The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review (Nintendo Switch)

Time has taken its toll on an ancient civilisation, beset by the deep wounds caused by the actions of Calamity Ganon one hundred years ago. Crumbling and torn, Hyrule begs to be whole again in Breath of the Wild. But in its monster-driven world, there’s still a beating heart that pumps life into its surroundings, giving fans an incredible journey that will go down in gaming history as one of the finest Zelda games ever made.

One of the great American poets of the early 20th century Robert Frost once wrote, “freedom lies in being bold”. It’s about being smart, making the right choices and being allowed to freely make mistakes to learn from them when the time comes. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild presents just that sentiment. When Link is awoken from his deep 100-year slumber, he doesn’t remember who he is and what he was, he’s just a regular Hylian completely free from his legendary status. Yet his freedom comes at a cost. When the ancient Sheikah slate activates the Great Plateau Tower, its Shrines and the sleeping Guardians, the people of Hyrule, Lanayru, Eldin and Faron are now afraid Calamity Ganon will strike once again.

Seeking help from Lady Impa, Link travels to Kakariko Village in the hopes of recovering his lost memories. Impa – now old and similar to her Skyward Sword counterpart – tells Link that the four Divine Beasts are under Ganon’s control and he must get aid from the leaders of the Gorons, Zora, Rito and Gerudo in order to assuage their temper and forge the broken alliance between them. Once Ganon’s spell over the Divine Beasts is broken, they can help to tear down the behemoth boar-like creature and free Princess Zelda from his grip. Tasked with this great mission, Link travels to each area of Hyrule in the hopes of tracking down all 18 of his lost memories and the Divine Beasts.

Produced by Eiji Aonuma and directed by Hidemaro Fujibayashi, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a great departure from the series’ usual linearity. While there is a set path in terms of storyline, there is very little restriction in where you can or cannot go. Between foraging in the field, desert and mountains to fighting off enemy camps in exchange for rare weapons and items, the game is often relentless and a little daunting with its unforgiving nature. But with its autosave feature, players can easily jump back in and discover an entirely new way to take down a harder enemy or encampment.

While Zelda games over the years have given a bigger emphasis on stealth, Breath of the Wild cements it. Being able to take down a guardian with one killer arrow by aiming directly in its eye from afar, hiding from a Lynel – a half man, half lion creature – and stealing his shock arrows, or even crawling through the Yiga Clan’s hideout and placing bananas as lures to sneak past them are just a few ways stealth can be used to great effect. And like any other Zelda game, there’s still clever wit and humour involved, particularly when facing the Yiga Clan boss and talking to NPCs.

There’s also plenty to do and see while not taking on the main story mission. Talking to characters will often result in side quests, Shrine quests and additional mini-games such as horse races, the glide challenge and snowball bowling to name but a few. There’s such a meaty amount of extra content outside of the main mission that players can easily just explore, collect and discover instead. You can even find mini puzzles outwith the Shrines and main dungeons too. If you see something suspicious, it’s likely to be a Korok. Once you complete their puzzle, they’ll hand you a Korok seed which you can exchange with Hetsu – the fun-loving, giant travelling Korok – to get additional weapon, shield and bow slots. Plus, if you happen to have a Wolf Link amiibo, he can join you on your travels and act as a great distraction for mountain wolves, deathly Stalnoxes and giant roaming Hinox in the game’s many regions.

When exploring in Breath of the Wild, players will need to make a stop at the Great Towers placed in each of the segments of Hyrule. Climbing to the top of the towers and activating the Sheikah slate will allow Link access to the region’s map. You can certainly progress with the main story mission without getting to these beacons, but there’s a distinct advantage to climbing each tower that makes it worth the extra effort. And that’s Shrines.

Locating each new Shrine from higher ground is much easier than blindly walking to one, even with the Sheikah Slate Shrine sensor upgrade. Hit your scope button to zoom into the land and pinpoint exactly where each Shrine is from afar by marking it on your map with a pin or stamp. These are incredibly handy to use as each stamp or pin marks itself as a beacon of light on your map, allowing you to see at all times where the Shrine is located. You can mark anything on the map as well, such as hidden puzzles for Korok seeds, chest locations or even good places to forage for food.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Breath of the Wild – as a series fan – is the removal of pieces of heart. Sadly, these have been replaced by Spirit Orbs, which are rewarded to you after successfully completing a Shrine. Collecting four orbs allows you to upgrade your health through heart containers or stamina through green vessels when praying at the Goddess Statues littered across Hyrule. The Shrines, though, are fantastic mini puzzles that pose remarkable ways to obtain these orbs, as each one I’ve completed so far is quite different to the last.

As always though, Zelda games are made for those who love to think, and this game is no different. When tackling the main story mission, Link will uncover four Divine Beasts, each of which has a dungeon attached to it. Putting tradition aside, these dungeons focus on one main puzzle to locate various shrine terminals inside the beast’s belly. Activating each shrine will obliterate the connection between Ganon and the Divine Beast, culminating in a boss fight. Not only are these dungeons puzzles hard, even for logical thinkers, they are also supremely entertaining. Plus, the tricky and intricate battles with bosses means Link can use any weapon or, quite possibly, a rune – namely Magnesis, Stasis, Cryonis and Bombs which you acquire in the early stages – to defeat them.

Breath of the Wild is practically flawless. But the one minor nitpick falls upon the game’s lighting while playing on the Nintendo Switch. At times, the day and night cycle can be breathtaking but in other moments it can paint the land in a strange hazy hue, often limiting your field of vision. Without sharpness, those with poorer vision can find it tricky to focus on certain game elements. By no means does this become detrimental to the quality of the game, though it does make me wonder how much the lighting differs when playing the Wii U version in comparison. Adding to Switch playability though, the joy-con connectivity issue has seemingly been fixed with Nintendo’s patch – yet another moment to rejoice.

With a heart-warming storyline filled with emotion, drama and love in every cutscene, Breath of the Wild is the defining cornerstone of the series’ future. From the very first Legend of Zelda to Skyward Sword, the series has been moving towards this level of freedom since its incarnation. It may be dangerous to go alone, but this bold move from Nintendo has certainly paid off, and it’s worth every single rupee.

10/10

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48 thoughts on “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review (Nintendo Switch)

  1. Seems to be getting 10/10s everywhere so I assume the frame rate “issues” digital foundry is talking about are pretty minor. I can’t wait to get this for my birthday in may…or is it that good that I should get it now?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The frame rate issues are a problem. It’s just that the game is just so good, it seems people are looking over it. There’s just so much to it and I guess I just deal with the annoying frame rate on the Wii U. So much to explore, combat is so much better, and there’s just so much.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. I spent about 4 hours playing it last night on Wii U. I’m assuming the Switch frame rate issues are similar. But yeah it’s really not a big deal, and I’m also a PC gamer that aims for best performance in my games. The only times the frame rate really dips is when you’re at a very high vantage point and there’s a lot of grass, you cause a big explosion, or something like that. I was initially concerned with it going in, as it stutters pretty bad when you first get out onto the Great Plateau, but after playing for a bit they don’t happen enough to hinder your experience. People who are really concerned with graphics will probably disagree with me, but if you just like playing games without over analyzing every little graphical thing, it’s a great gaming experience

      Liked by 4 people

    3. I admittedly have trouble noticing frame rate issues unless they are bad, and I haven’t noticed one yet on the WiiU. So they can’t be that bad.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Only people new to the site, and only if they don’t bother reading her review. I waited until I logged 10-14 hrs to minimalize early-game reveals, and Even being the most pissed person on the planet about what happened to this game… I’d still be tempted to give it a ten. I’d probably give it a 9.5 because I know what’s missing and it bothers me Everytime I’m look at the gamepad and there’s not even a fucking map.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry Josh. I understand that there may be spoilers in most reviews. I was careful not to allude to any of the areas or story elements specifically, but I do have to touch upon some things. But thank you for your comments nevertheless.

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    2. What exactly is she supposed to talk about? people who hardcore do not want any spoilers whatsoever, need to stop opening any article or video that’s about Zelda IMO

      Liked by 2 people

    3. King Kalas X3 {Greatness Awaits at Sony PlayStation 4! Hopefully it will also await us at Nintendo Switch if Nintendo doesn't FUCK things up again!} says:

      Sorry but the old man on the Great Plateau spoils a number of things & Impa happens to be one of them very early on in the game. Least Colette didn’t tell you of the other things that bastard spoiled. So enjoy!

      Like

  2. I will admit, from what I have played, this is the greatest Legend of Zelda game in my opinion. I’ve tried SEVERAL games in the series across multiple platforms. I’ve tried hard, but failed to enjoy any of them. I wrote the reviews off for this game as based off of hype or the annoying fact that this series always gets praise for seemingly no good reasons, but this game is truly great so far and is the first Legend of Zelda game that makes me want to keep playing not to enjoy it, but because I AM enjoying it. I haven’t gotten far in the game at all, but my initial playtime was an immensly positive experience.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I’m still debating whether I try to play the entire game without looking at any guides for good items, I was the experience to be organic but I don’t want to miss anything

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    1. I had the same internal conversation with myself.
      If you’d like some peer pressure, them I’ll suggest you not look at any guides for your first playthrough. that’s what I’m doing.

      I was getting a bit caught up in the commercial hype, and didn’t want to “fall behind” or “miss something” – But I decided if I started looking at strategy guides, I WAS missing something, and that’s the sence of exploration, discovery and adventure.

      Now, Some enjoy using a guide on their first playthrough, and if that is what they find fun, then that’s cool, but if you are considering whether you should, then don’t. :)

      Also, I would totally buy a Wolf Amiibo if you don’t have one, you will be very thankful you did. xD

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    2. Your going to miss stuff on your first play through. The game is designed that way. Using a guide would completely ruin the experience imo. It’s the discovery that makes this game shine so much. The whole idea is that you can pick one way to go and go. If you want to 100% this game I’m afraid it would take you 200+ hours lol.

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  4. Sounds amazing. But I won’t be able to play this any time soon. Don’t know when I’ll get a Switch and I gave up on the Wii U a long time ago. Hence why I don’t have one anymore.

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    1. ||Ready yourself to kneel before the might of The First Order of Nintendo because of the first weapon of redemption…||

      Liked by 1 person

    1. King Kalas X3 {Greatness Awaits at Sony PlayStation 4! Hopefully it will also await us at Nintendo Switch if Nintendo doesn't FUCK things up again!} says:

      The old man on the Great Plateau explains why he’s called Calamity Ganon. I’d tell you but I honestly don’t want to spoil much more than what Colette has already said. Sadly, this explanation happens early in the game after completing the first 4 shrines along with some other spoilers that should have been saved for us to find out on our own but it is what it is. :/

      Like

  5. Everybody on this site will probably already be finished with this game (or half way through it) before I start playing it. Because I’m trying to finish Paper Mario Color Splash (which is MUCH better than people have said). Also, I HAVE NO ROOM TO HOOK UP MY SWITCH. My HD Hub is already filled. And there’s no space to set the dock. I have a lot of sorting and figuring to do. Hope everybody has an awesome time with their Switch, and with Zelda. : )

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    1. I won’t be getting to it either until later this year. Unfortunately I had to get my car fixed, and bills as well. However, I shall get a Switch mark my words! And I shall play Breath of the Wild at that time! Oh, and Bomberman R, Blaster Master Zero and whatever other great games are out by then.

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  6. While a great game, does it really deserve a perfect 10? You can’t remap keys except for the jump button. Voice acting is still pretty much non existent. The characters just grunt and moan like every other Zelda and it doesn’t even keep track of how many hours you have played. These are minor gripes granted, but perfect really?

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    1. It’s a 9.5/10 IMO.
      And this reviewer doesn’t give out 10’s very often, even if they are Nintendo published.
      I mean, from a “The universe is flawed and there can be no perfection,” perspective, sure, maybe not a 10.

      From a “Given the game’s roots, and comparing it to modern gaming RPG’s and a sense of fun, where does it sit?” – Then yes, a 10.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. King Kalas X3 {Greatness Awaits at Sony PlayStation 4! Hopefully it will also await us at Nintendo Switch if Nintendo doesn't FUCK things up again!} says:

      It is a shame voice acting was reserved for major cutscenes that are few & far between but least Zelda is finally using it. Maybe once Ninty gets more use to voice acting in Zelda, we’ll see future games with voice acting used in more than just major cutscenes. Least I hope so, anyway. I mean, it’s been 30 years since Zelda originally released & Nintendo is just now using voice acting in Zelda games, so I can understand them not going all out just yet.

      Like

  7. Question for the Author if she sees this, The minor issue with lighting, what time of day was it?

    I assume you were:
    1. Not talking about the Blood Moon.
    2. Not talking about dust storms or heat distortion.

    Just curious, I’ll keep my eye out while playing! It’s probably on the WiiU version too, but I haven’t noticed, and I’ve certainly played long enough. ;D

    Like

    1. I think the time of day was probably somewhere between sunset and dusk. And nope, wasn’t talking about the blood moon or the heat distortion / dust storms. I think it’s usually when the sun reflects off the surfaces / sun is setting etc – it can be hard to adjust your eyes when they aren’t quick to focus. Hope that helps! :)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah. The Witching Hour. That’s the best time to kill dragons in the film “Reign of Fire.” xD

        Like

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