding 1/5 of a circle to the outside). Due to the size of the world, you can fast travel to these shrines. Since there is no lack of them in the world, getting around the world has never been easier.
There is a vast list of features that we wanted to discuss in this review but there simply is too many to cover and we do not wish to bore you with every detail. Here is some of the other features that have been added to the game:
- Temperature Gauge
- Noise Gauge
- Horse Riding
- Mountain Climbing
- Breakable Weapons
- Side Quests
- House Buying
- Custom Clothing
- Taming Wild Horses
- Tree Chopping
- Item Tracking
- Voice Acting
- Map Tracking/Customization
Overall, we decided to score The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – 10/10. The Legend of Zelda was the first gaming series that I really got into whenever I was about 4 or 5 years old, since then I have watched it grow and evolve into the game it has become today. People often give Zelda games a pass and award it a high score such as an 8 or 9 because it’s the Legend of Zelda. I want to justify why I am giving this game a perfect 10.
The game has completely changed in terms of its philosophy. From travelling in the vast open world to being one hit by enemies, this is not your traditional Zelda game and I love it. Players from the series before will be familiar with certain gameplay aspects, whereas new players will be in awe and wonder from the moment they set their sights on the world. There is a certain magic that I cannot describe whenever I am playing this game, the sense of wondering and exploration is simply breath-taking.
Nintendo took a completely different approach to open world exploration unlike any other. They took the rule book and re-wrote it the way they wanted. Allowing players to play the game the way they wished, and giving them all these tools to create memorable stories is an achievement. An even bigger one is keeping a story that plays out depending on your actions. If you get a chance to play this game, I cannot recommend it enough.
This is the most ‘Legend of Zelda’ game ever made. This is a new start and a new beginning in Hyrule.
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