The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Having spent a week playing Breath of the Wild and sinking around 90+ hours into this vast new take on the series, I think it’s about time to try and put into writing my thoughts on the game.
First off is the million dollar question. Is it better than Ocarina of Time? This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about and trying to decide on the answer. It’s honestly a very difficult question to answer as I’m very aware that right at this point it’s very much a battle between nostalgia and hype, making any current arguments very subjective. So when the hype of a brand new Zelda game and brand new Nintendo console dies down in a few weeks or months, my feelings on the comparison may be very different.
With all of that in mind, the way I would describe it, is that Breath of the Wild is the game you imagined you were playing back in Ocrina of Time. All of the RP you were doing in your head as you traversed the Nintendo 64’s version of vastness is actually taking place here. The people you imagined would be walking around, the lives and back stories of the villagers you imagined were going on are all fleshed out in Breath of the Wild, and it’s incredible.
The game definitely pulls a lot of the best bits from previous titles, like the light hearted character charms of Wind Waker, the world of Ocarina of Time, the NPC schedules from Majora’s Mask and combat derived (but greatly improved) from Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword.
The world here does feel truly alive which is a very impressive feat, and I think it’s achieved by the amazing attention to detail everywhere in the game. On a couple of occasions while exploring, I literally stopped in my tracks due to something that happened and I just had to take a few moments to process what I was seeing. But the main thing that gives the feeling of the living world, as mentioned above, the NPCs all have their own schedules reminiscent of Majora’s Mask.
So a villager may start off in their house in the morning, travel to another location in the morning, spend the day there and travel back in the evening. Simple enough, right? But where the attention to detail comes in is that deviations can occur in their routine based on the random nature of the world. One of which being the weather – Should it start to rain, they may start running to their destination and arrive there earlier, or they might even turn back and not even make it to their destination.
Also on their travels, they may run into some enemies and get attacked, preventing them from reaching their destination. So as per most other open world games, you would expect to know exactly where someone is after a while, but in Breath of the Wild due to the random nature of things going on, that may not always be the case.
A final thought on the world feeling alive is seemingly influenced from bad feedback from Twilight Princess – Every character you meet you can talk to and are all given names.
Another huge positive is the way the story and gameplay are presented overall. There are no lengthy tutorials and all of the gameplay mechanics are either organically introduced or just presented in a way that you are given the tools and just experiment to figure things out. As for the story – The main quest line is never forced on you giving you the freedom to spend your time however you want. No “Hey! Listen!” every 10 minutes if you stray anywhere away from the main path.
One of the most common complaints I’ve been hearing is with the degregation mechanic of weapons and shields. It was a complaint I shared at the beginning of my playthrough, but I’ve now gotten used to it and accepted it as part of the game. It does add an interesting dimension to the game and forces you to plan a bit more carefully when going out to tackle various tasks, which really does tie into the whole ‘wilderness survival’ feel of the game.
The new cooking mechanics are a lot of fun, although something else that took a little while for me to get into the habit of keeping on top of. I also get the feeling that I’ve only really scratched the surface of it too.
The voice acting is a really nice addition to a Zelda game (let’s ignore those 3 CDI games for now..) but it is also where my one complaint comes from.. Zelda’s voice is sooooo bad! This iteration of Zelda’s character design is by far my favourite.. until she opens her mouth..
So overall, I think if the petty point of Zelda’s voice is my only complaint in the game, it’s safe to say that Breath of the Wild is well deserving of all of the praise and perfect scores it’s getting. Creeping up to 100 hours of playtime and still coming across new things is very impressive. Is it an Ocarina of Time beater? Quite possibly.