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Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild- A Spoiler Free Review

On March 3rd I sat patiently on my couch waiting for the sound of the UPS truck to deliver my Nintendo Switch. I had received my copy of Breath of the Wild in the mailbox earlier that morning and couldn’t stand looking at (or tasting) the cartridge without being able to pop it in and give it a spin.

Many fans of the Zelda franchise, myself included, were itching for that next game to fall in love with and could not wait for this title to release. Breath of the Wild was anticipated for years and it seemed as if the actual release day would never actually come. Later that afternoon I finally got my wish and turned it on for the first time. Fast forward to 48 hours of game play, a few tears, and some smiles later, I can certainly say that I got what I wished for and more.

Breath of the Wild is phenomenal. There is simply no other way to describe it. From the first moment Link stepped out into the world I was in absolute awe. What is perhaps the most interesting thing about this game is that it is open world- a first for the Zelda franchise. You see that mountain way over there? You can go there. How about that tall tree to your left? Sure go climb it. Anything you can spot- you can go explore.

I feel like I should stop here and say that I’m the type of person that gets lost in open world games (you should check out my various save files for Skyrim which total over 500 hours when combined). I love nothing more than being able to explore every nook and cranny in a game and take everything in. And that’s exactly what I did in Breath of the Wild.

This game is massive. There are over 900 hidden Koroks, 120 shrines, 15 sets of armor, 12 hidden locations for Zelda’s memories, 4 temples and countless other things to preoccupy your time. After finishing the game, one of the perks is being able to see a completion rate for your save file on the bottom left corner of your in-game map. One of the first things I did after defeating Ganon at the end of the game (which is a super awesome battle) was click on my map to see how I had done.  I had only managed to complete 11.2% of this game. Keep in mind, I explored constantly, finished 48 shrines, did all 4 temples, found a handful of Koroks and defeated Ganon. ELEVEN POINT TWO PERCENT. I was floored. That should put the size of this game into perspective for you.

Breath of the Wild is beautiful. All of the screenshots you see throughout this post are mine. They aren’t some fancy high resolution versions put out by Nintendo. These are straight off the Nintendo Switch- taken by yours truly as I played. Cell shading can either be done wrong or right in my opinion (sorry but Wind Waker will never be a favorite of mine because of its cartoon-like cell shading), and this game just nails it. From the moment that you step out into the big beautiful world that is Hyrule, the grass is green and flowing, birds and animals roaming, and there are endless possibilities for great views atop mountains or towers.

This game is challenging. One unique many unique things about Breath of the Wild is the availability of interchangeable weapons and shields. Over time, weapons and shields wear down and eventually break completely. You are constantly scavenging for new swords, ingredients for food, or items to upgrade your armor. I died in this game more times than I could count- but I liked it. It wasn't so hard that it took away from the game, but just hard enough to where I had to plan my attacks on enemies and strategize a bit. You won't be able to waltz through Breath of the Wild, but you'll enjoy seeing Link grow as he becomes stronger.

There are only two negative aspects of this game I could even possibly point out. The first one being the music. For me, the Legend of Zelda series is highly memorable not only by its plots and characters, but by the music present throughout the games. Think of “Hyrule Overworld” from Link Between Worlds, “Sarias Song” from Ocarina of Time, or “Clock Town” from Majoras Mask. Hearing any of those trademark songs from the Legend of Zelda series takes you back to that first time you played through a game and what it felt like. Or at least it does for yours truly. Up until the moment when I entered the castle at the end of the game and heard “Hyrule Castle” start playing, I hadn’t really even noticed any of the music in Breath of the Wild. I really wish there were some more notable scores in this title.

I also find the mechanic for riding horses in game to be a bit tedious. It seems as if every time you're riding through an open area, the smallest rock or protrusion brings your horse to a complete halt. It is also annoying if you need to climb a mountain in order to get to a shrine or new area, since your horse can't come with you. Eventually you will find yourself so far away from the horse that you can't call it, meaning you will either need to backtrack or visit a stable to retrieve it. This is a huge downfall in my opinion compared to something such as Ocarina of Time, in which you can summon your horse at will. I actually found myself rarely using horses throughout the game because of this annoyance. This is a mistake that is minor in relation to how this game exceeds my expectations in other areas.

A few tears were shed when I saw this screen.

So- how does it size up to the other games I’ve played in the Legend of Zelda series? Breath of the Wild stole my heart. I loved every minute of it and did not want to go to the castle to defeat Ganon, because I didn’t want the game to end. As someone who is highly motivated by completing quests, this speaks wonders. The only other Zelda game I’ve played that gave me that feeling was Link Between Worlds. Sizing those two up against each other was difficult, but in the end Breath of the Wild took the cake. There’s simply so much more game to play here, and because of that I know I’m only going to fall in love with it more as I continue to play and discover. Even though I am now technically finished with the main story, there are still many things for me to do and I will most likely do at least one more play through before I am tired of it.

1: Breath of the Wild
2: Link Between Worlds
3: Majoras Mask
4: Ocarina of Time
5: Twilight Princess
6: Wind Waker

And now for the long anticipated rating. I'm not one to give out perfect scores. In order for a game to get a 10/10 it truly needs to be flawless. There are some things that I wish were different in Breath of the Wild, and because of this I'll give it a 9.0. It's a truly phenomenal game, but not quite perfect.


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