THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD (FOR NINTENDO SWITCH) REVIEW

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<Ed. Note: Portions of this review previously appeared in our pre-review for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The contents of this reviews are applicable only lớn the Nintendo Switch version of Breath of the Wild at this time.

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With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, one of the longest-running, most beloved video clip game franchises of all time feels lượt thích it’s finally moving forward.

It’s debatable whether or not Zelda as a series has been in a rut, and for how long, but it’s almost certainly fallen into a predictable pattern: an overworld with dungeons that offer items, which in turn allow access to new dungeons & means of traversal. Sure, each trò chơi had its own twist — a dark world, lycanthropy, sailing, flight — but there was a predictable path for each. It was a familiar loop, and a successful one, given the series’ regard.

Somewhere in the transition from the overhead perspective of the 8- & 16-bit Zelda titles lớn the third dimension added with the Nintendo 64’s Ocarina of Time, Nintendo seemed to chiến bại faith in players’ ability to figure things out. One of the worst offenders: relentless, unskippable introductory sections that could drag on for hours as each trò chơi made absolutely sure you understood how to play it — by having you perform the same basic mechanical tasks in numerous mundane ways.

But five và a half years since 2011’s Skyward Sword, Nintendo apparently rediscovered that faith.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the biggest, most open Zelda game ever made, but it also brings with it a massive change in thiết kế philosophy, & the way it treats players. Breath of the Wild is the first main Zelda title since 1991 (2013’s Link lớn the Past sequel A liên kết Between Worlds notwithstanding) khổng lồ feel like it respects its players implicitly.

In return, Breath of the Wild demands your respect. & if you forget that for longer than a few minutes, it’ll remind you by knocking you flat on your ass.


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Breath of the Wild isn’t without some of the same basic Zelda foundation. You play as Link, the nhân vật of fantasy world Hyrule, though what that means and who link is differs from previous games somewhat (as it does in every Zelda game). The story opens as a confused link awakens lớn a world he doesn’t recognize. Mystery is everywhere, from the hint of hyper-advanced fantasy công nghệ to the evidence all around of a disastrous, society-ending war.

The narrative cài đặt is more or less perfect for a Zelda game, because it provides just enough familiarity khổng lồ feel lượt thích it’s supposed to for old fans, và leaves enough holes lớn instill a real sense of mystery. Liên kết moves through the world lượt thích a ghost, and it suits the voiceless character well.

New spins on familiar Zelda archetypes are typical from trò chơi to game, but Nintendo’s EPD team has also retooled many of the basic character tropes & ideas that have remained a constant for the series’ existence. There are character relationships at work that are not what you expect, and I was genuinely surprised by a number of implied stories and relationships. I expect Breath of the Wild’s narrative and character departures from Zelda precedent to lớn stir at least some amount of controversy, which is mostly a good thing.


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All of this is painted in the most sophisticated visual style và presentation Zelda has ever seen. The Wind Waker and Skyward Sword were striking in their own ways, but Breath of the Wild is their clear culmination. It is a frequently stunning, consistently striking visual achievement, evocative of legendary Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli’s films in a way that seems lovingly influenced rather than derivative. It also happens lớn include some of the best, most varied music the series has ever had, and, for the first time in a Zelda game, voice acting for a number of characters.


Breath of the Wild is uniformly stunning

In all likelihood, Nintendo could have made a traditional Zelda trò chơi with Breath of the Wild’s art direction & production values và received the biggest accolades the series has seen since 1998’s Ocarina of Time. It looks that good.

Of course, that isn’t the game Nintendo made.

If you’ve played any previous Zelda game, the following statement should rock you on your heels: Every mission-critical tool & item in Breath of the Wild is obtained within the first hour or two of play in an expanded sandbox that acts as a tutorial without mindless compulsory tasks.

Breath of the Wild’s various locations are gated behind specific kinds of equipment less than in any other third-person Zelda game. The geographic options in front of me felt almost overwhelming right from the start, và that was just in the opening space. Once you obtain a specific cống phẩm that allows you to leave that plateau, Hyrule is your oyster. It just happens to be an oyster full of really angry monsters và ancient death machines that will murder you if they see you.

Breath of the Wild is, without question or debate, the hardest Zelda game of the last 20 years. The first 20 minutes or so are pretty low-key — you can kill the scrub Bokoblins and other minor enemies you meet without much trouble, using nothing more than a tree branch picked up off the ground. But once you leave the initial learning spaces và venture into more typical zones, you’re probably going to die.

You’re probably going khổng lồ die a lot, honestly. Often without much warning. Or at least I did.


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Often, the only indication Breath of the Wild might give that you are under-equipped for the space you’re in is an enemy taking you from, say, six hearts to lớn a quarter of one in a single axe swipe or spear lunge (assuming, you know, they don’t just kill you outright). Or, lượt thích I said, they’ll just kill you with no real fanfare or warning, and the trò chơi will reload you fairly close to lớn where you were, with you hopefully having learned an important lesson about Hyrule’s ecosystem và its desire for you not khổng lồ exist in it.

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Comparisons to lớn games lượt thích Dark Souls are probably inevitable, but they’re not exactly fair. You don’t thua kém anything when you die, other than the time lost getting back to where you were. You vị have to lớn contend with equipment with a finite life span, however, and resources will often be scarce unless you gather ingredients lớn make potions & meals.


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A side note: While I wholeheartedly approve of Breath of the Wild getting out of its own way immediately, I really would have appreciated any tutorial whatsoever on cooking, something the trò chơi doesn’t care lớn elaborate on in any meaningful way until well into the experience.

Cooking and crafting is something I’ve typically avoided in open-world kích hoạt RPGs in the last several years; I find this kind of thing incredibly boring. But for whatever reason, cooking và mixing in Breath of the Wild feels a little more loose & a little more immediately rewarding, and, well, it’s an absolute necessity.

There’s a practical reason for this. While spaces in Breath of the Wild aren’t item-gated, exactly, aside from the aforementioned enemies that will smash you, they can be beyond your physical capabilities. While link is physically capable — he can climb most walls và use a sort of hang glider, & he can swim right away, no items required — more strenuous activity depletes Link’s limited stamina bar. However, if you cook the right things together, you can create meals and elixirs that, say, refill your stamina completely, or even give you temporary extra stamina that might allow you to reach a spot you otherwise couldn’t.

Also, if you don’t make meals that give you more than a heart or two back — or, eventually, that give you bonus temporary hearts — you’re not going khổng lồ survive against more powerful common enemies you’ll find out in the world.

At first, this all feels lượt thích a lot khổng lồ keep track of & consider while playing a Zelda game, but it quickly became second nature for me. Và it all ties into the first idea I talked about above: that Breath of the Wild feels like the first third-person, big-budget Zelda trò chơi to eschew a meandering, elaborate, incredibly extended tutorial section. Breath of the Wild teaches you khổng lồ play it, don’t get me wrong. The plateau you start on gives you the powers & abilities you’ll use for much of the game’s puzzle solving via shrines, & each shrine is a series of instructional scenarios for a particular ability. But you can also screw around và kill Bokoblins và climb và explore the area to lớn your heart’s content, if that’s what you want lớn do, and you could spend hours doing it before you left for the rest of Hyrule.


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That respect radiates outward. The puzzle xúc tích và ngắn gọn in Breath of the Wild feels legitimately logical, và smartly physics-based. There are optional shrines scattered throughout Hyrule that act as mini puzzle dungeons, and almost without exception, they’ve all been a lot of fun to figure out. By the kết thúc of most Zelda games, I’ve felt that the trò chơi had just about exhausted its ideas for puzzles và dungeons. After solving 50 shrines over 60-70 hours in Breath of the Wild, I’m still looking for more.

Shrines aren’t the only place where Breath of the Wild invites quick thinking. Hyrule is full of emergent opportunities to push your basic understanding of the world và its rules, which only works because of how clever it all is. Weather & elements play a key role, và each act the way that they should, and, as importantly in a đoạn phim game, Nintendo EPD goes out of its way to explain in multiple instances how that environment works. Many games — many Zelda games, even — are plagued by "video game logic," rules that masquerade as common sense but are, more often, the solutions a designer thought a problem should have. But Breath of the Wild teaches you again và again how things work, và the end result was a feeling of achievement in figuring things out that didn’t just seem like guesswork.

Breath of the Wild isn’t just difficult for the sake of it, or unnecessarily complicated. All that discovery và progress is deeply, intensely rewarding, và it builds on itself many times over as the world opens up. I struggled to lớn force myself khổng lồ push toward the game’s conclusion for this đánh giá — a conclusion that could have come much sooner, as players are không lấy phí to try skipping much of the game’s quest for a straight-shot gambit at Breath of the Wild’s main threat.


That sense of consistent achievement & discovery is incredibly important, because it’s the driving force behind Breath of the Wild. Combat is functional, và I rarely died because of systemic inadequacies — and can I just, for a moment, appreciate playing a console Zelda title whose controls were not designed around motion input?

It’s really nice to not have to swing a Wiimote to lớn use Breath of the Wild’s arsenal.

Even combat is subject khổng lồ the same sort of discovery that makes Hyrule such a pleasure to explore, & subject khổng lồ Breath of the Wild’s experimental proclivities. Weapons are no longer permanent companions. This means you’ll need to lớn learn how to use various options presented to you, & getting attached to lớn any one thing is inviting heartbreak when it literally shatters on the last enemy you’ll ever hit with it. This includes bows, by the way.

Other series staples have gained additional utility with their temporary life spans. Example: Boomerangs are now dual-use tools that can be wielded as melee weapons or thrown in traditional Zelda fashion, but if you bởi the latter, you’ll need to be quick và catch it on the way back.

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This adds another notable source of excitement to Breath of the Wild, which is important in part because of what the trò chơi takes away. While this new take on Hyrule is crawling with dungeons & full of treasure chests, the dungeons lack the same kind of reward loop that proved so deeply satisfying in every other Zelda game. Set-piece dungeons in previous Zelda titles yielded key gear required khổng lồ advance in the game, providing new abilities & opening up new areas of the map. In Breath of the Wild, those chests have weapons that will eventually break, or Rupees or, perhaps most anticlimactically, crafting materials.

I can live with that kind of compromise, even if it was an absence that became more and more apparent over time. Breath of the Wild’s other minor issues are less understandable. While the controls are generally excellent, especially on the Switch’s Pro Controller, the camera can occasionally be a real jerk, particularly while using a bow around trees or fighting multiple enemies in tight quarters. & from a technical perspective, while Breath of the Wild is beautiful, playing the game docked on my TV often resulted in severe frame rate drops. It was never unplayable, but it was distracting.

These problems never manifested while playing Breath of the Wild on the Switch undocked as a handheld. While that wasn’t my preferred way to lớn play — when the Pro Controller is an option, the Joy-Cons’ layouts feel like a punishment by comparison — there is something impressive about a full console Zelda experience on a handheld.

Breath of the Wild is the most vital Zelda has felt in decades

I guess, in the end, it’s not just that Breath of the Wild signals that Zelda has finally evolved and moved beyond the structure it’s leaned on for so long. It’s that the evolution in question has required Nintendo to lớn finally treat its audience lượt thích intelligent people. That newfound respect has led to lớn something big, and different, & exciting. But in an xuất hiện world full of big changes, Breath of the Wild also almost always feels like a Zelda game — & establishes itself as the first current, vital-feeling Zelda in almost trăng tròn years.

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was reviewed using a pre-release physical copy of the trò chơi for the Nintendo Switch provided by Nintendo of America. You can find additional information about vtvplus.vn’s ethics policy here.


Platform Wii U, Nintendo Switch advertiser Nintendo Release Date Mar 3, 2017 Nintendo Switch Score 10 Developer Nintendo EPD