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Four aspects of the Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild that make it uniquely enjoyable

Breath of the Wild is a game that truly deserves the game of the year 2017


The Legend Of Zelda franchise has received a constant love from their fans and become one of the most iconic Nintendo games throughout the years. The most recent Zelda game, Breath of the Wild has undoubtedly stolen many gamers’ hearts with its beautiful storyline, unique playing styles and sheer freedom of exploration. From the very start of the game to the end, Breath of the Wild never fails to keep players entertained with complex labyrinths and hidden puzzles and because it challenges users to explore mysterious landmarks and grants them a sense of adventure and satisfaction. Here are four specific aspects of Breath of the Wild that make it one of the must-buy Nintendo Switch games.

     

  1. The Very First Open World Zelda game

Released in 2017, The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild took quite a different approach from the other games in the series by being entirely open world. Although previous titles had large overworlds to travel, they were not truly open world. For example, in the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, each location like Kakariko Village and Dora’s Domain were separated from the field with a loading screen and you couldn’t even enter certain areas without a specific item. This feature took away a large amount of freedom from users and made them play the game linearly and through step-by-step progression. In BOTW, this is not the case. The players can be anywhere at any time. Theoretically, it’s possible to travel to the Hyrule Kingdom, and, with enough skills, even beat the main villain Ganon only after a few hours of playing the game.

Having said that, the open world feature takes away a sense of clear direction in the game. Once players get outside of the Great Plateau, they are almost thrown into the wild alone without any waypoint. Of course, Link’s Sheikah Slate serves as a map and enables him to teleport to the shrines or towers he has activated. But in order to do this, the player has to have traveled to those points previously. The player also needs to activate the main tower in each region in order to reveal the map around the tower. Hence, the map is almost useless at the start of the game. At first, I was frustrated with where to go and was worried about getting lost. But soon I realized that it is impossible to get lost in this game. Each area is filled with shrines, hidden items, and new monsters. Just wandering around a new environment always rewarded me with new contents. The vagueness of direction is not a weakness in this game, but a characteristic that amplifies the desire to explore and to adapt.

 

  1. 120 Shrines to keep you entertained

The massive world of Breath of the Wild is filled with shrines, single-room puzzles that contain at least one treasure chest and one spirit orb. In order to gain an extra heart or stamina, you need to have 4 spirit orbs. Hence, spotting and solving shrines is an essential part of the game. The first few shrines you need to solve before leaving the Great Plateau are very simple and easy. They serve as a conduit to teach the users the four distinct skills that will be used throughout the adventure. They are called Runes in the game and they enable Link to set bombs, move metal objects, freeze water into large cubes, and temporarily stop an object in time. The rest of the shrines are more challenging, often requiring the players to use more than one rune to solve the riddle.

It is also important to note that there isn’t always one correct answer to each shrine. Two players could come in with two completely different strategies to solve the same puzzle. This really motivates players to be creative in their problem-solving. Therefore, solving even simple puzzles in this game feels immensely rewarding.

  1. Weapons durability

All weapons, bows, and shields except the Master Sword have durability in the game. In fact, most weapons will break after using them a few times. Unlike many other games with a weapon durability system, you can’t even fix the weapons. This could be very frustrating at first because no matter how strong and awesome a weapon is, you won’t be able to stick with them for longer than a few fights. This felt annoying and even made me afraid to use my stronger weapons in fights because I didn’t want to lose them. However, the more time I spent with the game, the more I realized that these breakable weapons really shape the game and the user experience.

The weapon durability system gives players a sense of dilemma because even the weapons that deal a lot of damage still break very easily. This makes the good weapons precious and encourages players to approach each battle more carefully. The battlefield always has an easy way out in Breath of the Wild. For example, there will sometimes be bombs around to throw or big metal boxes to drop above enemies using the Rune, which will enable you to instantly kill many enemies without wasting your weapons. If you don’t want to waste your more valuable weapons, you will try to find the best strategy to kill your enemies, which is almost a puzzle in itself.

In the beginning of the game, Link will only find weak weapons like tree branches and sticks with low damage and low durability. But this is not problematic because you will find plenty of them anywhere in the map. By using several of these weak weapons, you will be able to obtain better weapons by fighting against the monsters, which almost always drop theirs. Even though weapons break very easily, it’s also very easy to find new weapons in the game. Hence, you will eventually learn to move on and know that there are better weapons coming down the road.  Because weapons are somewhat ‘consumable’ in this game, it makes the players constantly search for new ones. Even if you have a weapon with the strongest damage in the game, you will still be happy to find other weapons to use for later fights.

  1. Realistic physics and mechanics

If you think something should work in a certain way, it usually does in this game due to its precise and accurate physics and mechanics. You can climb on almost anything, including trees, towers, mountains and even the backs of huge monsters. Trees bear fruits and are surrounded by birds which will fly away when you go near them. The enemies and animals act and behave the way you expect them to. Monsters, like goblins, even sleep at night, leaving their weapons on the ground. And, by crawling quietly and attacking them in their sleep, you will be able to eliminate them easily. You can even set grass on fire to cause uplift force, allowing you to paraglide on.

Link feels hot during the day and cold at night in Gerudo Desert

These realistic physics make the game more challenging and interesting at the same time. The harsh weather will often hinder your progress as Link is affected by both cold and hot weather. Climbing the snowy mountains will be difficult or even impossible without the right gear as Link will slowly freeze to death. And going to the desert with warm clothes on will cause him to suffer from the heat. At night, the temperature will become dangerously low, requiring you to change your clothes again. In addition, it rains a lot and it changes the environment completely. Most of the surfaces will become wet and will be almost impossible to climb without slipping. In the thunderstorm, wearing any metal gear will make you a good conductor like in real life and getting hit by it will instantly kill you. The realistic mechanics force players to not only think quickly and act appropriately in each situation but also have an immense amount of interaction with the world of Hyrule.

 

Breath of the Wild is not just an ordinary game that gets boring and repetitive after a few hours. You could spend hour after hour exploring the beautiful open world of Hyrule filled with hidden puzzles and realistic physics to play with and you will still be able to find things you’ve never seen before.

Written by Se Jin Lee

Se Jin Lee is a computer science student currently enrolled at Sogang University in Korea. She came to Chapman University in Southern California for her exchange program. She is a passionate and a serious gamer who views games as one of the few powerful mediums capable of handling any issues and conveying messages to society. When she is not playing games, she likes to develop her own games.

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