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