Why Legend Of Zelda Breath Of The Wild Is The Most Unique Game Of This Decade

Iterating on one of the most time-tested, influential and all-round popular gaming formulas of all time is never an easy thing. It’s why Nintendo have mostly stayed true to the template they established for The Legend of Zelda back in 1991’s A Link to the Past, though that gets around the fact, that the inaugural 1986 original had far more open-ended aspirations.

World Design

When it comes to changing the ‘Zelda formula’, gone is the need to gate off parts of the environment behind a specific item or unlockable. Yes, there’s a tutorial to get you started, but once you’ve got your handy Sheikah Slate loaded up with all its basic functions, every last part of the gargantuan world around you is open for business.

Because to be fair, “See that? You can climb it!” has become an open-world catchphrase, but BotW gives its landscape real consequence, mixing a stamina-dependant climbing, swimming and traversal system with a number of elemental and physics-based powers. All of these feed directly into how you’ll approach enemy camps and underground puzzle Shrines (the new Dungeons), allowing you to tap into a more experimental mentality when deciding what to do.

Want to set fire to a pile of wood, then use a Kokro leaf to blow the flames into some exploding barrels? Feel free. How about grabbing a boulder with your levitation power, dangling it above a boss and dropping it straight on their head? All the in-world ‘elements’ react as they should, opening up the playful nature of any interact-able scenario more than any other entry in the franchise.


What’s a Zelda without puzzles?

For decades we’ve gotten all too familiar with collecting specific keys and opening specific chests, being rewarded with key items and moving on – it’s the Zelda way, dammit.


Breath of the Wild says “pish posh” to such an assumption, as Director Hidemaro Fujibayashi has redesigned the very way we think of – and interact with – puzzles overall. Now they’re bite-sized underground Shrines, all only being around 15-30 minutes long (depending on if you get stuck) and ranging from motion-controlled carnival game-type scenarios, to combat trials or using combinations of your base powers.

There are around 100 of these in total, all dotted around Hyrule, all found by either finding the high ground and looking for their glowing shells, or listening to your forever-pinging Sheikah Sensor. Point being, as the Switch is built for home console gaming and portable play, these Shrines fit the bill whether you’ve got 30 minutes or 30 hours to spare.


Think of the open-world genre as a template. Every single developer looks at it as an excuse to parse out collectibles, mission start prompts and all sorts of ‘optional side content’ to fill your time. In essence it’s a lot of time wasting, and unless you really have a lot of time on your hands, you’ll never see all of these things through.

In BotW, the world feels like one big, traverse-able ‘level’. Thanks to how your Sheikah Slate can push and pull every part of it and how you’re free to stealth-crouch, climb over or blast your way through the rest, there’s an unparalleled degree of freedom to Link’s agency from front to back.


MGS V: The Phantom Pain certainly tried this too, letting you tackle missions from any direction – but they were still very specific ‘pockets’ of the world where these missions occurred. Yes, Breath of the Wild has Bokoblin camps, cities, villages, Shrines and more to find and discover, but to even get there requires a degree of play and interaction that completely reworks the purpose of such a large, detailed environment.

A Guiding Hand

Here’s how you know a game is on another level of being immaculately hand-crafted: No matter where you go or how much you think you’re wandering off the beaten path, the developers have already accounted for it.

Breath of the Wild executes on this masterfully. Following the tutorial you’re given free reign to pick a direction and head in it, knowing that the overarching goal – save for seeking out the Divine Beasts – is just to literally “Become the hero of Hyrule”, however you can.


Despite this freeform nature, Nintendo have still peppered the environment with NPCs introducing you to integral parts of the lore, remarking on Link’s past adventures or giving you a way to unlock a remaining power or heart/stamina canister/extension. It always feels like these encounters and sense of progression is your own, but thanks to Nintendo’s skill at development and the time taken to perfect Breath of the Wild, each and every possibility has been pre-thought out, providing a guiding magician’s hand to all your adventures, yet one you’ll never truly see.

Source – Whatculture

#Why Legend Of Zelda Breath Of The Wild Is The Most Unique Game Of This Decade