For the past few days our writers (Matt & Andrew) have been plugging away on our The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild review. After almost a week with the game our official review is ready. Currently the aggregating review site Metacritic has 75 critics giving the game an average review score of 98 / 100. Many top gaming sites and blogs are giving the game top scores, with even IGN giving it a 10/10 – a Masterpiece. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is clearly making waves in gaming journalism, and rightfully so. The Nintendo Switch’s first big Nintendo game and the Wii U’s last large Nintendo made game give both respective systems something truly Nintendo different & perfect.
Without providing spoilers the main concept of the story in Zelda: BOW centers around Link who’s lost all memory of Zelda and the old Hyrule. The story will send Link to countless locations (many, many locations) in search of his memories. Soon after getting into the game you’ll acquire one of the game’s key items, which is used frequently to propel the story. In terms of a Zelda story, Breath of the Wild introduces a more mature form of storytelling. The main goal of reclaiming all the memories Link needs and to defeat the game’s final boss took about 40 – 50 hours to complete. The hundreds of NPCs coupled with interesting stories, quests and histories draws the world of Breath of the Wild similarly like Tolkien when he wrote about the world of Middle-earth. We rarely rave a game’s story this long, but too make a point without spoiling anything Zelda Breath of the Wild has a masterpiece of a story.
Graphically Breath of the Wild looks amazing, with unbelievable vistas that stretch towards mountainous horizons. The epic world and its many different environments are made even more impressive with the fine-tuned mechanics of different tools, upgrades and items Links gets to deploy. While making a grand jump off the first mountain peak or climbing a canyon wall, Zelda Breath of the Wild is a world full of additional details that makes even the smallest nook-and-crannies seemed planned out… given special attention.
The special effects along with the natural physics also contribute to the graphical wonderment. Hyrule feels like a world that is alive, with natural-believable systems that make the experience enriching in a way no game has ever done before. Chopping a tree down to make a bridge over a ravine or actually plucking the apples off a tree are just simple ways the game’s physics make for an interesting gameplay experience. The world takes a more realistic-believable form in Breath of the Wild. The interactions with nature are some of the most realistic ever crafted in a videogame. Done are the days of foliage and wildlife being nothing more than a backdrop in a game.
Zelda Breath of the Wild sets a new benchmark in how open sandbox games will be measured. Without spoiling the surprises we’ll touch on just a couple. For instance, the ground and grass become slick and difficult to navigate during a rain storm while wind will continue to push the limits of Link’s (almost pitiful) physique. Many of the aspects of the real world are witnessed in Zelda BOW, and make it a hallmark moment for cutting edge graphics. The amount of thought put into making every system in Breath of the Wild so real adds layers of graphical beauty that doesn’t require massive framerates or the best textures. A world where every mountain can be climbed and every animal & plant interacted with provides for those “Oh Cool!” moments that don’t find their mark in many games anymore.
The gameplay in Zelda Breath of the Wild takes traditional concepts from past Zelda games while utilizing many new / interesting concepts. Simple things like melee combat are made more impressive when the natural physics of the world respond to Link’s weapon. The many different items allow for many different experiences. The paraglider for example sports a wide range of uses. Not only does the paraglider allow the player to reach far off places, but can be used to do other activities in the game completely centric (or not) to goals of acquisition. For example, using one item like a snowboard Link can switch to the paraglider to catch some serious air, or (with practice) can land on an un-expecting horse providing Link with a chance to tame it.
Explore new horizons with the paraglider in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. pic.twitter.com/xozg4GSywl
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) August 31, 2016
Reaching the game’s many environments is easy, with most of the world easily accessible from the starting point. This sandbox style provides full freedom in exploring the game’s many secrets. While the game does allow full freedom on how you explore and take on its challenges, the freedom is only as good as Link and his equipment. Exploring the frozen tundra’s of one location without proper clothing can lead to a very fast death, while other areas will leave Link dead by heat, lightning and other natural affects. The world of Hyrule- its natural ecosystems and realistic physics intertwines freedom and challenge perfectly.
Zelda games have always had amazing music and sound effects. Breath of the Wild is not an exception, as once again Nintendo’s use of orchestrated music helps add a finishing touch to the whole experience. The classically inspired Zelda pieces are blurred into the context of the moment. A peaceful melody can melt away seamlessly while transitioning to an exciting battle drawl depending on the moment. The music gives Zelda Breath of the Wild an almost artful masterpiece feel, along with everything else unsurpassed by very few games.
The amount of time we’ve spent playing Zelda Breath of the Wild is around 60 hours so far, with about 40 hours spent on getting to the end boss and beating the main story. From the many temples, side dungeons, side quests and other secrets to discover we wouldn’t be surprised if Zelda Breath of the Wild provided over 100 more hours of fun.
Zelda Breath of the Wild does support amiibos, along with the new Zelda amiibos for the Breath of the Wild. Scanning these into either the Wii U version or the Nintendo Switch can provide some simple benefits. Even the Wolf Link amiibo can be used, which provides Link with a helpful wolf companion who helps by fighting off enemies and locating hidden treasures.
In conclusion Zelda Breath of the Wild provides the Nintendo Switch and Wii U the huge-open world experience rare for Nintendo platforms. Breath of the Wild is a must have game for anyone who enjoys sandbox style RPGs like Skyrim, Oblivion and The Witcher. What’s interesting is how other titles are going to have to change, evolve to compete with Zelda once again. In terms of big-epic games, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild puts Nintendo back on top of “Wow, Cool!” again.
The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild Final Review Score Breakdown
- Gameplay : 10 / 10
- Graphics : 9.5 / 10
- Music & Sound : 9 / 10
- Replay Value : 10 / 10
- Final Review Score : 9.6 / 10