10 Thoughts on Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
70+ hours later, we have finally done it. We saved the Kingdom of Hyrule from Calamity Ganon and brought peace back to the land. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sucked us in from day one and dominated our video game playing for weeks. A while ago, we gave you our early impressions on the game. But now that we have saved Hyrule, we are ready to give you a more detailed review on the game. Caution: There are some minor spoilers here if you haven’t finished the game yet.
10 Thoughts on Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
1.Breath of the Wild has ruined climbing in ever other game for me.
I absolutely LOVE how climbing was handled in Breath of the Wild. Link can climb anything. It’s not a question of if he can get over a barrier (short of some shear shrine walls), but if he has enough stamina to do it. It was such a breath of fresh air to see games not use mountains as half-assed, dropped in barriers. Want to take a straight line between two points? Have at it!
Since beating Breath of the Wild, I’ve now started playing Horizon: Zero Dawn and let me tell you, climbing in that game is down right horrible in comparison. It’s almost the polar opposite of Breath of the Wild. To climb just about anything, you need pre-placed handholds. You can only climb specific things and only if you are in the right spot. After playing Breath of the Wild, this is just downright terrible. I feel like I’ve been dumped back into some video game dark age.
2. The breakable weapons were a dumb idea.
Not all was roses with Breath of the Wild. The breakable weapon and shields were a stupid idea. I touched on this concept in our 10 Tropes in Video Games that Need to Die article, but suffice to say, this was one of the silliest parts in an otherwise stellar game. Often I’d find a weapon I love, but I’d have to be careful to overuse it because it would eventually break.
Even the Master Sword and Hyrule Shield were not unlimited. The shield could break, while the sword would be unusable for 10 minutes after too much use. I just don’t get the reasoning behind this other than lazy game design. If you want us to use a variety of weapons, how about you instead create enemies that are vulnerable to certain types of weapons. Elemental damage, slashing vs piercing, etc… This could have been done so much better.
3. I loved wandering in this game.
One of the reasons it took me so long to beat Breath of the Wild was that this was such a great game for wandering. Yeah, I knew where I had to go next, but this thing over here just caught my eye. Ooo, is that a shrine? Better go check it out. It was moments like this that really made the game a delight to play and such a time sink. Just wandering off the beaten path could provide hours of unexpected entertainment. Plus, the land of Hyrule had different climates to explore from the arctic areas to burning deserts…which is more than I can say for No Man’s Sky.
4. Breath of the Wild is a truly open world game.
To compound on that last thought, Breath of the Wild is really one of the better uses of the term “open world game”. Players could really go wherever they wanted, in any order. Want to try and beat Ganon the second you left the tutorial area? Go head and try! You can even beat the 4 guardians in any order you wish, or even not at all. Breath of the Wild treated us like grown ups in that we could set our own path, save the game whenever we wanted, and play for as long or short as we desired. Rarely were we pulled in a specific direction on a fish hook.
5. There were a nice variety of ways to get around.
I think one of the reasons Breath of the Wild is so successful as an open world game is that there is a good variety of was to travel in the game. The shrines and towers are excellent as fast travel points, being both plentiful, yet not making moving around too easy that you don’t need to hoof it at other times.
The hang glider was easily my favorite way to get around though. Most of the time, I would fast travel to a tower, and then fly in the direction I needed to go. While shield surfing was also an option, I rarely used that one.
The horses I used occasionally, but to be honest, most of the time a horse just wasn’t around. I kind of wish they would have treated the horse like The Witcher 3 did, and let you call them from anywhere. The Stables were a neat idea, I was just rarely near one when I needed to get on a horse. So in the end, if I happened to be at a stable, I’d grab a horse and go, but I was not using the horses as often as I would have liked just for convenience sake.
6. No post-game fun?
The absolute biggest miss in Breath of the Wild for me was that there was not post-game play. I had thought that after I’d beaten Ganon, I’d be dumped back into the world to find those elusive shrines, finish up some side quests, or just wander some more. Nope. you get sent back to the title screen and your only option is to start a new game, or continue at your last pre-Ganon save point.
I just don’t understand the logic in this one. Nintendo could have easily just removed Ganon from the Hyrule Sanctuary and left everything else as is. There is zero reason why Link can’t continue to clean up Hyrule after Ganon’s defeat. I really hope this is patched some day with an update, but I’m really doubtful on that one.
7. On combat and monsters
I liked how straight forward combat was in Breath of the Wild. You could be successful just mashing buttons, or you could have some finesse with the special attacks and even parries.
While I wish there was a tad more variety in the monsters, I do like how they didn’t scale with the players. After 20-30 hours of game play, when I wandered back over to the great plateau, I was easily able to dispatch those early monsters that gave me trouble at the start.
I will say that combat in Breath of the Wild can also be pretty brutal. I probably died more in this Zelda game than any other. And that’s not a bad thing. I love that it was difficult at times, yet never really punishing.
8. The variety in the shrines was excellent.
The shrines were a fantastic new game play element that I really enjoyed. Not only could a player skip them almost entirely, as they only just made the game easier for you in the form of hearts and stamina, but they never felt stale. In fact, I made a beeline to pretty much any shrine I saw.
Pretty much the only shrines that were repeated were the combat tests, and these were just a small fraction of the total shrines. Each offered a unique puzzle for the player to solve. Some had obvious solutions, while others really kept me guessing. Many shrines also allows players to come up with some creative, off the wall solutions. My hat goes off to the game developers for really keeping me on my toes with the puzzles in the shrines.
9. Many paths to victory.
Breath of the Wild also had many different ways a player can approach the challenges in the game. As mentioned above, some shrines had linear paths that you really couldn’t deviate from, but others actually allowed for creative solutions. I remember one wind shrine that wanted me to time things just right to proceed, but I quickly figured out that I could circumvent the whole “proper solution” buy some creative use of the magnet rune. And the game never tried to stop me at going off the rails. It’s almost like the developers said, “Hey, if you can figure out an easier way, go ahead”.
I was even able to sneak into Hyrule Castle from the back. Using the Zora armor, I managed able to swim up the waterfall, and then I just climbed up the outside of the castle, letting me ignore all of those pesky guardians. Now once did the game try and stop me from thinking outside the box.
10. Overall a really solid story.
While the story in Breath of the Wild really wasn’t always my driving force, it was intriguing overall, especially the memories. Some games drive you to the next plot point simply because you have to know what comes next. Breath of the Wild was never really that game. Yet while I was still intrigued to know what was going on, I never rushed to the next story mission.
I did enjoy Zelda’s role in the game though. She wasn’t a damsel that needed to be rescued, but instead she felt more like Link’s hidden partner in the game. She contained Ganon while Link got his act together. And the memories really told a tragic story of the burden she was forced to bear.