Monday, March 13, 2017

Rob's Rant & Review on: The Legend of Zelda; Breath of the Wild

Rob's Rant & Review on: The Legend of Zelda; Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda is the reason I'm a gamer.

I played a lot of video games growing up. I piddled around on a Commodore 64, Atari, Intellivision, and other assorted systems but it was the Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo Entertainment System that made me a gamer for life. The open world, not knowing what was around the next corner. The sense of excitement to push into the next area and discover the unknown. You could spend hours setting random trees on fire and blowing up rocks to discover if they housed a hidden cave or items.

Then there were the dungeons. They were not presented in any particular order. Many of them were accessible from the start even though an item from a different dungeon would be required to complete it. Trial and error. You had to learn what worked and what didn't on your own. Exploring those dungeons, pushing on into the next room reminds me of the best things about Dungeons & Dragons. 30 years later I'm still chasing that dragon.

"Miss me?"

Nostalgia is strong but that's not the only thing propelling this game into the pantheon of greatness. Breath of the Wild captures that sense of adventure from those early Zelda games on the NES. The world is vast and full of things to do. Not all of them are readily apparent either. It pays to wander off the beaten path. You never know where you can find a small puzzle that will reward you with access to a new shrine or seeds to expand your inventory.

Major landmarks will have markers on your map once you discover them. Shrines and towers will also act as fast travel spots. You don't need to complete a shrine to unlock this feature so there is no need to worry if you get stumped by a puzzle. You can always quickly come back later and try again. Even with the shrines marking up the map, and there are well over 100 of them, the map is so large it won't be riddled with dots. Not everything shows up on the map. This is a good thing! It allows the world to maintain a sense of mystery. It's hard to strike that balance between too busy and not enough going on. Nintendo has managed to find that sweet spot.

The world of Hyrule feels real... just disregard the fact it's full of moblins and walking skeletons. The game makes exceptional use of physics and the environment. Your arrows won't shoot straight indefinitely. Gravity will affect them and cause them to arc. If you see an enemy camp down a hill you can roll a bolder or bomb down onto them. You can set your wooden weapons on fire and use this for bonus damage against your targets. Some puzzles will require you to burn things down with flame arrows. The world isn't just there to be looked at. It's there to be played with and the more you interact with it the more you'll discover and the more fun you'll have. It feels like if you can dream it up you can probably do it.

                                              "The world is there to be played with"

Cooking is another fun diversion that is as easy or complex as you make it. It also provides exceptional bonuses and is worth your time to familiarize yourself with. If you find a pot, you can cook. Sometimes you'll get lucky and a camp will already have a pot set up. Other times you'll have to get some wood and flint. Put the wood under the pot and set the flint next to the wood. Strike the flint with a metal weapon and the resulting spark will set the wood on fire and now you are cooking, literally. Gone are the random hearts found throughout the world cutting grass. To restore health now you'll have to rest or eat. An apple will give you half a heart but a cooked apple will give you a full heart. An apple, wheat, butter, and sugar makes a pie and will give you 5 hearts. Add special spices and you may get a bonus effect. Stamina, stealth, frost resistance. The game doesn't come out and tell you this either. You have to go looking to discover this information.

                                                             "There be dragons"

Gone is the hand holding. There are parts of the game that are easy and others that are brutally hard. Gone too are the typical dungeons we've grown accustomed to in the series. Those have been replace by the shrines and Devine Beasts. These are an evolution of Zelda dungeon and some will really make you think to solve their puzzles before you encounter their boss.

                                                   "There will be no hand holding"

The Legend of Legend of Zelda is expanded upon and carried forward with Breath of the Wild. The story of Calamity Gannon and Princess Zelda are as familiar to us as any game in the series. Yet the story is presented in a new and unique way. Clearly this game takes place after Skyward Sword but what isn't clear is if it's the last in the series.

Breath of the Wild is an instant classic. It is the first must have game for the Nintendo Switch. From the moment you complete the opening plateau until the moment you save Hyrule the game is full of wonder and amazement. The level of detail from the interactive environments to the puzzles in the shrines are extraordinary. This game on its own could justify the purchase of a Switch.


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