Retrospective Review: Breath of the Wild

Here’s Why Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was Game of the Year 2017

Aiesha Solomon, Senior Editor

Legend of Zelda is a video game series known for its plot, complex and long dungeons, and green-tunic wearing main protagonist.

While many things have not changed since the first LoZ game released in 1986, the plot changed to a more linear style where you are given straight-forward tasks and dungeon puzzles to solve. This is different from the first game, where players can go in any direction and defeat bosses in any order.

For each dungeon solved and boss defeated, Link, the hero, is given a new tool that can bring him closer to finding Princess Zelda and defeating the main antagonist, Ganon, and his many reincarnations.

Each game has a change in story and new cast added that insert their life story or passion in the main plot.

Even the main weapon of the series, the master sword, is either given to the player at the beginning of the game or they follow a set journey to find it.

Some main games, like Windwaker, have changed the formula where Link saves Zelda. Instead, Link journeys to save his sister and Zelda is a pirate who helps him along the way with her feisty words of wisdom and unpredictable actions. Still, in the end, she needs to be rescued and the game follows the linear dungeon, tool, and defeat the boss formula.

Breath of the Wild strays from this formula and the player is brought into this game with no former knowledge of the world Link wakes up in. Without giving up too much plot, all the player knows is Ganon decimated the kingdom and citizens of Hyrule. Their mission is to regain Link’s memories and save the kingdom.

Breath of the Wild is the first open-world game in the series since the original installment. This is the first time players are left by themselves to figure out what to do and where to go.

Players find their own weapons in the environment surrounding them. I remember my first weapon was a branch and a pot lid as a shield. With no instructions and no set path, dying is inevitable in the first few hours of playing. Though, as the vastness of the open-world catches up to you, there is the feeling of freedom that is not available in many of the other games. The land feels even larger when players earn the paraglider and fly in any direction they wish.

You can use one of the many runes obtained from the shrine puzzles to bomb, freeze, stop time, and even take photos of the surrounding environment. You figure out how to defeat the enemies — moblins, bokoblins, lizalfos, lynels, chuchus, and the most notorious guardians — all on your own.

When I defeated my first guardian after dying six times, the sense of accomplishment that welled up inside me was astonishing. Even finding the Master Sword, the main weapon of the series, brings a feeling of fulfillment because they don’t give players a set path to find it or hand it to them straight away.

Still, players should still be careful when fighting because a new event called a blood moon has been added to the game. The moon turns blood red and all the enemies you have defeated come back to life.

Breath of the Wild does a great job of creating frustrating challenges that later offer overwhelming rewards. Players want to keep playing and find the next new adventure. Even with the 70+ hours of gameplay I have gone through, there are still many parts of the map I have not discovered.

With a sequel game using the same engine as Breath of the Wild currently in development, there are some aspects that should be fixed or added. In Breath of the Wild, the Master Sword is not the most powerful weapon and needs to recharged if used too much. With the sequel, they should make it harder to get the sword so when it is retrieved it has a better reason to be the best weapon that does not need a recharge.

Also, in the trailer, Zelda looked to be working together with Link, hopefully, she is a playable character in the new game or gets a separate storyline gamers can play through.

I am looking forward to the new game and it should not take too long because they are using the same software as Breath of the Wild. 

If Breath of the Wild seems too open world to be part of the Legend of Zelda franchise, that could not be more wrong. This is what the franchise needed after decades of the same formula.

This game did not just break the pattern, it revolutionized the series.