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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

‘Breath of the Wild’ is the king of open-world gaming

Reasons why you should play the latest installation in Nintendo’s “Legend of Zelda” series 


By MAYA KORNYEYEVA — mkornyeyeva@ucdavis.edu


Imagine a game where you’re able to glide over valleys, climb any mountain, swim up waterfalls and surf on your shield, exploring virtually anywhere. You can interact with the non-player characters (NPCs), whether it’s to learn more about your main objective or about their personal stories and adventures. You can throw a mix of random ingredients in a cooking pot and create dozens of recipes for meals and elixirs. You can stop time, find magnetic chests, freeze water and fight mobs by throwing your metal weapon at them during a lightning storm.

Imagine all of this, and you’ve got “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” released on March 3, 2017, a revolutionary open-world game. Created and directed by Eiji Aonuma, the game was published by Nintendo for the Switch and Wii U gaming consoles, with the goal of allowing players to explore the interconnected world of Hyrule with minimal instruction and an unprecedented degree of freedom. 

Unlike games such as “The Witcher 3” and “Red Dead Redemption 2,” “Breath of the Wild” offers a less linear storyline. The protagonist, Link, journeys on a quest of self-discovery to reawaken the four Divine Beasts and defeat Calamity Ganon, an evil force attempting to take over Hyrule.

I began playing “Zelda” in March 2020 as a way to fill the empty days spent stuck at home during quarantine. I was immediately taken aback by the charming and immersive features of the game and thrived off of the satisfaction of beating a Yiga Blademaster or completing a particularly difficult shrine. And I’m still playing: even with the main campaign complete, I don’t think I will ever be able to fulfill every side quest in the villages or chase every dragon — “Breath of the Wild” is just that expansive.

I believe what makes this Zelda game so unique is the map design, which offers multiple intricate terrains with unrestricted paths that the players can choose to follow. While fast travel is an option in the game, I find it unnecessary because there’s just so much to discover along the way. From magical plants to lost memories to Korok seeds, the game offers items and side quests at practically every step.

Beyond the top-tier features of the map, I enjoy the fact that, unlike many video games, “Breath of the Wild” doesn’t hinge on an XP or a level system. At the very beginning of the game, the players are given all the tools they need to beat the antagonists. If you wanted to, you could go fight the final boss at the very start of the game and have a chance of winning.

This is possible because there’s almost no point-to-point traversing. Link, the protagonist of the game, can follow the centralized storyline if he chooses, but he can also traipse off into the wilderness. The game excels at allowing every person to play at their own pace, with a heavy reliance on problem-solving and context clues rather than tutorials.

Another key feature of the game that I adore is the inventive design work for the shrines, ancient tech and the Sheikah Slate. According to Takuhiro Dohta, the technical director of “Breath of the Wild,” these designs were all inspired by the Jōmon period in Japanese history. The Jōmon period is the earliest era of ancient Japanese civilization and the least well-known, beginning around 14,500 BCE and characterized predominantly by its ”cord-marked” or ”patterned” pottery style.

Of course, this is not to say that “Breath of the Wild” is perfect. There’s definitely some frame lag, and the shrines can be frustrating at first and progressively feel repetitive or even dull to an experienced player. Nothing great is without its faults. 

However, “Breath of the Wild” still occupies an unparalleled position in the gaming world. Due to its initial popularity and Link’s lovable personality, the developers are coming out with the highly anticipated sequel “Breath of the Wild: Tears of the Kingdom” on May 12, 2023. It would be an understatement to say that I am excited about its arrival; with better graphics and a brand new adventure in reach, this continuation is sure to be a massive hit.

I highly recommend “Breath of the Wild” for anyone looking to test their deduction skills or just to have some fun and explore — you can gain more than 50 hours of phenomenal gameplay. “Breath of the Wild” is one of the best Nintendo games out there (which is quite a feat because of Nintendo’s astounding reputation and massive catalog) and an absolute must-play. 


Written by: Maya Kornyeyeva — mkornyeyeva@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.