“The Legend of Zelda: Everything Breaks” (WiiU/Switch)
After logging in c. 300 hours into the newest Zelda entry, I finally feel confident enough to give out my 2 cents. I’m all sorts of aware this is basically a month late, but, I mean…have you played this game?? I mean, if you haven’t, you’re going to maybe want to tread lightly–I’ll try to be spoiler-free, but…we’ll see.
“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” finally launched March 3, 2017 alongside the Nintendo Switch console. In case you’re curious, I have a “shot on shitteo” review of said console, link at the end of this. However, with full eyes on the game for this article, after exploring all the other Zelda entries, how is it? Is it good?
Does Mario have a PhD?
“Breath of the Wild” seems to take in bits and pieces of all the “Zelda” entries–and some of other games, too–to bring together one, big, melting pot of an experience. It has the open-ended, “go-where-you-want” aspect from the original, NES “Legend of Zelda”, numbers from “Zelda II” (I hope my joke comes across in text…) It has the bright and colourful graphics like in “Windwaker” and “Skyward Sword”–along with “Skyward Sword’s” stamina meter–it’s got the dark and dreary aspect from “Majora’s Mask” wherein you can always see the Moon, looming over you, waiting for you–where in “BotW” it’s Hyrule Castle, now taken over by Calamity Ganon. From almost wherever you are in the overworld, off in the distance, you can see the castle. You can see the cloud(s) of evil black and purple swirling around it. While it may not be the exact same sense of dread like in “Majora”, it still a reminder that, while you’re running around, Snowling, Shield-surfing, and collecting little Korok poops, you still have a main mission to tend to. And, speaking of “Majora”, “BotW” also takes it’s approach of “only 4 dungeons”.
So, what’s the story? Well…from when you start the story, as in, start a new file, a whole bunch of stuff went down 100 years ago before that point. Apparently, the “Sheikah” tribe (as seen from “Ocarina”, now more than just 2 members) alongside archaeologists, unearthed some rad Zords–I mean, Divine Beasts–that were thought could help defend Hyrule Kingdom in the event a great evil ever arose. They also were able to utilize some autonomous spider-like creatures, called Guardians, that shoot out powerful laser beams. So, that’s a thing. They get a Rito to pilot the Bird Zord, a Goron to pilot the Salamander Zord, a Gerudo to pilot the Camel Zord, and a Zora to pilot the Elephant Zord. The Rito has the ability to soar upwards with a gust of wind, the Goron can shield against anything, the Gerudo can command lightning, and the Zora is a white mage. Meanwhile, Zelda is trying to practice on being a good little Priestess and harness her “power of the goddess” or…something like that.
Eventually, Link comes into the picture as the Hero, wielding the Master Sword and all that jazz. Then a great evil known as Calamity Ganon arises and starts taking over. He makes Hyrule Castle his home and taints the Divine Beasts and Guardians to do his bidding. With the odds against them, they go in to fight the Calamity only to get their asses handed to them. The appointed four Champions die, Zelda puts Link into a spa treatment in a shrine, and stays behind all by herself to hold off Ganon until Link feels better.
It takes him 100 years.
So, now we’re in the game. Link has no memories and finds himself in a place called The Great Plateau, a place raised up and separated from the rest of the surrounding world. His first task, in the tutorial of the game, is to find and solve 4 Shrines, so he can get a neat Paraglider and get off the Plateau. Simple enough, except the Plateau is huge. There’s a forest, a river, a mountain, and an open field. And also you’re naked. No biggie… Link get’s his first Android Tablet–the Sheikah Slate–and the 4 basic Runes you’ll use throughout the game, and you’re off! The first thing to notice that’s different about this entry is the overall controls. Link can now jump, and climb pretty much everything–which, climbing consumes Stamina. You also get a more wide variety of weapons including: Melee, Shields, and Bows.
Melee weapons can include: One-handed swords, two-handed swords, staves, one-handed boomerangs, and two-handed boomerangs–that last one is my favourite. Shields are…self explanatory, and Bows fire arrows. One of the things that also become obvious right away: EVERYTHING BREAKS. There isn’t a single item in the game that’s immune to this, either. Even the Master Sword “breaks” in the sense that it has “stored energy” or whatever, and can “lose energy”, thus “breaking”, for about 10 minutes. I’m putting that time limit in bold because that’s another recurring theme in this game: Cooldown.
As you explore the world after getting the Paraglider from some Old Man, you’ll come across the aforementioned 4 Dungeons in this game. Upon beating them, you’ll net yourself rad super powers. As briefly touched upon 4 paragraphs ago, those Champion‘s powers become Link‘s. You can get a lift upwards 3x, shield perfectly without trying 3x, attack in an AOE fashion with lighting 3x, and recover from death instantly with a few bonus, temporary hearts, 1x. After using up each of those powers, they’ll recharge after a Cooldown of: 7 minutes, 15 minutes, 10 minutes, and 30 minutes respectively. (this cooldown time information comes from my own experience playing the game, using them, and checking maybe once or twice. I actually deactivated [SPOILER]‘s Protection because I’d rather protect myself. Anyway)
Another important aspect of “BotW” is cooking. All over the world are numerous ingredients for you to collect that you can, in turn, cook into dishes. Said dishes then either recover your hearts, give you temporary hearts, give you cold or heat resistance, make you stealthy, increase your movement speed, and more!! Basically, you give link 1-5 items to hold and then drop them into a cooking pot that then yields some sort of appropriate dish. You can also take critters like Dragonflies and Beetles, mix them with monster parts, and then get some rad Elixirs as a result. Note: Do not mix dish ingredients with elixir ingredients. You’ll get Dubious Food.
Given you can go anywhere you want after getting the Paraglider, you’ll possibly find many instances where you end up somewhere you have no business being, getting your ass handed to you like an infant going up against a trained MMA fighter. This is just a possible result that comes about from the game being very open-ended. I just kinda figured I should point this out at some point. It’s gonna happen. However, if you do find yourself in need of extra Hearts, Stamina, or better Gear, you can visit Shrines to get points towards increasing your Hearts and Stamina gauge, and improve your Gear using ingredients you’ve collected along the way. The Gear is another super important thing, as it’s Link‘s debut into major fashion. An armour set consists of 3 pieces, and many of the sets offer boosts that you’ll otherwise have to get via Dishes or Elixirs. Either way, if you “git gud” and train up Link‘s stats, you’ll soon be able to take down even the most daunting of foes.
Well, are you feeling discouraged, yet? Sound like a whole hell of a lot to take in? It certainly is. “Breath of the Wild” has far more intricacies than any other entry that came before it. However, as far as “open-ended action-adventure RPG” games go, I can definitely say it’s far more basic than most. Once you learn the core mechanics of the game, you’ll learn that there’s really very few “parts” here and there and that it’s just those “parts” multiplied by about 100. There’s 120 Shrines, 900 Hidden Korok, tons of ingredients to collect that can be combined in surprisingly few dish/elixir combinations once you learn your way around a cooking pot. Enemies get easier and the game’s amazingly designed and visually stunning terrains become easier to traverse. It’s like any other game, I guess, in that it only gets easier the more you play and the further you get. But, this is easily the most difficult “Zelda” entry since “Zelda II”.
So, as a “Zelda”, this is easily the best game in the series. It gives you the freedom of choice that so many other entries drop the ball on. “Windwaker” had great exploration, but you still could only do the dungeons in a set order. “Ocarina” and “Link to the Past” let you do some of the dungeons out of order, but there’s still a definitive structure you had to follow. In “BotW”, there’s only one time you have to follow a structure: to obtain the Paraglider, you have to do 4 Shrines. As you need the Paraglider to even get off the Plateau–thus, play the game–you have to do them. So, aside from that, after the tutorial, you have 100% up-to-you freedom on where to go and what you do. You can, go hunt down all the Shrines, you can, go tackle the 4 Dungeons—IN ANY ORDER–you can, go straight to Hyrule Castle and take on the Calamity with worn clothes, no real weapon or shield, and only 3-4 Hearts. Whatever you want to do, you can do it. And there hasn’t been a single “Zelda” entry since the original NES “Legend of Zelda” that actually lets you do that. Hell, even that one makes it so you have to do some of the earlier levels to retrieve the Ladder and the Raft before you can do some of the later levels, and you can’t go after Ganon until you’ve done all of the 8 Dungeons to assemble the Triforce.
That’s right, “Breath of the Wild” has more freedom than even its original iteration. And, whether you’re a fan of “The Legend of Zelda” games or you’re a fan of “open-ended action-adventure RPG” games–or both–you are 100% in for a treat with this one here. Between it’s beautiful visuals (720p for WiiU and [portable] Switch; or 900p for [docked] Switch) and it’s expansive world, there’s so much to see and do in “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild”. You’ll never feel like whatever you’re doing is a waste of time, because everything you find or gather can be used for something else. Any little secret you find can be used to upgrade Link in some way, be it his Health, Stamina or his Inventory Space. Everything you do affects you or an NPC in some way. This is, hands down, the best, well thought out, well programmed “Legend of Zelda” experience, and you owe it to yourself as a gamer to experience it firsthand.
Wake up, Link. Grab your Sheikah Slate, pick up a Tree Branch and Pot Lid, and go take down Ganon!!
Nintendo Switch Review (video): https://youtu.be/ERQ0YJy2aDQ
Nintendo Switch; One Month Later (podcast): https://youtu.be/YUNCq76Ui8o