The open-world design of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild could have seemed difficult to handle when the game was first announced in 2014, but those fears disappeared once reviews began to flood in after its March 2017 release. The changes most probably helped to push the franchise further and the open-world design was a huge success. This introduced us to a whole new gaming experience and suddenly possibilities seemed infinite. Heading out in the wilderness of Hyrule never seemed so simple!
When you play a lot of open-world games, it becomes apparent how big a trend it has become over the last few years. In my point of view, too many open worlds are “open” by featuring empty spaces that don’t play any major role in the world and don’t contribute to the adventure at all. Breath of the Wild did not fall into this trap and there is something to discover in the every inch of the map, even in the so-called empty spaces which have a major purpose in this game: exploring and finding new items to complete your arsenal of weapons.
Breath of the Wild has very few authentic tutorials, and those that exist seem to be disguised as another part of the adventure. The only basic tutorials will be found in four shrines that are essential to understand the mechanics of the main item Link will obtain shortly after being awakened in the Shrine of Resurrection: The Sheikah slate. After completing the four shrines and unlocking the slate’s abilities that will shadow you through the game, you will be free to choose whether you want to head to Hyrule’s castle in order to defeat the mighty Calamity Ganon or if you’ll explore the vastness of the multiple regions in pursuance of Hyrule’s deepest secrets. The game gives you total freedom to choose which path you yearn to follow!
What we immediately appreciate is the sovereignty with which we can move around the different regions, appreciating the detail-filled landscapes that mix a cartoonish design and realistic features such as rock and grass textures. The world presents to you an infinite way of interacting with every element you come across: Rain will extinguish fire, high temperatures will burn wood and grass, cold temperatures will freeze meat and so on.
But the solutions to challenges are equally numerous. There are multiple ways to approach a battle, whether you choose a direct confrontation or a sneakier approach. You can decide how to travel to distant locations: Ride a horse, climb a mountain and cover some distance on your way down with your paraglider, use your shield to ride down a hill or fast travel to different shrines with your Sheikah slate. The result of all this freedom is that you will feel like you earned your victories. Since there will always be multiple ways to achieve goals in Breath of the Wild, every accomplishment will be a direct result of your skills and the imagination you use to tackle a problem.
The game will consistently remain thrilling knowing that all the treasures you will find around the different regions will make it possible to farm all types of useful weapons and armors. This mechanic of the game makes it consistently interesting to take the distance and explore the Goblin hideouts, ruins and shrines. An interesting feature that enables the player to discover distant places are also collectibles known as memories from Link’s past. They will be displayed as pictures of landscapes in your slate and in order to find them, you can either explore Hyrule by yourself or ask a travelling painter to narrow down the possible location of the collectible. This is just another example of how the mechanics of the game make every single experience worth travelling around the map of Breath of the Wild and how versatile the choices are.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is surely a new pinnacle for open-world video games and game developers should be taking notes on how to improve their future projects in order to keep a game exciting and as fun to explore as Breath of the Wild. And as we most commonly say around here: It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.