As I mentioned a few days back, I’ve never been able to get into any of Nintendo’s “The Legend of Zelda” games, despite numerous attempts.
Still, the hype around the most recent has been pretty nuts, and this has been a year where I’ve played my first Pokémon and my first Metroid games, so I figured, you know, what the hell, and I ordered the “Explorer Edition” to give it a go. I wanted to get a physical copy just in case the seventh Zelda game I tried playing suffered the fate of the first six, so I could sell it on.
As an aside, the Explorer Edition Guide is kind of a waste of paper. An awful lot of it is dedicated to pointing out all of the stuff you can get in game if you shell out a lot of money on various amiibo. On the other hand, it did point out that I’d missed the opportunity to get a warm jacket with cold resistance from an NPC, so I went back and got that. So it’s a little more than a glorified catalog for plastic tat, but not much.
Also, the Zelda cart included in the Explorer Edition is still a 1.0.0 cart, so I needed to download an update to bring it to the current (1.3.4) version. A little weird, all things considered.
So minor griping about the package contents aside, I gave the actual game a try and it made three hours vanish in remarkably quick fashion. There’s a LOT of Skyrim in this game, with the extra spice of the survival system to add worrying about freezing to death etc to the list of things that can kill you, and a lot of Just Cause 2 – not just for the infinite magical parachute, but also for the very real delivery of the “if you can see it, you can go there” promise that open-world games make but rarely fully deliver on.
It also solved one of my biggest complaints with previous Zelda games, that there’s never any real reward from fighting anything other than bosses. With no leveling system, enemies are annoyances rather than juicy sacks of XP, and respawning enemies are just there to add tedium.
Breath of the Wild has actual reasons to fight things, and I had a great little mini-story where I chased down a ram, killed it, got raw meat, realized there was a little goblin camp nearby and they had a cooking fire, and murdered them all so I could cook my raw ram meat with some acorns to add flavor.
I should feel bad about that. On the other hand, steak.
The much-maligned weapon durability system was a pain for about the first 30 minutes, but since then I have been drowning in new gear and I don’t really care that swords in Hyrule appear to be made out of very brittle plastic.
Still, two complaints, minor as they are:
First, while the climbing is neat and all, Link must be part gecko with his ability to cling to concave surfaces. It’s a little immersion breaking to see yourself completely ignoring gravity’s harsh-but-loving embrace at times.
Second, while the art style is beautiful and goes a long way to covering this up, there are some really low-resolution textures and some instances of draw-in that just scream “launch title”. Mostly I’ve noticed it when running forward and seeing the engine frantically trying to draw shadows on the ground, so really I should probably just stop looking at my feet.
So, it looks like this may finally be a Zelda game that I can get along with. It’s only taken 30 years. 🙂