Saturday, March 18, 2017

First Impressions of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

So I got it for the Wii U. Don't get me wrong: I really want the Switch to succeed. But right now it's hard for me to justify getting a console for which there's really just one game I want. And my Wii U library's pretty thin as it is, so it's nice to get another entry there.

Moving on to the actual game:

Breath of the Wild is and isn't Zelda as you know it. The plot and art style is totally in keeping with Nintendo's traditions. But Breath of the Wild is somewhat more like an RPG than previous Zelda games have been. Weapons have stats and you'll burn through them really quickly. I imagine at some point you'll get the Master Sword and perhaps that one will either never break or be repairable, but for now, any given weapon lasts for a few fights at most. Thankfully, the enemies you fight often drop their own weapons (at least in these early hours, about four out of five things you fight are Bokoblins, who carry a variety of weapons.) So you're basically going to cycle through these things.

Rupees and Hearts are also tougher to come by. Recovering health is all about gathering food and cooking it. Cooking has plenty of benefits. In the kiddie-pool area (something I clearly did not explore fully because when my friend was playing it he found a named boss enemy in the wilds there) you'll find one snowy area where you take cold damage from the environment, but you also have a number of hot peppers that you can find there which, when cooked with other ingredients (actually, maybe by themselves as well) you can get food that gives you a couple minutes of cold resistance, which is just about enough to get you where you need to go.

One of the other breaks with tradition is that this Link is already a hero of legend. 100 years ago, Link (and it's explicitly Link, not "insert your name here") was Princess Zelda's chosen knight, and after being fatally wounded by Calamity Ganon (which seems like a much more elemental force than an individual) he was sealed away in a kind of stasis chamber. When he wakes up at the very start of the game, Link has no memories - only the voice of Zelda in his head.

I'm only a few hours in, but I believe that Breath of the Wild doesn't technically have dungeons. There are four Ancient Beasts that I suspect will serve as the major bosses, but the world is really wide open pretty early on. This game stresses survival and exploration. And the world is freaking enormous.

While much of the game actually has the open spaces that might remind you of Shadow of the Colossus, you're not actually alone here. There are a few towns and NPCs scattered about, and you'll actually have an honest-to-Hylia quest log.

But while there are waypoints that will tell you the general direction of where to go, you're going to need to do some exploring and strategizing to get there.

I think I'd still be playing now if my Wii U controller hadn't run out of batteries. I'm certain I'll post more about this game as I play through it.

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