When the switch came out, Nintendo needed a killer app. Something to really convince people to buy this new system. Breath of the wild filled that role. It had been in development for years for the Wii U and people were excited, making it a perfect title for the new system. After all, an open world Zelda game was a dream come true. Thankfully, the game delivered in spades.
The game starts off open from the beginning. You leave a shrine and enter a wide open area to explore. You’ve got snowy hills, open fields, and abandoned ruins. You go from shrine to shrine, getting new runes to solve puzzles, and already I was having a blast. There was so much to explore! It felt open and vast. Then, I finished the tutorial and the game started proper. I was simply blown away when I sailed down to the ground and saw how much there was to explore. I ran into a lake and found a massive stone beast who I desperately climbed on the back of trying to beat. I found weird leaf gremlins who gave me seeds. Every shrine had new unique puzzles, and I felt like I had barely touched the game.
This facilitation of exploration is one of the greatest aspects of this game. Talking with friends, we all had our unique experience on where we went and why. You can climb on the vast majority of walls, meaning that pretty much every area is open to you from the moment you left the great plateau. As the game progresses with the main quests it only grew more and more open. Four divine beasts scattered across the map, 120 shrines, more Korok seeds than I could count, and so many more variables. If you’re skilled enough, you can go straight to Ganon and fight him head on.
Visually this game is wonderful. The cel shaded look isn’t as exaggerated as Wind Waker but it’s not going for a realistic look and it looks amazing. Beyond the looks, the game just feels great to play. You have so many weapons to use in combat and all of them feel wonderful. This game gives you so many options with all of them being viable. Even just moving around the world leaves you with tons of options. You can climb a tower and glide over the ground below. You can slide on your shield down a slope doing tricks the whole way. You can tame a horse and ride them along the fields.
Breath of the wild is a true masterpiece of a game that the open world genre could learn a lot from. The game consistently offers unique gameplay experiences in a vast world that offers countless creative possibilities. The controls are intuitive and mesh with the massive beautiful world in such a way that I was invested for hundreds of hours. Be it running around open fields, solving shrines or taking on the divine beasts, Breath of the Wild is a joy from start to finish and can not be recommended enough.