It’s dan­ger­ous – and joy­ous, and grip­ping – to go alone

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Cer­tain game se­ries ex­ist on a plane one notch above ev­ery­thing else, their new en­tries seem­ing to make the world stop for a mo­ment. It’s a mi­nus­cule cat­e­gory, re­served for only the most sto­ried of thor­ough­breds. Plenty of heavy­hit­ting names – Un­charted, for ex­am­ple, along with Halo and Call Of Duty – don’t make the cut. We’ve nar­rowed this ex­clu­sive club down to just three, in fact. First, there’s Rock­star’s ir­re­press­ible Grand Theft Auto. Then there’s Mario (in the proper Mario game sense, that is). And then there is The Leg­end Of Zelda, whose lat­est in­stal­ment has been con­sum­ing our lives lately.

In the process of re­view­ing Breath Of The Wild we be­came the first peo­ple out­side of Nin­tendo to fin­ish the game. Play­ing this way is un­usual nowa­days. More of­ten, we can dis­cuss our ex­pe­ri­ences with oth­ers along the way – par­tic­u­larly handy when the game in ques­tion is all about plac­ing bar­ri­ers in the road (any­one who was a part of the sup­port group that formed among Dark Souls re­view­ers will surely never for­get it). But go­ing alone for this new Zelda felt ap­pro­pri­ate. This is a game that de­fies se­ries con­ven­tion by not even in­clud­ing a scene-set­ting pre­am­ble to tell you some­thing about the world in which you’re about to awaken. Ev­ery Zelda is an ad­ven­ture of wide-eyed dis­cov­ery, but that sense is am­pli­fied in the new game be­cause of how Nin­tendo has changed the rules. Weapons break in Breath Of The Wild. An­i­mals can be hunted for food. It has dy­namic weather sys­tems. The ap­proach to dun­geons is un­like that of any pre­vi­ous Zelda. In this new way of do­ing things there is even a – wait for it – jump but­ton. And it’s all in the con­text of an open world that goes to sur­pris­ing lengths to em­pha­sise the ‘open’ bit. Our re­view on p104 looks at how well these risks have paid off.

It may be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to pre­dict Switch’s longterm for­tunes ahead of the con­sole’s launch, but if it doesn’t suc­ceed it won’t be be­cause Nin­tendo wasn’t able to de­liver a must-play game on day one. On p62 Breath Of The Wild di­rec­tor Hide­maro Fu­jibayashi tells us how Nin­tendo went about re­in­forc­ing Zelda’s stand­ing as one of gam­ing’s rarest trea­sures.

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