I want to begin by saying I’m a little late on this. I literally had it marked down in my calendar because I’m ancient and still write stuff down by hand, but then I lost my calendar until late last night. But this is important enough to me to go back and wish a belated happy fourth birthday to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (“BOTW“), which was released on March 3, 2017.
Before I get into this more, I also want to admit that I am in no way, shape, or form a gamer. I have several gaming systems, and I like a few games for each system, but I don’t play incessantly and I don’t have any issues just putting the controller down. But I do enjoy the video games I do play very much. But nothing has ever come close to how much I loved BOTW.
What is BOTW?
BOTW is an action/adventure video game set in the Zelda universe. If you’re not already a Nintendo/Zelda fan, then maybe it’s not right for you (except it is because this game is perfect). But if you are, it’s (also) perfect. There are great callbacks to all the previous Zelda games, and it’s the best Zelda game to have come out since The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time came out on Nintendo 64.
BOTW picks up 10,000 years after Hyrule crumbled under Calamity Ganon. Link has been put into an artificial sleep during that time, and the beginning of the game is Link waking up. After that, he must travel Hyrule becoming stronger, freeing oppressed people, and generally preparing to destroy Ganon and rescue Princess Zelda. Along the way, Link will meet many interesting creatures, engage in fun and challenging side quests, and complete puzzle-tasks in shrines that help him attain higher health or additional stamina. There are also a lot of potentially fun moments, such as when Link has the option to use a Looney-Toons-style method of destruction on a member of the Yiga Clan.
Why Should We Care, Ben?
That’s a fair question, and I’ll give you a fair answer: You probably shouldn’t. Well, it’s not so much that you shouldn’t as it is me playing the odds. We don’t get a ton of visitors to this humble blog, and we have even fewer who read every day. Mostly people stick to their own interest, so if one isn’t into video games, one is unlikely to click on this article, right? And if one is into video games, they probably already have an opinion on a game that’s over four years old now, huh? So I guess it’s not that you shouldn’t care, it’s that it’s highly unlikely these words will do anything to create a new opinion or alter an existing one. Oh, well.
But here are some reasons to love the game. First, it’s beautiful. I mean, it’s an aesthetically beautiful game. The folks over at Nintendo did an incredible job of making the game beautiful but not so hyper-realistic as to take the fun Nintendo-ness out of it. Nintendo is a fun system, built for fun games, and they nailed it here. I mean, look at the picture below. That’s a screenshot from the actual gameplay. Breathtaking.
For another thing, the gameplay is simple. There’s nothing worse than when a game has a bunch of complicated controls and combos that require Mozartesque digital dexterity. Video games should be fun, and part of what can take away from the fun is complicated controls. Take, for instance, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It’s an aesthetically pleasing, widely-loved game, but it’s difficult to play because the game controls themselves are clunky. My wife loves Skyrim, and I honest-to-God love watching her play it, but I hate playing it because even something as simple as changing weapons is more complicated that it needs to be.
The plot to BOTW is also very good. It’s easy to follow, everything kind of makes sense, and even the side quests are fun, unique, and challenging. And a lot of the Zelda tropes that we know and love are in there. For instance, cuccos still fight back when attacked, and this can be used in funny ways.
Is There a Point in Here Somewhere?
Nope. If I’m being perfectly honest, I haven’t been good about preparing articles lately and my creative gas tank is low. But then I found my calendar last night and saw the “BOTW 4-year ann’y” notation (pictured). If I did have a point, it would just be that BOTW is a great game. That’s not controversial. It has a 97% approval rating on Metacritic and IGN gave it 10/10. It’s one of the most highly regarded video games of all time.
If you have a Nintendo Switch and have not played BOTW, I would suggest that you change that. Even if you never played any of the other Zelda games, you’ll be fine. You don’t have to know anything about the other games in the series to enjoy BOTW. And don’t worry about the game being four years old. I also have an N64 and play Goldeneye with some regularity, so four years of age is nothing.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is challenging enough to not be boring but easy enough to not be frustrating. It’s the perfect mix of action/adventure, puzzle/logic, and to some extent hack & slash. It’s fun for adults, it’s fun for kids, and it might just be the most perfect single-player game ever made. And it’s four years old today…or, rather, on March 3, when I meant to write this.
Happy Monday and have a great week, everyone.