There’s so many damn Breath of the Wild reviews out there right now that it almost feels pointless to write one, and so I’m going to bypass all of that and just talk about some awesome things about the game that I am loving so far!
This game is a case study of the concept “it’s the little things that count.” So many details are packed into this masterpiece that I would be surprised if you would even notice them out in one long-term play-through. In fact, it wasn’t until viewing Dunkey’s latest video that prompted me into writing this up, because he exploited so many little tricks I had never even thought of before. I’ve been noticing these little terrific things as I’ve been playing and writing them down all over the place with intent to write about them later. This game is full of surprises and videos have been coming out daily of people exploiting them. It’s glorious.
One of the first times it dawned on me that this was advanced in terms of a Zelda game was when I got the bombs. I was having a literal and figurative blast blowing up moblin camps, and I tried rolling a bomb into a camp filled with conveniently placed dynamite. Instead, one of the moblins got up, kicked the bomb back up to me, and I blew myself up and died. This is a small detail but man does it speak to the artificial intelligence you can find in this game! Enemies will attempt to flank you, and they’ll work together to crowd you and have their sweet way with you. In fact, some of the larger moblins will actually throw the smaller moblins at you if they lose their primary weapon.
Another one of the simple pleasures is using the glider. There was tons of footage that showcased this incredible feature but there’s nothing yet I’ve found in-game that’s more satisfying than coasting across the map from the top of a tower. As a part of my initiative to uncover the entire map, finding all of the towers is key to unveiling the cartography of the surrounding region. From atop these towers, you can zoom in and find Shrines in the area. Then, in a leap of faith, you jump right off the tower and pull out your trusty glider, and float right through the air. It feels incredible and with the sheer scale and size of the world, it’s actually a great mode of transportation! Quickly climbing to the top of a mountain nearby can save you time getting around, since you can just jump off the top and float over a body of water, for example.
This huge game is a gigantic physics playground, make no mistake. Everything is pretty damn realistic, at least for a video game. Float a bomb down a river and detonate it to easily collect fish. Set a cow on fire and get a perfectly seared steak every time, just like in real life! Figuring out the limits of the engine and seeing all the cool things that still work is a game in and of itself that you can easily spend hours doing.
It’s hilarious to me that you can wander up to any deadly enemy as soon as you start the game, and immediately get ripped in half. I’ve blown myself up, cut down trees only to have them roll on to me and die immediately. It’s very overwhelming but you can progress by doing practically anything. Exploring will get you used to the controls and better at fighting, you’ll find more weapons, better armor, better bows, and special arrows. You’re rewarded constantly for simply partaking in the game and you always feel like you’re moving along.
Of course, amidst all these perfect review scores dating back weeks before the actual release, there are some flaws that I’m seeing, although they’re all relatively minor. First off, and this is just personal preference, but the weapon and shield durability system can be a pain. Maybe I spent too many hours in Dark Cloud, but the ability to repair weapons would be a welcome addition that may actually exist at some point in the game. At this point though, it’s driving me a little nuts. On the flip side to this, it is pretty interesting keeping an arsenal of varied weapons. Sometimes it’s not worth burning through a powerful weapon’s durability, and switching to something more disposable and common makes sense. Kind of a “right tool for the job” sort of thing.
The other is the stamina meter. This was introduced in Skyward Sword and, as I only played that game before about an hour and a half before quitting and never returning (RIP perfect Zelda streak since Link to the Past), hadn’t really experienced using it very much. It makes sense for climbing, I will admit, but for getting around, it is pretty limited. Sure you can upgrade it, but upgrading is very expensive and honestly, I think Shrine Orbs are simply better spent on heart pieces. At least early on in the game.
Speaking of getting around, the landscape is so fantastically varied that getting around on horseback seems to be more of a burden than it’s worth, at the moment. Horses can’t scale cliffs like in Skyrim so moving them around can be frustrating. They also feel very unresponsive at times and they tend to wander off a straight path, though I cannot figure out if this is by design and the horse is automatically trying to avoid collision. Overall, I’ve boarded two horses at the various stables and.. well, they’re there for me when I need them!
That being said, this game is a blast and is the perfect sandbox game I was hoping for. There are times when I think it might be too big but that’s just my crazy completionist side thinking. I could go on but I’ll stop here because I have some Zelda to play. If you have a WiiU and don’t plan on buying the Switch yet, I still recommend grabbing a copy of the game for your current system. It’s absolutely worth the price of admission and though the Switch is going to be getting tons of games in the next year, I wouldn’t want to miss all of the incredible Breath of the Wild hype.
Hop on the hype train, baby!