Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Review

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Review

  • First Released Mar 3, 2017
    released
  • Reviewed Mar 2, 2017
  • WIIU
  • NS
Robert Handlery on Google+

A breathtaking masterpiece.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

From its mysterious opening to its action-packed conclusion, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a revolution for Nintendo's revered series. It's both a return to form and a leap into uncharted territory, and it exceeds expectations on both fronts. The game takes designs and mechanics perfected in other games and reworks them for its own purposes to create something wholly new, but also something that still feels quintessentially like a Zelda game. It's a truly magical work of art that embodies Nintendo's unique talents, and a game that everyone should play regardless of their affinity for the series' past.

More than a typical Hyrule fantasy, Breath of the Wild is a daunting survival game that forces you to think in entirely new ways. You have to be cautious, creative, and resourceful in your efforts to battle the wilderness. Outside of armor, you have to source everything from the field. You earn new weapons by stealing from enemies and prepare restorative meals and elixirs by combining resources found in the environment. Death comes quickly, and whether it's at the hand of a formidable enemy or because you charged unprepared down a treacherous path, you're forced to reconsider almost everything you've learned from past Zelda games. There's so much to see, to accomplish, and to learn that you never feel like you have control over the world. This is a great thing. Where so many games front-load excitement and wonder, Breath of the Wild sustains the thrill of unexpected discoveries throughout.

Amazement sets in immediately after emerging from a tomb-like cave where the familiar hero Link has spent the last 100 years in hibernation. When he trots to the edge of a cliff and the new, massive Hyrule comes into view, you're faced with the striking scale of the world, which is by far the largest the series has ever seen. You will cross vast plains and towering mountains to achieve your goals, all the while contending with harsh weather and Link's physical limitations. Despite a few instances of frame rate dips, Hyrule is consistently impressive to behold, triggering bliss and excitement in equal measure.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

You begin your series-standard quest to defeat Ganon and rescue Princess Zelda with little more than a tree branch to defend yourself from roaming goblins. However, it doesn't take long to build up a diverse arsenal. Nearly every enemy carries a weapon or a shield, and if you can beat them, their gear is yours for the taking. This is also a godsend given that every weapon has finite durability. You will blow through dozens if not hundreds of weapons during your adventure, which no doubt feels strange at first, especially since gear often defined your progress in previous Zelda games. It can feel crushing when a particularly cool weapon is destroyed mid-battle, but you learn to move on. There's no shortage of new gear to discover, and though you aren't able to utilize a consistent stable of familiar weapons, you learn to expect that for every one you've lost, there's something better coming down the road.

In practice, the weapon you wield is important but not necessarily as important as how you control it. Enemies are intelligent and utilize wildly different tactics that force you to diligently study every aspect of their behavior. Basic enemies can be toppled through careful use of a shield, but there are harder enemies that will destroy this defense in a single hit. In these cases, it’s imperative that you parry or dodge an attack at just the right time, which will trigger a moment of slow-motion that allows you to unleash a flurry of attacks against your vulnerable foe. These moves are your last line of defense when the going gets tough, and they require precise timing to execute. Given the myriad enemies and weapons you're up against, mastery feels almost unattainable even with substantial practice. However, that also means you are constantly learning in the face of unforeseen challenges.

There are innumerable unexpected events that can happen. The game never teaches you, for example, that holstering your shield after blocking enemy arrows will add them to your inventory. You're never told that grazing an enemy's wooden weapon with a fire arrow by accident will set it ablaze, thus making the fight harder for you in the long run. These occurrences fuel exciting stories between players, which feels like a rarity in a world where games go so far out of the way to ensure that you know how everything works. Even 50 hours in--and after you're capable of bringing down Ganon--there are still intimidating enemies to be found and intricate rules to study. Your power and wisdom grow as you progress, but you never feel totally invincible, which allows even late-game exploration to be feel tense and rewarding.

Beyond weaponry, Link gains access to magical skills known as runes. These include the ability to move metallic objects with a magical tether, which can be useful for, among other tricks, dropping large iron boxes on unsuspecting enemies. Link can also freeze enemies and objects in place for a limited amount of time. When an object is frozen, it absorbs energy rather than reacting immediately to whatever force you lay into it. And when time unfreezes, all that collected force is exerted in an instant. This allows you to move objects that are otherwise too heavy for Link to control, and gives you a chance to strike a defenseless enemy multiple times without fear of reprisal. Runes prove to be a wonderful source of creativity and problem solving, both in combat and when managing puzzles.

The game's four main dungeons are primarily puzzle focused, with only a few enemies sprinkled throughout. They are a bit unusual compared to dungeons in past Zelda games in that you aren't focused on finding keys to open doors. Instead, the goal is to manipulate the dungeon itself, to literally change its form in order to access important areas. It's a wonderful break from tradition, while you still get a challenging boss battle to look forward to at the end. Gone are the oddly charming bosses from Zelda's past; they've been replaced with dark and twisted fiends that are powerful combatants. Like your fights against normal enemies, you have to move and act deliberately, or suffer for your cockiness.

Breath of the Wild's big dungeons are important, but they are almost less of a draw than the smaller shrines that dot the world. There are reportedly 100 of these mini-dungeons strewn across the map, and the vast majority of them feature puzzles that test your understanding and mastery of Link's rune abilities. Some can be completed in a few minutes, but there are plenty more containing extensive, multi-step processes. Compared to roughing it in nature, these brain teasers are an excellent respite, and make great use of Breath of the Wild's impressive physics system. Figuring out what to do is only half the battle. The rest comes down to precise execution. Therefore, solving even simple puzzles can feel immensely rewarding.

When you look across Hyrule in search of your next destination, the faint orange glow of a new shrine is difficult to ignore. They are one of many distractions that cause you to veer off track. Seeking them out won't help you complete the game any faster--not that you should rush through Breath of the Wild in the first place--but they are rewarding opportunities that expose you to the far corners of Hyrule, where you often catch whiffs of something new and mysterious laying in wait.

Somewhat surprisingly, exploration often proves far more challenging than combat or puzzle solving. Link travels primarily on foot, and he can sprint as long as his stamina meter allows before having to catch his breath. Link can also climb vertical surfaces like cliffs and walls now, but again, he's at the mercy of his physical strength. Exploration may be a struggle at times due to Link's limitations and harsh weather that hinders his capabilities, but to avoid long treks is to rob yourself of some of the best moments of discovery in Breath of the Wild, and the sense of satisfaction you feel for overcoming its most foreboding environments. Equipping metal weapons and armor will turn Link into a veritable lightning rod, and if you're climbing a mountain when it starts to rain, you won't be able to climb more than a few feet before losing your grip and sliding back down. Bring a wooden shield to the fiery slopes of Mount Eldin, and watch it set ablaze on your back while Link's health slowly slips away.

Hyrule is a beautiful world to behold from the top of a mountain, but perching Link on high has other benefits. In addition to runes, Link obtains a paraglider early on in the game, which he then carries with him at all times. It's useful when you fall off a tall building or cliff, but it's also a source of levity after taxing fights and daunting hikes. Your reward for scaling a mountain or tower is the opportunity to soar through the sky and cross large tracts of land with your glider. And if you're skillful, you can use your shield as a veritable snowboard to glide down grassy hills and frozen slopes. Granted, Link can surf down hills at any time as long as his shield can handle the wear and tear, but it’s especially gratifying to drop onto a slope after flying over a massive canyon or a dense forest and coast into a town in style.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

The few towns that exist in the new Hyrule mimic the understated and rural qualities seen in Studio Ghibli's Princess Mononoke. Equally charming are the hikers you meet on trails. These lonely yet upbeat adventurers offer humorous quips, or perhaps a side quest with a quirky premise. You spend so much time fighting to survive, all while under the cloud of your impending fight with the dark and powerful Ganon. By contrast, your interactions with NPCs are opportunities to slow down and help out a friendly stranger in need. Though you have an overarching goal in mind, Breath of the Wild's delightful distractions often prove to be its most memorable moments.

If you've ever hiked deep into the wilderness and found yourself awash in wonderment and perhaps guilt for living a life steeped in modern indulgences, Breath of the Wild's reverence for the natural world will strike a chord. It's the way the rising sun graces blades of grass as you climb a steep hill. It's the flutter of a few well-timed piano notes that dance in your ear and harmonize with your internal childlike amazement. And it's the unwavering delight and excitement that each new discovery brings. It can come when you reveal a new portion of the world map and find a curious landmark, but there's an almost endless stream of smaller discoveries to make as you move about Hyrule.

No matter how gorgeous its environments are, how clever its enemies are, and how tricky its puzzles get, the fact that Breath of the Wild continues to surprise you with newfound rules and possibilities after dozens of hours is by far its most valuable quality. It's a game that allows you to feel gradually more and more empowered yet simultaneously manages to retain a sense of challenge and mystery--which, together, creates a steady, consistent feeling of gratification throughout the entire experience. Breath of the Wild is a defining moment for The Legend of Zelda series, and the most impressive game Nintendo has ever created.

Back To Top
The Good
A beautiful and romantic open world
Packed with a wide variety of perplexing puzzles
Goofy yet surprisingly human NPCs
A delicate soundtrack that expertly punctuates the world's many moods
Demanding combat system
Survival mechanics that make basic exploration feel wholly rewarding
A wealth mysteries and discoveries that last well beyond the main quest
The Bad
Occasional frame rate issues
10
Essential
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

About the Author

Peter spent 60 hours in Hyrule before reluctantly finishing the main quest on Switch. He spent an additional two hours testing the Wii U version. He looks forward to seeing everything Breath of the Wild has to offer, assuming he can unearth its secrets. Nintendo provided a complimentary console and a copy of the game for the purpose of this review.
1989 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for thewanderer88
thewanderer88

ok,whats the point of horses if you can just fast travel...lame.hopefully botw2 takes fast travel out at least in master mode,wheres the fun in skipping all that beautifull scenery?other than that,best game on any system,even ps vr,no head aches with a switch.good luck with the trial of the sword in master mode ;) you will need it

Avatar image for sakaixx
sakaiXx

Finally finished the game. Don't feel its worth the 10 but I respect the opinion. It gets better but the weapon break system is really a hassle early games and stamina management mean its quite tedious in early games. Also not really pleasing to the eyes if you usually play with better graphics due to those jagged edges and really not good on 4k tv but I still forced myself and had fun. Great game but woefully overrated. Shrines are fun! manages to pass the 100hour mark due to looking for more.

Online
Avatar image for deactivated-5a726f07c989c

game over

Avatar image for amund03
Amund03

Best game i have ever played. Everything with it is just fantastic. Love the graphic, gameplay and the music is great, 10/10

Avatar image for deactivated-5a726f07c989c

I got this game on Wii U

Avatar image for consolehaven
ConsoleHaven

Just got a 65 inch 4k oled tv and the game is absolutely beautiful on it.

Avatar image for aiat_gamer
aiat_gamer

@consolehaven: You do realize this game does not use any capabilities of your Tv, right?

Avatar image for consolehaven
ConsoleHaven

@aiat_gamer: Well, the tv does upscale to fit the screen for one, and OLED does indeed have an effect on the picture. But, I am aware that it doesn't magically turn the image into anything anywhere near as sharp as native content. :)

Avatar image for sakaixx
sakaiXx

@consolehaven: Lucky you. My 4K tv doesn't allow this game to shine.

Online
Avatar image for lamech777
lamech777

Got this day after launch and have been playing ever since. One of the best games I've ever played on any console or handheld. Its like a cross between Zelda and Red Dead Redemption. I'd give it a 9 or 9.5 not a 10 score (for the chintzy rewards and ending, too much repetition, and certain traditional Zelda-game details that could be better represented). I'm definitely looking forward to the upcoming dlc for it.

Avatar image for guitboy1897
guitboy1897

Does anyone know the track name for the music used in the beginning of the video review?

Avatar image for seriousbeezneez
SeriousBeezneez

Jeez, when the heck will Nintendo make a good Zelda game? After 40 hours, its officially boring to me. Breaking out the Snes so I can enjoy myself for once.

Avatar image for sebalayo
sebalayo

@seriousbeezneez: your an idiot and don't know shit about video games peace.

Avatar image for Redsyrup
Redsyrup

@seriousbeezneez: I did just that and replayed Link to the Past to get a better sense of what went wrong with BotW. After which I can say without doubt BotW is not a Zelda game. BotW is really the antithesis to Zelda. I think many of the believers are more stoked for having a new Open World game than to be playing a new Zelda title. IMHO that's completely outrageous but BotW has many fans.

Avatar image for Princess_Rectum
Princess_Rectum

@Redsyrup: The only legitimate thing that separates this from previous Zelda games is the lack of dungeons. I'm not really sure if I would call the Divine Beasts traditional dungeons.

Other than that, I'm not sure how this can't be considered a Zelda game.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

I was hearing a lot of complaints on release day that the game somehow runs better when not docked than it does when docked.

I know that there has been a patch which fixed some of this, but how the f*ck does this technical disparity happen in the first place?

I have the impression that playing the game when docked and when it is not was not even tested using the end-customer build of the Switch - and this despite all that promo about playing the game at home and on the go.

Avatar image for contrapotatoes
contrapotatoes

@Gelugon_baat: Technical disparity happens because docked, the Switch renders at a higher resolution, thus slightly decreased performance.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@contrapotatoes: That's an understandable cause in the performance dip, but that also means that the developers had not accounted for performance at higher resolutions in the first place.

Avatar image for lithus
lithus

Nintendo always seems to get a free pass and pity points. The Switch is another gimmick trainwreck with zero 3rd party software support on underpowered hardware. Zelda is great you say? That's awesome...too bad it's almost literally the only game worth getting. And even that looks like a washed out GameCube title.

Avatar image for Frozzik
Frozzik

@lithus: 2 years on I bet you feel very very silly.

Avatar image for wookietim
wookietim

@lithus: "with zero 3rd party software support" - The Launch titles include Ubisofts "Just Dance" and Skylanders. Lego City Undercover and Snake pass just came out... While you can argue none of those games are things that are in your wheelhouse of interests, it does expose that statement of yours as somewhat incorrect.

Avatar image for Nikodominiko
Nikodominiko

@lithus: I dare you to find another open world as vast as this one, and as full of things to do as this one, I'll wait.

Avatar image for Redsyrup
Redsyrup

@Nikodominiko: Ugh WWH, Skyrim, MGSV, Fallout. There's a lot of competition in the open world genre. IMHO BotW is over rated. There's not enough story/dialog in comparison to its piers. If you have a vast world it needs to be stocked with lots of story and dialog. It also has gameplay issues. Combat isn't as fast or satisfying as what's found in other titles. Weapon durability is too central to gameplay. Dungeon design is an echo of its former self. The game design seems to loose for me with not enough focus.

Avatar image for seriousbeezneez
SeriousBeezneez

@Redsyrup: Dude, seriously...in 2017 the combat for Zelda games should be top-notch, and its not. I felt like I was going to battle with a fat guy. Luckily i have time to get a refund.

Avatar image for Nikodominiko
Nikodominiko

@Redsyrup: Sorry mate, bad examples, all those games are almost linear, have map limitations, invisible walls and are mission system based on your level. If you think BoTW is overrated you should at least play it first.

Avatar image for seriousbeezneez
SeriousBeezneez

@Nikodominiko: Ive played 40+ hours and I'm totally bored with it. Skyrim was amazing, this is ok at best. I give it a 6 for effort.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Nikodominiko: @Redsyrup:

Indeed, bad examples. I would say that Bethesda's open-worlders are the ones which are overrated.

Avatar image for Redsyrup
Redsyrup

@Nikodominiko: I bought it day one Bro. I'm glad you many others are liking it but there's a large percentage fans that don't feel the same way. The direction of the series will really be determined by its Japanese audience. I'd think many in Japan haven't experienced WWH or Fallout but they've probably played MGSV. We'll see how it pans out.

Avatar image for lithus
lithus

Nintendo always seems to get a free pass and pity points. The Switch is another gimmick trainwreck with zero 3rd party software support on underpowered hardware. Zelda is great you say? That's awesome...too bad it's almost literally the only game worth getting. And even that looks like a washed out GameCube title.

Avatar image for seriousbeezneez
SeriousBeezneez

@lithus: Youre officially my homie. These super Zelda fans need to start admitting that Nintendo can screw up, and has consistently done so for almost a decade. These reviewers somehow keep giving these ok games super high scores to keep the big bucks coming in though.

Avatar image for jdkillustration
JDKillustration

Ughh I'm dying to start playing this but idk if I can wait another 1-2 months until I can find a Switch. I really want to play it on the Switch to have the best experience with it visually, but if I end up getting it on the Wii then I probably won't have any reason to buy a Switch until at least the end of the year...maybe even longer.

Avatar image for Spartan-1657
Spartan-1657

@jdkillustration: I dusted off my Wii U to play this game. Well worth it. Still incredible in every way. Only thing I can say that's bad about it, is that in some towns where there's more going on, there's severely noticeable frame drops. Especially when spinning the camera around. But it's not bad enough to really make a difference. It also doesn't last that long either.

I say go for it now. Save yourself some money on the Switch. Unless you really have your heart set on getting the Switch (it doesn't interest me so I had no issue getting it on Wii U), there's no reason you should make yourself wait any longer lol.

Avatar image for jdkillustration
JDKillustration

@jdkillustration: Actually I think I answered my question. If I get the Switch it's just going to be a paperweight for probably the next year after a few weeks of fun with Zelda. So I think I'm just going to put that $400 I'll save on the Switch and accessories towards a GTX 1080 Ti.

Avatar image for fkguy300
fkguy300

@jdkillustration: you made the right choice man.... my 12 neighbour has already shelved her N Switch after just a couple weeks. Now she has to wait at least a half year for Nintendos Super Mario Odyssey.

Avatar image for fxzero
fxzero

Every gamer whining about this game getting a 10.... Try any other argument other than: "If this game wasn't called Zelda and wasn't developed by Nintendo..."

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild More Info

Follow
  • First Released Mar 3, 2017
    released
    • Nintendo Switch
    • Wii U
    The Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo Wii U is embracing an open-world design and will be returning to the series' roots.
    8.5
    Average Rating553 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
    Developed by:
    Nintendo
    Published by:
    Nintendo
    Genre(s):
    Adventure, Action
    Theme(s):
    Fantasy
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol