Breath of The Wild has been out and about for almost a month and within that time frame it has changed the way we perceive Zelda games forever. Formula’s changed, dungeons have changed, and there’s even voice acting for crying out loud. Yet despite all that, Breath of The Wild is probably the most Zelda game we’ve played in ages.
The Ocarina Legacy
There’s no denying that Ocarina of Time is what many fans refer to as the base of what makes 3D Zelda games work. Tropes such as collecting X amount of artifacts or items to progress the story, or unlocking weapons that equally serve as tools in solving puzzles. There’s just that feeling we got used to when playing 3D Zelda games which up until now we thought would never go away. Breath of The Wild finally did something crazy and changed things up.
For one it feels different. This is akin to going from riding a bike to a Harley. There are so many new things to get adjusted to and for many this has led to frustrating moments of players not having their expectations met.
Around the web I constantly see posts saying “this is not a Zelda game”. This has been attributed to the lack of “proper dungeons” “weapon durability” or the fact you have to “walk a lot with no proper guidance”. Yet despite those criticisms, all of which can be justifiable in their own way, Breath of Wild tries its best to become THE Zelda game. The ultimate one in fact that manages to not only stay true to its 8-bit formula but also pay homage to all Zelda games before it.
Breath of The Wild is a cocktail of Zelda games. The visuals pay tribute to Wind Waker’s art style, the chosen hero is no doubt a call back to the epic quest of Ocarina of Time (and most Zelda games), the apocalyptic themes match those we’ve seen in Majora’s Mask—it carries all these elements and yet manages to bind them together seamlessly.
Least of all we can’t forget how the open world design is no doubt paying tribute to the original Zelda game that started it all. Being lost and discovering is part of the experience of what made that game so thrilling.
You Are The Story
Zelda plotlines have always been a subject of debates. Some have criticized them for following the same route. Nintendo was aware of that and rather than recycling the formula we’re give a chance to explore the world and make it our own story.
The best example to this is the Master Sword. You can literally beat the game without even knowing where it exists, but by walking around and talking to people you hear of a rumor that a sword of great legends is someone in a forest. You eventually discover this forest on your own along with the sword. This can be done quite literally at the beginning of the game. This is a sharp contrast to the linear narrative the player had to go through in previous Zelda games just to eventually get it via a cutscene. But by discovering yourself, the Master Sword ends having more meaning to you as you went through the trouble of finding it on your own without following an objective marker.
This is one of the reasons I loved the TriForce hunting in Wind Waker as you’re not given exact directions, well except for some. The ones that involved talking to people and figuring things out is where the real fun of adventure was found.
The Future is Looking Bright
Many 3D Zelda purists (yes, that’s a thing now) will disagree and find that 3D Zelda games should go back to the Ocarina formula. But that honestly would be a big step back. In fact, I don’t know how I will go back to those games. Breath of The Wild has spoiled me to the point that I don’t think I will take any of the previous 3D Zelda games seriously. It has set a new standard that it so high I don’t see it changing anytime soon.
Just like what Ocarina of Time did, Nintendo has managed to lay a solid foundation for future Zelda games. I can’t wait to see what’s next.