Friday, March 10, 2017

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Impressions

As I alluded to in my previous post, playing with the new Nintendo Switch has dominated my free time for the past week. Ninety-nine percent of that time, as you probably would expect, has been devoted to playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. (The other one percent was the Snipper Clips demo; I haven’t even taken Bomberman out of the shrink wrap yet.) At this point, I’ve dumped about 20 hours into the game, and that’s barely scratching the surface of this epic adventure. If you've read any other coverage of this game, you already know that the mechanics, world design, etc are all incredible. I'm going to skip reiterating all those points and instead provide some of my personal spoiler-free observations of my experience thus far with Breath of the Wild.
  • Something that’s clear right off the bat: This game is hard. If you get reckless, you will die, a lot. To put it in perspective, I’ve already died more in BotW than I have in every other post-SNES Zelda game combined. Having found the last several Zelda games to be too easy, this is a welcome change for me.

  • The save system mitigates much of the frustration that could be caused by the higher difficulty level. Unlike previous Zelda games, this one offers both auto-saves as well as save states that can be used pretty much anywhere (similar to a PC game).
  •  This game has easily the most complicated control scheme of any Zelda title. I found that swapping the B and X button inputs in the settings menu made a huge difference in my ability to make sense of the controls. I don't think I'm alone on this, so I'm surprised it wasn't the default button mapping.
  • Climbing is a huge part of this game and I feel compelled to climb every tall mountain I see.  Often, little characters called Koroks (a collectible) can be found up there. I'm pretty sure the primary purpose of these little guys is to make me feel like I climbed the mountain for an actual reason.
  • The game has a main quest to follow, but I find it almost impossible not to get side-tracked. I'll be on my way to the next objective only to find myself saying, "Oh! What's that over there!?". Next thing I know several hours have gone by and I'm still no closer to progressing the plot. (I'm totally fine with this, though)
  • Breath of the Wild employs a lot of Western adventure/RPG mechanics, but aesthetically shows a lot more Japanese influence than any other game in the series. It makes for an interesting combination. 
  • Weapons have very limited durability and Link initially has relatively few inventory slots. As a result, I always want to save my most powerful rare weapons for just the right occasion and end up using my last remaining inventory slot or two on the weaker more disposable weapons that I tend to use in most battles. I'm probably making the game harder than it needs to be with this hoarder mentality.
  • At campfire sites, Link uses food items, foraged plants, and monster parts to cook meals for himself that have healing and stat-buffing qualities. This reminds me a lot of the meditation and alchemy systems from The Witcher series.
  • Unlike previous Zelda games, Breath of the Wild features very minimal music and instead focuses mostly on the sounds of nature. While this is certainly very fitting for the game's setting and themes, I can't help but find myself occasionally missing the bombastic heroic overtures I've come to expect from The Legend of Zelda series.

As a whole, I've found playing Breath of the Wild to be incredibly thrilling and hopelessly addicting. Since this is likely to be a very long game, I'll probably be writing another impressions post for the later game content before finally getting to the review. Don't worry, though, I will be sprinkling in some posts about other subjects whenever I can to keep this from becoming a Zelda blog. For now, however, I'm heading back to Hyrule! 

Rationalizing my climbing addiction
East meets West

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