So the highly anticipated Nintendo Switch has finally landed – and with it came The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It’s no secret that since the first teaser trailer was shown, back in 2014, hype for the game has steadily grown. Quiet at first, but as more was revealed about the new game and console, excitement grew. This was no longer about the Switch or even a new Zelda game, Nintendo was doing something very, very different this time around, a massive gamble that paid off.
The aim was to develop a new 3D adventure with a scale unlike anything that had been seen in the franchise before. So they approached Bethesda, the team behind the Skyrim game and sealed a deal to get their input. Bethesda must have been only too eager to please the big boys and they’ve pulled out all the stops. Fans of Skyrim will know the feeling of an open game play, where you can shape your own destiny, explore where you want, in your own time, maybe even throw in a few side quests in between. Breath Of The Wild has this with one major difference – the land of Hyrule is three times bigger than the whole of Skyrim… think on that for a moment…!
Not only that, but it does not compromise the quality in any way. Indeed the game was actually delayed a few times with some fans displeased, wanting to know why it wasn’t released for Zelda’s 30 th anniversery in Feb 2016. However the answer was simple – it wasn’t ready. Neither Nintendo or anyone working on the series wanted less than perfect, and it was a no brainer of a decision. The last Zelda game released was Skyward Sword back in 2011 and generally had not received a great response, Nintendo is a company that learn from their mistakes. The interest grew as more trailers and info was released including the amiibos that would be compatible with the game.
When the game finally launched alongside the Switch on Friday 3rd Feb, the internet and social media practically imploded. Breath Of The Wild knocked it out of the park! The reviews and scores told everyone all they needed to know. Link was back and was ready to hit back at the critics after a six year wait.
The first thing players will notice is a voice calling you as you (Link) wakes up for a long slumber inside a building called the temple of resurrection. Actual voices in the series have never happened before, all dialogue is displayed on the screen, so to hear a voice calling you is a unique, skin prickling experience. You make your way out of the temple, and from then on it’s your story. There is of course a main goal and quest to complete, and you will be briefed on that by a mysterious old man shortly after you leave the temple, but there are many different ways you can go about it. There’s no time limit or set route as you interact with the land around you. You will start the game with no weapons, so be prepared to pick up a tree branch to defeat your first monsters. Hearts dropped after a monster defeat are also gone, Link now replenishes his health with cooked meals… oh yes you can collect ingredients and cook over a fire in the wilderness.
The gameplay is responsive on both the Wii U and Switch versions with no real differences to be seen and the graphics are simply beautiful. In a direct opposite to rich thick textures and HD styles of Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, Breath Of The Wild has an almost old animated feel to it, it would be forgiveable to mistake it for a Gibli film! Links overall style has changed slightly, and throughout the game he can sport several different outfits (which can be unlocked with the power of different amiibos) even trading in the popular green cap for a kick ass bandanna if that’s your thing.
However the main appeal of the game for me, and the word that keeps coming back is ‘open-ness.’
There is no truly accurate description of how this game can play out… seriously – we can’t write anymore! If you want to plunge straight into the main storyline you can do that. If you want to spend your first hour fruit picking (yes it’s happened) you can do just that. The trademark ‘puzzle solving’ of the franchise, is figuring where you want to go and how you are going to get there. What equipment you need and how to get it. Where’s the nearest camp-fire to cook supper over…
and just who is that mysterious old man sitting over there?… No seriously… who is he?