The “Get To Know” line of articles are built to get a better impression of what I love/hate, and why, through a more direct means. While my tastes have been quite unconventional to the “norm” we’ve seen, I feel as if it’d be beneficial to run a series of articles that go into what I adore, and deplore, about gaming, and why.
I alluded to a major project I was going to work on throughout 2018, but due to repeated illnesses, I was unable to produce a healthy enough queue to get it going. That project was going to be my top 100 games of all-time, in which I would go into a great bit of detail on each game, and why it has a position on said list.
With this miniseries I have going with Get To Know, it’s given me a renewed sense of urgency to try and get some portion of this project revealed and shared with everyone. Instead of being overly ambitious, I’ll truncate the list to a top 25; that’s more than enough to show the kinds of games I adore the most, and the genres that they represent.
- Developer: Nintendo EPD
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Platform: WiiU
- Genre: Action adventure
- Release date: 3/3/17
- Rating: 9.9
What is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild?
The first open world game in the franchise, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild broke tradition in a number of aspects. With only four “dungeons” and over a hundred “mini dungeons” called Shrines, Breath of the Wild was a bit of a departure from the staples we’ve all grown to know and love.
What warrants The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild‘s inclusion on this list?
What doesn’t warrant Breath of the Wild‘s inclusion to this list?
….okay okay, I know I can cop out like that, but really, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is that one game that I’ve always wanted to play; that one dream concoction of a title, and it finally came true.
The funny thing is, for every one thing it does right, it’s also one radical departure from the norm for the franchise as a whole. The open world provided, while previous Zelda titles have had large areas to explore, was the first time Link was unchained to land limits and where he could go. If you see it, other than the extreme edges of the map, you can go there.
The diversity of the areas Link could explore were staggering. Hyrule Field was peppered with broken machine parts and busted down structures. Then there are the extreme cold and extreme heat areas, where Link needs the appropriate gear to compensate for the extreme conditions. There are cliff tops, giant mazes, forest areas, streams, rivers, literally everything. Breath of the Wild‘s world is diverse, with a plethora of surprises at each turn.
There’s even different weather effects, most notably the thunderstorms. If Link is caught in one with a metal weapon or shield equipped, he will become a walking lightning rod, flashing faster and faster until ultimately a lightning bolt strikes him, killing him instantly. When I first encountered this phenomenon, I had a sneaking suspicion that my weapons were causing this, so I unequipped them, and it dissipated. This was not only an ingenious addition, but it didn’t really feel like a nuisance to have to take the time to unequip those items. It’s the little things that all add up and show off just how much love and care went into making the experience a one of a kind one.
Wandering around and finding world bosses, was something that had me scouring every inch of the game world, in search for all of their locations. The actual battles against these world bosses were some of the more thrilling experience in Breath of the Wild.
Actually, combat in general was nothing like the previous Zelda titles; this was more Hyrule Souls than The Legend of Zelda. Combat had to have been done with patience and tact. Wailing away with your tree branch won’t serve you well, as the AI employs defensive patterns that were unique to the franchise, yet showed moments of vulnerability that could be exploited. This aided in the overall experience Breath of the Wild; it went hand in hand with the evolution of the game world.
I particularly enjoyed making my own adventure out of what I did. With the freedom in how the open world situations are approached, I would take to the treetops, sit up top and fire off some arrows at moblins in a nearby camp. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do in a Zelda game, and I was finally able to pull it off. It was a blast finding unorthodox ways to taking down the opposition.
Refilling those missing hearts took an unconventional turn, like many other aspects of the game. Link can find food and ingredients throughout his travels. They can either be eaten straight up, or cooked in a pot, mixed together for a more potent meal that may also include bonuses, such as more health or a larger stamina wheel. It’s an evolution over obtaining a random heart from an enemy, and one that was more than welcome.
One thing that cannot be overlooked is how gorgeous Breath of the Wild is. There are some framerate hiccups here and there, but the character design, colors, lighting, draw distance, and everything in-between, is some of the most picturesque on any console. It’s a gigantic world that looks meticulously put together, and ends up being one of the prettiest Nintendo developed games ever.
I bought a Wii U with the sole intention of purchasing Breath of the Wild and getting lost in it, and that’s exactly what transpired, although over a year later I did purchase a copy for my Switch (how could I not?). However, the opening 10 hours or so when I first began my adventures, I saw myself frequently pausing the game and soaking it all in. It was overwhelming at times, how epic in scope and near flawless in execution it was. It was almost unbearable, in a positive way, if that makes sense?
I never felt like I had to stop and let myself settle down from everything I was soaking in, as much as I did with Breath of the Wild. Seeing everything I’ve always wanted to see and hear from this franchise coming true one moment after another, was hard to handle, but not in a detrimental manner. It was just a continual mind blowing situation.
I deviated from the main story more often than not, just to chart my own adventure throughout the game world. I loved stumbling across a snow capped area, having to switch out my armor to a cold resist so I wouldn’t shiver to death. It was a thrill discovering a new Shrine nestled in the most obscure area possible. Finding new weapons was always an exiting moment, though the quick degrading they went through was a bit annoying; even the Master Sword had to be recharged after a certain amount of use. Regardless, I always loved finding a brand new item that I had never encountered before.
When Breath of the Wild was first released, I was still recovering from a pretty severe health downturn that had been developing for a long time, but took a major turn about one year prior. While I had started to slowly recover a few months prior, it was still a struggle. I had been looking forward to the latest Zelda title for quite sometime, and it kept my spirits up during the more physically and mentally tolling times. Once I was able to pick up my copy, along with a two week span of work I had taken off, it quickly took, and kept my mind off my health, and put me in much better spirits. They say laughter is the best medicine, but Breath of the Wild helped keep my thoughts off my mind and body and on a captivating world to explore, and I honestly feel that it went a long way to helping me feel better.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a magical adventure that I intentionally didn’t follow closely enough during its development, so I could be pleasantly surprised. I’m glad I did. Had I followed its progress over the years, I’m sure my anticipation would have been sky high, but the sense of discovery might have been tainted some, with knowing what’s out there. Even after 20 hours, I felt that it was the first game that truly could have, and eventually did, pass Suikoden as my all-time favorite game. As time went on, I found two other titles that superseded this one, but nonetheless, Breath of the Wild made a long lasting impact on my life.
It’s hard to see Nintendo surpass the watermark that they set with Breath of the Wild. The only things I can think of would be no weapon degrading, giving Link a voice, and bringing back the traditional dungeon system.
But I’ll be forever happy and grateful that I was able to experience this magnificent video game.
Dreams do come true. Mostly.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild seemed like a dream come true. Literally! I would dream of a Zelda game that had a gigantic open world, with the ability to scale up to the treetops and plan an ambush on some unsuspecting enemies. I also wanted a Zelda game that was fully voiced and for the most part, there was enough voice acting going on, and it was all so well done. It’s still so surreal to see this become an actuality, and it makes me think, “how could Nintendo surpass this masterpiece?”