The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review

The legend has never been this beautiful.

*The gameplay is done on both Wii U and Switch version.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a beautiful game that takes the Zelda series to the next level.  The open-world game allows you to explore Hyrule in your own pace with various locations, intriguing puzzles and tough enemies to fight on.  You never know what you’re going to encounter next, and there are fun and danger around every corner.  The massive game is full of hidden gems, even after more than 70 hours of gameplay put into it, I’m still finding new secrets and coming back asking for more.

Taking place in a version of Hyrule that’s untamed and full of advanced technology, our hero Link woke up from a hundred-year slumber where he is quested to take down Ganon and rescued Princess Zelda.  While the story here might sound familiar, what makes Breath of the Wild stands out from other games is the vast and diverse world that is ready for you to explore in anyway you want.  Feeling like solving the shrines first to strengthen yourself?  Go ahead.  Feeling like taking down the Divine Beasts already?  There are four of them, take them down in any order you want.  While not recommended, you can even take down Ganon right away if you want to.  The absolute freedom is what makes Breath of the Wild such a wonderful game.

Hyrule itself is the main character here!  The mythical land is truly alive here with realistic details where you can interact with pretty much everything.  From trees that can be chopped down to enemies approaching you in believable manner, the world of Hyrule is an immersive one. It is really fun trying to figure out what you can do here, and the thing is, if you think something should work, it usually does. You can throw a metal weapon at your enemies during raining weather to have lighting strikes on them, or you can start a fire to create upwind that can carry you to higher ground. The possibility is endless, and it’s up to you to find out what you can do next.

The anime-inspired art style is truly gorgeous, and the subtle music changes match up with the tempo of my adventure.  However, the game does suffers some framerate issues, as the 900p TV output on Switch has some hiccups with line break from time to time.  It’s not as obvious on Switch’s 720p handheld mode, and it’s not something that really hinder my overall gaming enjoyment.  Funny enough, the framerate hiccups doesn’t seem to be a problem on the Wii U version, as it only renders 720p.  Other than lighting seems a bit different, the game is exactly the same on both versions.

Like I stressed before, what makes Breath of the Wild truly stands out is the freedom to explore the open-world.  You have the ability to climb pretty much any surface and going anywhere you want once the game starts.  If you see something interesting in the distance, you can find a way to get there eventually.  The real puzzle here is how to get to the destination, and there are many ways to do so.  For example, there’s a tower that’s way to high to climb for my limited stamina, and I eventually found out I can easily glide to the top instead of frustrating over climbing it.

Mentioning gliding, the paraglider easily one of the best tools in the game.  You can either use it as a helpful tool while exploring, or more skillful players use it to their advantage during combats.  A great addition to the already masterful game.

Another fun addition to make the world more realistic is the weather conditions.  Rain will come down sometime making climbing surfaces slippery, or objects difficult to see.  There are thunderstorms too, and it becomes dangerous for Link to carry metal weapon, shield or bow.  Not to mention each section has its own little ecosystem, and Link has to somehow survive the harsh weather so he doesn’t freeze or burn to death.  There are day and night cycle too, where more enemies will spawn during night time, so plan your adventures accordingly.

Breath of the Wild’s combat system is easy on the surface, but deep upon study.  For the first time in Zelda history, the game features a durability system where all weapons will wear down and break eventually.  It’s a very annoying system, but honestly it fits perfectly into the survival theme of the game.  Weapons might break, but the game will always offer something else right away abide it being better.  Heck, you can even pick up an enemy’s arm to beat up others if you want.

The archery system is much better this time around too.  Players can now easily switch between bow and melee weapon, and there are different arrows to choose from too (such as fire, ice,or thunder).  Different arrows allow you to fight enemies with different weaknesses, and the range weapon gives you a much needed space from your opponents.  There’s also a slow-motion mode when you’re aiming in midair.  It’s one of my favorite attack method, but since it drains your stamina doing so, it’s not something favored during early gameplay.  However, after some stamina upgrades, it will quickly become a very useful skill.

No matter how prepared you are, there’s always a chance you can be killed even by weaker enemies.  The game is brutal like that.  There are various upgrades in the game that will grant you special abilities, and a better chance of survival, but the most important thing is mastering various evading skills to gain a upper hand.  There are some really tough enemies out there that even honing your skills don’t help much- I’m talking about the Lynel here.  These lion, centaur-like creatures are tenacious, and it’s a tough fight even when I’m in my best condition.  But that’s the beauty of the game, showing how nature is always one step above you.

It’s strange for a fantasy game to include technology elements, but it works!  The Sheikah Slate is a wonderful tablet-like device that displays useful information such as maps, photographic memories and even helpful gadgets.  Old favors such as bombs are part of Sheikah Slate’s upgrade now, and the whole thing is a lot sleeker than before.

The post-apocalyptic world of Hyrule is scattered with technological advancements, but they don’t seem out of place at all.  One of these advancements is the puzzle shrines where you’re rewarded with upgrades and weapons upon completion.  There’s a wide variety of intuitive puzzles, and solving them requires the use of various gadgets in your arsenal.  There are usually more than one way to solve the puzzles too, and it’s up to you to figure it out.

My only complain about the shrines is the occasional motion-control based puzzles.  The control can be wonky from time-to-time, and it’s not fair the only reason a puzzle cannot be solved is technical issues.  Other than that, the shrines are definitely worth the side-tracking to complete.

Like a true open world game fashion, the game features hundreds of NPCs giving you various side quests from fetching certain items to defeating certain enemies. However, the game doesn’t feature many random encounters other than the occasional Yiga Clan members disguised as travelers.  This doesn’t necessary put a dent in my exploration, as the majestic land of Hyrule is full of wonder to discover, but it is still a bit of a shame.

Instead of focusing its crafting systems on weaponry, Breath of the Wild gives you the option to cook.  While raw food and ingredients can already give you tiny bit health boost, it’s mixing and cooking them up that really gives you the hearty boost and other status effect.  The combination is endless, and I’ve found myself spending hours trying to find what ingredients mix best for the result I’m aiming for.  The same can be said about elixirs too, as there are various animals and monster parts to create the special brew.  I also love that when I got carried away the result is a disgusting dish called Dubious Food that has to be censored.  It’s overall a small feature in the game, but it’s a great one that really enriches the gaming experience and makes this version of Hyrule an even better one.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an instant classic.  The open-world game is beautiful and full of wonders to be discovered, and even after 70 hours of gameplay I still haven’t come across everything yet.  And yes, I will be more than happy to put in more hours just so I can be in the wonderful, well-established world for much longer.