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The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Review (Switch)

We had a lot of skepticism and kept our hype in check, but in the end we can't deny that Breath of the Wild took our breath away hour after joyous hour. With a ton of great content and gameplay, along with polish that you just don't see much of anymore, we just might have another Nintendo classic on our hands.

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Review (Switch)

Introduction

It took longer than expected, but The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild is finally here for both the Wii U and the newly released Switch. I personally have always enjoyed the Zelda games as classic linear adventure games, so seeing the series tackle open-world gameplay in a 3d entry was definitely intriguing. But I kept my hype in check and went in with 0 expectations.

I came out with the firm belief that Breath Of The Wild is one of the best open-world games ever made, let alone my new favorite entry in the Zelda series (sorry Windwaker). It's not perfect (no game is), but it reaches a caliber of quality that is rarely met nowadays in the industry. 

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild is available on Amazon for both Wii U and Switch for $59.99

Story

Most people probably think that Breath Of The Wild has the same story as previous entries in the Zelda franchise. It makes me extremely happy to say that they couldn't be more wrong. Well, half wrong at least. Yes, you're still traveling around Hyrule and exploring dungeons to defeat Ganon and save Zelda, but Breath Of The Wild's story has much more depth to it. 

Calamity Ganon took over Hyrule 100 years ago, where he now rests at Hyrule Castle gathering power so that he can rule the entire world. Link wakes up in a strange cavern and sets off to find out what happened 100 years ago and why he has been awoken from his slumber.

Link interacts with a strange old man soon after awakening... (photo by Jake Thompson)

I don't want to spoil too much; as the story and lore here is extremely well written and interesting. Characters are also very charming and well rounded when you get to know them throughout the story. You're able to see certain things that happened 100 years ago that help build the world and tension of the situation Hyrule is in now. It's all expertly crafted. 

Gameplay 

Where do I even begin? I guess a brief overview is in order. This isn't your typical Zelda world where Hyrule field is just a way for all of the levels in the game to seem connected. No, this is a true massive kingdom that you explore in Breath Of The Wild, and theres plenty of things to do in it. But first, let's talk about fighting Ganon's minions.

Combat

Old school Zelda fans might find that combat feels a little off from previous entries. That's definitely how I felt when first engaging enemies. It almost feels like that took several steps backwards with combat. You can no longer do many of the fancy sword moves that Link knew in the past. While at first this feels lackluster, you soon realize that taking several steps back actually let you have way more options in how you tackle situations.

For the first time in the series, stealth is an extremely viable option when dealing with enemies in the world. You can sneak up behind enemies and perform a "sneak strike" to do double damage. You can also pull off headshots with your bow for extra damage on enemies.

Most enemy setups provide you with a ton of options. You could use one of your Runes (more on them later) to take enemies out, or use fire arrows to blow up explosive barrels, sneak around to take enemies out one by one, or try to go all Rambo style and take them all on at once, etc. The freedom of choice here is a breath of fresh air (pun somewhat intended).

Combat is also pretty intense due to how often your weapons break. I thought I would get annoyed by this, but I actually grew to like it quite a bit. Having your weapons and shields break often creates this urgency to battles, as well as this sense that every attack and block you do matters. Of course like every Zelda game, when you aren't in combat, you'll most likely be partaking in one of the many puzzles.

Puzzles

As with most Zelda games, puzzles range from extremely easy to mind bending. I found a lot of puzzles to be extremely logical and was happy with the variety of challenges there was. Most puzzles will be in mini dungeons called shrines. These shrines have many unique puzzle types and are a joy to play through. Some puzzle types repeat, but there is enough variety so nothing feels overdone.

The only puzzles that I found frustrating were the motion control puzzles. There are multiple times where you'll need to move the joycons to rotate a platform or control a hammer of some kind. Personally I am not a huge fan of motion controls and felt that the game didn't really need these types of puzzles in them, even if they do make the game feel more varied.

Exploration and The World

As with any open-world game, exploration is huge in Breath Of The Wild. The world itself is huge and is filled with all kinds of things to do, people to meet, and quests to partake in. The best part about exploration, similar to combat, is the variety in choosing how you want to explore the world. You could just travel everywhere on foot, but you also use your paraglider to soar through the air, climb up seemingly every mountain and tree you want, or even find wild horses, elk, and even bears to mount and ride throughout the world.

Using the paraglider is just as fun as it is useful (photo by Jake Thompson)
The game also has random dynamic weather that affects how you play. For example, when it rains climbable things like mountains become slick, making it harder for you to climb up them. Or if its a thunderstorm and you have anything metallic on you you'll be struck by lightning. It's these little details that make the world of Breath Of The Wild feel real and keep you interested in exploring it.

Cooking


One of the most addicting things in Breath Of The Wild is the clever cooking system. You can take various ingredients that you find in the world and combine them together at a fire with a pot to make various different food items that not only can regenerate your health, but also give you star boosts; like increased attack power, or resistance to certain elemental attacks. I frequently found myself distracted at a fire just experimenting with different combinations. 
It's not uncommon for people to become addicted to cookingg and get distracted from their adventure (photo by Jake Thompson)

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

It's no secret that the Wii U and Switch aren't the most powerful hardware on the market right now, but that doesn't stop Breath Of The Wild from being a pretty game in it's own right. The game runs at 900p when the Switch is docked, and 720p when in handheld mode. There is also occasional framerate slowdown, but this was so rare that it never bugged me. This may turn off people who are PC master-race, or if you look for more visually striking graphics in your games nowadays, but Breath Of The Wild still has a great look and art style to it (sort of a mix between Skyward Sword and Windwaker).  
Even just climbing up a mountain-side can can put you in awe (photo by Jake Thompson)

I was also pleasantly surprised with the game's soundtrack. Usually Zelda games just reuse and/or remix older songs, but Breath Of The Wild has a lot of great piano pieces that set the tone perfectly for any given situation; whether it be in the heat of battle or enjoying a view of Hyrule. Sound effects too are pretty good here and remind you of previous Zelda slashing and monster noises fare. 

CONCLUSION

You guys know what's coming. I really didn't want to do this, but Breath Of The Wild reaches a quality that is extremely rare in today's market. I'm sure some kind find bigger complaints with it, but anything that I could complain about would simply be nitpicks. Nintendo has brought us another classic for years to come.

Special thanks to Jake Thompson for capturing the screenshots for this review.

PROSCONS
+ Well written and interesting story– It didn't come out sooner
+ Fun engaging combat
+ Massive and interesting open world
+ Amazing attention to detail
10
Perfect

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