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Lifewire / Kelsey Simon
Loads of content
Lacking in narrative direction
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a beautifully designed action-adventure role-playing game that both newcomers and fans of the series will love.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an action-adventure role-playing game with open world exploration. It is beautifully designed, with graphics that look great despite the Nintendo Switch‘s hardware limitations and smooth controls. Fans of Zelda won’t be disappointed in this new addition to the series, and even those who aren’t familiar with previous Zelda games will enjoy Breath of the Wild. We picked up our Switch and explored the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s plot, gameplay, and graphics. There’s a lot to like and little to criticize.
The setup process for the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is as easy as you would expect it to be. If you purchased the physical copy of the game, you’ll insert the cartridge into your Switch and let it do its thing. After a brief setup, you’ll begin your game, where you will wake in a dark chamber as an amnesiac Link. Obviously, there’s no character creation.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a beautiful game, with amazing gameplay and so much to offer―but plot isn’t its strong suit. That isn’t to say a plot doesn’t exist, it does. The game starts with Link waking up to find the kingdom of Hyrule is at risk of being attacked by Calamity Ganon. Without going too much into it, as we don’t want to spoil anything, the premise of the game is that Link needs to grow strong enough to help Zelda defeat Ganon for good. To do this, Link must travel across the kingdom, unlocking its secrets and his memories.
Nintendo took a lot of time and consideration when it came to the visual design of Breath of the Wild, making us love the game even more for it.
Early in the game, you do get clear goals. You’ll need to visit certain shrines to unlock your magical abilities, and you’ll be required to talk to a man before you can leave the beginning area. When you gain access to the world beyond, you’ll get a few more missions. You’ll be told to visit a temple, then a laboratory, and finally, you’ll need to visit each tower in each land to uncover more of the map. But there comes a point in the game where a lot of what you do is completely up to you.
Eventually, you’ll need to fight the four divine beasts. In order to level up to face the challenge, you’ll need to gain enough orbs by solving shrines. But really, it’s up to you which shrines you visit, and how you get to the end result. This brings us to one of the few negatives of the game, at least for us. An open world is good, especially in an RPG, but sometimes we felt it would have been nice to have a little more direction when it came to quest objectives and main quests. On the other hand, some may enjoy the open world exploration and freedom, which is an important aspect of the game’s design.
Check out our guide to the other best Nintendo Switch games you can buy.
While the plot, or the lack thereof, can frustrate gamers who like to have consistent objectives to fulfill along their journey, the controls are a breeze. Breath of the Wild balances complex gameplay with smooth handlng.
Nintendo was clever when they designed controls. You can easily switch weapons with the directional buttons without having to open the inventory menu. The same system lets you swap between different magics. It‘s all very intuitive to use. Your ice magic allows you to create ice blocks, lift things from the water, and allows you passage across rivers you might struggle to cross otherwise. Your magnetic magic allows you to move things, pulling or pushing them along. You can even freeze time.
While the plot, or the lack thereof, can be frustrating for gamers who like to have consistent objectives to fulfill along their journey, the controls are a breeze.
It’s these different magics you must use to complete the various shrines spread across the map, each of which contains a trial or puzzle for you to accomplish. The game also inserts other puzzles through the placement of hidden Koroks (a race of wood people). Sometimes when you do things like lift up rocks, a Korok will pop out and give you a seed. You can give these seeds to Hestu, who will upgrade your inventory space allowing you to carry more weapons and items.
Other activities are almost limitless. You can catch fish and pick apples, combining the various edible things you find into delicious meals at a campfire. Gaining a mount involves catching wild horses and soothing them until they’re yours. You can even hunt down a fairy to upgrade your equipment. There’s just so much you can do in Breath of the Wild, you can easily spend hours playing without tackling the main quest.
The fighting ranges in simple, like those with bokoblin, to more complex fights with mini-bosses like the stone talus. Overall, the fighting in Breath of the Wild is well executed and designed with a range of players in mind, from those who might not be great at fighting games, to those that know what they’re doing.
All of these smaller activities are just extra to the game’s main gameplay feature―combat. Thankfully, that’s just as well designed as other elements of gameplay. Your bow is easy to use with the Switch’s motion controls, and swapping from melee to ranged is as easy as clicking a button. You can also dodge and block attacks by locking onto a specific enemy. Healing involves eating cooked meals stored in inventory (similar to Skyrim in some respects).
Enemies range from Bokoblins, a common infantry unit, to more complex fights with mini-bosses like the Stone Talus. Overall, the fighting in Breath of the Wild is well-executed and difficulty is designed with a range of players in mind. From those who might not be great at fighting games, to those that know what they’re doing, both types of players will find plenty to love.
Take a peek at our guide to the best Zelda: Breath of the Wild cheats for Switch.
We really loved the graphics of Breath of the Wild. They have an artistic flare to them, almost like a saturation filter has been set across the scenery. The bright, saturated colors give the game a unique feel, and help make the exploration of the world more fun. You’ll be seeking out those beautiful landscapes to screenshot. There’s also some great subtle touches, like the grass blowing in the wind and the sun rising in the sky.
Beyond just beautiful landscapes, you’ll also come across unique creatures and races as you explore the kingdom of Hyrule. Even the most basic enemy, Bokoblins, feel original while still being reminiscent of traditional goblins. The divine beasts have an interesting steampunk visual, each referencing a different real-life creature.
Nintendo also took great care to design things to be visually easier for users to follow. Items you can pick up sparkle as you pass, notifying you how they’re different from the surrounding area, and the shrines glow bright red and blue, sticking out from the rest of the landscape. There’s clearly been a great deal of though, and care put into the visual design of Breath of the Wild, making us love the game even more for it.
Read our guide to the best open world games.
Nintendo Switch games can be expensive at the standard MSRP of $60, but Breath of the Wild is well worth it. The world has lots to explore, with gameplay that has layer after layer to it. The amount of time you can spend in this game is more than fair for the price. We really recommend this game to any who enjoy open world role-playing. The fact the game has such beautiful visuals is just a bonus.
Really, there isn’t a lot of competition for Breath of the Wild. It stands among the best Switch games ever made, especially with regards to action-adventure role-playing games. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is another great role-playing game, that will have similar fighting and open world exploration, but it isn’t nearly as pretty or well designed as Breath of the Wild. You might also try Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which is another role-playing game. It will have similarities to Breath of the Wild, particularly with the controls, though the world and setting are a bit grittier and the combat is more complex.
Get this game.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a beautifully designed game with amazing visuals, smooth controls, and a huge open world to explore. While the plot is sometimes lacking, and the game isn’t as goal-oriented as other role-playing games, there's so much to do you'll always be entertained.