Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Review


Ah, Zelda, quite possibly THE most overhyped series of games to ever exist besides Call Of Duty, Mario, Earthbound, Half-Life, Metroid, Super Smash Bros, SNES/PS1 era Final Fantasy and Pokemon...wait a minute, WHY exactly do people think that the Zelda series is gaming’s most overrated franchise again? It’s because of all of the absolutely insane Link To The Past and Ocarina Of Time nostalgia freaks flooding every last square inch of the Internet’s video game discussion forums, isn’t it? Or come to think of it, perhaps MAYBE it’s because of this game…

Yeah, needless to say, I can DEFINITELY see where a lot of the non-Nintendo-religious sub-divisions of gamers are coming from when they claim that Breath Of The Wild is quite possibly THE most overrated game to ever exist (hopefully) BESIDES the aforementioned OOT and LTTP, but honestly, the absolutely perfect 10/10 scores this game gets nearly all the way across the entire GLOBAL board really aren’t nearly as far from actually being JUSTIFIED as some might think. Let’s face it; if Undertale turned out to be a 9/10 game, this could easily turn out to be a 15/10. (Well, truthfully, NO game REALLY deserves the perfect 10/10 score, but you get the idea…)

Anyway, let’s look at some reasons why this game really isn’t nearly as much of a “breath of the wild” for the Zelda franchise as it egotistically and arrogantly claims itself to be in its commercials (but once again is still a fantastic game in its own right regardless), shall we?

GRAPHICS: If you remember my “Top 10 Stupid Things that You Will Almost Always Hear Nintendo Haters Say About The Company” list, you should hopefully also distinctly remember that one of the top-10-ranked entries on that list was “WAAAH, Breath Of The Wild doesn’t graphically look quite as good as Horizon Zero Dawn and Witcher 3”. Extreme annoyance on my behalf at the fact that HZD isn’t already ranked onto AT LEAST the top 20 or 15 portion of the “Top 10 Video Games With The Best Graphics” list yet aside, these people do at least somewhat have a point here if you think about it.

While I personally find graphics to actually be one of Nintendo’s most remarkable STRENGTHS from an artistic design standpoint, you have to admit that the company really is overly reliant on fancy cartoon/anime art styles to hide how completely UN-fancy the technology behind most of their modern-day systems is by current standards, and sweet triforce of the GODS does it show with this game in particular.

Basically, what BOTW is trying to do visually is to essentially blend the art styles of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess together into one big, massive, incredibly bizarre mishmash of graphical tones...and YEAH, it definitely succeeds on that front, albeit not quite as much as Skyward Sword did.

As everyone knows, BOTW is a game that was made for the Nintendo Wii U and Switch (the latter of which uses CARTRIDGES for crying out loud; yes, I KNOW that the reason Nintendo also did this with the N64 was to prevent the annoying loading screens seen in disc games, but that STILL doesn’t make it look ANY less out-of-place in today’s world when it comes to gaming), and while I wouldn’t exactly say that it looks like a PS2 game, it does barely even look better than 2008’s Fallout 3, as I previously mentioned in my Fallout 4 review a few days back.

And again, for a game that was hyped up to be full-on NEXT GENERATION, this is utterly ridiculous. Seriously, it REALLY doesn’t take much effort to make better-executed graphical styles than those of late-2000s Bethesda reboots, Nintendo, not even when taking the still-relatively-weak processing power of the Wii U and Switch when compared to the PS4 and Xbox One into account.

Honestly, all things considered, Breath Of The Wild IS actually a quite profoundly GORGEOUS-looking and engrossingly atmospheric game as far as the current offerings on its hardware are concerned...just not for the right reasons. Basically, what happened was that Nintendo took the EXACT same cutesy, pastel-colored, heavily cel-shaded look from Wind Waker (2002), applied an awkwardly small touch of Twilight Princess’ edge filter over it (2006), then additionally applied Super Mario Sunshine’s obnoxiously bright color saturation onto everything (also 2002) and called it a day.

In short, right off the bat, BOTW already LOOKS (not to mention FEELS) more like a harrowingly haphazard hodgepodge of old Gamecube games than an actually NEW experience.

SOUND: In terms of audio design, this game is absolutely STELLAR, as one can generally expect from Zelda...but speaking of things that you can generally expect from major console installments of the Zelda franchise, seriously, WHAT ON EARTH HAPPENED TO THE MUSIC?

Yes, I get it, it’s supposed to be “atmospheric” and “different” that Nintendo decided to make the background music so completely un-memorably calm, minimalistic and subdued, but come on, this is ZELDA we’re talking about here. Again, THIS IS THE EXACT SAME SERIES THAT BROUGHT US LINK TO THE PAST AND OCARINA OF TIME. Dear God, what was Nintendo thinking here?

STORY: Eh...if you’ve seen one Zelda plotline involving Ganon, you’ve pretty much seen them all (another reason why I personally find Ocarina Of Time’s storyline incredibly unremarkable in retrospect). That being said, however, BOTW does make an admirable effort to make its generic good-versus-evil stock plot of “Link huffed, puffed and blew Ganon down, the end” at least more interesting than it NORMALLY is.

Basically, it’s an almost EXACT medieval counterpart to the Horizon Zero Dawn storyline; one day god-knows-how-many years ago in Hyrule, presumably back in the days of Ocarina Of Time, the kingdom’s rulers and local military forces decided that they weren’t already well-guarded enough just by Link’s presence on the battlefield ALONE (seriously, just WATCH someone play Hyrule Warriors and you’ll IMMEDIATELY understand what I’m getting at here), so they meticulously programmed and constructed dug up a bunch of ancient, ridiculously huge mechanical dinosaurs spiders known as Machines Guardians to protect them from invaders and attackers (mostly just Ganon and his minions, though, if we’re being honest here).

Anyway, long story short, said mechanical dinosaurs spiders were driven completely nuts by the absurdly, parasitically evil spiritual influence of the HADES program “Calamity” Ganon, causing them to turn rogue and effectively kill practically everyone in the entire kingdom except for a few extremely select survivors...which, of course, naturally includes the new Link, who is essentially born from a glorified Matrix pod and finds his way around the overworld using a medieval phone-tablet device. (Yes, I know it’s incredibly confusing, but I mean, Final Fantasy had Magitek, after all…)

GAMEPLAY: So anyway, as you can probably imagine when hearing about such a shockingly post-apocalyptic and seemingly hopeless setting as this one, the gameplay style of BOTW is no longer the cliched “you are the all-powerful destined hero and literally nothing can stop you” from pretty much all of the other Zelda titles from Link To The Past onward; rather, it has more of a disappointingly toned-down take on the profoundly mocking “good luck even surviving in THIS world, loser” attitude seen in games like Fallout, meaning that the game’s overall difficulty level has (THANKFULLY) spiked accordingly when compared to the rest of the modern Zelda games.

As a result, puzzles HAVE taken a bit of a backseat this time around, but believe me; once you’ve gotten deep enough into the game to unlock all of the Slate Powers and stock up a decent supply of arrows, you will DEFINITELY learn to adore BOTW’s astonishingly unique “do it however you wish” and “make do with whatever you have” approaches to problem-solving.

While there is technically only ONE traditional dungeon left in the entire game (the Ruined Hyrule Castle, which even then is pretty much completely devoid of puzzles altogether), the new Divine Beast dungeons (giant mechanical animals with absurdly spacious inner workings for Link to explore and also directly control via Shiekah Slate to solve impressively intricate puzzles) are an exceptionally cool new feature (despite literally ALL of their resident bosses being different elemental variations on the EXACT same thing), as well as the literally 120 stars shrines (miniature dungeons) hidden throughout the overworld in what can only be described as the world’s biggest easter egg hunt.

And believe me, this game is absolutely MASSIVE; in fact, I’d say it’s easily at least TEN times the size of Twilight Princess and is also considerably larger than Skyrim as well in terms of sheer overworld magnitude. However, what really seperates BOTW from those two is the fact there is just SO much to do in the overworld, from the aforementioned shrines to a whole plethora of other simply amazing post-apocalypse discoveries such as (sigh) Korok seeds, which cannot be marked on the map, are hair-pullingly difficult to find without the extensive usage of walkthroughs (which everyone ironically tells you NOT to use for this), and just to add insult to injury, are also REQUIRED in order to boost Link’s overall equipment-carrying capacity.
Which brings me to another REALLY irritating thing about this game; many of its RPG elements, none of which are properly explained to the player apart from the absolute bare-minimum basics. While the cooking system is extremely simple and easy once you get the hang of it, it’s figuring out HOW to use it that happens to be a WAY bigger problem than it really has any right to be. And yes, the ridiculously exaggerated “breakable weapons” system is incredibly irritating as well; heck, even the HYLIAN SHIELD is eventually breakable in this game, while the Master Sword has to “recharge” its pitifully weakened power and thus is mostly only useful against bosses.

However, annoyingly poorly-explained cooking and cold-resistance systems (and obnoxious “twenty bear butts” side quests) aside, where BOTW really shines is in its exceedingly robust world-traversal and especially combat mechanics, as well as its astounding realism for a Zelda game. Seriously, for ONCE in (again) GOD-knows-how-many years, legit SKILL is actually required in combat encounters (even though it’s horribly unbalanced in the early-game portions, as most of the generic overworld-filler enemies can easily kill you in one measly hit in those parts).

Whereas the Stamina Meter was mostly just used for sprinting and vine-climbing in Skyward Sword, now it can be used for basically ANY kind of (outdoor) climbing that you could possibly think of, essentially turning Link into a webless Spider-Man while opening up an untold amount of newfound gameplay freedom that is only infinitely expanded upon by the introduction of the paraglider, which in turn makes descending back down from the tops of the game’s many, many, MANY overworld-discovery towers all the more satisfying as a result. Heck, even the HORSE-RIDING mechanic is fun.

(JUST BE WARNED: Trying to solve literally ALL of the puzzles, let alone find all of the Korok seeds in this game without even a single usage of walkthroughs is PROBABLY not worth the effort.)

OVERALL: Honestly, while its story IS basically just Horizon Zero Dawn for babies exactly what you would expect from a Zelda game at this point (only ever-so-slightly deeper) and the graphics are admittedly pretty disappointing for a “next-gen” title released in the mid-2010s, with the soundtrack being inexcusably lame, forgettable and disappointing in general, BOTW is a truly shining example of the true reason why Nintendo always laser-focuses its games on providing as much of the “gameplay” aspect as possible above literally ALL else.

Long story short, Breath Of The Wild is exactly what the Zelda series needed (although it certainly could have done a much better job BEING that, mind you), exactly the type of overall gameplay quality that the Bethesda games DESPERATELY need to have, and again, exactly the reason why more companies in general REALLY need to consider following Nintendo’s “simple but deeply polished” approach to making games. In conclusion, just for its gameplay department and its unforgettably well-developed environmental atmosphere alone, this game honestly deserves a 9.999999/10 and is also EASILY 2017’s rightfully crowned Game Of The Year alongside Horizon Zero Dawn. Seriously, go ahead and fight me, Jim Sterling; I simply do not care anymore.