As a huge Zelda fan, I knew I wanted to get the Switch instead of the Lite version purely because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the game on a hand held system when the time came for me to invest in Breath of the Wild. Before I get any Zelda game, I try not to look up anything because I don’t want to ruin the storyline or gameplay so I went into playing this completely blind, not knowing what to expect. This post is based purely on the base BoTW game and not it’s expensions.
This review will not contain any spoilers! Feel free to read to see what the gameplay is like without ruining the story if you’re considering purchasing.
I paid £37.99 for this as I used my gold to pay towards it, as well as it being included in the Nintendo Shop Sale.
I haven’t played much of Twilight Princess as it triggered my migraines, or Skyward Sword as I didn’t have a Wii U (I was too absorbed playing my 2DS and barely used my Wii so didn’t justify paying for a Wii U as I saw it as a glorified DS system…don’t kill me!) So I didn’t have anything to go off from except the previous Zelda games to those.
Without spoiling too many of the details, this game follows Link who has been put in a 100 year slumber and has lost his memory. Zelda is trapped fighting Calamity Ganon in Hyrule Castle, and powerful beings made by Sheikah Technology in the past, turned on the land of Hyrule and helped Calamity Ganon take over Hyrule. Your mission is to regain memories, get the Master Sword, gain help of the Champions and the Ancients then take on Calamity Ganon in an open world Hyrule. It’s set at the end of the timeline in the Fallen Hero or the Great Calamity timeline, and has been linked to the same universe/timeline as Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess, however this is slightly mixed upon researching this.
I usually play RPGs and platform games so when I finally got off the Great Plateau, what I didn’t expect was that the Plateau was about 0.2% of the maps span. One thing I hate is open world games because it triggers me to collect things and spend far too long checking all corners to make sure I don’t miss anything to an almost obsessive point where I don’t do any of the storyline, for example, Diablo 3, where I spent 90% of the time collecting weapons and leveling up, which when the time came to playing the game I was overpowered and found no challenge to playing it. This happened partly through playing this, but I’ll explain more about that further on.
Starting the game, it’s very vague. No help, no missions, no indication on what to do except a few words from a cloaked man who helps you with basic training, how to unlock Shrines and how to use the Sheikah Slate. Part of me enjoyed this, part me of me hated this, but I quickly realised this is what I loved about Zelda games. You have to use intuition and think about what to do rather than being spoon fed information.
The map is huge. When I say huge, I spent 3 days unlocking all the points on the map to make future missions easier to get to. Many of which I shouldn’t have been in areas of, but unlocked just to see the sheer size of the map. After doing some of this, I went to Death Mountain and realised how vague the game is as well, there’s no information on how to collect rupees, no information on how to get different outfits to help you do thinks like burn less or swim better, so it’s literally a matter of figuring out and talking to everyone to get information.
While unlocking the map, I noticed many areas paid homage to previous games, such as Toronbo Beach, which is Toronbo Shores from Link’s Awakening, Ruto Lake, after Princess Ruto from Ocarina of Time, and Tingel, Ankel, Davdi and Knuckel Islands which of course is after Tingle and his brothers in Wind Waker. I won’t list too many so incase you’ve yet to play it you can see the hidden references! The story also has a nod to different Zelda games, such as a Zora and Hylian romance and gets referred to as a romance from a past Zora Princess, which as we all remember is Princess Ruto’s very forward advances to Link. A lot of the battles to defeat enemies in the game do refer back to Ocarina of Time, such as playing “tennis” with lazer beams.
This is a great game to start off your Zelda journey as it introduces you to a good collection of characters and enemies from the series to interact with and with their updated looks revives my love for previous games. It has the Rito, Zora, Gorons, Korok, Hylians and Gerudos which are staple characters to the games, and enemies such as Lizalfos, Bokoblins, Lynel, Octoroks and chuchus. I did miss the appearance of old characters such as Kokiri and collecting skultulla, but my guess is they’ve left themselves enough to work with in BoTW2.
I loved the refreshing take on weapons having a life span, it helps you figure out what weapons to use rather than having a standard go to. The system to equip the weapons is easy and quick, and doesn’t require you to reach a certain point in the game to unlock weapons like previous games. It’s great if you restart the game and want to take a different approach, and switches up what main quests to do first. However for me, I did find I was challenging myself to kill stronger enemies in order to beat the main quests quicker, and was left feeling underwhelmed by the fact there’s only 4 temples to do. If I were to replay the game I would avoid doing this and just work through the game without doing that because it did spoil that for me.
With regards to main quests, the story is quite short and relies on side quests to fill the game. It consists of 4 main “temples”, Hyrule castle and Calamity Ganon, which depending on how many temples you complete, you can fight at any time. The more you complete, the quicker you can beat him in standard mode. You don’t even need the Master Sword to complete the game (but it is advised) and don’t need to recall all memories, however by doing this you can unlock a different ending scene. The main bulk of the game is side quests which I would advise doing to get different items along the way. Even with the side quests filling the game, they are so vague to find, making you talk to almost everyone in the game. This isn’t a huge deal for me as I like exploring, but someone with very little patience wanting to get stuck in may find this exasperating to do, especially if you aren’t one for collecting everything in sight as a good portion of side quests are ones where you have to give a certain number of items to someone. Every so often, usually when you beat a certain number of enemies a “Blood Moon” happens, which resets all the enemies in the game. It’s especially useful if you are grinding for something or want to get another of a same weapon, such as a Savage Lynel bow which shoots up to 5 arrows at once.
On top of the main quests and side quests, there’s Korok Seeds to find which upgrade how many weapons and shields you can have, with a whopping 900 of them to find across Hyrule, as well as mini bosses to beat to gain medals for. This game doesn’t lack gameplay hours so you’ll definitely get what you paid for, if not, more.
The system to gain more hearts is frustrating, but gets you to work harder and gets you to explore the map. There’s 120 shrines in total, with each shrine giving you an orb to either get more stamina to climb rocks or float around, or heart containers, with each upgrade needing 4. As frustrating this is, as I’ve said before it helps you play the game like you want to before heading to Hyrule Castle, but does hinder your play by not allowing you to be able to tackle different enemies that could be a challenge as one blow tends to take you out having to reload from last save point. Another feature I struggled with was the gyroscopic controls in some of the shrines. I tried playing these in handheld mode and I genuinely feel for anyone playing it without a pro controller on a Switch Lite because some of them I couldn’t do without having the joycons disconnected.
After completing the main quests, a percentage counter appears on the main map screen. After 140 hours I was horrified but excited to see I’d only completed 27.4% of the game, which meant I had a lot more to do when I thought it was all done and dusted. With over 200 hours now played, I’m just shy of 48% with no idea what to do next other than collect Korok seeds, and if that’s the case it means they take up over 50% of the game’s completion rate. I’ll be giving up for now, but if I start the Master Mode I’ll be making sure I collect every last one.
This game fits perfectly into my top 3 Zelda games. It has enough in it that outweighs the game mechanics I don’t like as they don’t hinder a lot of the gameplay, with enough to explore if you don’t fancy doing certain quests. If you’re not a fan of the Zelda games, or a fan of these type of games and want to try something new for the Nintendo Switch I’d highly recommend playing as it has enough content for any type of player. From the breathtaking scenery, to finding hidden gems and mind boggling puzzles, this game is definitely worth it. It’s got me like many others excited for Breath of The Wild 2, I just have to make sure I don’t spoil too much of the story before it comes out! 8.5/10.