Breath of the Wild Review

Breath of the Wild Review

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[Applause] a Link to the Past can shadow over the Zelda series and with good reason it’s a great game its central hook is well fleshed out it’s packed with enjoyable dungeons filled with brand-new items for link to utilize it places those items in dungeons so as to reveal them at an even pace its sparse story imparts a feeling of epicness as you advance it’s got a memorable soundtrack nice visuals it’s about as close to in arguably great as any game has ever gotten in fact it was so great it became the Zelda template for the following 20 years but in spite of all its positive qualities it’s not a perfect embodiment of what made the original Legend of Zelda so enchanting a Link to the Past isn’t a linear game but it does start out as one the opening moments show how priorities had shifted with players being railroaded into a story sequence at Hyrule Castle from there the first three dungeons must be completed in order only after arriving in the dark world is it possible to progress nonlinearly even at that point it may technically be completed in various orders but the environment is full of roadblocks which gate progress until certain items are acquired famously inspired by Shigeru Miyamoto’s memories of a forest near his childhood home the original Legend of Zelda had a clear goal allow players to experience the joy of exploration this goal is so core to its design it takes only one second for it to come into focus the moment the first screen appears you’re confronted with four choices each one leading to different outcomes keep in mind Nintendo could have easily started the game with a few linear screens and we know based on what they’ve said about world 1:1 and Super Mario Bros that a players first impression was a big deal to them even at the time Zelda could have started in a dead-end with an empty screen to learn movement one to give link a sword and one to introduce enemies before emerging into the world proper but instead you have to choose the very first thing you do in the Legend of Zelda before you even press a button on the controller is make a decision about which way to explore and so many years later Zelda restored to original form reawakens at the shrine of resurrection by which I mean link these days it would be an exceptionally bold move for a big-budget game to plop the player in the middle of a field soda shrine acts as a short introduction setting up the story and doling out the most basic of tutorials kept to a minimum this intro is completed in only three minutes after which you find yourself standing on the already iconic clear deciding where to go next breath of the wild summed up in one word would be freedom it sounds obvious but the level of commitment to this principle is what makes it remarkable when destroy Ganon appears after clearing the gray plateau that might as well be the designers and blazoning the game’s philosophy on screen freedom taken to such a logical extreme you’re told where to find the final boss right out of the tutorial apart from those opening moments on the gray plateau everything in breath of the wild is optional for completion this alone is a huge shift but more impressive is the ways that freedom has been built into smaller mechanics and situations spirit orbs being a clear example Hart pieces are such an ancient tradition it was hard to imagine them undergoing any kind of significant change maybe spirit orbs were just introduced on a whim but if we view it in terms of freedom it now makes perfect sense spirit orbs nudge the dial away from less freedom towards more freedom now you get to choose hearts or stamina a small decision but when repeated it can have serious ramifications without getting bogged down in number crunching or jargon low heart challenge runs make more sense than ever in breath of the wild because giving up a heart grants you something else in return that’s freedom another example is cooking many games have taken a stab at this over the years but it’s often a case of gathering ingredients for a proscribed recipe which is then chosen from a list instead link is free to select any five items which seem to make sense and toss them into a pot go off-script and you’ll always be accommodated by a sensible result allowing for player driven discovery by not punishing trial and error too heavily again freedom almost everything in breath of the wild makes sense when you view it through this lens so rather than belabor the point instead we’re going to focus on the ways it stresses this philosophy where it was pushed aside where it shines and where it fails being a step up from previous Zelda tutorials is faint praise but the grey plateau is so well disguised you might not even realize it is one until it’s over often times tutorials seem like a sort of learning tax you have to pay before you get to experience the game proper breadth of the wild avoids that problem by turning lesson time into a miniature version of the real thing many features such as horses and towns are stripped out probably so first-timers aren’t overwhelmed and to save some disco Riis for later but the core appeal is present immediately even though the first objective is to activate a tower the temple of time is placed in plain view distracting players just moments into the first quest it’s an early indication that you’re free to look around and do whatever you want whenever you feel like once the tower is up it’s off – for starters shrines in any order of course it’s nice that you’re trusted to experiment Explorer talk to the old man pay attention and figure some things out for yourself but the real accomplishment is that non-linearity built into the very beginning since it’s impossible to rush cannon right out of the gate it might be fair to call the grey plateau a compromise but at least it’s a compromise which is true to the nonlinear spirit of the game as a whole it’s during these early moments where the full functionality of the sheikah slate is introduced by themselves these generalized tools represent a clear step towards more engaging puzzle design since having multifaceted recurring abilities should make solutions less obvious however this is undermined by how compact and isolated shrines are in puzzles there’s the signal and there’s the noise in other words there are elements which are necessary for the puzzles completion and there’s everything else shrines are almost all signal no noise which is a clean perfect way of designing them but if this game is anything to go by there is such a thing as too perfect it may sound like a cheap trick but adding some noise is actually desirable as demonstrated by one of the more difficult shrines here the player is intended to use cry ona’s so a metal box can stay elevated enough for electricity to pass through before this point the player has to activate this node by completing a circuit through the water notice the water isn’t necessary for this part of the puzzle to work it could just as easily have been built on the ground by submerging it instead what they’ve done has made the water in this room less conspicuous having used it once you’re tempted to cross it off your mental checklist when there’s no real reason why that should be the case it’s just a bad puzzle solving habit which deserves to be punished other facets of the environment can play a role as well in a traditional dungeon the walls might be that of a cave patched with moss so a wooden platform wouldn’t immediately scream boring me down there could be a stream flowing through a room which didn’t serve any particular purpose or runs into another room in the same dungeon where it does serve a purpose not to mention a central gimmick which had its best might complicate every puzzle within that dungeon noise isn’t about hiding puzzle elements it’s just about getting players to really think about what they’re looking at there needs to be plenty of wrong answers for the right answer to feel meaningful whatever gains were made by the more generalized magnetism cry onus and stasis runes this time around was cancelled out by how streamlined puzzle environments have become to their credit shrines can be broken in various ways another example of the freedom philosophy earlier Zelda puzzles were about making the player feel smart or in other words the coveted Eureka moment to that end they were rigidly designed to accept only one answer although of course there are some exceptions and glitches if you approach shrines with that mentality they offer more or less the same thing but breath of the wild allows you to view them another way as a problem to be overcome by whatever means you can manage at a glance this might seem to be poor design after all the goal of a level designer is to guide the player through a specific experience Nintendo have as usual done a great job of that maybe too good a job which means following the intended path is an easy course of action breaking shrines often remove some of the busy work involved in moving puzzle pieces around but it also usually takes more ingenuity not less it’s rare to see this kind of open endedness in puzzle design and it seems to have struck a good balance between laying out a challenge while also allowing players enough freedom to forge their own more interesting paths one quibble with this setup is that lateral thinking has identical rewards to the standard approach motivation can be broken into two broad categories intrinsic and extrinsic the spirit orb at the end of each shrine is an extrinsic reward you obtain something concrete solving is drawing the wrong way as some kind of weird challenge to yourself as an intrinsic reward you gain nothing but a feeling of satisfaction that originates internally maybe it’s just a simple desire to break the rules or to flex your intellect over those sheikah monks or maybe you just want to see what’s possible within the constraints of the system getting the most from shrines relies on that kind of intrinsic motivation since either way you’re receiving the same extrinsic rewards for your efforts a spirit orb and a chest this formula of predictable reward plus unpredictable reward seems like a winning one players know there’s always at least a spirit orb and hopefully the other thing will be good too unfortunately it often isn’t at best he’ll find a new piece of armor with unique benefit but it’s questionable whether that needed to be shackled to equipment on the one hand clothing sets tie into the temperature gauge this adds a nice coating of reality which enhances exploration by making the world both more believable and more mechanically rich at an early point during my first playthrough I was about to die from hypothermia until I tried equipping a fire sword which saved my life it’s telling that I still remember that moment even after over a hundred hours of gameplay another way this is put to use is the ice cube side mission where moving between shaded areas becomes a necessity that said for the most part once you get the right clothing environmental temperatures pose nothing more than an annoyance which is overcome by opening the menu at that point the main benefit of tying warmth to clothing disappears Nintendo have always been good at giving people something they didn’t know they wanted yet here’s my attempt at that people think they don’t want inconveniences but I think they do to a certain extent anyway every game has some kind of challenge to overcome otherwise they’d all be about noclipping to the end and one shutting the final boss struggle is a fundamental part of play before continuing that thought I just want to say that some streamlining is welcome for example shooting a boar and having them explode into meat may not literally make sense but it makes sense because once it’s dead there’s no decision to be made about what to do next you either want those resources or not that process may as well be done as quickly as possible so we can move on to the next decision to that end many previous time sinks have been dealt with walking into houses no longer incurs a loading screen spells acting on cooldown prevents players from becoming stuck without mana chests can be opened from any angle and needless to say I’m also incredibly thankful for how painless it is to pick up collectibles this time around there’s still some room for improvement for example it’d be nice if bows and shields would auto equip when one breaks but overall breath of the wild is streamlined in many great ways which is a big win for a series where cumbersome interruptions have often been the problem streamlining can also be bad though being able to swap clothes at any time is handy but the survivalist aspects like building yourself a campfire to survive a cold desert night would have had more chances to occur if link was restricted to his current clothes until he rested in a bed either way you’re forced to go into a menu and change outfit but the more restrictive version introduces a decision in other words it’s not just the case of mindlessly swapping out once the temperature starts to change instead you be rewarded for thinking ahead about the surrounding terrain wearing light our heavy clothing in temperate areas could have come with a stamina penalty to discourage sticking with one set now there are some holes in that proposal since shrines offer abundant war points that can easily ferry players to and from towns but at the very least venturing into new areas would be more engaging that way because it would be a case of forming and executing a plan even as flawed as they are now warm and cool clothing are the best use of the equipment system because they need to be worn across large areas of Hyrule precluding the use of other armors within those spaces unless you have another way to moderate your temperature most other equipment is much worse there’s nothing stopping you from swapping into the climber gear when you have a cliff to scale me fizz outfit once you reach a waterfall or even the rubber suit right before a lightning strike in a sense we could think of these situations as an even more cumbersome variant on the Zelda puzzles of old which could be overcome with a specific item some of these upgrades would have been better as innate enhancements to link handed out at the end of shrines that would cut down on menu use and gaining a permanent boost would provide a much better extrinsic motivation than the chests we have now here’s a list with those and some other proposed rewards pause if you want to read it just as there are two broad categories of motivation extrinsic versus intrinsic players can be put into either of those two groups any split and opinion about breath of the wild probably Falls along that line in the beginning combat is encouraged by unlocking a chest which contains a higher value item if you’re an extrinsic Lea motivated player these encounters can be rewarding because you’ll likely walk away with more arrows weapons and money than before over time this balance starts to shift eventually you’ll have full Quivers and magic swords which normal enemies don’t carry at that point clearing an enemy camp eats into your resources instead of replenishing them and yet if you approach it with the right mentality waging war on bobgoblin’s can still be enjoyable thanks to the level of freedom on offer don’t get me wrong the melee attack options are disappointing in yet another twist on series tradition Lincoln wields several styles of weapon with the degradation system forcing players to adapt and get creative instead of sticking to a favorite to an extent this provides some nice variety but spreading the moveset across several types there’s not many options for any single one and the problems don’t stop there lock-on seems to value cinematic angles more than anything else not so bad when environments are enclosed our enemy counts are low but a recipe for disaster otherwise flurry rush also has weird activation windows and seems overly restrictive as with everything in breath of the wild it’s worth pointing out that melee combat exists within a very broad context if link could freely move during flurry rush it might be abusable to break certain puzzles enemy encounters and who knows what else the more baseline systems you have the more complicated everyone’s job becomes it’s hard to come down on breadth of the wild for not including yet another globally active system like that when there are already so many still we can’t ignore the fact that melee combat is pretty weak even just compared to Twilight Princess it’s important to remember that close quarters is just one small part of the combat system though an ideal camp clearing might start out with a couple of stealth kills a long-range pickoff a spear toss a bomb and some swordplay to mop up the remnants even in a lyonel fight fire can be useful for its updraft weather and terrain can also affect tactics such as bomb arrows becoming unviable near Death Mountain and shock arrows gaining greater efficacy during rain although none of those things result in more interesting melee they’re still valid examples of combat depth contextual actions have been minimized which means all of these abilities are available at any time cutting down on the number of buttons that can be used for each individual one considering the amount of options they’ve crammed on here it seems fair to say that this is the most impressive moves that link has ever had players are truly free to develop their own strategies and preferences such as scaling a nearby cliff terrain death from above these kinds of interactions simply couldn’t happen if combat was broken into its own more complex control scheme ultimately breadth of the wild trades fancy swordplay for a greater sense of place and agency within the world because all of Link’s actions remain available at all times if you’re willing to engage with these systems just for the pleasure of doing so you can see that weak or even non-existent rewards aren’t necessarily a flaw for many titles I’d argue exactly the opposite cluttering a game with unnecessary pickups can cloud its true value which is surely in the moments to moments playing not the shiny bauble at the end of the tunnel players can easily get caught up on the collectible losing sight of everything in between even games which seem to have few extrinsic motivations are actually often driven by at least one the story aside from a heart container completing a dungeon in the original Zelda only Awards a Triforce shard which is of no direct use to the player but it promises narrative progress towards a conclusion our princess may be in another dungeon but at least I puts us one dungeon closer to the princess since it’s possible to kill Ganon almost immediately breath of the wild lacks that build-up so the question becomes whether that trade-off was worth it my answer is yes rewards are nice and all but the amount of completeness is even better something breath of the wild executes very well in order to maximize freedom and early Ganon kill had to be possible looking at it this way the grey plateau actually becomes the game’s biggest flaw you’re arbitrarily restricted from leaving it too soon presumably so players don’t get themselves stuck without the right tools there’s ways to solve that problem for example shrine contents could be based on number rather than location so that the first four shrines entered end up being the tutorials that choice comes with its own pros and cons so the developers may have already considered and rejected it either way introducing the rune so quickly for sakes the Link to the Past paradigm because it allows link to solve any problem immediately this eliminates the need for backtracking but it also means there are a few rewards left to string players along with probably the biggest missed opportunity on this front was not capitalizing enough on the backstory outside of main quests at first glance The Forgotten temple is exactly the kind of overworld discovery you want to find a surprise Guardian nest which takes some tact to traverse without eating a ton of damage it was worth its inclusion even if only for the moment you first wander in and all the lasers suddenly appear clearing it out is a satisfying challenge but when you get a shrine as your awards the whole area is retro actively tainted a little as though you only did all that for a spirit orb like it or not you’ve been put on the treadmill at the very least there could have been some kind of mural covering the back wall which visually explained another facet of the world there was just an excuse to show a flashback Zelda herself could have chimed in more often if we discovered a notable relic of Hyrule’s history one benefit to including voice acting is that could now be done without interrupting player control a reduced emphasis on narrative is right move considering how simplistic Zelda saris tend to be but that still leaves plenty of room for environmental storytelling to its benefit breath of the wild sheds many of the more obnoxious open-world contrivances quest markers are nonspecific often pointing back to their origin rather than their destination this meant clues needed to be embedded in dialogue and terrain rather than relying on a player to stare at a mini-map instead you could say it guards against the worst inclinations of designers and players encouraging more engaging quest design and forcing participants to fully partake the map itself is just a generic terrain overview with place names only appearing after they’ve been visited leaving plenty of room for surprises again discards against lazy developers and players from a lying on a map as guidance these two decisions are small but extremely significant tiny things can make big differences despite this vigilance to re-examine everything about open-world design one destructive trend managed to sneak in entering an area causes its name to appear in the bottom-left corner which seems innocuous but isn’t let me put it this way if the temple of time didn’t say temple of time down here how would you know it was the temple of time before you refer to the nice piano motif keep in mind that also plays in other locations is non-diegetic and relies on knowledge from previous games anyway unless there’s some piece of dialogue I’ve overlooked link could only discover this is the temple of time by opening the sheikah slate map there’s nothing visually about this building any of the items in it or anything around it which even hints that it was somehow related to time in other words it’s actually not a temple of time it’s just a generic Cathedral with a name attached ocarina of time had this problem as well but it seems reasonable to expect more progress on that front by now to be fair there are tons of details scattered throughout the world big and small you can tell these bow couplings have been practicing their archery more spent arrows a Kakariko hinted leader aboard villager or something more sinister these guys are delighted to have found some durians and they live happily ever after reduce and seal plushies wordlessly convey her immaturity Robbie’s lab used to be a lighthouse the three he knocks holding the keys the dish Ryan couldn’t possibly have been alive when the Sheik erected the hint tablet but they also happened to live inside massive rib cages which were the actual Giants referred to in the text many NPCs have quirks and moments to be discovered such as cocoa struggling to stay awake so she can protect her sister and of course there’s the incredible realization that you haven’t been imagining the banana thing they really are bananas for bananas all of this is just a small taste of the Karen into certain facets of the world but overall Hyrule suffers from a sense that there’s not much definitive history to be found maybe highlighting an exception is the best way to get the point across next to Hatton o village there’s a dilapidated horseback archery course a nearby house holds some arrows which presumably would have been sold to customers and even its position on the main road makes sense for a business all of these things paint a picture of better times where the owner would solicit passing travelers riding a horse through it while picking off a few neglected target cells the post-apocalyptic setting because it tells a story and even allows the player to become part of that story in their own way considering how effective this was it’s surprising there aren’t more minigame style ruins to come across most relics of the past just seemed like generic stone structures are burnt-out houses and while it makes sense they’re not everywhere would be important enough to be meaningful some places that clearly should be aren’t lake hylia’s bridges bookended by two towers complete with arrow slits and battlements but there’s nowhere for guards to enter them there’s no doors no interior and thus no sense that this was ever actually in use Linnea promenade the Colosseum and the Carla Citadel give off a similarly hollow impression Guardian husks are well utilized in a couple of places most notably fort hat no but they crop up a bit too often for their own good rubbing them of some importance maybe this highlights an underlying problem and how all of these ruins ultimately stem from a single event leaving you little to learn about their downfall considering the focus on exploration archaeology seems like a fitting inclusion so some decorative artifacts could have still been lying around in a few places waiting to be sold off or displayed in links home Nintendo’s family-friendly slants might also explain the lack of human corpses in the overworld even though they could be used a great effect for world building purposes flashbacks voiceovers murals architecture corpses spirits artifacts all of these avenues for fleshing out the world remain largely underutilized probably because of the extra resources it would take but maybe also because the area text engine some complacency about how severe this problem was of course it’s the temple of time it says so right there if discovery is a reward for exploration then another detrimental trend is the reuse of Hyrule you don’t need to be a Zelda expert to look out on that forest horizon identify Death Mountain and figure that’s probably where the gorons are assuming you played the series chronologically dial your mind back to that first ocarina of time playthrough if you can gowron’s were a new addition in that title and wandering into their domain resulted in a bunch of discoveries about them they can roll around they eat rocks they live inside the mountain they have a chieftain they’re having troubles when link arrives and they have a unique culture to experience what were once surprises in ocarina of time are now anticipated well beforehand the only way to replicate the experience of discovering something new is to give us something equally new to be clear these renditions of familiar faces are superb in their execution Zoras domain looks beautiful Corrick forest is more lush than it ever has been and the rito bird nest is literally an inspired design Nintendo went above and beyond crafting unique assets for these places like the differing signage you’ll see next to each in even how to know has a different one compared to Kakariko fantasy races are often homogenized with the implied excuse being that they have some subtle ways to tell each other apart that were not primed to see as humans but here each race has tons of variation in body types facial structure accessories and animations nobody looks like they were just spit out by an algorithm instead they’re more like lovingly crafted pieces of a diorama it’s all great to behold but imagine how much more rewarding it would be if these were brand new creatures towns and cultures to stumble upon given what a big undertaking this project must have been one reason to reuse races is to cut down on design workload but a better compromise would have been to use some lesser-known ones such as Magma’s or sub-regions instead a conventional Hyrule setting severely hampers the ability to present surprising lower and creatures which tend to enhance the joy of exploration some might say those things aren’t extrinsic rewards because they don’t progress the current plot and while I disagree it’s still a good example of how the delineation between intrinsic and extrinsic isn’t always clear it’s possible that years of being bombarded by cutscenes has conditioned players to feel as though the moment they experienced first hand are somehow less meaningful when if anything they should be more meaningful thanks to their interactivity most of us would probably agree that stumbling upon aedra is improved because apart from a brief cutscene at the start it all takes place through gameplay not only is it interactive but it’s completely unconstrained you’re free to use all the same tools and controls as usual some games would struggle to craft a moment disengaging with a bunch of preamble gimmicks and restrictions thrown into the mix the fact that this happens in the middle of a sprawling open-world with the player entirely at the helm is what makes it great this is only the most obvious example of a moment being its own reward though visit Satori mountain at the right time and you’ll run into this spectral deer which can even be rode around for a while sometimes it seems like the only thing link can’t mount is MIFA does this count as a reward or not well if you care about flashing at the Compendium then the answer is obvious but for everyone else not so much there’s no advantage to be gained by taming this ghost maybe because if there was it would end up replacing many players horses the poorly considered ancient saddle is the only evidence necessary to show how utility can invalidate any alternatives this should have been a whistle instead in Japanese Satori means enlightenment hinting that linking at a glimpse of something special there but it’s also worth noting that an enlightened point of view would be content just to experience unique event without needing to reap a material benefit from having done so perhaps removing most are all rewards could snap everyone out of the treadmill mentality but games of this scale can be made from passion alone it takes large sums of money to picking battles is important which is why I’m going to gloss over the subpar English voice acting as a necessary concession to broaden appeal with that in mind a few simple moments for their own sake are welcomed but there may be other cases that could be reworked to have both intrinsic and extrinsic appeal without sacrificing anything important one reason the Dragon seems much more obviously meaningful is because it causes a permanent change even though that change isn’t really beneficial to the player either if not for the Blood Moon clearing enemy camps might be rewarding for the same reason the satisfaction of taking back Hyrule presumably this isn’t possible because of a technical constraint or so as to ensure the world remains filled with combat encounters and resources no matter how long a player continues to explore if it’s the latter then it’s self-defeating because players who extrinsic motivation will just start avoiding these camps all together if they felt their actions were making a difference to Hyrule that might be enough to motivate them instead resulting in more combat engagement not less surely it’s that same sense of completion ISM which drives some people to find and tackle every shrine the power of permanence really can’t be overstated mechanically the Tarrytown sidequest is weak it involves talking to NPCs until you find the right one then gathering wood repeat five times now it’s kind of nice to have one quest about chopping down trees it gives them more purpose and for a little while it’s relaxing to work towards the completion of a town and the more mundane way than as usual for a Zelda title that’s all well and good but it repeats this process too many times becoming a genuine chore to slog through by the end despite that it is overall and net positive because the end result is an entirely new village springing up thanks to Link’s actions many will look back on Tarrytown fondly for that reason other side quests have varying levels of quality but even at their worst they at least benefit from a sense that something has definitively changed not that developers should rely on such a superficial distinction to make content feel meaningful but it’s a powerful tool so powerful it’s capable of backfiring even though there’s 900 Couric’s to find a nonzero amount of players actually bothered to collect them all basically torturing themselves in the process maybe Nintendo were delusional about how valuable these little guys were but I think the reason there’s so many is just so players are guaranteed to stumble across a reasonable amount during a typical playthrough thankfully there are some standout areas and moments which are easy to appreciate even if they lack permanence or distinct rewards Thai flow forests reduced visibility is a nice little challenge The Lost Woods presents the customary entry puzzle three well-rounded distinct side quests a cave of ordeals and the most lively realization of a forest town yet the Jaeger clan hideout has enforced stealth plus a unique boss and there’s also a vent eyed but will circle back around to that one in a while all these moments have one thing in common their restrictive here’s something you might have a hard time coming to terms with breadth of the wild isn’t a great game because you can climb and parasail anywhere it’s a great game in spite of that you need only look at the road to Zoras domain to see how more restrictive gameplay can lead to more memorable outcomes since it rains here in it’s a mountainous region the most reasonable option for progress is to follow the path which happens to lead the player into several enemy encounters given the choice you might fight these guys just for the sake of it but if you’re the type of player who would normally go around placing them directly in your path makes them more of a threat which encourages you to take them on here’s the crucial thing to understand with a few relatively minor changes to the overworld and towers even drastically nerfed parasailing and climbing wouldn’t impinge on the players freedom you would still be able to visit any area at any time you just might have to take a more circuitous route to get there I actually missed this intro to Zoras domain on my first playthrough because I came at the town from a different angle if the rest of the game was like that absolute freedom would still be preserved but certain choke points could be seated with enemy encounters or other content this is one of the few ways the original Zelda still outshines its revival it’s open but screens are constrained with terrain hazards and enemies so that it’s not always the optimal course of action to just run past them all getting through some places can be a struggle but it can always be done capturing that same balance in a huge 3d world is much more difficult but there’s no reason to think it isn’t possible hopefully a Nintendo will answer that challenge by iterating on this design but I can’t imagine it’ll ever work as long as link can continue to effortlessly glide over so much terrain if the parasail worked more like Skyward Sword where it could be used to break Falls it would still provide a fast way to descend without being so easily abusable shield surfing would then gain much more utility as a way of covering distance by speeding down slopes on paper that seems like a more balanced engaging system than the current one people think they want complete control over their experience when what they really want is to cut down trees to cross ravines something they’ll never actually do if they have complete control over their experience another way of fostering more engagement is more threatening enemies lizalfos seem to have been designed with this in mind because they’re exceptionally good at closing distance but unfortunately they usually seem to whiff their attack if you just keep moving away from them there come off large is also too easy to notice but ambush tactics are exactly what such a wide open world needs to keep players on their toes so many others have similar tricks octorok style Koblenz to choose minor talus and liga Klan member are all capable of ambushing link in their own way at their worst these can feel like random encounters but the real problem is how easy it is to run even after they reveal themselves Lionel’s guardians and mounted bobgoblin’s are the only real cases where fleeing might result in death all of which can be easily circumvented beforehand a truly dangerous enemy is some kind of overlap between those two types basic Boca blends wear out their welcome over the course of a full playthrough but enemy variety is also slightly better than it might first appear Deku scrub stowed on gos and like-likes are missing but also present because octorok variants accomplish much the same thing presumably with more development time these would have been remodeled into the enemies they really are so as to cut down on visual repetition it’s tempting to list off enemy types and compare the number to earlier games but that’s a good lesson in two dangers of seemingly objective information while cobble ins are present too many Zelda’s but saying that the ones in breath of the wild are somehow equivalent to previous versions is misleading the number of possible interactions these guys are capable of far outstrips any prior creature in the series probably several times over they sit around and talk to one another dynamically hijack horses hunt boars throw stones investigate suspicious activity call for help react to environmental dangers seek nearby weapons if empty-handed can wield anything including bows and even stuff they never normally carry like Korek leaves they eat they sleep and they’re yet another object for the chemistry system to react with if you’re feeling sadistic you can freeze one and blow it off a cliff for a drop a metal weapon as bait for a lightning strike I’m not saying these interactions are used that their fullest potential but they exist and lead to exactly the kind of freeform game play Nintendo must have envisioned one way players are encouraged to engage in these behaviors is by expressive character design while Koblenz with their huge round heads snub noses and massive ears have a childlike quality which contrasts with their endless aggression to gray comedic effect NABBA Boko Club and watch as its owner petulantly freaks out creeped up on them and you might catch one skillfully hunting a boar by helicoptering a spear it’s cartoonish in all the right ways the perfect bumbling test subject for an open-world sandbox lizalfos are just as good they’re painfully arched back gives off an awkward appearance but their upturned mouth looks like perpetual smirk Wiz robes are the most ridiculous of all maybe you never consciously realized it but these guys seem to be some kind of bizarre anthropomorphic shark with impossibly stubby legs wrapped in ill-fitting robes questionably reasonable he doesn’t care at all in fact he seems to be having a pretty good time I know the Zelda series always strives to reinvent and improve itself but if we don’t get at least one more game with these designs Nintendo is dead to me there’s pushing yourself and then there’s being needlessly wasteful just as long as we can’t still headshot Wiz robes to death we’re golden apart from how easy it is to avoid them enemies are well fleshed out especially Lionel’s which remain engaging from start to finish arguments about the quantity of content on offer are never particularly convincing because it’s always possible to ask for one more thing in an idyllic universe even a map of this size could have a unique enemy type for every single encampment at some point enough is enough but there isn’t any logical argument to arrive there it has to be felt before coming to a conclusion on this topic there are some subtleties worth considering wolves quickly distinguish themselves from other fauna by actively hunting link if these were remodeled to be more exaggerated even just a couple of attacks and behaviors would be enough to classify them as wolf Oaks instead there’s no solid line between enemy and wildlife which is a nice little dose of reality but there’s no doubt wolf folks would give a much better impression than wolves I have no idea how many animals you have to trade in order to get one more enemy probably more than you’d suspect but maybe it would have been worth sacrificing a few to elevate some others on the bright side at least all these creatures afford players the chance to play photographer approached with the right mentality there is something addictive about trying to grab that perfect shot but obviously this has Nisha appeal maybe wolf owes didn’t make the cut since they don’t hold weapons several of the most recurring types come equipped with differing load outs to increase variety it helps but in spite of those efforts I think it’s clear that breadth of the wild it doesn’t have enough variation given its size so a couple more mini bosses and enemies to fill different niches would go a long way considering how much time is spent scaling mountains the most obvious emissions seem to be tektites and skull chillers this is another reason why the game would be better without such an emphasis on climbing there aren’t any related obstacles other than rain and stamina sailing through the Wind Waker was also one of true Civ but occasionally rupee barrels would pop up giving players at ask to focus on climbing and gliding could have benefit from some similar gimmicks or enemies to break up monotony there’s a certain satisfaction to scaling a new peak especially since this is a feature other developers haven’t begun replicating yet but separated from that context and mechanics are pretty dull by themselves most inclinations can be traversed in more or less a straight line even without stacking stamina potions being able to open a menu and choke a remedy at any time is another example of poor streamlining which is only exacerbated by how large the inventory is event ID acts as an exception with limited resources on the island players value every piece of equipment and food they can obtain same goes for the grey plateau and Master Sword trials certain strategies become much more desirable when equipment is scarce this is the best argument in favor of a more restrictive backpack but that would come with its own problems one reason these moments are enjoyable is because you’re never required to drop anything if you could only carry ten food items you’d regularly discard or eat them as you stumbled across better replacements suddenly although streamlining efforts would be wasted as many usage could double triple or even worse how well this problem could be addressed depends on how fundamentally you want to rethink everything else the simplest solution is to make dropping and using items as painless as possible since Nintendo is known for their unique hardware maybe one day they’ll release a controller with a touchscreen that can be used to quickly manage resources link even as a tablet of his own so be a perfect fit the matically one can only wonder how much the lack of such a controller affected this game’s design regardless other avenues for improvement still exist for example holding the interact button could cause link to immediately eat an apple rather than pocketing it maybe a certain button could drop shields and bows from the quick select menu maybe that menu could be radial instead of linear whatever the case a huge freely accessible inventory undermines many other systems so it’s worth putting under a spotlight on the one hand this allows players to tweaked a difficulty level for themselves you might decide never to heal during a fight but still allow yourself to upgrade armor maybe that happens to strike the right balance for you someone else might forego both of those but still grab a ferry from time to time while others will take it another step further and disable me fizz grace or sell all their hearts for rupees it’s commendable that those options even exist there’s an endless common of difficulties to choose from but it takes an intrinsic mindset and the necessary willpower to stick with self-imposed rules no matter how committed you are to your chosen difficulty modifiers you can never really erase the knowledge that an invulnerable trip through the menu can easily restore all your hearts at any given time this is a reasonable enough concession to accommodate players across a wide range of skill levels but Master mode is a missed opportunity to placate those of us who want something more concrete there are many aspects which could be tweaked to provide a more engaging challenging experience even if we only factor changes that could be done with minimal effort here’s a list with a few ideas maybe this comes across as pointless griping considering this is by far the most hardcore zelda in a long time but it’s not even about difficulty per se it’s about one aspect of the mechanics making others redundant it’s hard to spend that in a positive way and it stops the game from reaching its full potential which is immense and it’s best when resources are low breath of the wild imparts a sense that everything could be useful from the grass to the trees to the rocks many games suffer from a sense that most of what you see is just set dressing cardboard cutouts that cause collisions but little else rather than being solely decoration these are all gameplay objects to one degree or another which might just be the defining feature of an already fascinating game stasis and Magnus’s are brilliant inclusions because they take objects which would otherwise be irrelevant thanks to their mass and turn them into more toys to play with beside that physic system sits it’s equally important chemistry equivalent which has been described by its developers as a state calculator with elements like fire creating zones of state changing behavior this simple explanation belies just how complex a problem that is but the end result looks effortless the first time you drop an apple next to a campfire and watches it transmogrifies into a baked apple you can’t help but wonder why every game doesn’t already work this way everything around us carries the potential to change state if the conditions are right that’s just as much a fact of life as gravity but until now games have been far more concerned with the latter than the former this might seem like breadth of the wilds greatest revelation but Zelda have actually been building toward this longer than anyone realized Ocarina of times torches could burn spider webs which seems meagre now but was genuinely impressive at release back in the windwaker days shigeru miyamoto used to repeat a phrase to the development team which seems especially relevant now he would say zelda is a game that values reality over realism the distinction is this crafting graphics that look increasingly like real life is realism whereas making an experience feel real no matter what it looks like is reality of course realism and reality can coexist to some degree breath of the wild pushes way more polygons than Ocarina of Time but it clearly opts for simplified visuals compared to its contemporaries it may not literally copy Impressionists tiles away Skyward Sword did but in a sense it’s still the computer game equivalent of Impressionism at first glance the art direction might seem like an unremarkable middle ground between previous instalments but it’s actually a crucial component state changes call for more assets which becomes more practical when polygon counts are reasonable and textures more simplistic other components benefit to real life doesn’t have wind trails but games of no sense of touch so an exaggerated visual effect compensates allowing the air to become a fully-fledged gameplay mechanic focus on realism and lightning will strike without warning but an impressionist approach it can spark metal objects first becoming yet another new toy if the goal was some sense of reality than it’s a resounding success hyrule feels alive in a way so few are the worlds do and I think this is because many different systems combine to imparted with a sense of motion grass and trees sway in the breeze water ripples birds flock insects skitter dust clouds fog and ghosts sweep through the air while shadows rotate along the ground even if you don’t consciously know that games are typically calling anything not in screen space you probably have a sense of it on some level which is why allowing unseen clouds to occlude the Sun is such a simple but powerful trick it single-handedly implies that everything is still alive even if it’s out of view stand in one place doing nothing and each frame turns out subtly different regardless it’s no wonder why they settled on this title when the entire world seems to breathe the way it does special thanks must be given to Pro Mode which hands much more of that valuable screen space over to the beautifully realized world it’s true that this option simply hides some menu items but there’s more to it than that a few other elements seem to have been designed with it mind a blast of frost briefly covers the periphery when temperature dips below the threshold champions speak when their abilities come off cooldown map pins are visible through the scope and it’s possible to tell how loud link is just by listening some details are useful for both modes elemental weapons recharge in an intuitive way and links cuivre visually depletes the one disappointment is that weapon durability messages still appear which might be understandable if not for the crunchy shatter effect which is more than enough to convey what’s happening sound design is great across the board with appropriate emphasis given to the wind and how it interacts with nearby objects critters and birds can be heard from all directions again fleshing out unseen areas these tranquil sights and sounds were clearly a priority because even the soundtrack stays out of their way in a series known for its triumphant melodic filled themes breath of the wild instead settles for some gentle piano accompaniment this might just be the best indication that Nintendo really were rethinking everything from the ground up striving to craft each component with the larger work in mind no doubt this will strike some longtime fans the wrong way but it really shouldn’t majora’s mask soundtrack isn’t great because termina field does the typical overworld motif it’s great because it captures and strengthens the right emotions at the right times clock towns denial and the foreboding final few hours those are the important notes to hit on fort breadth of the wilds music allows the world to speak for itself giving plenty of space between chords for the wind to make itself known on horseback to rhythm Bob’s back and forth by alternating high-low mimicking the up-down motion in the saddle with that connection established the twinkling Keys evoke the footfalls of a galloping horse in the lost woods piano volume sharply rises and falls as though the answer is darting in and out of reach tarry towns instrumentation grows as more residents arrive until they’re all playing in harmony together casas theme is a more traditionally catchy Zelda tunic into the song of storms but it also plays a crucial gameplay function by making these riddles more likely to be discovered mal Duga prince side on master yoga Hyrule Castle the list goes on and on including several wonderful town themes which transitions seamlessly between day and night versions most of a typical playthrough will be spent listening to subdued field music but while it’s important for a soundtrack to step up when needed it’s equally important to know when to step down at worst there’s an argument to be made that some work went into the wrong areas such as divine beasts which each have a unique escalating theme despite the fact that players will spend far more collective time in shrines which all share the same music as for divine beasts themselves their breath of the wilds most frustrating stumble because in so many ways they demonstrate an understanding of what makes for a great Selda dungeon their size and position builds them up hours in advance of setting foot inside they transcend from being just a bunch of connected rooms by asking players to think on a larger scale and conquering them solves a problem for a nearby town the main ingredients are present but each one turns out to be quite short visually repetitive and devoid of substance to be fair divine beasts aren’t exactly dungeons and as such they accomplish a couple of things better than dungeons ever have their presence in the larger world has clearly felt since the rest of Hyrule remains in view the whole time the assault sequences are among the most impressive set pieces the series has ever seen and even their internal structure once again embodies the idea of freedom there are no keys or unnecessary roadblocks just puzzles to solve in any order they were unquestionably designed to accent this games to finding features that alone is worth commanding that said comparisons to older Zelda dungeons are inevitable especially considering they’re such as elders staple they were even present in original although granted they were more combat focused back then maybe the problem lies more with shrines since if they were amalgamated they could easily make up enough content to satisfy any dungeon cravings allowing beasts to be judged more for what they are but there’s a problem presumably Nintendo were able to create so many shrines precisely because of their blocky test chamber simplicity and how independent they are of one another puzzle design gets more complex when players can take a key from one area to use in another or smuggle an item intended for one room into the next shrines also accomplish something better than dungeons they more consistently reward exploration well some are in plain sight many are tucked away as surprises you might not realize just how often this is the case if you weren’t looking for it at the time but a significant percentage of shrines are explicitly placed in crevices or other locations which makes them difficult to spot from a distance try climbing a few towers and Counting how many shrines are visible it’s not many only a fraction of the total this plays a large part in ensuring all those hours spent wandering Hyrule gradually reveals more and more content if they were lumped together there would be much longer stretches of time between each one where players could grow restless then again maybe that’s the best argument in favor of a smaller map dungeons had been in need of a shake-up for some time but while divine beasts and shrines suit this games larger goals there’s also the sense that Nintendo pushed themselves on too many fronts at once even if we ignore the problems raised by sectioning puzzles into their own to perfect environments disappearing into sci-fi cube caverns doesn’t have the same appeal as solving puzzles in the overworld or even just as part of a larger structure divine beasts are separate from Hyrule but at least the valiant effort was made to make them seem like they aren’t shrines are the exact opposite and while some change of scenery is refreshing for the eyes it’s just not worth all the downsides technical limitations were probably a big factor in all of this the load screen between each shrine might annoy you but I’m sure it annoys the engineers much more if a programmers goal is to become invisible then excuses only go so far but it’s telling that at least some of that tech cost can be traced back to Link’s mobility those cavernous bottomless pits are a necessary evil to combat the parasail and smooth wall textures are required to explain Link’s inability to scale them this is the third and final strike again climbing it’s one of the biggest obstacles to integrating puzzles into a larger world in the same way Nintendo defied conventions with breath of the wild I’m hopeful they’ll be willing to defy conventions from breath of the wild when the time comes at the very least that climb anywhere approach needs some reconsideration even if only to throw some more obstacles in the way letting go of old concepts might be what led us to the new version of Hyrule Castle it’s tempting to think of this as a dungeon but terminology can be limiting it doesn’t really matter whether it qualifies as a dungeon or not what matters is that it makes for a suitable climax thanks to an abundance of turrets it’s one of the few areas where climbing can be genuinely dangerous some routes avoid that problem but even so it’s an excellent capstone to the experience designed with freedom of approach in mind but still threatening enough to ward players off at first a few nice tidbits and high end gear properly incentivized exploration and the oppressive atmosphere works as a build-up from every angle of course it’s the players decision how much of the story they’ll experience before trying their hand at Ganon amnesia is a cliche plot device but at least in this case it serves as a way of presenting events nonlinearly with each of the 12 major memories unlockable at any time only one is gated behind the others it’s easy to forget just how quickly factorials explode there are technically 479 million different orders these memories could be unlocked in everyone gets an identical cutscene at each location so the exact sequences of questionable importance but it can make some difference having cleared Val meadow as my first divine beast I expected the order three champions to be at least a little belligerent a link but it turned out Ravalli is the exception likewise some players will first see Zelda as she geeks out over a frog while others will meet her at her most aloof maybe you can imagine why if you were in charge of these cutscenes it might be scary to leave that order up to chance it’s not as though this somehow makes the story better but that’s not really the point it’s about once again honoring the players freedom of choice as for the memories themselves they present a more fleshed-out version of Zelda than most for once the Triforce of wisdom appears properly manifested by intellectual curiosity it might be giving the story too much credit but it’s possible to interpret her failure as another reminder of the importance of freedom the implication seems to be that if she had been able to pursue things that were really important to her she probably would have awakened to her power naturally by forcing her down a certain path the King inadvertently doomed them even so Zelda must bear some responsibility for what happened but if Ganon’s defeat is supposed to be her Redemption arc that doesn’t really land one thing this series has always done well from a narrative standpoint is not shying away from some harsher moments there’s a fair bit of bitter sweetness to be found throughout these titles and breath of the wild is mostly no exception the champions don’t get a cop-out they’re dead from start to finish but Zelda gets restored to form a hundred years later seemingly no worse for the wear this is a fair ending for her considering how much she’d suffered already but I think it would have been more true to the narrative and themes if she had reappeared as an old woman or even just faded away we’re left with the assumption that she once again takes the lead with link happy to tag along but that Rob’s players of their final opportunity to decide for themselves what becomes of him in all likelihood the next entry in the series won’t have as much freedom as this one so it’s a shame that they ended on that kind of note this time around either way the final confrontation leaves something to be desired awakening the divine beasts just skips through most phases which seems like an uninspired choice this is one occasion where leaning back into old habits might have been beneficial since all the major runes are mandatory they might as well have some application in this fight ideally just in an optional capacity some of the Canon lights walk this line well we’re good rune usage can be used for free damage at times but they’re rarely if ever mandatory avoiding the predictable pattern previous bosses fell into to my knowledge the final forum only presents one such opportunity with the rest of it playing out more like a close quarters encounter it’s nice that players are expected to master perfect dodges or Perry’s to disable the shield but this doesn’t exactly represent the combat system at its finest instead it probably would have been more satisfying if the beasts each activated a new part of the arena which link could take advantage of for example a shallow pool of water covering the floor for Crona shields a periodic gust of wind or a lightning rod as it is now a full playthrough sets cannon up to be a letdown at least bringing the final form into Hyrule Field for the finale is one tradition which is kept and wicked cause it’s the last chance to integrate a grander moment back into the wonderful overworld unfortunately it plays out as a glorified cutscene with less challenged and even too divine beast assaults but it’s still a valiant effort to wrap the whole thing up in an appropriate way and I suppose that speaks to the experience as a whole there’s an admirable commitment to its larger picture even if some individual pirates suffer as a result a Link to the Past shadow has been dispelled by a paradigm shift towards greater freedom with so many drastic changes to a successful formula a few problems were inevitable puzzles suffer from being broken up so much combat is easy to avoid outright and some areas of the overworld are too devoid of meaningful content most of these flaws are obvious but the less obvious thing is that they all stem from the same source a singular commitment to freedom this is a series rediscovering itself returning to the core appeal of its roots and for the very first time eclipsing the defining feature of the original thanks to an unflinching vision with impressive execution that magic of exploration is stronger than it ever has been and much of the series long-standing baggage has been jettisoned in the process it’s smoother less patronizing less obtrusive and more punishing it may not be in arguably great but it’s sometimes scales a peak much higher than that two moments of perfection where it’s systems align and elegant are surprising ways even its scripted content benefits from the context the more vibrant engrossing world provides much like that world itself there are traces of the past to be found but most has been reclaimed and the air is more fresh than ever before

100 thoughts on “Breath of the Wild Review”

  1. BOTW is the best Zelda since the SNES/N64 era. I would even go as far to say it’s better. I think most can agree that there’s never been a bad game in the series, though. I actually loved Skyward Sword. I loved Wind Waker. TP I liked, although I think it’s the weakest 3D Zelda title.

  2. 37:07 S H O T S F I R E D
    Seriously though, it bothers me to no end that all of the touchscreen functionality was axed to accommodate the Switch version.

  3. You see, I could've sworn I already left an angry comment on one of your videos, but after searching for it all day, I haven't been able to find it. Must be the Obama effect! Anyway I wanted to say that your voice gave me enough unbusted nuts to shoot rocket fuel out of my ass and reach escape velocity. I'm on mars now playing Cabela's Big Game Hunter (you know, the ps2 one) and he won't stop talking about dead deer, though it's kinda natural given we're playing a hunting game. Did I tell you my wife built a gazebo near a pond a couple of blocks away from our house? It's really weird, as that place's abandoned and the property belongs to the state. What's even weirder is that I could see her from my bedroom window building it all by herself using reload animations from various videogames.
    In any case, Elon and I wish you a merry christmas, Stephen King was once hit by a car, and Hillary is responsible for the collapse of the Sears Tower.

    ̶T̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶c̶o̶m̶m̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶w̶a̶s̶ ̶s̶p̶o̶n̶s̶o̶r̶e̶d̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶S̶e̶c̶o̶n̶d̶ ̶L̶i̶f̶e̶.̶ ̶S̶e̶c̶o̶n̶d̶ ̶L̶i̶f̶e̶;̶ ̶A̶ ̶g̶a̶m̶e̶ ̶w̶h̶e̶r̶e̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶c̶a̶n̶ ̶p̶l̶a̶y̶ ̶a̶p̶p̶l̶e̶ ̶b̶o̶b̶b̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶M̶i̶c̶h̶a̶e̶l̶ ̶A̶v̶e̶n̶a̶t̶t̶i̶!̶

  4. Yet there have been players that missed the Tutorial… and have played hundreds of hrs not knowing about basic combos.

  5. They shouldve gave you the bike in a new game + mode. Cant believe such a great addition is added only at the very end when exploration is already over.

  6. I feel like I was spoiled by witcher 3. I want to see a richer world, a much greater variety of enemies, moral choices to make, etc. I realize I'm just requesting the witcher but I guess I just appreciate a more realistic world (not necessarily visually) but this world doesnt feel alive as even previous zelda titles. Its barren. Yes I'm aware it's a postspocalyptic setting. Still. The world feels wooden and static.

  7. I always thought it would be cool if the towns maybe gave out quests to clear out bokoblins for the towns safety and trade.

  8. The hidden Temple WAS the last shrine I found, and it DOES house the Tunic of the Wild, so that isn't nothing and it felt epic to me given the context of being the last for me

  9. The way i look at this I see Nintendo experimenting seeing what works so if and sequel would be its true form instead of a test.

  10. Its kindve funny , after my first strenuous climb i thought " wow thats weird, nothing tried to kill me" i think moving forward they def need to add some form of enemy or way climbing effects u somehow. Also they need to make gaining hearts or stamina from elixers or meals more realistic ie u cant stop and take a drink or eat while climbing a cliff face or in the middle of combat. If u run out of stamina or hearts during both of those activities u simply fall off or die do to poor planning or strategy. I also thought maybe have to aspects to climbing such as stamina and chaulk both resources need to be managed but during a climb u could only replenish one , that way theres no infinite climbs and resource management becomes essential, if u run out of stamina ur legs give out and u fall , if u run outta chaulk ur fingers slip and u fall. They also need to cap how much food u can carry and maybe have the toughest new(actual landmark) dungeons have a back pack that increases ur potential inventory. I say this bc there comes a point about halfway thru the game where u simply cannot die (unless ur retarded) ,u just have too much food to worry about dying and in zelda the threat of death should always at tge very least be present. I absolutely love the game, botw and oot are my fav games of all time but botw just needed a little more parody toward the end of the game ,and at the very least have some element that keeps u from turning god like

  11. Speaking of more hidden/ambushed enemies in an open world game, I think one game that did this quite well was Monolith Soft's Xenoblade Chronicles X, which had a lot of enemy types that either perfectly mimicked plant life and other innocuous objects, tried to bland in or camouflage themselves on walls, or were so huge you thought they were just part of the environment. One perfect example of this happens early on in the Noctilum region, where the main story objective indicates you need to reach a point deep in the forest. The most obvious path to that point is to follow a ledge up a cliff near a lake. The ledge is narrow and has flowers on it that look identical to flowers you've seen so far in the forest, but a bit bigger. When you get close to them, those flowers reveal themselves to actually be insects with floral abdomens that bury themselves underground and wait for preys, and these insects are a good 15-20 levels higher than the player character, urging you to jump off the cliff into the lake to escape death. In the middle of the lake lies a giant, seemingly defunct robot creature, and now that you're there, you may as well go investigate it. After all, one of your mission in the game is to salvage parts of your broken down space ship and, being the amnesiac protagonist that you are, you don't know if that robot was once one of yours or not. Sadly, and predictably in insight, once you get near, the robot reactivates and reveal itself to be a level 60 superboss that promptly obliterates you and forces you to respawn at the last checkpoint, upon which the player is forced to rethink their approach, and hopefully find the cave entrance that let them skip the deathtrap cliff entirely and features much more level-appropriate enemy encounters.

    Now, I know Monolith Soft already worked on Breath of the Wild's world design, but I sincerely hope Nintendo let them expand their role a little on the inevitable sequel by letting them design a few enemies as well.

  12. Minor quibble; but with regard to the Temple of Time and how Link (and the player) would know, we have no idea to the extent Link’s amnesia. He seemingly knows the names of anything that enters his inventory and his memories show him having traversed the entirety of Hyrule. It’s likely that, since being in a location prompts his memories, simply being in one is enough to prompt his memory of what the place is called.

    Inb4 writing the script for them. The assertion is that Link doesn’t know the place names. That’s an assumption that requires proof since the evidence points to him definitely knowing when prompted

  13. This comment section is truly fascinating : Half of the comments state that this game is so awful they stopped playing it after 5 hours of gameplay, and for the other half, BoTW is their favourite game of all time.
    The reason why this Zelda is so divisive is because it's a work of art, in the sens that instead of excelling at a well-established formula like previous Zelda games, it explores things and system that have never been done before. It is quite fit that a game about exploration explores so many new mechanics itself. I think this review nails it when it says that the failures of this game are caused by this new perspective that Nintendo chose : while the exploration is very well thought-out, the fighting system and the shrines are somewhat lacking, mainly due to the freedom that we are given. To be honest, I also struggled with a part of it at some point, since I'm more used to extrinsic motivation than intrinsic one – but when you stop caring about your weapon breaking and start enjoying yourself marveling at the wonders of this open world, this game is truly breathtaking.
    And to be honest, this game is also a hope, like most work of arts that explore new areas of gameplay. Take Dark Souls for instance (I know this example is a bit cliche, but I played the remaster recently and it made me think about it a lot) ; its punishing fighting system was so innotive and interesting that it made it a work of art in his own ways ; a work of art with many shortcomings though, as the fighting system itself had some flaws (which made most players choose a boring but safe playstyle with a shield and a weaker weapon). However, it was perfected in the following games (and peaked with Bloodborne imo) and it is today a standard part of videogames (I wouldn't be surprised to see more Souls-like games rising in the next few years). In the same way, I believe that the developers will find ways to overcome the shortcomings of this game in the next installments of Zelda games – hopefully more parts of the next game will look like Hyrule Castle.

    I'd like to add a concern though – the Gerudo storyline is really bad. I mean, basically, you deceive a trans woman (and the game automatically shames and mocks her through it) to enter a woman-only village disguised as one. Am I the only one who believes that entering a woman-only space disguised as one looks more like a pornhub fantasy than a genuine video game scenario?

  14. I don't own any consoles, even though I really want to.
    I think this game is being held back. If this game released on PC, it would become a legend on par with Skyrim, where people are still playing it, referencing it, and modding it years after release. In think BoTW is going to be considered a masterpiece of gaming in years to come.
    Yet, if it came out on PC, it would become one of those legends everyone plays. I'm not saying they should do a steam release, as it would be almost impossible. I'm just pointing out a fact, a terrible fact. Still, I think of all major console producers, Nintendo's consoles are the easiest to justify. It's not just a worse version of my PC, it's its own, unique product.

  15. Probably the fairest review of the game I've seen. Most of the other analyses are an almost knee-jerk reaction to the universal praise of the game, and in the process they exaggerate the games flaws, making them out to be game breaking.

  16. This game is the definition of the journey not the destination. By that I mean the middle of the game to get stronger in order to make Ganandorf easier is fun, but the final boss fight is pretty disappointing.

  17. Imo the most revolutionary element of Breath of the Wild I want to see return to the next titles is the physics engine. That may sound silly, but the dedication they put into simulating physics in a way that is logical, intuitive and consistent did absolute wonders for immersion and making the world feel real, while still retaining a lot of fantastical elements.

    As an example, just think of the myriads of ways you can create and manipulate fire. A lot of games would grant you one or two fire themed attacks. They would look like fire, they would deal more damage to stuff that is traditionally weak to fire in fantasy settings, like Ice Monsters and Wood/Forest Creatures, but otherwise they would function just like a regular non elemental attack, like say a sword cut. Sometimes these "fire attacks" will trigger damage over time to simulate burning as an enemy is "lit" on fire, but this is no different than a poison dot, or a shock dot, or a physical attack that arbitrarily applies a dot and justifies it as bleeding damage.

    But not in Breath of the Wild. In BotW, fire behaves like real fire would, because the developers dedicated an seemingly ludicrous amount of time making sure every element of the physics engine reacts to fire as it logically should. Rain puts out fire, fire spreads, and does so more or less effectively depending on what it lits on fire, fire can manifest from combining flint wood and a strike from a metal object, or as the result of lightning, but only when said lightning strikes a flammable object. Fire generates a localized pocket of heat which protects Link from the cold or makes already scorching temperatures even worse, fire can burn or cook anything burnable or cook-able that gets too close and even creates a usable updraft of wind, but only if there's a sufficient amount of fire concentrated in one spot. For goodness's sake, even carrying a fire empowered weapon on your back is accounted for when it comes to regulating Link's body temperature. What an insane level of attention to detail! How many games do you know off include a fully fleshed out ambiant temperature system, and then allow you to use anything from makeshift camp fires, to torches and even the weapons strapped to you back to help you keep warm?!

    And this is just fire! They've dedicated the same attention to detail for cold, lightning, wind, climbing, swimming, gravity, totally made up magical laws of physics like magical magnetism and stasis, and the list goes on. Like one of the only things BotW doesn't get right about simulating an immersive realistic fantasy world, which I can hardly blame it for because no game has ever depicted this correctly, is the idea that you should take a metric ton of damage for hitting a body of water at terminal velocity, and also the fact that Link can shield deflect a Lionel's charge instantly and effortlessly which according to Game Theory and THE SCIENCE! means his arm packs more punch than a tactical nuclear warhead or something…

    But aside for a few, probably deliberate deviations from what a physics nerd would expect to happen, this otherwise amazing cohesive mesh of code that doesn't feel like code, the never seen before or since physics engine of Breath of the Wild comes together in such a manner as to almost make me forget I'm playing a video game. It feels like a real world, albeit one that is peppered in gameplay contrivances that don't make sense from an in universe perspective, like those 900 korok seeds and 120 shrines. One would think if everyone's goal was to help Link defeat the ultimate freaking evil once and for all as quickly as possible because Zelda is running out of time, that the ideal solution would be for all the sheika monks to stand next to Link in the Slumber of Resurrection and just pump him full of spirit orbs, hand him over a bunch of high end gear, have Zetsu perform his stupid inventory expansion magic 60 times in a row and send Link on his merry way to kill Ganon within an hour of waking up instead of having him spent the equivalent of several in game months combing Hyrule for all this stuff, but of course there wouldn't be any game left for us to enjoy if that were the case. 😀

    So for the next title, real quick because I've ramble long enough as it is, let's have the physics engine make its return in full force again, possibly even expand it although I don't know how they could do that given how well they nailed it this time around, but I also would like a return of more traditional dungeon sequences, lengthy gauntlets of battles and puzzles made to test a player's endurance and skill. Possibly also a ton of full length super hard optional dungeons with appropriately scaled rewards in place of 120 bit sized shrines. Say 20 of them, each thematically unique and each rewarding the player with an full extra heart container or equivalent.

    As for the equipment system, certainly more durable weapons would be a welcomed tweak. New additions could include the ability to craft new weapons in an hands off experiment based mini game similar to cooking, the ability to enchant weapons, more than one enchantement per weapon and more randomized and amazing monster weapon drops that provide a strong intensive to tackle with powerful monsters.

    A new setting that is not Hyrule, a more directly involved story that unfolds in the present and not the past and better voice acting, including the dubs for every language if they want to continue down that route. Moving away from Ganon, possibly moving away from Link as the protagonist or at least granting him a quest that isn't necessarily saving the world from an all consuming big bad. More morally grey characters, especially villains, because Wind Waker Ganondorf was best Ganondorf in that regard but still criminally under utilized. More effort put into reinventing boss battles and a faster pace than Breath of the Wild, because for all of its merits, that game was slow. Incredibly. Slow. If you really wanted to complete it all that is. 900 freaking… Korok Seeds. Have to comb this GIANT map for them all? Enough said.

    Example of a concept for next Zelda game : You play as Zelda/Shiek herself for once, which could use a lot more battle ready magic that would also double as puzzle solving tools and essentially substitute for Link's items. You use a fast recharging magic meter instead of stamina to get things done. Instead of slowly climbing a cliff side, you could combine several movement focused magic abilities that are intrinsically linked to the way Zelda moves around to dart up the same cliff in a fraction of the time. Things like mid air jumps, augmented running, wall running and outright short distance teleportation, or the ability to unleash fire spells under your feet to create an updrafts that allow you to gain considerable altitude using angelic wings, (the latter of which would be a suitably epic substitute for the paraglider). Since you are the Princess herself, the game's plot could revolve around rebuilding a new kingdom proper after the endless cycle of Demise's hatred has finally been broken, but several factions of this new emerging kingdom might have conflicting interests, forcing you to make tough decisions as the monarch.

    Here's a pitch of the macro gameplay loop in one example. : One of the first areas of expansion for this new kingdom could be a nearby enchanted forest, initially tainted by a malevolent force you must purge by clearing one or two dungeons and an overworld boss as major objectives, which would be followed by minor objectives to help the region prosper, such as helping NPCS on awesome hand crafted side quests, clearing monster camps and perhaps having the hard choice of helping the native forest dwellers thrive, or colonize the area heavily with Hylian folks, both yielding different tributes for your kingdom and possibly pissing off factions that wouldn't otherwise be hostile to you in the process. There should be an emphasis morally grey and imperfect choices, perhaps suggesting that Demise's Curse isn't truly gone, but instead has evolved into an unvanquishable form ; the potential for evil that resides in anyone's heart, including Zelda's.

  18. I have always really enjoyed how you have your closing thoughts over the credits of the game your covering. It creates a nice feeling of closure to your videos, without falling into that final word 'sting', before loud dubstep or something, that a lot of video essays fall into. There's no facecam asking for likes and subs, no links to other videos as if the viewer doesn't know how to navigate to your channel page. Just a soft resolution to the thesis.

    I've enjoyed so much of your work, but I've never commented before. I hope you see this! Thanks for the well constructed vids.

  19. I like being able to climb just about anything, unlike most games where you have to look for colored ledges to grab on to. Zelda has sort of spoiled me for other games with climbing elements. And forcing the player to build campfires to survive the night sounds like fun, but I put well over 100 hours into my playthrough, so I don't need anything else to pad out my playtime or to make the game feel like a chore (which Zelda is the only single-player game I've played for so long where I didn't feel like it was a chore at any moment).

    I just wish you could cook dishes in batches. But if this Zelda: BotW had the amount of NPCs and detailed side missions from Witcher 3, it would be my favorite game of all time, not just my favorite game of all time.

  20. This is a great review. BotW enraptured me the first time I played it, and I still enjoy playing it, but that doesn't mean it's flawless.

    The more I played, the more I have found the armor system to be a big stumbling point. Having such a variety of armor in a Zelda game is cool and definitely new, but mechanically the armor sets end up feeling very samey. Most pieces of armor give the exact same amount of defense at each upgrade tier, and most of the set bonuses aren't very impactful or exciting (at least in combat). And don't even get me started on how weak the DLC armor is. I haven't used Amiibo, but I'm assuming the Amiibo-exclusive armor had the same problems as DLC if they also are not upgradeable. The whole system just seems primarily focused on letting you change Link's appearance.

    Why not have more sets that boost the power of only certain weapon types the way the Ancient set does, giving players more options to build for a certain play style? Why not have optional equipment slots that don't mess with set bonuses, so the jewelry equipment doesn't become mostly pointless? Why not let bonuses from food and armor stack so you can combine both to get a bigger boost than you would from only using one or the other? Even having penalties with some pieces or sets of armor could be a way to make the armor you wear a more meaningful decision, provided those penalties are balanced in a way that makes sense.

  21. I simply don’t understand why lighting in games has got so bad in the last 10 years. How is it that half life 2, Diablo 2 and Abe’s exodus have better lighting than any modern title with ostensibly better graphics? Where have the artists gone? I also find the running animation unconvincing here. It’s the same problem in movies – no sense of weight, inertia, momentum. Disney got it right in Fantasia and Dumbo in the 1940s, how can computer models and artists 80 years later not get it?

  22. It's a shame the grass cutting feature from Twilight Princess didn't make it to BoTW, it was fun to cut grass on your way without interrupting movement. and the Melee finishers would have been nice too.

  23. It was good. But it did NOT deserve the level of hype journalists around the world created. So many ratings that were close to perfection (if not perfect, some gave 10/10, which is stupid on many levels). Now, no one even talks about it anymore, every one already forgot it. It was a step in the right direction, for Nintendo. But it was not the masterpiece that so many people seemed to think it was.

  24. 51:35 *reappeared as an old woman* XD

    Link be like "dude, wtf!"
    Btw, such a nice listen, looking forward to the next one.

  25. One of my greatest memories was playing the opening moments of this game on like a 30 foot-wide screen.

  26. Your videos never disappoint, and I have to give particular praise to this one for engaging me from the start (Albeit by making me think I clicked on the wrong Zelda video) and smoothly transitioning me into the bulk of your essay without extra fluff in the way, just like the game itself does with no title screen.

  27. Ocarina of Time is my favorite in the series by a far, far margin and I'd argue that was the true Zelda experience (since it's the most popular and iconic) and that the original free-roam Zelda was simply an introduction to the world, as if the team thought that was the direction the series should have gone then they would have just made more free-roam games instead of the beautifully written and designed Ocarina.

    The three things stopping me from buying BotW are the breakable weapons, lack of good dungeons, and weird sci fi elements thrown into my favorite genre, medieval fantasy. I also just am not the biggest fan of most open world games as they seem a bit shallow and repetitive after you get a gist of the world. Am I justified? I really wish the game had a demo because it looks fun. I'm worried I'd get bored of it after a few hours

  28. This game is amazing. Best Zelda game of the whole bunch and this coming from a dude who should be saying "Twilight Princess was my childhood, it will always be my favorite!" There's just no end to the praise I could give this piece of art.

  29. And how do you top something like this? Simple, you don't "top" it, instead, you go in a different direction. The inevitability of Link's quest in Link's Awakening gives the whole the a tragic like a beautiful fading dream.

  30. This review is kind of nitpicky. Sometimes when I watch people critique things to this extent, I wonder if the game had done what they wanted it to do instead, if they would have critiqued that too. Certain criticisms like climbing and traversal is too straight forward and so on. If they put too many obstacles, the appeal of the game would plummet for many people. Some critics would say there is too much going on. Part of the appeal of the game is the feeling of exploring the wild and taking in the scenery. If there were no quiet moments, I feel like it would greatly hurt the pacing of the game. Like a lot of what you thought was bad with the game, a lot of people, if not more people, would have preferred. But I guess reviews are subjective.

  31. I honestly believe the increased freedom does outweigh the downfalls. Maybe a better balance can be made but this game was overall my favorite Zelda since Oot easily. The freedom and the do as I please was just so awesome and fun to me. I literately went everywhere on horseback and rarely used warp points (mostly to stables) because I liked feeling human in the game and exploring

  32. Why would you want her to have reappeared as an old woman? Without her the bloodline of the Goddess cannot go on. That was the initial plan of the developers….to have her as an old woman…until they realized this important fact.

  33. Matthew: "Nintendo's family friendly slant might also explain the lack of human corpses in the Overworld even though they could be used to great effect for world building proposes"

    Nintendo: "Hold my sequel"

  34. To be honest can't disagree way more heavily about the races I think sticking with the original was the best way instead we got to see all the races and location in a new and a refreshing light and it was nice and that instead we got to visit these places and they felt like proper locations and that had there own life not just some place you go by on a tour. For the first Zelda game returning to the original I this was the best thing to do. And then with a sequal go more different.

  35. I must say I would also have been glad with some 'new history' for the characters, something like (just an example) all the gorons having become pacifists due to some great event in the past, or maybe having stopped eating rocks? Or just something else that has upended their cultures entirely or in some way. These stories take place millennia after each other so great cultural shifts shouldn't even be that surprising right? New monsters and races would also be fun but these races are a staple of Zelda and a similar effect (bringing new interest to the old races and thus fleshing out the world) could be achieved by being curious as to what happened to change their culture so much. It may even be a lot deeper than having to start over with new races?

    Btw I *really* hope the devs for the botw sequel see this video. Your ideas for upgrades and archeology and such are awesome and I want them already!


  36. If botw had a motto it would be it's all about the journey, not the destination. It's like the heart of the games design philosophy and it's why the game is so amazing

  37. I'm surprised they didn't put big gusts of wind into certain caverns or around mountains to discourage just paragliding across them, avoiding combat and puzzles. It would be pretty easy to implement and doesn't require a huge amount of justification. Then you can have more of your crossing caverns with logs and sneaking through camps at choke points.

  38. Biggest problem for me, which made the game unplayable, is Breakable Weapons. Perhaps the WORST game mechanic ever devised! I quit the game after 2 weeks. I spent a lot more time farming weapons then I did actually playing the game! It was a waste!

  39. Awesome review! Well fleshed out, good arguments, good strong points. Makes the viewer think on their own opinion of the games.

  40. Awesome review! Well fleshed out, good arguments, good strong points. Makes the viewer think on their own opinion of the games.

  41. I wish the npc’s in botw was more like bokoblings, humans don’t do anything, but bokoblings act like real living things, truly an amazing ai it’s just a shame that the other npc’s are dead on the inside

  42. I remember in the Wind Waker video, Matt said the Zora must've evolved into the Rito, even the there were still Gorons (they were in disguise sorta but still) in that game who didn't evolve at all. I wonder now if he still feels that way now that both Zora and Rito were side by side in this game

  43. I think the game ended that way on purpose- The sequel seems to pick where BOTW left off. I'm hoping the sequel is able to take this type of Zelda game to all new heights without destroying the absolute freedom that BOTW had that made it so great to begin with. Maybe longer shrines with more complex puzzles, big, sprawling dungeons full of puzzles and combat, encouragement for the player to use the environment more… but all the same freedom to go anywhere at any time, climb anything, solve problems as you see fit, etc needs to be there still.

  44. You're an idiot, dude! One fire arrow on an ice wizzrobe. One hit KO! But you end up abusing headshot arrows, and complain about this as a flaw in a game. No, dude! The flaw is YOU. Most of your complaints from Ocarina of Time is due to your lack of experience. You clearly did not spend enough time with these games to have a thorough analysis. Nope! You just want to upload this ASAP to get views. You're pathetic!

  45. Between all 5 game analytics & critics I watched until now, you are the worst. I can only agree with half what you say and also you say wrong things from time to time but base your critique on it

  46. Am I the only one that thinks this review sucks. Almost every point is deeply flawed if you just spend a little bit more time thinking about. Just look at combat for example. As soon as you realise it's all flat number calculations (eg. 1 point of armor negates 1 point of damage), it's impossible for combat to be incredibly fragile from thereon. As such, the only way the combat does not break is if you constantly micromanage your armor (unless you want to make the game absurdly unfair by having no armor).

  47. Matthewmatosis: Argues what game would be like to newcomers

    Also Matthewmatosis: Argues reusing races is lazy to oldcomers


  48. Oh man I'm so torn about you're criticism of climbing and flying. I agree with everything you said, that absolute freedom really did kill so many potential interesting sequences. The Zora and Goron sections were by far the most engaging, because that had some pretty strict limitations. But this is also the first open world game I've truly enjoyed, like whole-heartedly enjoyed, and I think thats because botw's approach to open world. Of course I have gripes, but I found so much excitement in the way the world was presented and I think climbing and paragliding was integral to that. For me, its almost like a necessary evil, I will take the hit delivered from not being able to craft more linear and specific gameplay moments because it allows me to get an experience completely unlike other games. Its an Achilles heel in the literal sense, its greatest traits become its greatest flaw, but man its totally worth it for the experience.

    Hopefully there's a middle ground Nintendo can find that I'm not seeing. If they can make the game more restricted and constructed without feeling less free, I'll be on board. (I'd also like to add I loved the witcher 3 as well, but it feels like it doesn't belong in the same category as this game)

  49. 31:31 this is one of the issues I have with Sekiro. It's an amazing game and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I found that compared to the souls games it was too easy to mindlessly run away from enemies without any risk of actually dying. In the souls games it felt like you had to actually learn the area and a mob's attack patterns to safely run away from them while in Sekiro against many mobs you just have to hold forward and sprint to safely get away from them. And even if that doesn't work, grapple hooking away most certainly gets you away from danger.

    Worse is that there are even a bunch of boss encounters where you're virtually invincible as long as you keep mindlessly sprinting away from them, which definitely takes away a feeling of danger I must say.

  50. The real spot they fucked up with the Champions is that we have three cookie cutter badasses, with the sore thumb being Revali who takes the "Rival" place, so the fandom generally compares him to a potential love intrest, Mipha, and just down right hate Revali

  51. Please do a red dead 2 review. I believe it’s overrated. Wanted to get your opinion. It’s a linear open world game. When in missions.

  52. I feel like the Zelda team are forward thinking with Matthew and will consider his recommendations at 12:36 for BoTW2

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