The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an action-adventure game developed and published by Nintendo, released for the Nintendo Switch and Wii U consoles on March 3, 2017. A part of The Legend of Zelda series, it follows Link, who awakens from a hundred-year slumber to a mysterious voice that guides him to defeat Calamity Ganon before he can destroy the kingdom of Hyrule.
Game Website: https://www.zelda.com/breath-of-the-wild/
If you haven’t played Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BotW), you are truly missing out on a masterpiece. Let’s dive into the Kingdom of Hyrule and analyse what makes BotW so great!
Lens #9 The Elemental Tetrad
The moment I walked out of the shrine of resurrection, and watching the intro scene, I knew I was in for a great time. The way the grass swayed in the wind, twisting and tumbling as you dash through it, the sound of birds chirping, water splashing as you run over it, the minimal user interface; all of it serves to immerse you into the kingdom of Hyrule. I still get goosebumps when watching the intro scene. You’ll realize how vast the world is, there’s no loading screens when running from one part of the map to another, something which would break immersion if there was.
Another feature that adds to the immersion of the world is that you can tell the game tries to emulate the real world. You can tell whether it’s late or early, cold or hot, exhausted or not. Link will shiver when you do not have enough protection, you’re set on fire if you walk on lava. He also pants if he runs out of energy from sprinting or attacking. You feel at home when you enter a stable, with the warm mood and music playing. You feel threatened when you face a boss, with tense music playing in the background.
What makes BotW so engaging to play its the use of creative mechanics. In combat, you can time several different actions to make combat rewarding with a high skill ceiling. Time your parry to execute a perfect block against enemies attack, time your dodge and you’re rewarded with slow motion flurry attack. Flip off your horse in air to have a longer time to aim at enemies weak points for a critical hit. Glide in the air if you want to travel from high ground to low. Shield surf if you want to use your shield to slide down mountains. Sneak behind enemies and perform a sneakstrike. Link also has a Sheikah slate that can spawn bombs, create ice blocks, freeze time for awhile, and magnetise metal objects.You can even use the game’s environment to kill your enemies. Push a boulder down the mountain to kill some bokoblins, lure him into a trap, leave and blow up explosive barrels beside their faces when they are sleeping, there are many possibilities!The initial goal of Zelda BotW aka main quest is to defeat Calamity Ganon, the game’s final boss. Yet the game doesn’t tell you to rush into Hyrule castle and beat him with the first stick you find. You are encouraged to explore, with multiple side quests, also find and solve puzzles in shrines.Album of gifs:https://imgur.com/gallery/an5z3
Link wakes up from a deep slumber and he has forgotten his memories. He soon discovers that the land of Hyrule is plagued by an evil being, Calamity Ganon which resurfaces many times over the history of Hyrule. Each time that Ganon resurfaces, he was defeated by Princess Zelda with the help of her champion, which is Link. This time he discovers that Princess Zelda is still trapped in Hyrule castle for 100 years in attempt to stop Ganon and Link must now go to her aid. The story is told as the player advances along the main and side quests, which recovers Link’s lost memories to help him and the player make sense of the events and characters that played a part to lead to the current state of events.
It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.
Botw can be played on Wii U, Switch and on PC (Emulated) if you know what you are doing. On Wii U and Switch, the maximum FPS is 30 fps and may dip to a fps floor of 20. The resolution on Wii U is 720p and on Switch is 900p if you play it docked. On the PC, there are emulators that removes the 30fps cap, 60fps and even 144fps if you want to. You can even increase the resolution to 4k if you wnat to.
Lens #58 The lens of the Puzzle
In a sense, the entire Kingdom of Hyrule is a puzzle. You start of the Great Plateau and discover Sheikah Towers that lead you to unlock a part of a map (which are the pieces of the puzzle), if you are a completionist, perhaps you may want to find every single location on the map.
Example of using mechanics to solve a puzzle. Source
There are also multiple shrines in the game, which essential act as whole puzzles. The goal of each puzzle is to get to the end, which you will get a spirit orb. Along the way, you’ll have to figure out how to get there, and if you look hard enough you can even find one or more treasure chests, which rewards the player for being observant. The beauty of these shrines is the eureka moment. You are presented with props and a set of clues. Eg, in the Toh Yasah Shrine, before you can even find the shrine, you have to solve a puzzle. Which involves putting 4 orbs into 4 corresponding sockets according to their symbol. Sounds simple? The orbs are not close by the sockets, which to make things worse are on a raised platform with lightning falling everywhere. Eventually, a eureka moment struck me. I used the stasis rune to freeze is in time, generate momentum and launch it away with my weapon. The satisfaction of solving small problems towards a goal really feels amazing.
Lens #79 Freedom
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, in contrast, is all about what you can do. This is a game that says “yes” to anything you ask of it. From the very beginning, you can swim in any lake, pick up any boulder, and cross any pit.
Again, one of the best parts of BotW is the amount of freedom you have in the game. Want to explore the Kingdom of Hyrule? You can run, climb, jump, glide, swim, mount horses, ride sandseals, and etc. Want to climb the highest mountain in Hyrule? Go ahead, the only thing that restrict you is your stamina; you can’t climb forever as you’ll tire out.
Want to complete the entire game in less than an hour? Go ahead. You can reach and defeat Ganon (the final boss) using creativity and ingenuity, leading to speed run records where expert players find the fastest ways the game allows to complete it.
You can choose to fight your enemies head on charging in with your best weapons, or you can plan how to take them out one by one, using the game’s environment and stealth mechanism. The possibilities are endless, but are confined by the games’ physics and mechanics.
Lens #34 The lens of skill
One of the things I love about BotW is the combat, the controls on the switch. There is hardly any input lag. You attack when you hit the Y button, you dodge and it happens. The interface and controls are quite intuitive if you’ve held a console controller before. XYAB pad with left and right triggers, along with the D-pad for camera movement and direction.
You can even prove your skills and knowledge acquired in the game by challenging yourself to the Master Trials, where you have to survive increasingly harder levels with multiple enemies in order to perfect your master sword.
The combat in this game has quite a high skill ceiling. It’s not easy to fight a lynel for the first time as they pretty much 3 shot you. You have to memorise the enemies movements, attack and timing. Imagine facing 3 of them at the same time. Time you dodges and parries with perfection, the moment you can do that, you feel proud of yourself for the level of improvement and precision you achieved.
Lens #29 The Lens of Secret
Another really interesting feature of BotW incorporated in the open world is the amount of secrets out there for the players to discover and unlock, which encourages keen observation, experimentation and curiosity. There was once which I was in front of a dog. He seemed to react to my movements, and then he started to like me! Then i tried giving him a piece of raw meat, which he then ate it. Afterwards he led me to a pleasant surprise! A hidden treasure chest that you will not find unless you interacted with the dog in the first place.
Another example was when I noticed at five frog statues in Karkariko Village. One was missing an apple. I decided to try to put on the statue without an apple. POOF! A korok appeared and rewarded me with a korok seed, which is needed to expand your inventory space.
Lens #1 The Lens of Emotion
We’ve talked about the puzzles, sense of freedom, skill and secrets. But what makes someone want to come back and play? The emotions the player feels when he/she plays the game. BotW gave me feelings I could never forget as I played the game. Feelings of empathy and sadness for Mipha’s love and sacrifice for Link (spoilers), of courage and braveness from Daruk as he fought of one of Ganon’s henchmen Fireblight Ganon. Each character in BotW has a story behind them, and personalities that embody them. The memories that return as you unlock them, of Princess Zelda deciding to sacrifice herself to face Calamity Ganon alone when you (Link) ran out of power and failed so you had to go into a deep slumber. Of your friendships and how they describe you.
In summary, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is not about what you cannot do, but what you can do. Everything you do has a purpose in the game, which indirectly or directly rewards you as you explore, experiment and experience the vast and magnificent Kingdom of Hyrule.