I’m a huge Zelda fan, and that is why it hurts me to admit the last few games in the franchise have been lacklustre at best. That’s why I had my fingers crossed when Nintendo announced their new gaming console, Nintendo Switch, and that the first new game for the console would be Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

When an ancient evil threatens to re-surface in the land of Hyrule, it is up to a young warrior, named Link, to journey across the lands to defeat the source of the evil: the sorcerer Ganondorf, and rescue princess Zelda.

Read on to find out if the game was worth the wait:

Breath of the Wild Review

What Works

The graphics are gorgeous. Scenes from the game play out like a beautifully illustrated graphic novel, and you’ll often have to pause in the middle of the game just to take in the spectacular scenery stretching out in front of your eyes.    

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Or Behind You, for that Matter

There is so much to explore. This is an open-world game, and you are completely free to explore every inch of a gigantic, magical world that hides secrets in its every corner.

Wait… is that Mount Mordor in the Back?

Individual quests are almost like mini games on their own, and each is as engrossing as the last. These quests don’t follow a set pattern of increasing difficulty for similar kinds of tasks. Each quest requires a different approach, and the act of completing the quest will need not just your weapons, but your wits as well.

You must use your immediate environment to your advantage to defeat the bosses at the end of each quest.

Plan A: Charge Wildly Towards the Boss who’s Spewing Fire. Plan B: STRATEGIZE, STUPID!

The cast of characters are as colorful and distinct as you would expect from a Zelda game. This is something the franchise has been nailing since the beginning, and Breath of the Wild is no exception.

You’ll see a lot of familiar characters, and some new ones, all with little mannerisms and characteristics that take them out of the realm of cardboard cut-outs whose only job is to deliver exposition and become flesh and blood characters.  

Emotional Conflict: When Human-you wants to Befriend Link, But Shark-you wants to eat him

Gameplay mechanics are far more complex than anything the franchise has attempted before. The most fun thing about the game isn’t even the main story, but the way in which you are able to interact with the world around you.

Every rock can be picked up. Every cliff can be climbed, and every fruit can be eaten. But what makes the gameplay even more realistic is the way the negative effects of fending for yourself in the wild have also been incorporated into the game. This means you can get tired and drop off a cliff in the middle of climbing it, or break your sword blade after it becomes dull or worn down from over use.

The game turns you not into a superhero who can do impossible things, but a regular person who needs to fight hard for every weapons or stamina upgrade while constantly guarding against the dangers of the wild.   

‘If I have to climb one more mountain to get to Ganondorf, Hyrule can go f*** Itself.’

What Doesn’t Work

The size of the game can seem too big sometimes. A lot of the game time is spent just wandering from one place to another. There are very few signs or markers along the way, so you can wind up walking around in circles if you don’t pay attention to your surroundings.

Fans who liked the straightforward action style of the old Zelda games may not appreciate all the aimless wandering.

‘Okay, so I took a left at the last mountain, and a right at the earlier mountain and… yeah, I’m lost.’

There are very few tutorials, so navigating Link through the game can be hard sometimes, especially since you can’t change the action assigned to a specific button. This means the act of fighting, using objects or even moving from one place to the other isn’t as smooth as it used to be in the older Zelda games. This is why complex battle scenes can be problematic.  

Fortunately, the Final Boss can be taken out by a medium-sized vacuum cleaner

The main story isn’t anything new. To be fair, games like BotW are more about the smaller moments than the bigger plot, but this installment of the franchise doesn’t take risks with the narrative the way Majora’s Mask did.  

“Why won’t Gamers stop comparing everything to Majora’s mask!”

The game was intended to be played on the Nintendo Switch, so playing it on your television set might lead to some frame rate drops that can be distracting.   

Although not as distracting as Link’s glorious tresses

In conclusion, I love this game. Video games, even more than movies, are a matter of subjective opinion. How well someone likes a game depends on how well they are able to immerse themselves in the game world.

Some might like a game’s graphics, others the storylines, yet others the boss battles and finally there are those who like the actions you can perform within the game. No game triggers the exact same kind of reaction in two players, so all you can do to rate a particular gaming experience is try to decide how fully immersed you were in the virtual reality of the game you’re playing.      

And Breath of the Wild is deeply, deeply immersive. It cuts down on directions and, instead, allows you to create your own path through the game. This is the first truly open-world experience from the Zelda series, and it makes you realize just how constricted previous incarnations of the game were in terms of the places you could go to and the things you could do there.

It’s not just the size of the game world, but the attention to the smaller details that truly make you feel like you are the main character, trapped in a world you don’t recognize, left in the wild to fend for yourself in the biting cold or burning heat, and soldiering on against virtually insurmountable odds to battle the great final evil.

There are very few games in existence that create this kind of an emotional response, gives you such a thrill of discovery or impresses the scale of an epic quest on your mind so deeply. BotW does all these things and more, and deserves its place near the very top of not just all the games in the Zelda franchise, but in the entire history of gaming.    

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