Jesus Tittyfucking Christ it’s finally here! The first new 3D Zelda in 6 years, and the first Zelda on a new console! Could it possibly live up to the hype? Fuck yes.
But Where is My Tunic?
First thing’s first, Breath of the Wild is a massive departure from the status quo. The camera positioning is different, there’s an inventory system, no real “Zelda items”, and voice acting. This is also just the tip of the iceberg. Nearly everything about Breath of the Wild is completely new. Firstly, there is an entirely new system for equipment. Link uses a variety of weapons you’ll pick up in the wild that will break after enough use, ditto for shields and bows. Armor is either bought or acquired through side quests, and are needed to overcome environmental conditions such as heat or cold. Gone is the traditional hero’s tunic (barring some extreme in game work). Breath of the Wild only has 4 dungeons and they’re not dungeons in the traditional sense. The majority of puzzle solving is done by finding shrines. There’s no more pieces of heart, Link upgrades his hearts by completing shrine puzzles. Link has a stamina meter. The fuck?
I’m just scratching the surface here. Breath of the Wild is a true reinvention of the series. Or is it? I think the best way to describe BOTW is as the first 3D implementation of Zelda 1. Zelda 1 threw you out in the world and said “Figure it out, dummy”. Breath of the Wild is much of the same. There’s a little more guidance, sure, but it has that true sense of adventure that’s been lacking in Zelda games for quite a while. It’s the first time since Zelda 1 that really feels like “if you can think it, you can do it”. There’s tons of different ways to solve every puzzle, endless secrets hidden throughout the world, or just a supreme amount of fun to be had by fucking around. This is the first game in probably 15 years where I’ve been having regular “Did you know you could do this in the game?” “No way really?!” exchanges with friends.
Zelda: Prepare to Die Edition
Another thing that goes completely out the window is that traditional 3D Zelda combat system. Z-targeting is still around, but has been significantly nerf’d. This results in a combat system that forces you do get good, because you can’t just hold town the targeting button and swing wildly. Oh did I mention you’ll die all the time? Taking a page from Dark Souls apparently, the sheer difficulty of combat in BOTW has been turned the fuck up. You will die a lot in this game. However, you won’t mind dying. It’s not frustrating, it feels like a learning experience.
There’s more than just combat you’ll have to master. There’s a cooking system, armor upgrading system, shrine quests, and a whole bunch of other stuff that BOTW will no hold your hand for. You have to just figure it out, and that’s fucking excellent in my opinion. This might be a turn off to some players, but goddammit, it shouldn’t be too hard to think for yourself. If it seems daunting, here’s a lovely video from the lads at LaserTime explaining some pointers:
Which Hyrule is it?
All of them. The sheer size of the world in BOTW is staggering. It makes Twilight Princess look like kiddie shit. It makes Wind Waker look like a joke. Skyward Sword? Get the fuck out of here. The world is huge, but in no way is it empty. The world is jam packed with hidden puzzles, quests, interesting characters, shrine puzzles, or just areas great for fucking around in. The map incorporates elements from a lot of past games, the Lanayru and Eldin regions, and races from past games as well. The Zora, Gororns, Gerudo, and Rito are all present in the game and play vital roles in the main questline.
The Main questline is based around four dungeons, one for each race. The dungeons are far shorter and different than traditional Zelda dungeons. They don’t have mini bosses, small keys, none of that stuff. To some people this is a point of criticism but to me they fit the mold of the game perfectly. Contributing to the Zelda 1 spirit of the game, you don’t even have to complete the dungeons. They’re entirely optional. So is getting the Master Sword. It really drives home the notion of “if you think it, you can do it”. Did you know that Zelda talks now? Perhaps the most jarring change over other entries in the series is actual voice acting. Link still doesn’t talk, but there is a few cutscenes featuring dialogue from Zelda and other characters. It’s pretty weird, but it’s kept to a minimum and doesn’t become intrusive.
Should You Care?
Abso-fucking-lutely. I’m missing a lot of points in this review, but I could talk about Breath of the Wild for days. I’m not going to do it justice in this review, but I’ll give it my best shot right now. This game is positively incredible. I tried to think long and hard about a problem with it, or some scathing criticism, and the best I could come up with is that the soundtrack isn’t super incredible. Breath of the Wild is a masterpiece. The sheer scope and prowess of this game is something to marvel at. I think that the 3D Zelda’s needed a bit of a reinvention and this is perfect. I know not everyone will agree, and some purists will hate it for the reasons I love it, but to me this game is practically flawless. If you have a WiiU, you are doing yourself a disservice by not playing this. If you have a Switch and somehow don’t already own this, get on it. Is it worth buying the Switch for? No, but this is the perfect launch game that only makes me happy I purchased the system. Well done Nintendo, take a bow.