The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the latest videogame of the Zelda series. Released in 2017 for the Wii U and Nintendo Switch, this game introduces an open world action-adventure game which lets the player decide their own paths to achieve different goals, reach different places or just explore the game’s world.
Game trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw47_q9wbBE
Mechanics: Breath of the Wild is an open world game which lets you go wherever you want in the map. The mechanics are taught at the beginning of the game and they are:
- Exploration and reaching different locations.
- Solving puzzles.
- Finishing missions.
- Obtaining equipment such as weapons, food, clothing, special abilities.
These are done by the player’s abilities: climbing, running, swimming and paragliding all limited by stamina. Also, attacking, which is enhanced by the weapons you carry and cooking, which increases your health.
Story: This game is a post-apocalyptic game that happens 100 years after a calamity occured. This story is told at the beginning but elements that help you uncover more about this story are the ruins present in the landscape, finding places where you obtain some memories back and talking to NPCs who tell you more about the past and life in the present. The game has a lot of places, so you always find yourself searching for clues about the past.
Aesthetics: Ruins and abandoned places add to the post-apocalyptic story of the game and overall drive to explore of the game. Also nature and landmarks make the player explore and find places. Sound design includes for example only some piano notes that add to the feeling of not many people being present around you and add up to the drive of discovering unknown places or just admiring the landscape.
Technology: The portability of the Nintendo Switch lets you play the game wherever you want, therefore if you have not that much free time you can just continue exploring or walking without any compromise. Also some puzzles require tilt control offered by the Switch. Other features include vibration and sounds which increase the feedback to the user when he is attacked.
Lens of Time
First of all, Breath of the Wild features a clock and a weather indicator on its main game play screen or Graphical User Interface. In my case, sometimes I check the time and weather to know what type of things to equip for a certain weather, decide parting times for a mission, wait until the sun sets to accomplish a sun light related mission or just see a nice view.
The game itself and almost all of its missions are not restricted by time, even the main storyline can be accomplished in less than 24 hours. In addition, if you get bored from a mission you can just change it and head towards a different direction in the map. This lets the player feel that they always have something to do in this open world game and it having no time restrictions creates a feeling of freedom in the player.
Furthermore, the passing of time and changing in weather in game changes its dynamics. For example, on cold weather you lose more life if you are not wearing warm clothes, or different enemies appear at night time. This lets the player experience the game differently at exactly the same locations depending on the time.
Lens of Goals
Since the beginning of the game, you are given the main mission to “Destroy Ganon” and this mission always appears at the top of your goals list. It’s easy for the player to understand that this is the ultimate goal of the game. But, there are also a lot of extra missions and quests that add more goals to the list, even the player gets to decide which goal to do next and focus on it.
Goals range from long term to short term goals. Sometimes when I get bored of a long term goal or don’t know what to do next, I just find myself changing it for another one, or just exploring the world and having more things to do and accomplish. This lets the player feel they always have something to accomplish even if they failed or get tired of their last mission, which lets them never get bored.
The game also features sightseeing towers that let the player see the different geography and locations in the game. Moreover, the player is able to put map markers so that if they decide to visit or revisit one place they can just follow their markers. In other words, the game lets the player decide their own goals, that can be as simple as climbing a mountain or reaching and unknown location.
Lens of Atmosphere
Breath of the Wild is a post-apocalyptic game. It is set 100 years after a great Calamity happened and destroyed the major villages, landmarks and killed hundreds. Even if the game has beautiful cartoonish graphics, the landscape lets you know the places are not as they once used to be. The main example is the Hyrule Castle Town ruins that is completely destroyed. Therefore, the game has a post-apocalyptic atmosphere, in my case this made me feel sad as the player gets to know the main characters failed to protect the Kingdom and you can no longer see or experience the places as they once were.
A calming atmosphere is also created in the places were mostly nature is present. The world in Breath of the Wild feels alive, in the sense that many things resemble the real world. For example the movement of the grass, the wind, weather, water, the trees moving, there are animals and insects roaming around, even the sunsets are beautiful in game. In addition, sound design is important as most of the music is just separate piano notes and chords that just add up to the relaxing atmosphere. This made me feel as if I could just stop for a second and hear the sounds in the place I am exploring or watch the sunset from the top of a mountain and relax.
Lens of curiosity
In Breath of the Wild the player is always filled with curiosity, as that is what keeps the player on exploring. This is achieved through the placement of objects in the world. There are many distinct landmarks that are easily seen and that drag the player’s attention towards them, resulting in them wanting to explore and get to know what’s there. Also the maps don’t have a lot of information, but just seeing the drawings lets you wonder what could be found in those places.
In my case, the ruins placed throughout the game awaken my curiosity as I begin to question what they were. There are also ruins with different designs, which lets the player even sort them into different time periods. Another feature is that some of those ruins resemble places in past games; therefore, this lets the player imagine and wonder how this places came to be what they are now. This adds up to the feeling of wonder and exploration the game creates in its players.