Hey guys, a positive article on the upcoming Legend of Zelda game that everyone and their mother have already been gushing over for the past few months! I’m original! All jokes aside, Breath of the Wild has been on everyone’s minds for a while. Well, except for me, since I had initial judgments about the game that were less than stellar. The open-ended design, the weapon structure system, and the general feeling of just wandering around seemed alienating and strange to me. Although I’m a big fan of open-world games, something about how the initial reveal of Breath of the Wild struck me as odd, considering how I always envisioned the Zelda series with some sort of goal in mind. It’s also an oddity considering that there is almost nothing about this game’s setting and plot that has been made public. With very little prior information and a very barren looking world, I was quite skeptical at first on how this was going to play out. But with the recent Video Game Awards came a couple trailers of upcoming games, two of which were from Breath of the Wild. And I’m not quite sure how they did it, but something about it made me reconsider the game and what it’s trying to do. As such, not only do I look at the game in a more positive light, but I find myself now anticipating this game with every day’s passing.
To first understand how I’m suddenly excited, I want to expand a bit more on what made me initially wary about the game. With the typical structure of main title Zelda games, a structure that has been cemented since Ocarina of Time, I expected Breath of the Wild to be more of that type of layout, just with some upgraded graphical output. But as the reveals went on, more of the game was shown to be not only open-world, but even lack most of a coherent narrative. Part of what made Zelda so memorable for me personally was the interesting characters and enemies you met along the way. With each of them having their own place in the world, it was fun to interact with these characters. Breath of the Wild, however, looked to at first just plop Link in the middle of a huge landscape and just do whatever you want, with or without characters. Granted, most of this worry was fueled by my initial false judgment that characters were going to be close to non-existent in this game, but it was still something that I was hoping wasn’t the case, and thankfully it looks not to be. Secondly, the open-world aspect, while a grand one, could create a lot of problems when looking for something to actually be absorbed in. This concept was foreign to me, that is until I got bewitched by the recent Skyrim Special Edition release, which baffled me that I spent hours on the game for paltry reasons. With only a weapon-crafting system and armor system to keep it alive, Breath of the Wild at first seemed barren and bleak.
But part of my own confusion of the game has to do with numerous publications falsely quoting Eiji Aonuma, the director for Breath of the Wild, on the possible inclusion or exclusion of towns and villages. For a while, I believed that the game would entirely lack any sort of civilization, because it was reported that Aonuma stated that it would not have towns of any sort. This was corrected the next day, with Aonuma stating that villages play a part in the overarching narrative in some way, but me being none the wiser thought it would not have towns. While towns don’t really play any integral part in game design, not one that really has a place on a scale anywhere, towns are easily a massive booster of entertainment when it comes to Legend of Zelda. This is why I was so worried when I thought that the game decided to nix the idea of villages for whatever reason, adding to the feeling of barren landscapes. Hell, I didn’t even know that it wasn’t the case until literally yesterday. I’m not good at information gathering.
After that had been cleared up, I noticed that there’s a central theme to the feeling of this game, and that is exploring the unknown. It’s very obvious that that was what it was going for in the first place, but it never really melded right until recently for me. There’s this harmonious sense of both preparing for the journey in both weapon crafting and armor management, and actually going out into the world to figure out what to do. This was the game’s initial problem for me, but it somehow twisted into becoming what it was supposed to be from the beginning, which is a selling point. This is evident because of the addition of Link’s new Jumping and Climbing abilities, a radical change in the Zelda formula, for the sake of being able to more comfortably explore without having to circumnavigate everything. Considering how massive the game world is, having the proper skills to actually explore it is required. But with the recent trailer drop, I now have a reason to explore, and that is to find out what this world is like, or what it even is. The trailer does a fantastic job of stealthily setting up a timeline of events that lead to a nasty conclusion. Where Link falls in place and what his job is has yet to be revealed, but this feeling of knowing almost nothing about what you’re supposed to be doing usually becomes a game’s detriment. In this instance, however, it becomes a full-fledged reason to actually explore and find out for yourself what your place in this huge world is. Revealing too much about the game might become its undoing, so as painful as it is, the less you know about Breath of the Wild’s narrative, the better the feeling is of exploring and discovering how its world works.
But what sold me completely on this game is its presentation. While I was slightly disappointed that we weren’t going to be getting another realistic-looking Zelda, time has proven more kind to cel-shaded releases. Wind Waker HD looks absolutely beautiful and hardly aged, while the recently released Twilight Princess HD has the usual aging problem. So with this I understand that cel-shading both reduces the tax on hardware and proves the game to be more timeless. But there is almost nothing skimped on when it comes to the visuals. While there seems to be some issues with framerate for the current demo builds of Breath of the Wild, the game looks absolutely gorgeous. This helps expand the idea that the game is not something grandiose and epic, but something that meddles in subtlety and softness that just happens to be really big. It doesn’t look perfect, but it does a great job of giving the game a distinct feeling. The second thing that feeds into this is the music that has been released as of this article. Now I love music, especially movie and game soundtracks. A nasty habit has formed out of the past few years where games mostly settle for the stereotypical bombastic orchestras with little variation in instruments or themes. Zelda, while sporting classic music, didn’t really escape from this problem much either. I’m just not too much of a fan of strings anymore. But with Breath of the Wild, it still has some string orchestrations, but it chooses other instruments to have the center-hold of the piece. You’ll hear a lot more of woodwinds and especially piano if the trailer music is any indication, which I adore. Piano is a definite instrument to utilize when the composer wants to indicate some level of softness and delicate feeling to enhance the product. So both aspects of presentation, the graphics and sound, come together to heighten the feeling of being on your own and exploring the unknown.
While Breath of the Wild seems to be a departure of longtime Zelda staples, it seems to also seek to reinvigorate what made the series take off to begin with. With no clue on what Link is supposed to do at all, let alone what his place is in the narrative, it gives a real reason to go out and figure it out. There’s a lot of emphasis on going on your own adventure, and trying to discover as much about the world as you can. The presentation helps with that a lot, setting the mood of both a grand and mysterious adventure, but one that seems to take pride in its mellow and subdued atmosphere. While I still have some concerns about the game, the way things looking are now, I’m 100% excited for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.