So it’s been quite an eventful few days. The Nintendo Switch launched and we now have a new epic Zelda game in our hands for owners of both the new console and it’s predecessor the Wii U. Although I fall into the latter, I can’t deny I wasn’t stoked for Friday to come around to hear peoples impressions of the Switch, but to also get my hands on the highly anticipated Breath of the Wild. With much calling around for price matching purposes, I arrived home a happy little boy.
I wanted to give my first impressions without giving away too much as this game has mixed up the traditional Zelda formula we have come to expect. I do plan to write a full in depth review once I have finished with this game, which I have no idea when it’ll happen given there’s a lot to distract me in this game.
The game feels different right from the start, Link is more maneuverable than ever before. He can not only climb and sprint now like we have in Skyward Sword, but he can jump with the press of a button. Also, certain weapons are mapped to different buttons and with the inclusion of new abilities, the button mapping has been re-worked slightly, so this actually takes a bit of time getting used to, but the games starting area gives you plenty of time and things to do to get accustomed to the new feel of the game.
Building on what Skyward Sword did, the new in game inventory is very welcoming as it gives Link a variety of gear to wear. I haven’t gotten many different items yet, but have embarked on quests that rewarded me with not only stat boosting gear, but some pretty rad looking things.
In addition to the gear Link wears, there are tons and tons of weapons to salvage throughout the lands. They each feel very different as there are weapons that allow for standard sword use, some that allow for swift attacks, and then slower but more powerful attacks that can demolish shields. Weapons can break so you are forced to use everything you have in your arsenal and are constantly cycling through all the different types and naturally learn what each has to offer. The variety is great and really opens up what Link can do.
The game is testing me out early on with a variety of different foes to. Early on I was having some trouble taking basic enemies, which came much to my surprise and had to make sure I was keeping my food stores topped up to replenish health. There are also some camps you encounter that are teeming with enemies. At first it seems almost impossible to take them on because of their sheer numbers, however the game does something special where it plays off your curiosity to keep surveying your foe. It places a small ruin nearby as an example, and you just naturally need to check this out before moving on. You discover something there like a boulder placed perfectly to take out the enemies in the camp. I love games that teach you battle tactics without throwing walls of text or typical tutorials at you and I really appreciate it not holding my hand like I felt happened often in Skyward Sword. The challenges keep ramping up, as you explore, you encounter some epic enemies like the one below. Even with low level gear, with the right tactics, I was able to take this guy down, through many attempts of course.
I haven’t gotten into too many dungeons yet, but so far those have also been changed. It doesn’t appear you have the standard 8 dungeons you typically see in a Zelda game themed after certain elements. Instead there are way more dungeons spread across the lands each offering unique trials that test certain abilities and skills to pass them. So far though the puzzles are nothing short of what you would expect in a Zelda game.
This game is just down right gorgeous and Hyrule is absolutely massive. I can’t help by constantly getting side tracked trying to find everything Hyrule has to offer, whether it’s looking for dungeons, or running into travelers on the road and hearing out their stories.
As I’ve always found in other open world game, I find it easy to get lost in certain worlds, and by lost, I mean actually get lost. In Breath of the Wild, I although the world is very massive, it feels purposefully crafted and there are many features making it easy to navigate without the use of your minimap, which is a big deal. It happens often in other open world games where I have to keep pulling up my map over and over again, which takes away some fun of being in such a big world. I’d recommend once you get a hang of how Breath of the Wild plays, turn your HUD to Pro mode, which only shows you your hearts. It may sound daunting but it’s the best way to see the land with an unobstructed view. There are many in game visual and audio queues that help you interpret the stats that would normally be conveyed to you through the standard HUD, so again I highly recommend doing this.
I get feelings of vibes that I’ve felt in other games. Some that come to mind are things like Dark Souls and Shadows of the Colossus, yet this game still feels very Zelda and has all the same charm we come to expect from a Zelda game. We’ve all come to know Nintendo as a company that often falls behind the times of what gaming has become sometimes and kind of does it’s own thing in it’s own little corner ignoring the rest of the world. With Breath of the Wild, I feel Nintendo has watched and learned what makes other games great and have used those elements to make Zelda better than it ever could be, and it makes the game feel very refreshing, and given the context of how the game starts, it’s only fitting. I have only scratched the surface of what Breath of the Wild has to offer and can’t wait to keep exploring and uncover what else this beautiful world has hidden.
What are your thoughts on this new take of Zelda? Share your thoughts in the comments below.