Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review


Jonathan Smith, father of the author, tries his hand at the game.

Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was released March 3, 2017 for the Nintendo Switch console. This is without a doubt the greatest game I have ever played. 

With over 22 million copies sold, and many agreeing that this is the best game of all time, Breath of the Wild takes the open world aspect to a whole new level, adding in many little details that tie back to older Zelda games in terms of characters and weapons. Examples include Beedle the Merchant, the Horse God, the Hylian Shield, the Master Sword, and the Great Fairies. 

“I like the characters. They are all unique, and no character is really a copy from another. I also like how they each have their own unique interactions with Link, and yeah, that’s cool,” said CHS sophomore Austin Dow, who has been playing the game since December 2018. 

Breath of the Wild gives the most lore in any Zelda game, and basically lets a player tell the story in any way by using remnants left over from a great war — also known as “The Great Calamity” — 100 years ago. 

There are a lot of little details, like arrows being stuck in a decayed Guardian’s eye, with a sword and shield set down on the side of it. A player can form a story on how a soldier did the final hit to this enemy with a shot to the eye, then set down weapons before passing away. 

“I liked the story because you can basically do the story however you want. And I like how they make use of the huge open world by hiding small fragments of story in the world,” Dow said.

I’ve played through this game many times and still haven’t gotten bored of it. With so many dedicated fans creating mods to make the game harder, or just adding some new weapons from previous Zelda games — for example Demise’s Sword from Skyward Sword, and the Mirror Shield from Majora’s Mask — it really feels like an endless supply of content.

Immediately after clearing the tutorial part of the game, which is a nice intro to the mechanics, players are greeted by the final endgame mission, “Destroy Ganon.”

There’s also an option to take the long way around and go talk to Impa, who will guide you through the entire main story of the game. This is one of Breath of the Wild’s best mechanics: giving each player the option to do whatever the player wants, whenever and however.

There’s no rush. 

There are optional shrines scattered throughout the map, and while other people say the shrines are lazy and aren’t worth your while, I think that they offer up a nice change of pace and scenery after exploring the world for a while. 

Shrines consist of a variety of challenges. Sometimes the challenge will be a puzzle, sometimes it will be a test of strength, and sometimes it will be a blessing (because the challenge was actually getting to the shrine). They can also be found in many ways. 

The fan-favorite way is through the Rito Bird named Kass, who sings a song on how to unlock the shrine. Completing these shrines yields a spirit orb. Four spirit orbs can be traded in for a stamina vessel or a heart container, which is super useful.

“I like the shrines where there is no linear path and you can solve it in any way you want,” said Dow.

Another one of Breath of the Wild’s biggest aspects are the enemies, and this is where I sort of see some problems. The enemy variety is very minimal and does not offer up much of a challenge except the occasional Lynel you stumble upon every so often. 

Enemy’s are split up into four tiers: red/green > blue > black-/white-mane > silver. Silver being the strongest. As soon as you learn enemies’ attack patterns, and get better weapons, enemies just become a burden and an annoyance. Even the big bad Lynels are easy when in late game. 

“I like the enemy’s scaling and progression throughout the game. For example, in the tutorial section you are fighting red enemies and in Hyrule Castle you are fighting silver enemies,” said Dow

No game is perfect. One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard of Breath of the Wild is the durability system. Critics complain about weapons breaking too fast and about players not  being able to kill an enemy without breaking all weapons. But honestly, I disagree. 

As Samantha Nelson, who writes about gaming and electronics for iMore, states: “This can definitely frustrate some players but I actually enjoyed the challenge and whimsy of needing to constantly find new weapons to use while saving my favorites for tough fights or their utility purposes like lighting fires.” Which I 100% agree with. 

The durability system adds a new sense of puzzle to the game. It makes a player think about how to defeat the enemy without breaking many weapons. You could sneak-strike the enemy, you could go fight some more lower tier enemies and come back with more powerful weapons, you could just avoid the enemy in general until late game, heck, you can use a metal box and slam it on an enemy’s head. Literally anything is possible in this game. 

Dow is not a fan. “The durability system is annoying because I can’t use the cool weapons I get without the fear of them breaking.”

Which I have to agree with. 

While most weapons do respawn, it’s tedious to go back over and over again just to get a weapon that will break in one fight. One exception to this is the Master Sword. After it runs out of energy it takes 10 minutes to recharge and then you can use it again.

Now for a topic I’m a bit 50/50 on: the quests. Some quests are really cool while others fall short and end in disappointment. 

For example, the Four Divine Beasts — Ruta, Rudania, Medoh, and Naboris — are all really cool and have a neat little story attached to them but that quest just feels rushed and like wasted potential. 

With Divine Beast Vah Medoh, players talk to the Elder Rito, who directs them somewhere. Players convince some other guy named Teba to help them board Vah Medoh, and that’s it. 

It genuinely feels like so much content was cut from this quest and it’s really disappointing. However, Divine Beast Vah Naboris is a great example of how to do a questline correctly. 

For starters, you need to obtain an item in the Yiga Hideout called the “Thunderhelm.” You sneak by Yiga Blademasters, who are scouting the area looking for any intruders, so it’s basically a stealth mission. 

The consequences of getting caught are either a good fight or death. After exiting the hideout comes a bossfight against the big bad Master Kohga. The bossfight is easy but it is really more on the funny side as Kohga speaks in a humorous way. 

After defeating Kohga and obtaining the Thunderhelm, players return to Gerudo Town and talk to Chief Riju. She tells players to meet her at an outpost near Gerudo Town. 

Players then use sand seals to sort of surf through the sand, blow up Divine Beast Vah Naboris’ feet, and boom, board it. It’s such a great experience and is actually difficult on a first playthrough.

Another fantastic example of a questline is EX Trial of the Sword. After obtaining the Master Sword, players are greeted with dialogue telling them to go back to the Great Deku tree where he will talk about the trial that awaits. 

This quest is absolutely incredible. The trials are split up into three parts: beginning, with 12 rooms; middle, with 17 rooms; and final, with 24 rooms. The purpose of these trials is to prove your worthiness of the Master Sword and completing these trials will grant you the Awakened Master Sword, which has the durability of 188 hits and does 60 damage, and is also an incredibly cool weapon. 

These trials may sound easy but they’re not, because if you die, you restart. For example, if you die on floor 10 on beginning trials, you restart. If you die on Floor 8 on middle trials, you restart middle trials. Floor 15 on final trials? You restart final trials. 

This quest is by far the hardest and best in the game and feels so rewarding when completed.

Overall, this game is incredible and while it does have its flaws here and there, the amount of greatness packed into this game really makes those flaws feel nonexistent. 

According to user technology writers Will Greenwald, “You still use a torch to light lamps, a hammer to break rocks, and a bow to shoot targets, but none of these items are acquired from big chests deep in dungeons. Most equipment is readily found scattered throughout the world, in shops, or on enemies. If you need something to solve a puzzle it’ll probably be nearby.”

In previous Zelda games, players had to go through a series of dungeons or trials just to unlock a bow or a shield. Like Greenwald said, most of the equipment in Breath of the Wild is scattered around Hyrule, and other stronger equipment, like the Hylian Shield, are hidden in the depths of Hyrule.

As the sequel to the game is coming out next year in 2022, we can only hope that it’s as good as this, if not better.