Breath of the Wild – A Masterpiece

I’ve written multiple times of my love for the Legend of Zelda series. Beyond that, I’ve written about my need to “complete” Breath of the Wild and my reluctance to do so…..

Well, I have. Kind of.

How do you “complete” a game quite so large in scale as The Legend of Zelda -Breath of the Wild?

I had to set myself a few milestones to make sure I’d given it enough time to adequately understand it, and take it all in.

Milestones have come and gone, and yet I’ve found myself investing more and more time in Hyrule. Sure, stopping Calmity Ganon is important, but is it as important as getting some specific gear sets? Apparently not…..

 

The milestones

To be able to draw a line under my playthrough of Breath of the Wild, I set myself some targets to meet.

Some were to complete certain tasks and events, some were to get some equipment. One was just to spend enough time to feel like I’ve invested enough of myself into the the game, to truly understand it.

  • Buy the house in Hateno Village;
  • Build Tarrey Town;
  • Complete Eventide Island;
  • Get the Master Sword;
  • Get the Hylian Shield;
  • Complete no less than 50% of the shrines;
  • Acquire the climbing gear;
  • Complete all 4 Divine Beasts;
  • Kill Ganon without all memories;
  • Kill Ganon with all memories.

This list was put together a couple of weeks ago. Having already done 3 divine beasts, I’d put Breath of the Wild down and left it for a while. I wanted to say that I had finished the game, but unless you go for 100% on everything (Korok seeds anyone?!), then it’s a line that has to be drawn by the player.

Let’s be fair, a game so big that you struggle to define what “completion” looks like, is pretty bloody big, right?

Sure, and end to the story is a good indicator of completing a game. But so much story is hidden in the memories, I had to make sure they were collected, too.

Was the “alternate ending” worth the effort? Yes and no. I loved having further purpose to keep me going. But it wasn’t exactly earth shattering…. No drama, though. I’ve done it, and that’s what matters.

 

Bad bits

I think the best way to look at a game, is to consider the bits you liked the least. If it’s a long list, perhaps it’s not very good…..

My list in Breath of the Wild is exactly 2 items long.

Horses and Weapon Damage. That’s it. Everything else works, either building out the world and the environment, or serving a purpose one way or another.

Horses are essentially useless. The map is so big, you definitely need to travel long distances, especially early on. Having a horse is crucial, then, right? No.

Epona, as important to a Zelda game as having Link. Is available, through an Amiibo, awesome. Yeah, and no. Poor horse is mostly redundant. That’s the thing. With all the travel, you want to get from A to B as quickly as possible and keeping a horse with you isn’t really practical.

You want to climb a mountain (you have to, a lot!), then there’s no need for a horse. If you need to fast travel to a tower, you leave your horse in situ. Suddenly, your horse is half the map away and you can’t just call for it.

Yes, Breath of the Wild has a button dedicated to whistling for your horse. But because it only works when the horse in within earshot, it isn’t very practical.

Jumping off a mountain or of a tower means you can glide and cover plenty of distance. If you can’t just summon your horse in the middle of a field (like most games…..) there’s not much purpose. It’s a shame, because exploring on horseback, and breaking horses is lovely.

Otherwise, it’s the weapon breaking. Now, I don’t mind it. It keeps you on your toes in a fight, you have weapons that can only do so much before they’re useless. I like that. It’s just the frequency of it that can rub you up the wrong way.

That, and the fact the the Master Sword and Hylian Shield (that have been used for centuries…….) are victims of the same fate. Sure you can re-make things, or re-charge them. It just seems odd to me, that you earn them, and they’re still breakable.

Neither of these are game-ruining. They’re minor gripes in a game chock-full of systems and mechanics that just work in a wonderful way.

Honestly, that’s as bad as it gets. I’m basically just clutching for reasons to not just declare it the perfect game.

 

So much good

I think it’s a testament to how good Breath of the Wild is, if I can only list two gripes.

This is a game that just oozes personality and charm. You’re free to roam and to climb, and to glide wherever you wish. There are so many hidden secrets to uncover.

I’ve spent hours tracking down different armor sets, or chopping trees for wood. Never once did I feel like I was wasting time. It was always for a purpose.

That climbing gear? Makes climbing easier! Such an integral part of the game, made easier. Perfect. You have to earn it though.

So much is earned. Either by being tested in shrines, combat or even just cooking to find the right recipe for a good meal that will help you on your travels.

Climate affects your health. Too cold? Health gets hit. Too hot, same. Wear proper gear to stay safe. Is it raining? Climbing is going to get harder, because suddenly you’re sliding on those slippery surfaces.

Lightning is attracted to metal objects, so you should probably put your sword away when wandering in a storm!

The world teaches you lessons, and you learn more and more every time you play. You might not get a reward in terms of rupees or gear, but you’ll have learned how better to approach the world as you go forwards.

So much freedom can be daunting. Especially with such a loose narrative approach to the game. I don’t really know how Breath of the Wild does it, because I’d usually get bored of not knowing what or why. Not here though. All I wanted to do was get better, explore, learn and eventually tackle Ganon.

I don’t think I find Breath of the Wild to be such a good game, purely because I’m a Zelda fan. This is a game that’s been so perfectly put together, and wonderfully realised, that you want to be in it as often as possible.

 

Uncontested

This is all just gushing, because honestly, minor gripes aside. Breath of the Wild is without a doubt the best Zelda game in the series. It’s one of the best games ever made, and I intend to play it all again if/when I get a Switch.

I’ll be re-visiting to try the DLC and to find more shrines. It’s just the game that keeps on giving, and worth every single penny, and minute spent playing it.

No hand-holding, a plethora of systems that just work together. Hard-earned rewards and all those classic Zelda touches that just make Breath of the Wild stand head and shoulders above all that have come before it.

I can’t really say anything other than, just go ahead and play it. Sure, I love Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, but nostalgia-aside. This is the best game in the franchise, and frankly, one of the best games ever made.

Note: The little Links I’ve used for the featured image on the homepage come from Nimtz Art ( https://www.inprnt.com/gallery/nimtzart/mini-link/ ). They bloody cool!!

Mini Link by Ryan Nimtz

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