March 7, 2017

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild [Spoiler Free] Review - The Great Plateau

So I promise I won’t spoil anything from the game, including location names [beyond the starting zone]. I haven’t even barely begun to scratch the surface of the game in all aspects, but I wanted to give my thoughts thus far. I will also include a few hints and tips and the odd warning where necessary.

Everything you’ve heard about this new game is true. All those single-word reviews that praise the game, they are not wrong. Nor can I say anything that’s already been said about the game thus far. I will offer my thoughts, opinions, reactions etc.

So far, this is the Zelda I’ve always wanted. Not quite since ever, but I’d say since Ocarina of Time. I say that because that game in particular changed not only gaming, but the Zelda franchise itself [using a shield, targeting, etc…] plus the idea of moving about in a 3D environment. A Link to the Past I’ve always quite enjoyed, as that’s the game that gave us the Master Sword, the Hookshot…plus gave us a huge world to explore. At the time Ocarina of Time came out, Hyrule was quite vast. As technology etc advanced, in retrospect, the game world in Ocarina isn’t really that large. There’s tons to do. But I’m speaking of geography here.

Breath of the Wild offers the best of both those games in that sense, and greatly enhances it. Anyone familiar with the Elder Scrolls games will feel a bit more at home here, as vast exploration is the main goal. Plus there are new elements, such as cooking, etc to this game that have been in other games. Do not mistake that for a ‘learning’ curve, though.

The method of questing is also slightly similar, in that you’re given a main, overall goal, but you’re not forced to take a particular route to get there. Say you start out East, and you have to go North, well you could go East to North, or go East to west then North, or East then South then North, or East to South to West to North…you get the idea.

Essentially, never before has Link, or the Zelda franchise been set so free. Also, you can go literally anywhere. You’re at the bottom of a trail, against a cliff wall, and you see that it slopes. You can take the slope up, the ‘normal’ way, or, you can climb up the wall itself. Provided you have enough stamina to make it to the top, that is….or if it doesn’t rain. There’s trees in the way, no problem, you can climb those, too. And hey, this one has some apples. Grab them. Oh, that next one has a beehive. You can take the honey so long as you avoid the bees. I can provide so many examples, or things I’ve encountered first hand, but I want this to be ‘overall’. What I’m getting at, is that this game is a definite game-changer, the same way that Mario 64 was, as well as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Think of that sense of wonder and shock (the good sense) you felt when you were first playing those games way back when.

I should also mention which console I’m playing the game on.
I’m playing it on the wii u. This isn’t a “middle finger” to the Switch or anything, but I’m stating this matter-of-fact: if you own a wii u, you may as well get this game for it. It’s a terrific send-off to an ‘under’ console [under selling, under rated, under marketed, etc…]. In terms of graphical comparision, I believe that the wii u version is identical to the switch version IF you play the switch version undocked. I should also mention that if you own a wii u, at this time there’s no reason to upgrade to the Switch, in terms of exclusive games. Everything on the Switch thus far, and for the next few months [let’s say until June] is also available on the 3DS, the wii u, or both. Either way, enjoy this game no matter what system you get it on.

Now, I’ll provide a few hints and tips:

- pick your fights well. It’s well-known that your gear can get damaged and break. Fight enemies a little bit at a time at first until you get either better gear, or more [if it’s the same ‘level’ or worse, at least you’ll have replacements ready.]
- try and go anywhere you can. You never know what you may find.
- there is only ONE save file. I think there’s a slight loophole that if a different mii or, profile, signs onto the wii u [or the switch…?] that you can have multiple saves THAT way, but there’s only one save [a la Pokemon, let’s say.]
- cook EVERYTHING you find, and try different combinations. Even if it’s ONLY one mushroom. This took me a bit to figure out: stand next to a fire that has a pot on it, go to your inventory, select your food and press hold [for as many as 5 things] then exit, and press A to ‘cook’.
- the sooner you get the bombs, the better. Using unlimited [with about a 5 second cool down] remote bombs for some fights is highly recommend. Just be careful of the blast! You can find them in the shrine by the ruins (East Abbey). I recommend going against the VERY back wall when you see them, and climb in behind the shrine….
- Be aware of your surroundings. If you happen to notice some trees or tall grass, perhaps use those to crouch and snipe with your bow.
- if you obtain a new ability or item inside a shrine, try it out just outside the shrine.
- if you see something you want at it but can’t right away, take note of where it was and how you would want to get there. You may find the means later…
- if you don’t think you’ll be able to get from point A to B under the safety of the sun, in terms of general exploration, maybe stop in at a town along the way, or other safe spot to pass the hours until daylight. A shorter way of doing this rest by a fire.
- Some enemies can one-shot you [at 3 hearts and no proper ‘armor’] so if you plan to take those on, plan your fight before you start it. This where the bombs have come in handy for me. Start by throwing a bomb towards the enemy, detonate it. By the time the enemy recovers from the blast and comes at you, you should be able to PLACE another bomb because he’ll be closer to you. From then on, it’s a matter of running out of range, placing bombs and detonating them.
- I’ve only encountered different climates so far on The Great Plateau [though you can bet there will be other areas…] but if the temperature is about to drastically change, you’ll get an audio clue in the way of ambient sounding music. You’ll need to adjust your attire accordingly in order to proceed.
- if you see a shrine you want to go, and think you’re able to, but don’t plan visiting immediately [ie, on your way to your first town] use your Sheikah Slate and place a pin on it, so you can easily find it again. Pins are great overall, though I find their best use is marking Shrines.

I could easily write a lot more, though it’s safe to say that this is the best Zelda game yet; which makes it one of the video games yet. Each Zelda milestone has been a stepping stone to get to this point. This is a true adventure game, with the focus being on the experience and exploration. Not “XP” experience, but playing the game for the fun of it. When the overall object of the game becomes clear to you [when you leave The Great Plateau at the very earliest] never before have I felt so mall and so under-prepared for that goal in a Zelda game. There’s a whole world out there, and bit by bit I’m scratching the surface. And I love it every step of the way. A great farewell to the wii u, or a warm welcome for the Switch.

Score: 10/10 

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