We got out first glimpse of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild back in 2013, where it was set for a 2015 release as a Wii U exclusive. After two delays and what felt like an eternity, Breath of the Wild is finally out on the Wii U and new Switch system. I’ve been playing the Wii U version all weekend; unfortunately, Brett and I did not get to record anything as adult life came up. Hopefully, we’ll be able to record something soon. In the meantime, here are some of my first thoughts.
The Zelda series has become a bit… formulaic. Going in, you kind of know what you’re getting yourself into. Link wake up, some bad stuff happens, and you have to run off and save Hyrule in a neat and orderly fashion. A few games stand out though; most notably A Link Between World. This title for the 3DS introduced a system that allowed players to tackle dungeons in whatever order they liked. Looking back, this mechanic was a bigger stepping stone to Breath of the Wild. In this instance, Link wakes up and the bad stuff already happened. It’s up to you to figure out what happened and learn how to stop Ganon. Or run right toward Ganon and fight him; whatever you want to do. See, Breath of the Wild is all about freedom.
Unlike previous titles, which followed a fairly linear path, Breath of the Wild encourages you to go anywhere and do anything– the choice is up to you. There are no lengthy tutorials* this time around. You’re playing the second the opening cutscene is finished. No one is going to hold your hand.
*Okay, so technically the area you wake up in is a tutorial stage. The plateau you awake on is isolated from the rest of the mainland, and there’s a few things you’ll have to do in order to obtain the sailcloth– giving you access to the rest of the game. While technically being a tutorial, there’s nothing about it that coddles you. You’ll learn the basic mechanics on your own and at your own pace. While it’s definitely easier than the rest of the game, it’s still challenging. I’ve died more times in the plateau than I have in entire Zelda games. (Rock golems are not your friend).
Once you obtain the sailcloth, the world is open to exploration. You’re encouraged to go east, but you don’t have to. I went north instead and was greeted by several angry Guardians ready to chase me down and murder me. I went east after that. So far, I’ve logged about 13 hours and made it to two villages. I haven’t been to any of the four major dungeons because I keep getting sidetracked with exploration and sidequests. It’s finally shaping up to be more Zelda-like, rather than feeling like your typical open world RPG.
What I really like about it is how quiet everything is. There’s no irritating companion character to guide you. There’s no booming music as you run across the landscape. Music is subtle and accompanied by sounds of the wilderness. The weather changes constantly and often forces you to wait. You are very much alone out there, and it’s scary as hell. If that bothers you though, scan in the Wolf Link Amiibo to have a companion for a while.
A few tips:
- There are no tutorials on cooking, so be conscious about what you’re combining.
- Combat, dodging, flurryrush, etc. were finally explained in Kakariko Village. It would have been significantly more helpful to have known that sooner.
- Be careful where you scan in Amiibo. Make sure it’s not right above you.
- Hunting is pretty important.
- Clothing matters. A lot.
- Rock Golems are not your friend.
- Ragdoll physics will kill you.
I’m having a blast with BotW. I’ll do more periodic updates as I progress, but for now, let me know what your thoughts are!