Zelda has seen many iterations since its first title release in 1987 and all of them have followed a similar path of dungeon exploration, linear item progression, and finally facing off against Ganondorf himself to save Zelda in the end. Although there is exploration and dungeon crawling involved, Zelda has never felt extremely open with the launch of their new title. At one point, you will run into a barrier close by or explore the sea only to find out that there is an end (Windwaker). With the release of the Nintendo Switch coming next week, Nintendo has spent a lot of time reworking not only its console system, but some of the basic mechanics on how its titular and iconic games run. So now we enter the realm of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in Zelda’s new, open-world foray.
This new iteration of The Legend of Zelda has it score, linear game-play aspect completely turned upon its head and provides the player with an open-world atmosphere. That’s right, for the first-time Zelda will be completely free-roam, filled with side quests and a non-linear storytelling guaranteed to make you explore to find. Beyond this, there is a real sense of danger instilled into the game, as you cannot simply restore health through cutting down grass anymore and your weapons will break quickly after being used for only a few times. As open as the world is, this Hyrule is dangerous and fraught with peril. Sometimes, large and unbeatable foes pop up and all you can do is flee until you are geared enough to fight with it. In other times, you struggle to climb up a cliff only to find that you do not have enough stamina to hold on and you will surely plummet to your death if you do not reach a landing soon. There is a crafting element in this Zelda unlike the other installations, one that allows you to cook food to improve it or scrounge for materials to create equipment to better protect and down foes.
Link wakes up in some liquid, ancient looking hyperbolic time chamber, is given a magic tablet, and then sent off on his adventure to save Hyrule once again. Hyrule, however, is desolate. Not desolate in the wasteland sense, but devoid of other human life. This Hyrule is post-apocalyptic and empty, but the silence is beautiful and broken by the many enemies and machines that you find throughout the game. Not much has been revealed about how the story will play out, but it seems that you are living in a Hyrule that has undergone a vast and devastating change 100 years prior to this story. Hyrule Castle, according to story trailer videos, appears to have been swallowed up by dark forces (Ganondorf?) and large roving machines have taken over the landscape. Zelda has even hung up her princess adornments and has taken on something much more utilitarian. So, what exactly happened? Why has Hyrule fallen into such disrepair?
All in all, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild seems to be a promising and wonderful new addition to the beloved franchise. As one of the first games coming to the Switch, it could really give the system a boost out of the gate based on how well it has been rated and how amazing the game is. If we can judge this book by the cover, however, Breath of the Wild seems to be a breath of fresh air Nintendo has needed for quite some time.