The first time I played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I fell from a cliff, plummeting straight to my death. This unfortunate incident would only serve to strengthen my resolve and continue my journey, whereupon I immediately fell from the cliff four more times.
I received quite a few great hints from the loading screen though, so that was a plus. Also, it’s quite spectacular to receive a tablet in the opening cave and some spiffy clothes. I think it’s supposed to represent a Nintendo Switch, but I’m playing it on the Wii U, which I’m told loads just a wee bit faster than its counterpart on the Switch. Also, I’m apparently Hyrule’s only hope and/or the light, so no pressure, eh?
When I finally got the hang of not falling to my death every time I move, I found a tree branch with which I could terrorize the wildlife (in a pinch, as the game puts it). Next up, I found some mushrooms and decided to have a look around. What’s this? Is that a campfire in the distance? Perhaps I should check this out! I roam through some very well-rendered bushes and head on over, jumping for some apples along the way. Now, my tablet is trying to tell me what to do, but I’m choosing not to pay it any mind.
When I stop by the campfire, an old man tells me about a shrine and gives me a cooking lesson. So, I hit him with my tree branch and stole his baked apple. Then, he told me to knock it off and gave me his axe and torches. What a guy. I accidentally through away the tree branch while obtaining the axe.
Then I climbed a tree to pick some apples. I have spent more time climbing trees and picking apples in this game than I have in real life – and I have apple trees! It sure is fun, though. I’m quite liking the game thus far and it seems to be pulling me into its gameplay. Anyhow, since I’d like to get rolling on the story, I think I’ll check out my new, fancy tablet, pausing to light a second campfire and set some bushes on fire. I’m having fun with this until the wind blows them out.
I open the tablet and notice all my deaths are marked with big, red “X’s,” a constant reminder of my failures as Link. Imagine if Zelda II: The Adventure of Link had that feature. The whole thing would be stamped with red, at least on my copy.
Spoiler: During my initial playthrough of Zelda II, in 1990, Link met his sudden death no less than 30 times through the course of his adventure, mostly in Death Mountain and The Great Palace. Nowadays, I can breeze through the entire thing on less than three lives. As of this writing, I’ve yet to attempt a no-death run of the game; but I digress.
Let’s get back to Breath of the Wild. I decide to move onto the next area and begin the quest. As I’m running through the woods, I come across some Bokoblins and make short work of them, stealing one of their clubs in the process. I love the realistic features in the game – the birds flying around, squirrels running through trees, leaves moving with the wind, the sounds of nature and the wart hog in the clearing. The attention to detail on the part of Nintendo here is quite impressive.
Anyhow, I’m about to reach my destination when I’m ambushed by more Bokoblins. This time, they bludgeon me to death in the middle of the field; terrifying. Now, I’m hooked and I want to try again.
I start back up and fight them off this time, acquiring a few bows, some arrows, a buckler, and a traveler’s sword. All right; now we’re ready to rock and roll! Deeper into the ruins I go, fighting more of these foul creatures, getting more stuff, more time sneaking by.
I find myself battling more of those goblin-things, followed by some cooking, and then back to the main quest.
A few mini-dungeons and treasure hunts later, and I’m well ensconced within the main quest. I finally obtained a few of the relics/runes and I’m ready to rock and roll.
But first, I’m going to go cook something, set some crates on fire and chop down some trees. For now, however, I’ve been given the mission of heading to Kakariko Village. I caught a horse and saved a fairy on the way there and did some pretty cool stuff with sailing between mountains.
I’ll probably finish the main quest at some point, but I’m having fun with the open world and unrestricted gameplay.
Eventually, I acquired a hang glider and proceeded to jump off as many high places as possible, just to see what would happen. I could go on for days about the minutia of my journey, but I’ll just say this: as someone whom has never been a fan of open-world games, I’m impressed. I probably won’t go join an MMO or load up a copy of Skyrim any time soon, but my point remains the same: open-world games are worth more of my time. I never imagined the Zelda series as an open-world event, my sad attempt at a Dungeons & Dragons conversion of the series notwithstanding.
My first impression of the game is: it’s a masterpiece. Not only is the game rendered beautifully, with full voice acting, vibrant colors and a gorgeous world, it’s gameplay is smooth. The controls are excellent, aside from the always-annoying “physically moving the GamePad to look at something” gimmick, but this is easily solved by changing controller settings.
I wish I could turn off the vibration of the GamePad, though. That gets annoying in every game. I wasn’t a fan of the Rumble Pak in Star Fox 64 and I’m no fan of the built-in feature on the Wii U GamePad now. In fact, I try to disable it every chance I get.
The rest of the controls work well, though I had some trouble getting used to shooting the bow and not constantly throwing my weapons. I also love that fishing in the game can be accomplished by throwing bombs in the water…I became so distracted by this that I haven’t even made it to the second village yet. No worries, though. I’ll get there eventually.
The sound is excellent and lifelike on the Wii U version. I was astonished to hear some of the natural sounds, combined with minimal background music. The story is interesting – with great cinematics within – but seems like typical, “you’re the only hope” faire.
Despite this, I remain interested in the plot am actively avoiding spoilers. This is one of the few games recently which has piqued my interest in the story department. I’ve always enjoyed epic quest style plots and this is no exception. In some ways, it reminds me of the 1990 NES classic, Crystalis.
My experience playing the game on the Wii U only whets my appetite for acquiring the Nintendo Switch version. I am interested to see how it compares through the lens of my own experience with this version. Nintendo truly outdid themselves on this title and I look forward to the further adventures of Link.