It’s been a month now since I started playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the new Nintendo Switch. In that time, I’ve managed to rack up over 100 hours of gaming and I’m still in love with it, even as I run out of things to do. The experience is certainly different now than when I started – I’m no longer a novice soldier in battle – and my extensive time in this digital world has brought up a fair share of criticisms. In comparison to other titles they’re relatively small in number, but no game is perfect.
Saying that, I’ve found that even the negative aspects of Breath of the Wild can be seen in a positive light. With the occasional lag and glitch aside, the gameplay mechanics themselves can be argued either way, which is why I’ve written this post today. I want to take a look at some of the ‘downfalls’ of the game and give an argument for them as well as against. There’s no one thing in Breath of the Wild that is terrible, and writing in this way is more refreshing than just hammering home how bad something is. Given how many people are writing about Zelda right now, I need something that’s a little bit different.
I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m new to Zelda and action gaming in general, but I haven’t been as affected by the low durability of weapons in Breath of the Wild as a lot of other people have. I’m not saying that it hasn’t gotten on my nerves every now and again. It took me a long time to complete the ceremonial song shrine quest because I broke the weapon(s) required for it and I didn’t know where to find a spear to craft another one. I only just completed it yesterday and now the weapon feels pointless to hold onto because it no longer ranks highly in attack power compared to the rest of my inventory.
Saying that, it’s not something that I think hinders the gaming experience. In fact, I’d argue that it strengthens it. Yes it can annoying when you break a really good weapon that you’ve been saving because you’re scared of losing it too early, but for every sword or spear that gets destroyed there’s another one just waiting around the corner. I’m not sure how many weapons I’ve had to get rid of because I’ve uncovered another that is superior in attack or durability, but it’s a lot.
What’s more, the low durability has swayed me to use a greater variety of weapons when in battle. Normally if I’m facing multiple enemies I’ll go through 5-10 swords, bows and spearsto try and come out victorious as efficiently as possible. Even with the Master Sword in my inventory, I’ll always prioritise other weapons over that because it makes the game feel like more of a challenge. That’s what people want from a game like this, right?
A visit to Hateno village in the Necluda region will unlock the final rune of the game – a camera. With this now available to you, you have the opportunity to fill out the Hyrule Compendium which is essentially a photo album with almost 400 spaces. Every new monster, animal, weapon, etc. that you encounter can be caught on camera and added to the compendium, giving you another extensive collection task alongside finding the 900 hidden Koroks.
That’s essentially where the issue lies. There’s a lot to photograph in the game and it’s not always convenient to pull your Sheikah Slate out and snap a picture, especially if you’re battling monsters. The task can grow boring quite quickly, and the amount that’s required to complete the compendium can feel like more trouble than it’s worth.
Although this may be the case, the camera rune is a great help for uncovering items in the game. If you’re looking for a certain creature that you need to upgrade your armour, then provided you’ve taken a photo of one you can easily track them down using the Sheikah Sensor+. What’s more, it adds an additional task to the game if you’re looking for a way to pad out your time. Before I take on Ganon I want to try and complete as much of Breath of the Wild as possible, so I’m investing my time in finding Koroks and adding pictures to the Hyrule Compendium. Although it may not be the most exciting of tasks, the combination of these things make it seem more worthwhile and can help you discover areas in the game world you might have previously overlooked.
There are certain things that can seem to hold you back from making progress in Breath of the Wild, albeit only very shortly. The blood moon, for instance, can keep you from invading an enemy camp for several in-game hours due to the risk of the enemies being revived while you’re still in the area. Another problem, which is probably more of a nuisance for players, is the effect of the weather. More specifically, the way that rain prevents you from climbing rock faces.
Although it is still possible to scale mountains during a downpour, the amount of stamina required to climb small heights can seem extortionate. Unless you’re equipped with several stamina wheels or have the necessary foods and elixirs in your inventory to keep you from running out of energy, it’s often a better idea to hold off until the rain has passed. That’s easier said than done if the weather isn’t expected to clear up anytime soon.
Instead of being something viewed as a hindrance, though, the weather in this game should be praised. The first time a storm hit when I was playing, I was completely spellbound. Admittedly, it put me in a bad spot because it caused me to fall from Hylia Bridge and into the lake, but once I’d found myself some dry land I just sat there and marvelled at how breathtaking it was. Maybe it’s just because I love storms in real life (when they don’t cause death and destruction), but I really felt the developers had outdone themselves with this design.
Even though the rain can stop you from doing one thing, it might lead you to make a new discovery by exploring somewhere else in the vicinity. There’s so much in the game world to uncover that it’s more than likely you missed something even if you’ve visited the area multiple times. Besides, the variety of weather patterns gives the game a more realistic feel, and the barriers they create add a little challenge to keep Breath of the Wild exciting no matter how long you’ve been playing it for.
I touched on this subject during my Breath of the Wild review, so it’s no surprise when I say that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the blood moon. Initially, I thought that I was just being a wuss who got freaked out by the creepy animation, but it turns out a lot of people online aren’t the biggest fans of the game’s method for respawning enemies.
Aside from the fact that a great deal of players have suffered from glitches relating to the blood moon, the event can feel a little disheartening or off-putting, especially if you’re not familiar with this genre of game. For example, if you have a tough time fighting a particular enemy and then have it respawn a short while after defeating it, you can be wary of exploring that area more than once. Until I was a lot stronger – both onscreen and as a game – there were definitely several areas with Lynels that I didn’t want to go near after a blood moon had brought them back to life.
On the other hand, respawning enemies is a pivotal feature of games like Breath of the Wild. Certain armour upgrades rely on monster parts that aren’t easy to come across without this feature, and the game world would become extremely quiet if enemies stayed dead after you’d killed them. What’s more, the blood moon actually provides an explanation for respawning that’s relevant to the story, rather than just throwing monsters back in every now and again for the sake of it. While the mechanic can be tricky to predict and come at the worst possible time, that just adds to the excitement of the experience.
Saying that, if it rises when I fight Calamity Ganon I will not be happy.
When I started playing Breath of the Wild, I told myself that I’d refraining from teleporting as much as possible. It felt like I was cheating by constantly jumping between areas and I didn’t want to take away from the wonders of the game world. That was all before I’d left the Great Plateau and realised just how large the map really was.
Nevertheless, I feel like I was correct in my initial resistance to fast travel everywhere. There are so many places that I’ve missed out on because I’ve been more focused on finding shrines and towers to make moving around the map easier. Yes, by the time you’re in the main action of the game, teleportation is necessary to keep the adventure moving at a reasonable pace. However, if you allow yourself to get too caught up in this then you can lose sight of the little details that make Breath of the Wild such an amazing game.
In the last few days, I’ve taken to exploring the map with only the odd teleportation to restock on arrows or transfer my spirit orbs. I’ve surprised myself with how many locations I’ve discovered that I figured I’d already explored because I’d travelled to that general area. I’ve managed to fall in love with the world of this game all over again thanks to exploring it the proper way. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use fast travel at all, but when you’re planning on visiting somewhere on the map, reconsider whether it would really be too much effort to go there on foot. You might be amazed by what you find on the way.