Review

Review: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

 

 

 Game: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch(reviewed), Wii U

Release Date: March 3rd, 2017

Price: $59.99

In 2017, it is fair to say that The Legend of Zelda is a franchise that Nintendo has kept pretty close to the chest.  While they’ve never turned out something truly horrible, the past ten or so years have seemed somewhat stagnant. Windwaker is a fantastic game with some slow points, Twilight Princess has some amazing Dungeons, but it’s bleak and dark art design left me wanting. While other titles like Phantom Hourglass tried too hard with gimmicks like touch based controls.  Most of these games are fantastic on their own merits, yet still, stick to concepts and gameplay elements Nintendo had been using since the era of the SNES and A Link to the Past.

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I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name

 

After multiple delays on Breath of the Wild, which many had begun to speak of as Zelda Skyrim, I was starting to doubt how open or impressive the title could be. Well, Nintendo didn’t just tweak the formula of one of it’s oldest series. It threw the whole recipe out, and the result is a beautiful, breathtaking game, that feels like a new experience littered with charm and familiarity in the form of a few base concepts that still make it feel like a classic Zelda adventure.

The most obvious and arguably most welcome change to Breath of the Wild is how little it holds your hand at the start. Skyward Sword, the last big release in the franchise has a solid two or three hours of heavily scripted tutorial based gameplay. In Breath of the Wild Link wakes up from his one hundred year slumber briefly gets some direction from a cloaked old man( it’s dangerous to go alone, take this) and you’re thrown out to explore Hyrule at your leisure.17349714_1476346705711018_9193550976783032304_o

The first hour or so of the game does take place in a slightly more contained area. On the Great Plateau, the aforementioned old man will ask you to gather treasure from four shrines. Each shrine is essentially a mini dungeon that provides you with a rune that grants you a new ability. These abilities, include bombs,  the power to stop time, create columns of ice from water, and a magnet based ability for moving metal objects. A puzzle in each shrine will force you to prove you can use each rune competently. Once this is done, you’ll be granted a paraglider and turned out to Hyrule with a simple task, defeat Ganon.

These four core abilities will replace the old Zelda system of finding new tools and weapons in dungeons. It’s easy to be skeptical of this change, at first I was worried that with all of these powers front loaded that sense of discovery would be lost. The feeling of realizing you can hit a distant switch with the boomerang you just acquired would be gone. Instead, I found over time that the sense of discovery comes from other places. With these four runes, you can solve the puzzles in all of the Shrines, there are over 100 in total.

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Keep an eye on that stamina wheel

 

With these runes in hand and the paraglider at Link’s disposal, the game essentially tells you “here are the tools, go explore this world.” You’ll find that the only thing stopping you from going where you want is Link’s stamina meter. The little green circle is something you’ll constantly have an eye on as it is important for almost everything you do. Stamina is drained when running, climbing, swimming, and paragliding. It’ll recharge after a brief rest, but you don’t alway have that option. Mountains that seem insurmountable can be tackled early on if you’re smart about looking for outcroppings to rest at on your way up.

What you will be climbing most is the Sheikah Towers. These towers glow bright orange and fill in portions of your map and turn blue when activated with your Sheikah Slate. These towers don’t fill in your map in the traditional open world game sense, and that may be one of my favorite things about Breath of the Wild. Sheikah Towers will only fill in large map features like mountains and bigger bodies of water. You’ll have to spot things like Shrines and villages from these and other vantage points. This task is easily accomplished using multiple pins and stamps available through the map screen. I used these tools a whole lot to mark shrines, as well as, mineral deposits, enemy camps, and places that just looked interesting. Unlike other open world games Breath of the Wild doesn’t populate your map with a million things to do. This feature of spotting and manually marking encourages more exploration and is a ton of fun.

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The Zora Prince is confirmed best character

 

More changes come in the form of Heart Containers. While you’ll still receive Heart Container(the item that increases Link’s overall heart count) for defeating dungeon bosses, Heart Pieces are gone altogether. For those who have played past Zelda titles, you’ll know that finding four pieces of a heart( five in Twilight Princess) out in the world would add another heart as well. In Breath of the Wild, you will receive Spirit Orbs every time you complete a shrine. For every four you acquire you can visit a Goddess statue to upgrade either your hearts or stamina pool. These Statutes can be found in most towns, as well as the Temple of Time.

Weapon degradation also presents a new take for Zelda. Swords, shields, and bows all degrade and break over time. For this reason, you’ll wanna be grabbing anything you can get your hands on early on. From Travelers swords to Bokoblin clubs, grab whatever you can. Armor, however, is forever. Some armor is acquired through story quests, and other sets can be bought in towns.  Link’s clothing factors big time into the weather system of the game. Wearing metal in a lightning storm can result in an electric shock, having wooden equipment out in the heat of Death Mountain can cause it to go up in smoke. You’ll also have to dress accordingly in super hot or cold environments, or Link will take damage over time. You can also buy or craft potions to resist the heat or cold temporarily.

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Sneaking up on foes deals extra damage

 

Cooking adds an interesting but not overly complex layer to surviving in Hyrule. You’ll no longer discover hearts out in the open to refill Links health. In place of this Link will have to eat like the rest of us. Raw materials will work just fine, but to really fill up those hearts and maybe add a little bonus effect, up to five ingredients can be cooked in a pot over a fire. Cooking isn’t exactly complicated, raw meat plus rock salt equals salted meat. While combining a Moblin horn with and Octorock tentacle will result in something barely edible.

Breath of the Wild, for the first time, features, cutscenes with full voice over, with the exception of Link himself. These bits of story are shelled out from flashbacks that Link can experience via twelve memories locations that will cause Link to remember events from 100 years ago. These sequences are great and lend themselves to the incredible writing of the game. Even in basic conversation NPC’s are loaded with smart, funny things to say instead of one generic comment. They’ll react to Link based on what he is wearing or doing making them feel more alive. Link doesn’t speak aloud ever, but his dialogue options are often quippy dry humor that I enjoy quite a bit.

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Am I a chef now?

 

Dungeons have been altered in a large way. In addition to exploring the fields of Hyrule taming horse and finding Shrines, there are four main dungeons you can conquer before fighting Ganon. Staples of the series like the Big Key and compass are gone completely. Your first task upon entering is to obtain a map. Getting the map gives you special control over each dungeon that I won’t spoil for you. It is also worth noting that each dungeon is 100% optional. You can take on Ganon without doing these but don’t expect that to be easy. Beating each of these weakens him significantly.

It can’t all be sunshine, Breath of the Wild does have its problems. For one, inventory management feels like a mess. Moving ingredients around and moving in and out of the menu to drop weapons when your inventory is full is a hassle. In addition, you’ll occasionally see some frame rate issues when playing in TV mode. Thankfully a frame drop here or there is far from game breaking, and the great moments I’ve had with Zelda far out way any of these minor gripes.

I explored Hyrule’s sprawling fields and mountains for close to 100 hours before I finally put Ganon down. I felt a slight disappointment in ending my adventure so I find myself going back to look for secrets and shrines I may have missed. I didn’t think that I’d be able to recapture the magic that games like A Link to the Past held for me as a child, but Nintendo made me a bright-eyed child again in my mid-twenties. Breath of the Wild is a game changer for Zelda as a series, and hopefully just the first steps in a renaissance for one of my favorite series of all time. Whether it’s on the Switch or Wii U, everyone should check out this fantastic game.

Score: 10 out of 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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News

Nintendo Switch Confrence Breakdown

It’s late and I’m tired, but I’ve seen the holy conference and bring you all news of the Nintendo Switch. Release date, software lineup, I’ve got it all. So I won’t waste your time I know why you’re here. Let’s get down to it.

Console Details

The Nintendo Switch will be available at retail on March 3rd, 2017 fo $299.99

Out of the box, you’ll have the Switch tablet, dock, two Joy Con controllers, and Joy Con Grip, as well as an HDMI cable and an AC adapter for the tablet and straps for your Joy Cons. You can buy the unit with either two gray Joy Cons or a neon blue and neon red one, these cosmetic choices won’t affect the price.nintendo-switch-joy-cons-785279

As far as tech goes, the tablet was confirmed to feature a touch panel and gyroscopes as well as motion control contained in the Joy Con controllers. A feature called “HD Rumble” showed off the Joy Con’s ability to mimic the feeling of ice sliding in a glass if that’s what you’re into. The right Joy Con will feature a motion camera as well as an NFC reader and writer for Amiibo. The controllers also had a screen capture button similar to the PlayStation 4’s share button. Most importantly, if you ask me, is the word on the tablet’s battery life. We’ve been told anywhere from two and a half to six and a half hours depending on the title.

For the first time, a Nintendo home console won’t feature region locking, so imports will no longer be an issue.

Another first for Nintendo, online networks will be a paid subscription. Hopefully, this is a sign that the big N has stepped up their online services to the quality of the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live. Subscribers to this online service will receive a free Nes/Snes game for the VC monthly. Additionally, you’ll be able to connect up to eight Switches together for local play.

Games

So let’s get down to the software lineup. To be perfectly honest it looks a bit thin at launch, but by the end of 2017 we’ll be shaping up nicely

The big one we’ve been waiting for is, of course, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Now the fine folks at Nintendo made us hold our breath for the whole console, but I won’t be so cruel. Zelda is coming day and date with the Switch, March 3rd, 2017.1606-14-the-legend-of-zelda-breath-of-the-wild-amiibo25

The first game shown was titled 1 2 Switch and looks like the Wii Sports of the Switch. A proof of concept for the tech if you will. Two players face off each holding a Joy Con in scenarios like boxing matches and shootouts(It’s High Noon), however, instead of looking at the screen they’ll be looking at one another to see who moves first. It’s a game of chicken really and could be a whole lot of fun at parties, but isn’t really what I’m looking for.arms-01-12-17-1

Next up was Arms. This new title from Nintendo uses the Joy Cons to compete in high-speed boxing matches with elastic like arms. While I’m hesitant to jump into these motion control games, Arms honestly looks like a whole lot of fun and showed off some fast third person fighting. Expect Arms in Spring of 2017.

All of us were expecting some kind of Splatoon port on Switch, but in summer of 2017 we’ll be getting a sequel, that’s right all those shots we saw were of Splatoon 2. The game showed off new weapons, maps, and Pro controller support. Summer can’t come soon enough.nintendo-switch-reveal-8-2-1280x711

Nintendo gave us a look at the latest Mario title Super Mario Odyssey. The game looks flat out gorgeous and is being billed as a big Mario sandbox game like Mario 64 or Sunshine. The game seems to be about Mario traveling to diffrent worlds outside of the Mushroom Kingdom. He even makes a stop in New York City, is that terrible movie cannon now? Also, his hat has eyes, so we’ll see what that’s about. Super Mario Odyssey launches in Holiday 2017.mario-930x515

To close out the conference, we got a look at some third party games coming for Switch. Skyrim was confirmed as well as a brief glimpse of a new Fire Emblem. Monolith showed off a trailer for Xenoblade 2 which looked beyond beautiful. Square Enix gave us a glimpse at Octopath Traveler and a new Shin Megami Tensei game, and EA announced Fifa for the Switch. Suda from Grasshopper also popped in to allude ot a new No More Heros and Sega swears it will make games for this thing.nintendo_switch_skyrim-600x310

Well, I hope I’ve brought you up to speed. While it’ll be a slim launch line up I can;t wait to jump into Zelda, also I really want those red and blue Joy Cons.

 

 

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News

The New Zelda has a title, looks amazing

This morning Nintendo hosted a Treehouse live event to talk about the New Zelda. We saw some super awesome looking footage; we also got a title. The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild.

The demo opened up with a woman’s voice calling out to Link telling him to open his eyes. The video cuts to shots of vastly open Hyrule. The trailer showed Link doing lots of things that are brand new to the series. Climbing trees, Swapping weapons, cooking, taming wild horses, chopping down trees, even wearing a suit of armor. The strangest part being we’ve yet to see our hero in his usual green tunic.

After the trailer, we saw Nintendo showed off quite a bit more in a live demo. It appears Link will be able to pick up many different weapons on his journey and switch to them as he pleases. Everything from spears, axes, broadswords, and even clubs. These weapons will wear down and break over time, although I think it’s safe to assume the Master sword won’t suffer from this problem. Links clothes also appear as equipment, explaining the shots of him in a suit of armor. In a conversation with an NPC, we see a  dialogue wheel. Link has spoken for the first time technically, no voice acting though.

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I can’t wait to see how much more Breath of the Wild Nintendo has to show us before the game releases on Wii U and NX sometime next year. Until then you can follow me here for more updates.

 

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