So. I’ve been fairly vocal in my dismissal of this game. For the past year I’ve denied its status as “best Zorlda evaaarrrrrrr”, assuming that those calling it such are incapable of individual thought. This may still be true, however my opinion has very much changed.
I bought it at launch on Wii U, having no money and little incentive to buy a Switch. I played it for a couple of solid days, defeating two Divine Beasts and not a lot else. I found it quite dull. A massive world, empty. Weapons breaking after (or before) one enemy was killed. Tiny, easy “dungeons” in the Divine Beasts. Crazy difficulty curve.
Six months later I had a Switch and I bought the game again, intending to give it another go, to try and understand be hype. It didn’t work. I basically got to the same point – the same two divine beasts done, a couple of memories unlocked, a few Koroks stumbled upon. The story was interesting, the art and music beautifully realised, but the game was just boring.
A couple of weeks ago I popped into my local Game Mania. I’ve made sort of friends with one of the people who works there, and she has been inviting me to come to the shop on a Wednesday morning with my Switch and she’d show me what I’m missing out on with this game. I haven’t been able to for several reasons, but one Thursday I turned up and she was there, so she grabbed her Switch and showed me the ropes. Little things I didn’t know, such as carrying a fire or ice weapon to warm or cool Link depending on the environment. Some of the armour types that you can find/buy to aid your movement around the map. The other two power ups I could look forward to on beating the remaining two Divine Beasts. Hero’s Path mode is also fun on the map, showing every step you’ve taken around Hyrule.
I went home, put in the cartridge, and went for it.
A fortnight or so has passed and I’ve beaten the other Divine Beasts, which has carried me into the fantastic DLC which sees you revisiting the four corners of the world to unlock improved powers.
The game just suddenly made sense. I had my mind around the controls, to that point where I feel at one with it all, that I am forget I’m even holding a controller. And most importantly, I think, I’m in a place where I’m comfortable taking my time to explore the world – where usually I’m impatient and skip through cut scenes and dialogue, and seek a more direct satisfaction, lately though I’ve been enjoying more sedate games again. Phoenix Wright and Fallout 3 are the other two games I’m currently enjoying. Incidentally, Fallout 3 is a game to which Breath of the Wild owes a lot more than you might realise.
This change in my attitude (which comes in waves) is clearly the single biggest factor in my newfound enjoyment of Breath of the Wild. It’s a vastly different experience to previous Zelda games, which upset me when it came out, but I’ve got used to the idea. I suppose my mind has opened a little. Which is always good.
Right now I’m truly thinking that this may well be amongst the best Zelda games. I don’t truly enjoy many of the games. A Link to the Past, Link’s Awakening, and Wind Waker are the only three of the series if previous have called great games. The others are kind of boring. Even so, I’m thinking I may be on the verge of considering this one to be second only to my first experience of Hyrule – A Link to the Past.
The key, I think, is to ignore the individual aspects of the game, and see it as a glorious whole. It is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Everything has a purpose – from the Various armour types that protect you from the different hazards you’ll come across (and which hark back to previous games); the Korok mask (that I’m usually wearing) that alerts you when you’re close to a hidden Korok seed; the climbing gear that makes it so much quicker (and therefore less tedious) to get around the environment. Then there’s the Master Sword, which sticks to the game’s mechanic of limited weapon durability, intended only for use against Ganon and his minions, and if used against normal enemies runs out of power and must recharge before it can be used again.
Ultimately, I’m glad I persevered, otherwise I would not have had the good times this one has given me. I’m not sure if I’ve done a great job here of explaining the reasons for my change of heart, but I’m fairly confident that I’ve given you an idea of the excitement behind it. And with that, I’m off to kick Ganon’s evil bum.