Okay, I know it's been a very long time since my last proper article, roughly a month if I'm not mistaken, but hear me out. The Legend of Zelda series of games is my absolute favorite game franchise of all time. I can't really explain why, but I have always been drawn to this series ever since I was a kid. I'm not sure if it was the fantasy setting, the items, the mythos, or the fact that it was Nintendo-made, but it has always brought a smile to my face whenever I played one of the many entries in the series. That being said, the new Zelda game that came out in March this year called Breath of the Wild immediately caught my attention when it was announced back in E3 of 2014. Since then, I've spent every free moment of my time playing and digesting everything this game had to offer and boy let me tell you, the fact that it is open world is just the tip of the iceberg.
First time you start up the game you are greeted with a bright light and an audible voice calling out to Link, the player. Now even though it was confirmed quite a while ago that the game would have voice acting, it still was rather jarring to hear actual spoken dialog in a main series Zelda game. You are then presented with a simple, generic tutorial of the game's controls such as movement, climbing, and jumping (yes there is a dedicated jump button in this game) so you can properly traverse the world. Then you meet an old man outside of the cave Link was sleeping in, and he gives you a general idea on how the game works, but that's it. That's right, this game gives you no more than the information you absolutely need at the beginning, and then leaves you to fend for yourself. The last time Nintendo did something this drastic in a Zelda game was during the NES era, AND I LOVE IT.
Just about everything you find in this game from food and materials to weapons needs to be found during your time exploring as shops are few and far between, and not a single one has an infinite amount of stock. And to make matters even more interesting, weapons and shields are not indestructible, and you have a finite amount of inventory space. Fortunately though, your inventory can be upgraded through the use of Korok Seeds of which there are 900 to collect. In addition to the insane number of Korok Seeds to find, there are also 120 shrines to discover and each one provides a challenge that rewards the player with a Spirit Orb which can be redeemed for a Heart Container or a Stamina Vessel for every four you collect.
Now one of the biggest changes in the formula that was made to this game was the complete absence of items and tools which were used in past games to solve puzzles in dungeons and to improve Link's mobility; not so this time. Instead of collecting the items gradually throughout the course of the game, the first four shrines within the first hour or so of gameplay present you with four runes for your Sheikah Slate (Remote Bombs, Stasis, Cryonis, and Magnesis) that will be used for the entirety of the game. By giving everything that you will ever need at the beginning, it makes all of the future puzzles entirely reliant on your ability to problem-solve without hints being thrown at you every five steps you take. It forced me to experiment with what I had and I felt a much greater sense of accomplishment when I figured out the puzzle on my own.
Now my favorite thing about this game would have to be the world of Hyrule itself. From the things I've read here and there, Hyrule is roughly 360 km¬≤ (Skyrim by comparison, which is known for being quite large, is roughly 37 km¬≤), and I believe it. The fact that Nintendo packed so much stuff into this world and put in so many collectibles and hidden stuff in it, it is rare to ever find yourself with nothing to do. You can hunt, mine for ore, do side quests, fight rare and/or giant monsters, play mini games, the list goes on. I myself have spent many an hour just walking around aimlessly and taking in the scenery. Everything is just absolutely beautiful.
Now this review may seem a bit short when you consider how big the game is, I'm afraid that is all I can say on the matter as compared to past games in the series, everything about it is EXTREMELY open ended: The story is in pieces and must be found by exploring key areas in Hyrule, the map is also in pieces and fills in when the Sheikah Tower in that province is activated, almost all music in the game is of the ambient variety instead of it sounding exploratory, you can complete any dungeon and shrine what whatever order you want, all combat is very action oriented (as opposed to past games where you would just wait for an opening and then strike) with all enemies having a tell to their attacks, and the introduction of upgradable armor sets makes this game feel much more like The Elder Scrolls, The Witcher or Dark Souls lite than your standard Zelda affair. I'm not saying this is bad, I happen to like this format a lot and wish to see it as the new standard. What I'm saying is that it is different than what I (and a lot of fans) have been accustomed to for the past two decades, but this change to the formula was SORELY needed.
So needless to say, after spending roughly 100 hours in this game in such a short amount of time, this installment in the series is definitely my favorite entry thus far. While the world is quite expansive, the fact that each shrine doubles as a fast travel point is very nice, the ambient soundtrack is very soothing and exciting at the same time, the graphics are complimented by the lighting very well, the lore and societies within the kingdom of Hyrule are very interesting to learn about, and the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want to do it is thoroughly liberating. So now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to farm for more Lynel guts so I can upgrade my barbarian armor. So until then, I'll be seeing you.
Edited by Gilgamesh