I was lucky enough to play a demo of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at SDCC last month and, forgive me, but it did take my breath away.
In some ways, I’m probably not the best person to review the new game since I don’t have a console to play the game on; however, I have been a longtime Zelda fan since I first got The Legend of Zelda on my original NES. I also purchased a Nintendo 64 after many years of not owning a Nintendo product just so I could play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (after which I promptly got rid of the console–sorry Nintendo).
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild may be the next game to force me to buy a console I had no plans on buying. The game is what is being called “open air” versus “open world,” because the style and direction of the game, while very open compared to previous Zelda games, is still not as open as a more traditional open world game. A lot, including the art style, is borrowed from the “en plein air” movement, and the result is beautiful.
I got to play two demos. The first started later in the game, and I already had a bunch of gear to play with. Aside from the obviously breath-taking (sorry, I keep saying that but its absolutely true) visuals, Zelda: Breath of the Wild is clearly a completely different, though familiar, Zelda game. Crafting, cooking, building, and item health have all been introduced. And thanks to the new item damage system, I was able to do something the people running the game had never seen before. Wooden items can be burned by fire, sometimes intentionally like lighting a torch in a campfire. I pulled out my wooden bow and then walked into the campfire. While it did hurt Link a little bit, my bow caught fire and the arrows I let fly were flaming arrows!
The second demo started from the beginning of the game. Link wakes up in an unfamiliar room, possible a tomb, and after grabbing some barebones starting gear, heads out into the world. Armed with not much more than a stick, Link appears to have been called to help save the world from a giant monster. Following in the “open air” concept, the game is very vertical with lots of very intuitive climbing and, although I didn’t get it during my demo, “flying.” Early on in the game, Link acquires the Zelda equivalent of a hang glider. I was really bummed that I didn’t get far enough to try it out.
The face-to-face combat with monsters was pretty intuitive and easy to get the hang of, but where combat really excelled was in the more strategic fighting. Especially early on when Link has no real weapons, or is even when outnumbered, Link can use the environment to assist him. There are often boulders that can be strategically rolled down hills to smash enemies or explosives that can be targeted to do extra damage from afar.
Needless to say, I want more. I can’t wait to play more of the game which is why I’m extra disappointed that I’ll not be at PAX West this year. If you are, there’s a chance you’ll get to see more of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild than I did.
Want more? Check out the official trailer from E3, and don’t forget to pre-order your copy today!