Question: Is anyone else kinda let down by Nintendos new Zelda?
This is something that’s been bugging me since E3. After seeing this game steal the show for so many journalists and E3 attendees, I have to speak up, I have to say my peace, and explain why The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild failed to impress me on nearly every front.
First off, I’ll be quick in telling you where I’m coming from. I consider myself a Zelda fan. I started playing the series on the N64 with Ocarina of Time and have since gone out of my way to play every game in the series. The design of these games in both gameplay and story telling has always been superb. I can still remember being most impressed with Hyrule field. Today it looks like an early, crude attempt at an open-world. That’s exactly what it is, but at the time it captured our imaginations. What if the world could get bigger, more detailed, more realistic? It truly was the start of a industry-wide shift in how game development was approached. In so many ways, Zelda was the first Elder Scrolls, first GTA, first Assassin’s Creed and that brings the biggest reason why Breath of the Wild failed to impress me with its E3 demo.
Don’t get me wrong, the game itself is impressive. The world looks utterly huge and while the art-style didn’t do it for me personally, that’s a completely subjective element, and you can’t deny how realized the world has become. The problem I’m having, is the fact that there isnt too much we haven’t already seen in terms of gameplay mechanics and design. It seems like what has most people excited is really only new to the Zelda series. That’s what ultimately had this feeling wash over me, the feeling that Breath of the Wild maybe late to it’s own party.
Alot of the “mind blowing” things people talk about coming out of E3, are things we’ve seen done (if not done better) in other modern action/adventure games. The attention to detail is something we saw in the polish of GTAV, and the open-world directionless exploration is an experience you could get out of The Elder Scrolls. It’s practically that series signature element. Don’t forget that the climbing that feels like a take off of Assassin’s Creed with the gliding off cliff sides looking almost ripped directly from the Arkham games. It doesnt help that the appeal of Breath of the Wild as a whole begins to pale when you consider GTAV is still going strong and only getting more affordable to pick up, and remasters of the best Arkham and Elder Scrolls games are on the way.
I’m not saying there is nothing new or unique coming out of Breath of the Wild, but the concept of an open-world action/adventure game was pioneered by this series in the 80s. Since then, many other developers have taken inspiration from those elements of exploration and added upon them. Now, it seems the opposite is happening. It looks like Nintendo is looking to every successful open-world in the industry for inspiration. It’s almost startling to see a Zelda game borrowing so many elements from games that one could argue, did true open-worlds better.
Anyway, that’s my take on Breath of the Wild. When you consider what’s there, this new Zelda title already feels like the closest thing to a full 3D realization of the original game we’ve ever seen. Open-world, dungeons, unique items, puzzles, etc. It’s Zelda. For me, it’s hard to tell what’s driving such excitement over this game short of nostalgia, and the Wii U owners finally getting a killer-app. This take on Hyrule doesn’t fail to look like a world one would like to get lost in, but is there really anything in this new world we haven’t already seen before?
When people talk about why they are excited for this game, once you take the whole “It’s Zelda!” nostalgia factor out of the mix, what you see is excitement over this kind of amalgamation of pretty much every successful open-world game to come out in the last decade. That is what people seem to be excited about on the surface and frankly, it doesn’t impress. It pretty much looks like more Zelda. Like Skyward Sword but in a bigger world. Times have changed and while the Legend of Zelda series has always brought new and interesting things to it’s titles, if not its whole genre. By today’s standards, Breath of the Wild feels like it plays it a little too safe in all the wrong places. So far…
At the very least, it will be interesting to see how Breath of the Wild will be remembered when compared to other successful games in it’s genre. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild comes out Spring 2017.