Right now, in Breath of the Wild, I’ve found nearly 200 Korok seeds, completed 108 shrines, and plan on re-fighting Ganon after I finish everything. Unfortunately I have been extremely busy with school and health issues or else I would have published this earlier, but I am so excited to finally show you guys my thoughts and discourse about a game that has brought many iconic features to the Zelda series: Breath of the Wild.
This is my first Zelda series review, so please bear with me, folks. This will be divided into what I considered the strengths and weaknesses of Breath of the Wild.
Character Design and Detail
Without a doubt, this has to be my absolute favorite part of Breath of the Wild. Being an avid Nintendo fan, something I have always appreciated about Nintendo is the quirky, unique character designs, but I feel this game went above and beyond regarding character designs for one particular reason: diversity. Virtually every non-playable character, of every race, had a different name, personality, and appearance. On top of this, the Rito and Zora existed with different colors of feathers and scales. Folks in each race existed of all ages. Even the most minuscule of characters, who participated in easy side quests, had personality. Compared to past Zelda games, I felt Breath of the Wild did an incredible job regarding character design. Character development, however, is another story, and we’ll be reading about that later.
Scenery and Environment
Upon first playing Breath of the Wild, like most people, the open map design and its beautiful scenery were the first thing to catch me eye when you leave the Resurrection Shrine and stare out at the vast Overworld. My personal favorite location in the game included Lurelin Village. Its beautiful, sandy beach and market full of fish reminds me of the sunshine state I reside in: Florida. I also found the Hebra mountains, though icy and intimidating, one of the more captivating areas in the game. There aren’t many snowy, mountainous areas in the Zelda series. The only one that comes to mind is Snowhead in Majora’s Mask, which is my top favorite Zelda game, so I may be a bit biased there. I think most people have come to enjoy the open world design Breath of the Wild holds, along with the many different environments from mountains, to the ocean, to forests, so I definitely think that’s one of Breath of the Wild’s strong points.
I have to admit, this soundtrack has some pretty awesome tunes in it. I feel that each song does a great job portraying each character, or fight, that it is musically describing. Hidden Triforce writer Codis talks more in-depth about this, but I whole heartedly agree that the loud brass and bass drum in the Hinox theme accurately describe the “brutish oaf.” Personally, the Divine Beast Ruta and Goron City themes are some of my favorite, I listen to them quite often. The Breath of the Wild soundtrack, in my opinion, did a great job with putting heart and feelings into its songs. For example, I felt Daruk’s strong personality and the considerate, heartbroken Mipha in their musical themes. I know a lot of people had problems with piano being the primary instrument in the soundtrack, but I feel it fit the game very well.
Less Shrines, More Mini Dungeons and Grottos
Now, personally, with how new of a game Breath of the Wild is, I didn’t have much of a problem with new game designs such as shrines and Divine Beasts. However, I personally feel it would have been cool to incorporate more of the “old” Zelda traits. With how big of a world this game has, I’m extremely surprised Nintendo didn’t include any grottos. There’s such a big world above the ground and, after Calamity Ganon’s attack, I’m surprised that this didn’t make people or monsters create any underground safe havens, communities, or tunnels of the sort. I think adding grottos and mini dungeons would have balanced out the immense amount of new things to do in the game, like shrines and Korok seed searching, though this isn’t a huge weakness to me.
Now, if you guys don’t mind, I’d like to give Yunobo a moment. He is a character I feel many people have overlooked and would like to give him some time in the spotlight. He, I feel, is a great example of solid character design for a game with the amount of character development that exists in Breath of the Wild (which is, unfortunately, not much). If you know me personally, you know that the Gorons have always been my favorite race throughout the Zelda series. I have always appreciated the Gorons for being a confident, self-reliant, and strong yet peaceful race of absolutely adorable rock folk who help Link in his journeys. If you’ve played the game and met Yunobo already, then you know that magma made a crag seal the entrance to the little cave he was in. He was helplessly stuck. He was so frightened that, when you opened the entrance, he flipped out and thought you were a monster.
Assuming he would be a typical comedic relief character, I didn’t think much about Yunobo at first. It was only after Rudania that I began to notice his change in character. When you visit Yunobo after defeating Fireblight Ganon, he patrols around the outside of Goron City and sounds significantly more confident after his journey with Link. As someone who is a huge fan of characters in stories, games, etc., I can’t help but appreciate the detail Breath of the Wild put into the appearance of the characters, however, I feel character development was specifically a weak point in this game. Yunobo was, in my opinion, one of the most blatant examples of character development in the game. I feel he had significantly more character development than one of the main characters in the game, Princess Zelda, and wish they delved more into the character development of her, along with the other characters that worked alongside Link: Riju, Sidon, and Teba.
This, in my opinion, is probably the biggest flaw Breath of the Wild holds. The final fight and end of the game simply couldn’t compare to the hype that built up to the game’s release, and how enjoyable it was to initially explore the massive, open world. Now, let me explain: I don’t think it was a bad fight. I just personally feel it was both underwhelming and disappointing. When I first saw Calamity Ganon, I was absolutely blown away with what he looked like. A failed resurrection of Ganondorf was not at all what I expected to see and, frankly, think it is one of the coolest designs in the Zelda series. Without a doubt, do I enter this fight thinking it’s absolutely badass; that is, until I see that half of his health is taken out by the Divine Beasts and find out that he is easier to fight than Thunderblight Ganon. I could feel the disappointment growing as I played through the fight, secretly hoping that the game would surprise me with a successfully resurrected Ganondorf as a second phase. Unfortunately, players know this was not the case. The fight with Dark Beast Ganon was not only terribly bland, but it was a total let down to find out that the second half of the fight was easier than the first.
On top of that, meeting Zelda again was disappointing. You’d think, after not seeing her for over a hundred years, there would be more sentiment, but I personally did not feel much. The dialogue was quick and I feel everything ended fast. Seeing Zelda wasn’t that enjoyable as is, though. In my opinion, her whiny, obnoxious behavior toward Link portrayed in most of the memories didn’t make me want me to see her at all. So, with that, it almost felt like everything I had accomplished in the game was for nothing but one of the most underwhelming and boring fights I’ve ever experienced in a game. I know that sounds melodramatic, but that is how I honestly felt after finishing the game. Perhaps the second DLC pack will give us a more enjoyable quest ending.
Overall, I really enjoyed Breath of the Wild. As you can tell, there are many parts of the game that I personally criticize and did not enjoy, but I thoroughly enjoyed my journey regardless. The diverse character detail, beautiful sceneries, and fun soundtrack made the game even better than it already was. Still, even over three months after its release, I’m still blown away by the views you paraglide over, although that doesn’t make its lack of grottos, weak character development, and disappointing ending any more enjoyable. I still find Breath of the Wild one of the most fun, exploratory games I’ve played in years, but I am looking forward to seeing more Zelda games in the future.
What are your thoughts on these aspects of Breath of the Wild that I touched in this review? If any more refreshingly new, open world Zelda games come to the series, what would you like to see? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear.