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What’s in Your Box: Breathe Out

/ Mar 11th, 2017 No Comments

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Each week, we here at Gaming Illustrated are always playing a number of different video games. However, we may not be talking about them in reviews or editorials. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth talking about, but for any number of reasons an avenue to speak on them doesn’t come up. To remedy the issue, we’re going to ask our staff (and you, honestly) what’s in your box?

What’s in Kalvin’s Box

It’s been a week now, I’m only growing more enraptured with the Nintendo Switch. Sure, it has one game basically. This is not strictly true Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove/Specter of Torment is awesome and every bit as delightful as it always has been.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild makes a great argument for why the system’s gimmick is such a compelling one and why people have been fiending for one since last Friday. It is hugely satisfying to be able to go from playing on your TV with lush visuals to playing anywhere you want without a serious loss in quality.

More importantly, when going from docked to portable mode, the system picking up right where you left off, whether it be fighting monsters, chilling in town, or climbing the side of a giant cliff, is amazing.

The Nintendo Switch is what the Wii U should have been in off-tv mode. Playing around with the Switch and seeing other people’s excitement about it illustrates that while the Wii U had a good library, its hardware was always going to be an issue.

The Switch also does successfully what it feels like the PlayStation Vita wanted to do. It goes beyond cross-buy, cross-save to deliver a true home console experience on a handheld.

As a result of enjoying my Switch so much, I have done nothing this week but play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. There are worse fates.

Intelligent Design

When Anouma announced plans for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it was about breaking with the conventions of the series. At that point it was unclear how exactly that would done.

How do you make a non-linear Zelda game? How do you get away from the traditional dungeon structure that makes that linearity necessary?

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds gave some idea with its equipment rental mechanic. It turns out Anouma and team didn’t want to do a minor revision they wanted to slash and burn what we expect of a Zelda game.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Shrines dot the land acting as micro puzzles and currency for health/stamina rewards.

Breath of the Wild is a huge sea change for the series. It breaks with what we expect, but it never doesn’t feel like a Legend of Zelda game. The open world set-up is how they got around linearity. To help facilitate the additional freedom and openness they did away with the traditional dungeon structure.

No longer are you going into dungeons and getting a special item to solve puzzles. Now Shrines dot the landscape of Hyrule for you to discover. These are shorter tests of strength, wisdom, and bravery. Instead of getting a key item from dungeons to solve it and later dungeons, the game gives you all the tools in the form of runes from the outset to solve any puzzle in the game.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Shrines house clever mini puzzles that require clever thinking and innovative use of runes.

You can overcome any Shrine in any order thanks to this. Unlike older titles, there is more room for creativity when solving puzzles. As a result, completing the Shrines feels more satisfying because you have more room to figure them out. In a way the discover of the Shrines, the design, and having all the runes from the beginning makes that part of the game feel like The Witness.

The Shrines are a means to keep the puzzle aspect of the game strong, make the fame non-linear, and reward Link with heart and stamina upgrades (no longer are you finding heart pieces in chests). It isn’t a replacement for dungeons though. The game still has larger, more involved dungeons in the form of the Divine Beasts, which function as dungeon and massive boss fight.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Powerful enemies roam Hyrule providing more than enough opportunity for Link to show off his parries and perfect dodges.

These mammoth mechanical creatures feel like the Zelda dungeons we know and love, but with a few new tricks. The 3D map and the ability to manipulate the beast’s structure gives an extra dimension to some of the puzzles housed within the beast.

The world itself is littered with intriguing stuff to do and find. From enemy bases to invade to powerful lion centaurs and ogres to topple, the game doesn’t lack in the combat that made the series so compelling. It just has been refined, enriched and given added depth with the ability to use new types of weapons, equipment, and dodge/parry.

Collective Consciousness

Video games are no different than other popular media. At a certain point everyone wants to tap into the zeitgeist. No one wants to feel left out. For a long time that manifested in everyone playing the latest shooter during the holiday season. Recently, however, gamers have been tapping into more eclectic fare.

This holiday season the big game to be in on was Final Fantasy XV. Rather than be obsessed with Battlefield or Call of Duty last year, it was a legacy JRPG. It felt like the PS2 era. Perhaps the reason FF XV connected was its shift to a more modern gameplay style or mainly because of its decade long development time. Whatever the reason, it was awesome to see everyone getting deep into Noctis’ adventure.

The same frenzy is happening now with Breath of the Wild. It seems like not only did everyone pick up a Nintendo Switch last week, but everyone is playing Breath of the Wild. The obsession is for good reason. Breath of the Wild is about freedom. You can approach the game how you want and start where you want.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The game is full of opportunities for significant experiences.

To that end, everyone’s experience is different. Comparing my approach with my friends has been interesting and exciting to see how wildly our styles differ. Nintendo packed the game with opportunities for significant gameplay experiences. No matter if you are following the story, hunting Shrines, or ambushing strongholds nothing ever feels frivolous or a means to waste time.

It feels like The Witcher III: Wild Hunt in that regard. Both have a lot of content and even when it is typical gameplay structure or mechanics, it feels refreshing either because of story significance or style.

If you aren’t playing Breath of the Wild, you absolutely should do so immediately. Whether it is on the Wii U or the Switch, get on it.

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
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