Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

9.5
9.5 score
[Editors rating (9.5)] = (TheGearHunt) score (9.5)/10


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Editor rating: 9.5 / 10
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Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review Facts

When you think of Nintendo there are quite a few games that immediately come to mind, and Zelda is definitely one of them. The franchise has been with them since the beginning and is still as popular today as it was in the very first days. While we have seen its popularity wane at points (some of us like Majora’s Mask and Skyward Sword, but to each their own) this particular game has seen a boost the likes of which could be easily compared to Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. Does it deserve all the hype? Well, in all truth we feel it does. While there were a few who were wary at the thought of such an open-ended version of Hyrule, when they finally got their hands on it, there was nothing but ‘wow’ to be said. Breath of the Wild certainly took the breath out of the room and ever since we have been seeing an overflow of merchandise from toys, books, and journals, to actual gaming equipment and videos on everyone’s ‘easiest route’ through the games absolutely stunning world.

This game truly has the best when it comes to Zelda’s mechanics for the switch, and the graphics don’t fluctuate between cutscene and gameplay as many previous games have had to do. What you see is what you get, whether you are fighting Guardians or watching a scene from the past where they are coming at the heroes en masse. This game used every inch of capacity and made you want to explore every nook and cranny, even if it wasn’t part of the main plot. This is likely to be the next ‘Ocarina of Time’ for quite a while, with fans comparing each new Zelda to this one for gameplay and quality. While OOT may not have been graphically the best, like BotW, its playability and exploration along with the story were what made it compare out even to the later games where the graphics were so much better. Sometimes it isn’t how it looks that matters most- but with BotW we certainly did get the whole package.

So, we want to delve into this game with the good and the bad, to be fair as we are with all the products we review. While we gush at what makes this stunning, we are willing to step back and lay out what could use some improvement so that you know what you are grabbing off the shelves and don’t find yourself disappointed.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Open ended game play
  • Replayability
  • Stunning graphics
  • Easy to learn controls
  • Amazing musical score
  • Extra content (downloadable)
  • Available on two consoles
  • Wii U Price
Cons
  • Can’t play the game in a ‘complete’ mode
  • Difficult to finish with 100%
  • Switch version expensive
Visuals

Visuals

To call the visuals in this game ‘stunning’ is an incredible understatement. While some prefer the ultimate in realistic art renders, Zelda has never been intended to have characters which look human, the setting is a fantasy one after all. Despite this, you can almost feel like the game could be somewhere to visit at points. The grass moves and sways with the wind, and even reacts to the interactions of characters and battles. The images are crisp where they need to be and find an element of realism when the surroundings call for it.
In the colder regions, you will find yourself immersed in the way that the area seems to cling to fog, and the same goes for swamps. When you are nearer to the volcano known as Death Mountain, you will find yourself feeling as if you are surrounded by steam and ask. Even the presence of materials called ‘malice’ your visuals will shift to feel that warping of air and sight that it is meant to cause. The atmosphere draws you in at every corner. Despite its fantasy element, this is one of the most realistic feeling Zelda we have seen to date, and even those that were entering Hylia for the first time fell in love with it all. The world is both expansive and beautiful, and there are plenty of things to explore and see, enough that just looking for every little detail could take weeks or months of playtime to find.
Audio

Audio

We were introduced to major orchestral scores in games quite a while ago, but to finally hear some of the music we came to adore before it existed in this game was incredible! With the additional scores added in, the music was unparalleled by any of the franchise that came before it. Each place had its own musical score which easily set the mood to perfectly match and helps the player to grasp what it was they were dealing with. Combat music was fast paced and heart pumping, places that were peaceful and meant for leisurely exploration left the same sensation. Those that were wild kept the player feeling ready but not so tense that they couldn’t enjoy it. The sense that certain places evoked sadness or happiness or even meant to inspire had the same ambiance both in the visual atmosphere as well as in the tone given by music.
Of course, the big addition in games now is the talent of voice acting, and for those cutscenes, we could hear and feel the emotions in the voices of the character. We could sense their joy, their apprehension, their moments of courage, heartache and even fear could be easily felt. Some games can have the best music, sound effects, and visuals, but the mood is destroyed when a character opens their mouth- not so here! Unlike many, the voice actors were chosen who had perfect blend to the character and to appeal to the player. No hesitation, just emotion and perfectly adapted vocabulary for each character to feel alive.
Gameplay

Gameplay

At first, there was some skepticism when it came to the new control line up for BotW. Gone was the constants for button controls and brought to the forefront were entirely new concepts for the game in which required a new button layout and a need for a revamped menu working. Why you may ask? Well in previous Zelda games you only really had sword, shield, and items. Many of the previous games didn’t have a jump button, Link just jumped as if by instinct when you reached an area where this was needed. More recent renditions have added a jump to him, but this game added even more to his repertoire.
Now Link can climb, jump, use his weapon, sprint, use items, and has new abilities. He even has the option to combine items! With this open world scenario, the belief was that the player should have use of the gyro controls as well to help aim their bow or throw a weapon. With the additional fact that weapons and swords can break and do, and you have limited capacity to store them, having the ability to throw something that’s ready to break anyway to get additional damage out of it and to quickly free up the slot for a newer weapon nearby is actually great!
Overall the controls may take a little while to get used to, but they are very well thought out, and in the end, are easier to work with. And don’t worry- Link doesn’t have an annoying companion to constantly remind you long after you’ve learned them as to how they work- instead you can simply go into your menu and bring up the controls screen if you have forgotten something or just want a quick refresh on your own time.
Narrative

Narrative

We are all used to games like Zelda being rather linear in their narrative. You have to go to locations in a particular order in order to get everything you will need to progress. While this changed a bit in Skyward Sword, BotW has taken the open world idea to a whole new level! If you truly felt like trying to prove just how good you are, feel free from the moment you are off the Great Plateau to head right into Hyrule Castle and fight Ganon. Of course, anyone who has played any Zelda before it- or who have actually played this game already- will tell you this is a very, very foolish plan.
There are a few, undoubtedly, who have somehow pulled this off with wooden shield and Gobo weapon in hand, but for most of us, we want to go in a bit more prepared. So how does this play out? Where do you go to first? Surely there is some specific route to take- Gerudo, Goron, Zora? Nope! You can decide to head into any of the expansive areas of Hylia and take it on via cooking the proper foods or finding and buying the right equipment. It is truly open-ended. Each area has its own stories to tell, and even the NPCs seem to have their own lives they are going about. Some will welcome your aide and others not so much.
If you are wanting to see the full background story to tell you how Link ended up in the Temple of Resurrection and why everything ended up the way it did, there is an entire side quest for it. While seeking out each and every memory recorded on Links tablet is technically the main backstory, it isn’t actually required to do in order to complete the other quests. You can get all of the other Heroes behind you and collect all of the best equipment and never get more than the very first memory. If you are a completionism like us, though, and love story, you may want to do it. Once again though, this isn’t necessary to win, and heck, if you think about our very first comment- nothing is really necessary to win except the ambition to do it!
As a little side note, for those of you who don’t know, there is an additional side quest that you can take on that will help you out immensely in the fights ahead- finding the Master Sword! So go on! Grab your copy and set out on your own adventure to save Hyrule the way you think it should be done!
Themes

Themes

There is one main theme to every Zelda game on the market: become the hero and save the world from the ultimate evil! Most who haven’t delved into all the games assume this means you fight the same villain and save Zelda every time, but this isn’t really the case if you are paying attention. There are quite a few now where Ganon is not the main villain- and in those where Zelda is actually a part of the story, you are rarely actually saving her so much as helping her defeat the darkness that rears up every hundred years to try and destroy the world. Like any duo, you have someone who is your spell casting protector/healer, and you have your fighter. Zelda uses her power to keep things from spreading too far for Link to really fight. She basically holds the villain down in her own way for you to pummel on and push back. It takes two to win this war at least!
With BotW they introduced an idea that, honestly, I couldn’t have agreed with more! Why is it only Zelda and Link seem to have the passion and spirit most of the time to save the world? Why do the rest of the races just hand them gear and then just sit back and watch? Isn’t there one Zora or Goron willing to stand up for their race and say, “We have heroes top”? And Ganon, according to myth, was born to Gurudo, don’t they want to redeem themselves or show that they aren’t all like him? Well, this time we have four unique races outside Hylian’s that have stepped up and sent their own heroes in, to aide Link and Zelda, and not just hand them supplies to wave them on their way. This is an amazing idea and most fans would love to see more of this type of thing show up in Zelda games! There is a definite underlying theme to the current of this game of feeling resolve in the fight ahead. We don’t want to give away too much though- you’ll have to play through and finish the quests to find out what we mean!
Multiplayer

Multiplayer

Unfortunately for those of you who have gone out thinking this game has a multi-player mode, it doesn’t. The multi-player mode we have seen popping up on videos over YouTube and other sites is actually a modded version of the game done by fans using emulators to create a multiplayer mode. While this does sound fun, the game itself is a single player exploration RPG- but you can enjoy sharing the controller if you want and taking turns! After all, this game has plenty to do and offer in the way of actual side questing and self-imposed questing!
Online Play

Online Play

Again, rumors abound about the online play being available for BotW, however, like the multiplayer, it is not actually a mode available for the game. What is available, though, is DLC for the game. There are a few patches, but there is also an entire playable set of extra quests available by purchasing this content where you can get a nifty little item. All we’ll say is that we found the content awesome to check out, and the item is neat when you do get it. It is another summoned ‘power’ but it’s not what you would expect for a Zelda game- that’s for sure! So if you want a bit of extra challenge added to your gameplay, we suggest getting the extra content!
Replayability

Replayability

Some Zelda games you really may not want to return to once you have completed it (except for maybe nostalgic reasons- sorry Majora’s Mask!!), but this is not one of them! While in Ocarina you did not have a lot to do overall, by comparison, it left a need in the players to go back and just play it over and over again- and every game in the series since has really tried to create that same sense of wanting to go back and play it on repeat. With Breath of the Wild, they met that goal full force!
Not only is it worth playing over and over, it feels like you can never really feel you have completed the game because each goes through will feel different. You can take a new route, try a new tactic and for those of us who didn’t get certain items in time to change the dialogue, you just want to know what would have been said if you had the ‘heroes legendary sword’ on you before you talked to the people around the quests. This game is so open-ended that playing it over again is well worth it!
There is one disappointment, however, at least for some of us. Many Zelda’s left us wondering if you could go back in and play after Ganon or the big villain was taken out. With how open-ended this world was, and the fact that you don’t have to complete all the quests to win, some of us were wondering if this was finally the one where we could save Hyrule and still go back out to finish the quests that didn’t involve the main villain. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. If you start the save back up, you are standing just outside the main battle and Hyrule is still on the verge of destruction- oh well! If you left a few loose ends before you went it, just head back out knowing that when you come back, your likely to have even more awesome stuff to kick him around with whenever you do decide to tromp him again!
Price

Price

There are two versions of this game out currently, one for the Wii U and one for the Nintendo Switch. Both use similar setups for the gameplay, but one is definitively less expensive. So, if you own both machines, and you simply don’t have the $55 for the game to spend, head on over to the Wii U version to find it at about $35 instead. It’s quite a decent gap, so unless you are dead set on playing it on the Switch, this may be a better way for you to indulge! (And besides, you may want to get the DLC too, and with the Wii U you might be able to pull off the whole package for the same price as the original game!)
Key Features

Key Features

-Music
-Concept art
-DLC
-Visuals
-Easy to learn
-Available on Wii U and Nintendo Switch
-Open-ended gameplay
-It’s Zelda!!!!
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

Whether you are a die-hard fan of the Zelda series, or this is your first time delving into the land of Hyrule, this may be a game you really want to check out. It will leave you feeling accomplished and give you an endless supply of exploration and things to do. If you want a game to start the younger generation on that has the role-playing element, puzzle solving and exploration skills to teach, this is one of the best available for it. In the end, the only reason you would want to avoid it as a purchase is if you have an issue with fantasy elements- and if you have read this far, we doubt that’s the case! Have fun catching a good horse (unless you have the special edition figures on the switch- then we envy you-you Epona thief you!!)