The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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stvnorman
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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by stvnorman »

When I got a Switch and a copy of Breath of the Wild for my birthday in 2018, the first thing I did was play Ocarina of Time on my 3DS. I’d never played a Zelda game before and wanted to play a classic before being spoilt by the latest and greatest.

I started Breath of the Wild the same night I finished Ocarina a couple of months later, and for the next 90 hours revelled in a glorious looking, enormous version of a world I’d recently become very familiar with, and surprisingly attached to. I felt genuine sadness visiting places like the Temple of Time, and seeing its decayed state in such stunning detail. But more often than not, just wow, look how far we’ve come!

I found that the main story mixed very organically with side quests, shrines and other things to discover, at least until very late on when it was clear you could choose whether to bring it to a close or carry on doing what you fancy for as long as you wanted to. I made that decision after 80 hours, with the last two Divine Beasts ready and waiting to be tamed, and what could be deemed a slightly anti-climatic climax after that.

As a footnote, I’ve since played through the original Legend of Zelda on the NES Classic and again on the Switch. Breath of the Wild is a very good game, and might be the latest, but for me at least, the greatest lies much further back in its ancestry!

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DomsBeard
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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by DomsBeard »

Ocarina of time is one of my all time favourite games so I had high hopes when I bought this when I picked up a Switch but I have tried and failed on 4 occasions to play this game.

It boils down to it making itself too difficult to get into. The weapons degrading system is a farce and freezing to death if you go the wrong way in the games opinion early doors got tedious very quickly. I enjoyed all the shrines I took on but I have filed this under it's not you it's me as a Zelda game I will never get on with.

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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by KissMammal »

While I don't consider BotW to be the best Zelda of all time (I'm not even sure I'd consider it my favourite Zelda of the last decade) and I generally sympathise with all the usual complaints and frustrations leveled at it, I think it's easy to forget how stale the series was becoming prior to 2016, and I cannot overstate how relieved I am that Nintendo decided to take such a bold leap into the unknown and attempt to shake the formula up with this iteration.

I didn't complete the game - I lost interest shortly after unlocking the last section of the map (figuring that I'd seen most of what the game had to offer) but very much enjoyed the 50 or so hours I spent with it, and I'd love to see where Nintendo takes the series next - perhaps a quasi-sequel in the same mold as what Majora's Mask was to Ocarina of Time?

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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by Nupraptor »

Breath of the Wild is an utterly glorious game and one of my favourite games of all time.

The main wonder of the game comes from the combination of the core mechanics and the game world itself. You very quickly realise that you have two defining abilities from very early on. First, the ability to climb on virtually any surface in the game. This means that the possibility for exploring the environment is unlimited. There are very few games that offer that level of freedom. The second is the acquisition of the glider that further speeds up your ability to explore and incentivises vertical exploration.

Then you have the game world itself. It's so rich, beautiful and teaming with new things to see and do. There are Koroks hiding under rocks or behind mini environmental puzzles. These give you a quick burst of satisfaction for solving them. There are monster encampments to discover and strategize how best to approach and defeat. There are shrines to discover and puzzles to overcome which each challenge you in new ways and encourage you to explore the depths and flexibility of the game's mechanics and physics.
There are so many things scattered throughout the environment to make exploring an endless joy, whether it be puzzles, combat or simply another amazing view or new environment to see.

This game means even more to me because it was one of the first games that I could truly share with my daughters. They were 8 and 10 at the time. We each had a save file and we would swap stories about the different things we had seen and discovered. We would offer each other tips and encouragement. Despite all my gaming experience, the controls and mechanics were so intuitive and user friendly, that they could jump right in and they discovered many of the game's environments and secrets before I did.
I was delighted when they tracked down and learned how to tame horses before I had. I remember the time we first saw a dragon, elegantly and slowly cruising through the sky of the game world, not as a specific, scripted event, but just there, in the world. We shared the delight when one of us found each new Champion Memory and were treated to a new and beautifully animated cutscene as a reward. Our crowning achievement was when we finally found the final memory.

If my daughters had any complaints about the game then it would be that they would LOVE to have been able to play through the game as Zelda herself rather than just as Link. This is something that emphasised to me the importance of representation in video games and media in general. We all have the capacity a empathise with characters even from different backgrounds to ourselves, but there is a different dimension when a character shares specific features and commonalities with you. I'm a straight white male and so I never have a shortage of main characters in games or media who share many of my features. This is not the same even for the roughly 50% of the population who have two X chromosomes. Things have really improved in terms of female representation in video games, but even today, you see a more limited range of female protagonists in games than you do for male protagonists. My daughters thought Link was great, but they would have been able to identify even more with a female protagonist who had her own agency. We are told that Zelda has been using her power to hold back Ganon's evil for many years, but it's not often that we get to see her ability and agency directly. Even in the final confrontation, she bestows her power to Link for him to deliver the final blow against Ganon rather than doing it herself.
This point is our only real "criticism" though and even then it is more an aspiration for the future rather than an actual criticism of the game itself.

I believe that Breath of the Wild is gaming at it's finest. It is a joy to play. It is freedom. It is wonder.

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Nupraptor
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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by Nupraptor »

Apologies to Leon by the way. I understand if all that is too long to include in a podcast. I'm sure there will be a lot of people who have a lot of things to say about this game - including criticisms. There is some sort of satisfaction just in having written my thoughts down, even if it doesn't make the cut. Looking forward to reading more responses.

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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by ElsieTheAdventurer »

Breath of the Wild is applauded for moving the Zelda series away from linear game design and back to the open world exploration of earlier titles. I actually see the Hyrule in BotW as a hybrid of both, marrying open world and linear game design. I think a good example of this is the Sah Dahaj shrine. Once you find the foothill stable near Death Mountain, you notice a path leaving the stable, worn into the landscape, which isn't marked on your map. If you follow the path it takes you through some caves, and then to the shore of a lake. At first disappointed that the path leads nowhere, you notice it actually descends into the lake and, upon examining your map, you realise there is a path of shallow water you can follow across the lake, which leads to a hidden shrine.

The Hyrule in BotW is a tapestry of small puzzles like this, leading away from main paths and key landmarks, and rewarding you with shrines, korok seeds and treasure. I think this is a fundamentally different approach to open world design, which usually scatters destinations and events across an otherwise inert landscape. The result is that your exploration in BotW is driven by curiosity and not by following markers on a map. Breath of the Wild is a masterclass in discovery and, with its use of landmarks, landscape design, settlements, curiosities and vistas makes exploration fun and rewarding.

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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by davelawrence8 »

The Legend of Zelda needed a breath(!) of fresh air. Yes, the series is beloved and usually successful for Nintendo. And yes, there were experiments with A Link Between Worlds and Spirit Tracks. But the item-dungeon-beat the boss rinse/repeat cycle, along with the hand holding, were getting tired. Other games were taking the Zelda formula and doing interesting things with it. Zelda was due for an evolution, if not a revolution.

Along comes Breath of the Wild, with its open-environment concept and its rethinking of the Zelda formula. I’m so happy it helped to kick-start Nintendo’s Year of Success in 2017. It was my reason for buying a Switch.

The thing is, some fans are still unhappy. “It doesn’t have true dungeons!” Or, “Where are all the cool items?”

In reality, BoTW fits my mental model for how a Zelda game should truly be. Zelda is more than dungeons, more than items, more than the Triforce or even the Master Sword. Zelda is, first and foremost, about adventure and discovery. It’s about getting lost, or trapped, and finding your way back again. From the first Zelda, through A Link to the Past (my favorite game of all time), and a few of the modern titles, these games are about exploration. Even Miyamoto said as much. It’s this sense of discovery and exploration that Breath of the Wild brings back, and with the modern trappings of an open world philosophy, it makes for a beautiful and fun game.

Do you want dungeons? How about a labyrinth, or a Shrine, or a Divine Beast. Do you want unique items? How about a tablet, with those items installed for you. Oh, and there’s the Master Sword, hiding out in the Lost Forest. It’s Zelda, all right, just rethought.

And let’s talk about the music. While most of the series has presented these grand, fantasy epics and memorable soundtracks, Breath of the Wild does something different: it stays mostly silent, except when something interesting happens. To me, this makes it a poignant soundtrack. You have the piano interludes when you stumble across something in the environment, and you have the classic Zelda theme drift in while horseback riding at night. Then there’s each village’s theme: the callback of Rito Village, and the additive nature of Tarrey Town.

For me, the soundtrack is at its best in Hateno Village. I find excuses to make my way back to Link’s house just to hear the xylophone (or marimbas? I can’t tell) start up and the achingly beautiful string part. It’s lovely.

Breath of the Wild does have its annoyances. I wish there were more enemy types, like tektites or darknuts. And that final battle was grand, if a little easy. But after beating the game, I’m excited to start it again, and perhaps discover something new with all the DLC additions.

It was easy to love the Zelda series before Breath of the Wild. But if I’m honest with myself, I know that this particular game has reignited something that I haven’t felt in video games in a long time: a sense of adventure and discovery. It’s given me a sense of freedom, roaming the countryside looking for fights with bokoblin camps, or going hunting in the woods for a deer (to eat or ride!). It’s given me an adventure that is uniquely my own. My quest is different from my wife’s, is different from anyone else who plays the game, etc. Pick which outfit is your favorite, pick which Divine Beast is first on your to-do list, pick the name of your horse, pick which items you like to collect – heck, even pick whether you’re going to be a chef or a warrior or a ranger. It’s all up to you! I love that flexibility.

The game has also given me an appreciation for good beginnings. Besides that stormy opening night in A Link to the Past, walking out of that cave and seeing all of Hyrule spread out in front of you in BoTW made for the most magical, memorable start I’ve experienced in a video game.

I wish I could play Breath of the Wild as I did on that first day: knowing very little and excited to go exploring.

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DaveParky84
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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by DaveParky84 »

I struggle to find words that adequately describe my experience with Breath of the Wild. Simply put its one of the most magical and wonderous pieces of art ever created.

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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by Jordonya »

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is my favorite game of all time, my favorite Zelda game, and to me redefines what makes open world games great.

Starting off this game is what i want other game developers to look to for open world games. Traversal in this game is great seeing it allows you to climb vitually every wall and travel any bit of water you run into. Also if you manipulate the magnesis ability theres a way to fly outside of puting octoballons on the four points of rafts plus the hang glider which i wish was in every game ever now. With all these possibilites for traversal in the game it is never a matter of “If” i can get there its more of “How” can i get there. Even with the restriction that is the stamina bar the game allows you to go and complete and explore more of this beautiful world to upgrade your health or stamina to use for any means nessisary.

Speaking of game worlds this game in my opinion is the peak for open world gamesso far. Due to the traversal options avaliable they made a game world with vast valleys to explore and tall mountains to climb. Not only that the hang glider allows you to quickly explore large swafts of land that most games would just force you to walk and trudge through. If your also in a large flat plain once you recieve Revali’s Gale it allows you to get a giant gust of wind to help you get high up a mountain very quickly or use it just to glide across the land. If you cant you can ride a horse to help or even in the dlc a motercycle!

Now the puzzles and dungeons / shrines are not the best in the series i loved being able to explore this world and just find a small puzzle here and there that would give me a korok seed or even another shrine. I loved that since it made the world seem endless with so much to do that even when i open this game up from time to time it seems theres always one more thing to find even after my game time clocking over 250 hours.

The big thing about this game though is it amazed me that i was able to play this ON A PORTABLE DEVICE. I spend countless hours that went by quickly when i would play this in the car during long trips while i was not driving or even during my breaks at work. I still to this day think it is amazinf that a game of this size fits on a small little screen that i can take anywhere i go. Not only that the game is gorgeous. The art design they used for Breath of the Wild is something im glad they took some inspiration with from with Wind Waker. I find the game has a ton of charm and even funny seeing every female seems to comment on how good looking Link is.

I find also having no companion to be a huge breath of fresh air seeing how this game does not hold your hand at all and presents a lot of mastery of the systems that is not unfair at all but encourage you to learn your way around certain obstacles and enemies similar to a Souls style game.

I can gush for a long time about this game. This to me is the benchmark for open world games. The story might not be the best. The characters might not even have the best writing but they have a certain amount of charm and give me my favorite incarnations of Link and Zelda that we have seen to date. I even love the weapons having durability system since it excourages you to not stick to one weapon and to try out new things. As much as i love the old style Zelda games i want there now to be a mix of both the older style and this new open world style. And i want more game developers to look at Breath of the Wild as inspiration when making a open world game seeing this game did so much to redefine that genre with how truly open it is and even in terms of quest structure as well. I love this game. It is my new number 1 now and it looks to stay there for a long time. This game encouraged me to play the older Zelda games i missed and i absolutly do not regret it.

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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by seansthomas »

I'm sure there'll be huge correspondence on this game so I'll cut to a couple of thoughts that may work in isolation.

Firstly:

I adore the use of sound in Breath of the Wild. The environment creates your personalised soundtrack. When the effects as you ride a horse merge with a hint of a Zelda theme barely audible on the wind, it's magical. It gave me the feeling that I was playing through someone's vague, fragmented recollection of the entire Zelda series.

Yet I'll always remember the assault on Hyrule Castle the most vividly. The way that classic theme starts as you set foot within the castles perimeter will always stay with me. And it's such a clever trick. Hold back a conventional, cinematic score for 200 hours until the point where you forget they ever existed and then they hit you with it at the bitter end. It was the icing on an already bloody tasty cake and the perfect finale.


Secondly:

As you age, many things about life improve; food, technology, music... I genuinely believe all of these things get better as humans do. But there's something about those initial formulative experiences that is hard to rekindle or replicate as you get older. And as impressive as a lot of modern games are aesthetically and gameplay wise, I never truly expected a game to be able to compare to the first time I moved Mario around a 3D world or crash landed on Tallon IV.

Breath of the Wild reawakened that naive, wide eyed love for gaming in a way that no other title has in two decades.

When games call themselves open world experiences I tend to wince, as often they're linear scripted narratives spread out over a wider playing area. Sure, you can go to that mountain but there's no point. Or you can advance the story but you have to trigger certain events first.

Breath of the Wild was different; it truly offered me freedom. The hand holding of the Wii era was purged and I had the chance to make my own way through Hyrule at my own pace. Distances seemed vast. Enemies unbeatable. I spent hours just listening to the wind, taking photos of sun rises or climbing a mountain to see a dragon fly past up close. I adored the calm of the game and how organic it all felt. I couldn't see the telltale signs of gaming development showing through the cracks, just a living, breathing world.

A group of about 5 of us at work sat swapping stories every lunch time, remarking on where the previous evenings meanderings had taken us. We recalled tales of islands where you lose all your weapons, a vast graveyard full of malfunctioning Guardians, a charming remote fishing village and shrines hidden atop a snow covered mountain an hour trek from anywhere. Some of those things I found a week later. Some a year.

Equally Twitter became a wondrous place for a few weeks, as it started filling up with people achieving incredible things with the games physics systems and helping each other out without any spoilers. I even had friends from school reconnecting to merely ask 'are you playing this'?

A sequel could likely improve some of the pacing, the dungeons, the menus and the weapon breaking system but what it'll struggle to do is surprise and delight me in the way Breath of the Wild did. It represents Nintendo returning to the peak of their powers, ripping up the rule book and making gaming wonderous again.

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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by Ciaran86 »

I have two thoughts to add to this:
  • I found out that the Switch consistently holds roughly three hours battery life, as practically every time I played BotW, I kept going until the battery ran out.
  • Switch-hand is really a thing. That feeling of pins and needles on little, ring and middle fingers on both hands is uncomfortable.

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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by seansthomas »

One last minor point:

I played this on Wii U, and I feel torn about whether or not that was the right call. The proliferation of small enemy camps and abundance of shrines seemed designed for short bursts of play on Switch in your downtime as opposed to a long playthrough on your sofa.

Equally the Shiekah Slate device you use throughout the game is obviously the Gamepad and early E3 previews showed Aonouma using it to navigate the inventory and map. Seeing that blank screen do nothing throughout the entire final game, and knowing of the potential it had, was the one telltale sign of the games cross platform transition and left me with a slight twinge of what might have been.

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The Baboon Baron
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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by The Baboon Baron »

With BOTW I don’t fall in the “masterpiece” camp, or the “overrated” camp. Complete with sore backside I sit on the fence with this game- its great, but not a masterpiece. Some elements will appeal to some people far more than others, and I think Nintendo’s willingness to take a punt on a divisive approach was an impressive, and ultimately rewarding choice.
I come right down the middle because for every moment I adore, like galloping over the hills as the seasons change, there’s an element that is infuriating, like climbing in the rain. So much of this game is brilliant, but there are still negative elements, that I cannot ignore.
The weapon degradation system I quite liked, especially in the Zelda world, were historically there’s been 3 swords and 3 colours of tunic for 3 decades, this was new and original. It required the player to adapt on the fly, change their approach and utilise the items that they have available to better effect. Having a system such as this was a great way of messing with the heads of older Zelda fans, and I loved being kept on my toes. Thematically it reminded me of the change in thinking that Majora’s mask required. It was the same, but different.
Speaking of loves, the weather and clothing were brilliant touches- especially as you learn how the environment affects your items as well as your approach to situations. Perhaps it was irritating the first time you stumbled into an environmental affect area, but it gently encouraged the player to review their approach, visit the town, learn the lay of the land, prep, and THEN try again. In RPG terms, it gave the player a real sense of being on an adventure, a long and grueling one more akin to Lord of the Rings rather than the swashbuckling of Pirates of the Caribbean.
But, hours of backtracking and horse riding took their toll. Slipping and sliding down mountain sides got irritating, and the endless cooking jingle really started to grate on my nerves. All perfectly ignorable irritations- but added together they made the later stages of a play through of BOTW drag.
Also, whilst I loved the updated and ruined Hyrule setting, some of the characters stayed in the 1990’s- Zelda’s portrayal particularly grated, as in flashback upon flashback she’s portrayed as a weak and panicked ruler, placing her faith incorrectly. This is not the Sheik or Tetra I look for in Zelda. Similarly, the scene where Link must “dress as a girl” to gain entry to the Gerudo village, a village where all the occupants are obsessed with finding a husband was achingly tone deaf in this day and age.
It seems in discussion of BOTW it’s easy to forget the games that may have influenced it- and I don’t mean the other Zelda’s. there’s elements of Red Dead Redemption in the horse riding, a touch of Diablo in gear management and lest not forget the nods to Assassins Creed and Skyrim and all the other Sandbox-athons that predated BOTW. Whilst BOTW does these things brilliantly, the game does stand on the shoulders of giants.
But no game is perfect. No piece of media is perfect. And whilst it is not in my top 5 games of all time, it deserves to be remembered and celebrated. Just like The Switch itself, BOTW showed that Nintendo is still full of ideas, okay so they’re not perfect, but they’re a lot of fun.

3WR- Don't break now!

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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by Suits »

I've contemplated posted in this thread a number of times and chosen not too, for fear of not being able to put down how I actually feel about this video game or put across what it actually means to me.

There's nothing I can say about the gameplay, the mechanics, the story that hasn't been said a many number of times already by people better versed, or more eloquent than I am.

This game is hugely special to me, the way it makes me feel, the way it makes me think, the state of consciences it puts me in when I play it, or even when I think about it.

It came along at a time when I was emotionally vunerbale, my wife was due our first child, it was Spring, I was on gardening leave and was hugely excited for this personally massive game and at the same time I was extremely nervous about the monumental life changes that were about to happen to me.

It helped me through those times as a comforter and also delivered a milestone in the medium for me.

Patricia Summersett's iconic "Link, open your eyes.." and the game's score can almost bring me to tears when it catches me off guard, as it transports me off into that world of peaceful breeze and light through the trees.

It screams brilliance without making a noise at times and is truly a masterclass in fantasy and wonder.

A combination of sound, music, art and gameplay that all together delivers an experience I never thought was possible, let alone ready for.

Easily, the best video game I have ever played and one that I will forever hold precious.

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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by Toon Scottoon »

The team making The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild must have been familiar with that old Picasso line that goes something like, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal,” because this title rifled through gaming’s historically great offerings with all the zeal of a Yiga clansman scouring Donkey Kong’s pantry. Portal seems like a particular touchpoint for the shrines both in decoration and puzzle design, even going so far as to have the Kuh Takkar shrine employ a companion cube made of ice. And I couldn’t help but think of Shadow of the Colossus both for the scalable stamina system and more importantly and impressively, that feeling of crossing an often sparsely populated landscape only to come upon a multi-step puzzle disguised as a kind of kaiju of such scale and majesty that it makes the player swoon and ache.

Of course not everything in this game was pickpocketed from other series. It drew from its own past as well, smartly repurposing enemies, allies, and items from other games in the Zelda oeuvre. As the Picasso quote suggest, in confiscating these things Breath of the Wild took a certain ownership of them, so that now, at least for me, things like the lynel and the glider belong to this game, instead of A Link to the Past or The Wind Waker.

Furthermore, for all the things Breath of the Wild pinches in the name of art and gaming, its not afraid to also give back. The internet is full of people reminiscing about specific moments of particular aesthetic beauty the game delivered that highlight its sumptuous and simplistic art style. My personal “Is this really happening” moment came when I stood atop the skull of some long dead leviathan at the north of the Goran kingdom, and spied the fire dragon drifting towards me part comet and part kite.

The internet is equally crowded with people unimpressed with the game’s narrative, and although they are not wrong about Link and Zelda and the Champion’s tale feeling more borrowed than almost anything in the game, I found the stories of Hyrule’s other citizens, its regular people if you will, pretty powerful. Despite spending a century living in the shadow of a barely contained giant, purple, porcine embodiment of evil that could suddenly destroy the entire world, they cared about the small stuff like commerce and stage fright and gossip and gardening and all the other niggling bothers people actually do care about despite knowing how close we all are to the void. I’m not saying this was perfectly handled in the text, but it does seems a salient point in the way this game made me care about gaming during these particularly interesting times we all live and play in.

Which brings me to the best thing this game gave me, which was a renewed love of gaming, an art form I’d stepped away from for close to two decades. I’ve talked about this elsewhere on the forum, so I won’t rehash it here, but to be honest what made this game special for me is that I know if there was a survey that asked us “Are things like beauty and adventure and play important?” I would check the box that says yes. I assume we all would. But Breath of the Wild made me feel like they were important, the way only the best art can.

Three word review: Opened my eyes

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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by Tbone254 »

I have been a fan of the Zelda series for as long as I can remember. While I have enjoyed playing through the games as they have evolved over the years, the original that was released on the NES remains my personal favorite. I think it’s because, somewhere along the way, the Zelda games became less about discovering hidden secrets and more about solving puzzles. This isn’t a bad thing, but my preference lies with the former because that sense of accidental discovery is so gratifying. For example, in the original game, I thought the bombs were just another weapon to use against enemies. At some point I tried to blow up an enemy near a certain wall, and too my extreme delight, a secret passage appeared in the wall, accompanied by that now iconic jingle. This kind of discovery has not been present in the Zelda series for years and I have sorely missed it. So I have to say that I am more than pleasantly surprised with the direction Nintendo have taken Breath of the Wild.

For the first time in 20 or so years I feel like I am actually exploring Hyrule, not just traversing the land to get to the next puzzle room. This change from what has become the standard Zelda model excited me, and in a bit of ironic turn, I found running across some of the old Zelda tropes fascinating. Something like seeing the ruins of of Lon Lon ranch for the first time evokes a feeling of nostalgia which is then compounded by the game’s story and atmosphere.


The game isn’t perfect though; Much of the game seems temporary. Weapons and shields break after an enemy or two, enemies respawn, and chests refill. Combat isn’t all that in depth, and I feel the game could use a bit more underground exploration. I wasn’t really longing for a traditional style dungeon littered with room puzzles and such, just some large buried buildings or caves to explore.

All in all the game is gorgeous and an absolute joy to play. While many are praising this exciting new direction that Nintendo has taken Zelda. I see it as a magnificent return to form to what made the first Zelda really special.

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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by Magical_Isopod »

Breath of the Wild is a game I will never "get". When I think Zelda games, I think stories and characters just strong enough to support a lengthy campaign, great dungeons and cool weapons with lots of utility functions, and great art direction.

Breath of the Wild, by contrast, just feels big, empty, and desperately lacking in meaningful content. My biggest pet peeve, by far, is weapons that break after a pitiful 2 or 3 hits. People defend this by saying it "adds variety", but I never had an issue with variety in previous Zelda games where the weapons weren't a frustrating mess. Also disappointing is the complete removal of dungeons and boss fights in favour of much smaller and much less interesting Chambers, including the animal robots. Instead of interesting, creative bosses - the highlight of previous Zelda games for me - we get a small handful of identical spectres in the animal robots, and a selection of stronger enemies scattered thoughtlessly around the map.

To me, Breath of the Wild isn't a game so much as it's a collection of poor game design choices blasted out the door as a finished product - glass weapons, lame fetch quests, accidental triggering of a high-level boss in a low-level region *constantly*, a lame stamina meter, the inability to climb in the rain for some reason, constantly recycling of art assets and puzzle concepts, it's just a mess of a game.

I think with the right direction, an incredible art design and soundtrack could have made a difference... But what's here is really uninspired, with a muted, filmic score replacing the great melodies of past games, and an art style that doesn't seem particularly imaginative and original in anyway.

If I could point to any one element that absolutely typifies the "Breath of the Wild experience", it's the Korok Seeds. They don't serve any particularly compelling purpose, the reward for getting them all isn't really worth the effort, and you're just left questioning "Why"? Why are there 900 of them? Like, you CAN lock 900 pointless items behind 4 or 5 micro puzzles, endlessly recycled... But just because you can, doesn't mean you should. The design philosophy behind the whole experience seems to be, "Let's make the map really big, and then fill it with junk." But having a ton of dull, repetitive things does not add up to an interesting whole - and the game as a whole feels more like a checklist of mindless busywork than an *adventure*.

I say with genuine honesty, BOTW is probably the single most disappointing game I've bought at launch. The only feelings I associate with it are boredom and frustration - and after investing 40 hours of my life waiting for this game to become interesting, it just didn't happen.

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Magical_Isopod
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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by Magical_Isopod »

KissMammal wrote:
January 15th, 2019, 5:11 pm
While I don't consider BotW to be the best Zelda of all time (I'm not even sure I'd consider it my favourite Zelda of the last decade) and I generally sympathise with all the usual complaints and frustrations leveled at it, I think it's easy to forget how stale the series was becoming prior to 2016, and I cannot overstate how relieved I am that Nintendo decided to take such a bold leap into the unknown and attempt to shake the formula up with this iteration.
Gonna hide my questions in Spoiler text, as they are not podcast relevant:
Spoiler: show
Was it *really* getting stale though? Skyward Sword was a real weird one because it reviewed super good, but I don't know a single person who's actually played it. It tried to innovate with wacky controls, and I think most people agree a remake/rerelease without the reliance on waggle would be an improvement.

I know Twilight Princess *at the time* was derided as "samey", but it's also exactly what people were demanding at the time - and the legacy of it nearly 15 years later seems to be quite strong.

So when was the series ever "stale"? Aside from maybe the ho-hum DS and 3DS titles. Because we haven't had a single Zelda game that "fits the mould" since Twilight Princess 15 years ago. If anything, it feels more like people were frustrated with Skyward Sword being too different.

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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by Scrustle »

Zelda having been one of my favourites series for pretty much the entire time I’ve been playing games, Breath of the Wild was a pretty significant release. It’s the first time the series had made such a big shift in design in around two decades. While I don’t think the original 3D Zelda style particularly needed to be so drastically overhauled, it was bound to happen some time. How BotW mixes up the formula has its pros and cons, but in the end it comes out as a truly special game that is well worth the reputation it quickly gained for itself.

It’s clear that this time around the big focus is on the world itself and how you interact with it. The game does a fantastic job at this, making you feel like a small part in a huge world that is indifferent to your existence, but while also making you feel connected to the world as you learn how to survive and make the most out of the resources you gather along your journey. The design of the world is also brilliant. It’s a great place to simply be in. It’s masterfully designed to pull your attention towards the next thing as it appears over the horizon as you roam around, naturally creating a breadcrumb trail of fun little moments and encounters. The layout of landmarks and locations also make sure that every area feels characterful and distinct, and that you never lose your bearings. It creates a wonderful atmosphere too with visual and audio design. While it can sometimes feel a bit restricted in terms of fidelity due to the scale of the game and the hardware it’s running on, it still constantly manages to create scenes of awe and beauty. The way the position of the sun changes the colour of the sky to so many vibrant colours, the feel of wind in the air, with the way it wafts grasses in the breeze as it reflects the light. And the way the naturalistic sound design creates this peaceful but tangible soundscape, gently complimented with delicate piano interludes that elevates the mood even higher. I’ve heard some people complain about this game being too large, or the world being “empty”, but this is why I have to vehemently disagree with that. It’s a game where the space is meant to be enjoyed. It doesn’t have to be constantly giving you something to do, even though the game does a great job of always leading you towards that. The scale of the world is to give you that sense of awe and reflection, and to let you relax and take it all in between enemy encounters or the next Shrine. But I have to say, despite me loving what this game does with its world and atmosphere, I really wish it had more music. I totally get why the game uses its soundtrack as sparingly as it does, but I do feel like they went a bit too far, and they still could have pulled off the same kind of thing, but just with a slightly more prominent overworld theme. But regardless, I still love it.

Despite the game being such a departure for the series, and it being praised for its innovation, I don’t think the game is actually that original. A lot of what it does is very similar to many other open world games that we’ve seen in the recent past. It isn’t dissimilar from the Ubisoft style of open world sandbox. But what elevates the game far above that ilk is how it structures itself. While other games in the genre give you a long checklist of repetitive tasks to do, filling your UI with confusing junk, BotW instead encourages the player to seek out tasks by designing its map and terrain in such a way that it entices your curiosity naturally, making the process of acquiring new tasks in to an involving experience in itself, that gives the player agency and doesn’t overwhelm them. It perfectly fits in to the cycle of exploration and following your nose that makes the game feel like a seamlessly paced adventure, despite being so open and non-linear.

One thing I do have to criticise though are the dungeons. This is easily the biggest flaw of the game, and something I definitely miss from the older style of the series. The tools they give you to solve puzzles in dungeons are very good however. The magic Runes that give you the ability to manipulate physics in various ways allow for some very creative puzzles, and have lots of utility outside of dungeons too. They also feel like an appropriately modern take on the Zelda puzzle item trope, by expanding the possibilities of what you can do with them in non-scripted ways. But the dungeons that you use them in are something of a disappointment. The main Divine Beast dungeons were underwhelmingly short and innumerous, and didn’t feel like they took full advantage of their layouts. Aside from perhaps the Gerudo Beast, the ability to control them from the inside felt like it didn’t have as much impact on puzzles as it could have. The bosses for each of them also felt very similar, despite being generally fun to fight. There’s also the issue of how, with the game being so non-linear, that meant that no dungeon could really build upon the ideas of a previous one and be significantly more complex than any other. The Shrines suffer from some similar problems. While they have a lot of very neat ideas for puzzles, they all feel quite isolated, meaning they can never go above a certain level of complexity. And of course having all of them share the same brown stone look makes them blend together in terms of personality too. I suppose one could argue that the overall design philosophy of the game somewhat mandates that dungeons be designed this way, but I think Nintendo could still find a way to fix these issues in future. Hyrule Castle solved some of these problems, and was a very enjoyable sequence, but it felt like it was more of a challenge gauntlet that served as an impressive set piece for the end of the game, rather than a traditional Zelda dungeon that this game sorely lacks. I did rather like the fight with Calamity Ganon though. Despite it also having the same visual style as the other dungeon bosses, it felt like a much more monstrous threat than any of them individually, and had a more varied move set that forces you to mix up your strategy during the fight.

But despite my problems, BotW is still up there as one of my favourite Zelda games, and was a truly magical and wonderful experience. It’s a good base to mould a new archetype around, and I’m sure the future of the series looks bright. I just hope they solve the problems with dungeons in future games.

---

Coincidentally Matthewmatosis uploaded his review of the game yesterday. Good timing for the podcast, and definitely worth a watch.


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Re: 360: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Post by Stanshall »

As Scrustle said, that Matthewmatosis review is so worth a watch if you're into mechanics and design. Absolutely superb stuff. His repeated point about intrinsic versus extrinsic rewards is fundamental for me, and neatly encapsulates the divide in opinion.

In my experience, the players who don't enjoy BotW are those who don't enjoy engaging with its 'unnecessary' systems. Whether this is a symptom of personality, historical conditioning or simply a desire to solve problems as efficiently as possible, this approach will only scratch the surface of what this game is so confident to keep in its trousers. If you do explore and experiment with the extraordinary interlocking of environmental conditions, robust physics and player co-ordination, you will find opportunities for creativity and discovery which I believe to be peerless in the medium. The music and art and unparalleled sense of adventure will have reams written about them over the following decades but it's the exploration of mechanics and interdependent systems which really massaged my brain and which will stay with me forever. Mechanically, this makes the biggest names in contemporary open world design look a generation out of date.

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