In a previous post, I talked about Breath of The Wild and how great of a game it is. Now that I’ve had it for a few weeks and the excitement has worn off, I can look at it more objectively. Obviously, there’s going to be spoilers, so if you want to beat the game and haven’t, you probably shouldn’t read this.
It’s still a good game. Fantastic, even. But a lot of the things that I was so happy with are beginning to run thin. Firstly, now that I’ve completed the game, there isn’t much left to do. I thought that such an open-ended game with a massive map (1.5x Skyrim’s, apparently) would have more side quests and areas to discover, but it feels like most of the map is just empty space. Pretty and imaginative empty space, but still empty space. At first, exploring the ruins of towns scattered around the map was fun, but I quickly realized that there wasn’t much to be found in them. I was expecting treasure hunting ala Windwaker or Twilight Princess, but, even in a game with a variety of items and weapons, most areas don’t have any secret treasures or, if they do, they’re just basic items like gemstones or small amounts of Rupees that can be found practically anywhere. The side quests are surprisingly basic too. Most are simple fetch quests, and their rewards are, again, basic items or rupees. The Shrine quests are generally more interesting, often involving using a certain item in a certain location or defeating a mini-boss, and naturally your reward is a shrine, which is this games equivalent to a piece of heart. Generally, though, the puzzles inside the shrines themselves are more entertaining than the quests to find the shrines, and the shrines that require special work to get into often don’t have any puzzles of their own to offer, and just hand you the reward upon entering.
Granted, there are 120 shrines throughout the game, so asking for any more seems unfair. What doesn’t seem all that unfair is asking for more enemies. There are fifteen unique enemies the entire game, not including the four bosses (which all happen to be very similar to each other, down to sharing names) and Ganon. To put that in perspective, the very first Legend of Zelda game had 27. Of the 15 in BOTW, only Bokoblins, Moblins, Lizalfos, Keese, Chus, Wizrobes and Octorocks are common. While these 7 are some of the most iconic Zelda enemies, there are a lot of other common enemies that are completely absent this time around, notably Darknuts, Skulltula and Tektites, which are all series staples. Lynels and Hinox make a return in BOTW as minibosses, making their first ever console debut, and the game introduces Talus, a gigantic sentient bolder monster, along with its smaller form know as Pebblits, and Moldolga, a crocodile-like desert-dweller that swims through sand, and which is a nod to the sand worms known as Moldorms in other games, as well as Molgera, a sand serpent from Windwaker. Aside from these three, the other new enemies are the Guardians, ancient robots that patrol Hyrule and are considerably stronger than most other enemies, and the Yiga clan of ninjas that can appear anywhere at any time.
While all enemies in the game are given much more personality than in other games – Bokoblins, Moblins and Lizalfos in particular will go hunting, and celebrate when they find food or resources and even seem to chat with each other around their campfires, and admittedly it’s all adorable and makes you feel a little bad about attacking them. Also, their AI is far more impressive than in previous games. If they have wooden weapons, they’ll set them on fire to do more damage to you, or if you toss a bomb at them, they are very likely to toss it right back. Given the impressive amount of work put into the enemies, it isn’t surprising that there are so few. To make up for this, the common enemies are given different varieties – different colored mons have different stats, and some enemies have elemental ties and can shoot fire, ice or electricity. Ultimately, however, these still don’t feel like enough. The game could have easily had a smaller map with a few more enemies to add more variety.
The biggest complaint I have about the game, however, is the final boss. The player is given the option to go straight to the final boss after beginning the game, or they can travel to the 4 corners of the map and do this game’s version of dungeons and rescue the four guardians of Hyrule. However, because the player is capable of playing the game either way, the final boss had to be created in a way that it would be hypothetically beatable at the start of the game without the Champions’ assistance. So, your reward for rescuing the guardians is that they chop off half of Ganon’s health at the beginning of the battle for you. That’s it. It almost felt like the game was punishing you for playing it thoroughly by making the final boss considerably shorter. If instead the Champions had powered Link up or something, the same effect of making the fight easier could have been achieved, without it feeling like the game is just doing it for you. I understand what the developers were trying to do – the ability to go straight to the final boss was present in the original Legend of Zelda game, and this game was trying to recreate that open-ended possibility. But frankly, I don’t think it ever should have been an option. The final boss of a game should force the player to incorporate everything they’ve learned from playing the game into one massive battle. The final boss could have been far more complex and intense, like the rest of the game, but by allowing it to be accessible so early, they had to dumb it down considerably. It felt like a letdown.
All in all, Breath of the Wild is still an incredible entry into the series, and an incredible game in general. But, being Nintendo’s first foray into an open-world game, it was bound to have some flaws. Hopefully, if this is direction Nintendo is deciding to go into, they will take what works from this game and remove what didn’t and their future games will be just as good, if not better, than Breath of the Wild.