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Take the Zelda series in an impressive new open direction that extends beyond its traditional formula
Breath of the Wild lacks the realism of its open-world competition, but phenomenal art direction results in amazing visuals
The piano-focused score can be subtle, but is absolutely stirring when it needs to be. The ambient sound effects of nature expertly sell the often lonely, natural world
Link controls flawlessly on the new Switch controller, flying, climbing, and fighting with ease. Don't be scared off by the motion controls; I preferred them for aiming arrows and other tasks
Breath of the Wild is a feat of design and polish. Hyrule feels like a real place, and the journey Link and Zelda undertake to defeat Ganon is compelling
The original Legend of Zelda on NES introduced the idea of an open fantasy world, but as the series progressed, it veered toward guiding players through a linear sequence of engaging puzzle and combat scenarios. The series has reexamined that formula in recent entries, but Breath of the Wild marks the most dramatic departure to date. You have every item you need to solve every puzzle before you reach the first dungeon. Swords break, and you exchange them often. You don't have to complete the dungeons to defeat Ganon. This is not the Zelda we're familiar with, but my hesitations about deviating from a proven formula were cast aside the moment I was dropped into the new, open Hyrule.
Breath of the Wild's version of Hyrule is consistently compelling and full of discovery and reward. The sections of the world are thoughtfully designed, each an important part of the larger whole. Every trail I took, even the ones off the beaten path, led to interesting discoveries like hidden puzzles, new weapons, and strange architecture. Link's map is blank at the start, meant to be filled with icons as you decide which activities to pursue, and I appreciate that it lets me define what is important.
Players are accustomed to navigating open worlds, but Link's ability to climb leads to unprecedented levels of exploratory freedom. If you see something in the distance, you can walk or fly straight to it, regardless of what's in your path. Link never needs to circumnavigate. Every surface in Hyrule is an opportunity to further your adventure. Gigantic statues you might think are set-dressing are used as platforms to kick-start a flight. Mountains normally used to create barriers are climbing challenges; your reward for these tests of endurance might be a new item, but even just a new view of Hyrule can be equally valuable. I never tired of climbing toward the skies, looking out into the world, and seeing all it had to offer in detail.
Breath of the Wild is more than just a world of beautiful scenery. It's full of puzzle shrines, dungeons, and surprises. The main dungeons are smaller than those in previous Zeldas, but benefit from the compact design by never overstaying their welcome. Link takes control of each of the dungeons, rotating them to solve puzzles, or manipulating their large components to open new paths. Defeating their challenging bosses offers worthwhile rewards that affect facets of exploration and combat in exciting ways, like the ability to perform an extra powerful attack in times of need. Any disappointment that may have resulted from the main dungeons being smaller affairs is cleanly washed away thanks to the myriad shrines.
See more of the review at Game Informer
Forget everything you know about The Legend of Zelda games. Step into a world of discovery, exploration and adventure in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a boundary-breaking new game in the acclaimed series. Travel across fields, through forests and to mountain peaks as you discover what has become of the ruined kingdom of Hyrule in this stunning open-air adventure.
Check out all the latest The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild games and accessories available for Nintendo Wii U now.
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