Now before you grab your pitchforks, you should probably read the whole article
The Switch released 6 years ago, launching with a small library, but one particular title that many people crown “The Best Zelda Game of All Time”. Breath of the Wild, originally intended to be a Wii U game, was set to be a launch title for the Switch, and really helped showcase what Nintendo’s new handheld could do. It had pretty striking visuals, especially for a portable, and the open world gameplay is a great change of pace from the “aged” styles of older games.
But I don’t care, I came here to complain dang it, and complain I will. I bought the game at launch with my Switch, and 6 years later still have not bothered to complete the game. I found myself in a weird place. I’m not a mega fan, but I did at least enjoy playing through some of the games in the past. The trailer made me really excited, the music and the action. And then, the glorious day came, I got it in my hands and…. disappointment?
Not to say it’s a bad game. Far, far from it actually. I can definitely see why people enjoy it, and they have every right to. It is, in fact, an outstanding game, it’s just not for me. Let me explain. There are a few reasons why, although it is a great game, I personally never could hop on the bandwagon of loving the title.
Too Open World
Yes, this one is a bit ironic, but hear me out.
I just don’t like open world games, and especially not with the design BOTW goes with. I like being able to freely explore, but as someone with ADHD, I really need something to point me in a general direction to go towards, a goal, a quest, something specific. Certain “open world” games have ways of at least keeping you on somewhat of a path towards the final goal. In BOTW, there really isn’t much for that. You maybe have the goal of the 4 guardians, or collecting your memories, but without more defined micro-goals I find that I get overwhelmed with choices, and end up being unable to plan what I want to do. I can play the game for multiple hours, and walk away feeling like I’ve accomplished virtually nothing. There are multiple “goals” along the path, but not in a way that works for me.
Along with that, I often found the world feeling somewhat empty. When you get to parts of the world that are filled in more, it’s fine, but there are stretches between those where I feel like I’m just wasting time. But I just can’t find a way to enjoy it. Even some of the older games had complaints of empty sections of the map, but then now it’s okay? I don’t get it. Probably never will.
Items Break Too Much
I’m honestly okay with items having mechanics that cause them to break. But by gosh BOTW goes way to heavy with it. I feel like most of my playtime is just trying to find and hoard weapons because I just sneeze funny and break what should be a strong weapon. I don’t mind gathering resources but good gosh it’s a bit much here. A good chunk of gameplay time is just picking up weapons and hoping they last you until you can get more. At the start it isn’t as bad since most of the weapons you use are ones dropped by enemies. But as you progress you’ll start to find those weapons aren’t going to last through taking down even one enemy, which can become a problem when a gang of lizalfos come storming in to eff you up.
How the Story is Told
Listen I get it, for the plot setup, it works. But I just don’t like it. A majority of the gameplay is no story, and the story you do get, you aren’t even really playing. It’s a great story, but I feel disconnected from it, as though it’s happening to a completely different character than the one I’m playing as. It makes the playthrough that much more tedious for me. Other games the plot involved your direct input, this one just feels like I’m unlocking the chapters for a DVD. Like yeah this story is great, but I’m taking almost 0 part it in. And I can understand how it works for the situation at hand, but it’s just extremely boring to me. It’s like there’s the interesting story, and then the actual gameplay story, and they sometimes just feel disjointed.
What the Game Gets Right (for me)
Even though I don’t like the way the story is told, the story itself is actually really good, and easily the best Zelda story. It’s one of actual heartbreak, death, and seeing characters at their best and worst.
The Shrines are an excellent edition, acting as mini dungeons that involve combat or puzzle/skill. Although I would never try to go find all of them, trying to find them, and then figuring out the puzzle or completing the skill-based task is quite rewarding, and helps fill in some of those micro-goals I mentioned earlier.
Sheikah Slate abilities are definitely one of the most interesting inclusions that help further set this up as it’s own game in a slew of titles in the franchise. It definitely gives tools to makes exploration more interesting, and adds key elements to have fantastic puzzle and level designs.
Paraglider, climbing, horses, and various unintended methods of travel. This game has a slew of ways to traverse the world, and no matter what the obstacle is, you can almost certainly find a way to scale it. Although the world is a tad too large for my liking, I can definitely say Nintendo made traveling fun, and with some usage of bugs you can travel faster and further than designed. Not to mention it does add a bit of fun as you try to figure out how to game the system. Or die a lot in the process,
which I definitely don’t do.
While the lack of a specific path to take makes it harder for me to like, this does also mean you can beat the game without doing much of anything. Many speedruns exist where the runner does virtually nothing and then just bum rushes Ganon to make a mocker of his “power” by handing his own rear end to himself, all while basically in your underwear. At worst, it gives some great content to watch.
I Intend to Beat the Game
With the latest gameplay video coming out showcasing 10 minutes of the game, and a few new features, I’ve decided to try to sit myself down and beat the game. Though this time around, I’m changing how I play just a bit in order to try to get through it.
The primary change I will be making is preventing myself from exploring too much. As much as that’s one of the big parts of the game, to me it’s wasted time. I obviously need to do some exploring in order to get materials. This will also include Korok Seeds and shrines. And same as general exploring, I will obviously seek out shrines here and there in order to get soul orbs, they won’t be something I spend hours trying to search all of them down.
End of the day, in this run I’m more going for getting enough done to be able to have a reasonable time beating Ganon. I am also going to try to get through all 4 Divine Beasts, as well as trying to unlock all memories. But if it comes down to it, I will drop those desires in order to beat the game.
It’s Fun, but Aggravating
In the end, there are definitely multiple points so far in my attempt to get through it that have been great fun. But as someone in the “needs to git gud” category there are many points that still cause me immense frustration when I die many times in a short amount of time. Either way, the game is still one of the best Zelda titles, even if it doesn’t land as being my personal favorite in the series. Furthermore, I look forward to Tears of the Kingdom releasing shortly, even if it’s the highest priced game to release from Nintendo since as long as I can remember.