Years after this game's release, it has progressively become more and more controversial, with more people revealing that they never were to fond of this game. While I am not one of the many people who consider this to be one of the best games of all time, I still find it to be rather incredible, if flawed. In this review, I, Brighton Nelson, will discuss the pros and the cons of this revered Zelda title in many different categories. Now, without further ado, RPG Ranked presents... The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review: A flawed masterpiece.
Battle System - 6
The battle system here should be groundbreaking and the best in the series because, at first glance, it is delightfully gratifying. The backflipping, parrying, flurry rushing, different types of weapons, charged attacks... the ideas here are all so fun! The problem? There are barely any engaging enemies or bosses in this game! Ultimately, this battle system is fun, but with only a few types of enemies? I can't say I had all that much fun battling in Breath of the Wild. Compare this to Tears of the Kingdom? The combat here is almost embarrassing. And compare the not-so-inspired boss fights to other games in the series? Breath of the Wild feels incredibly stale.
Story - 4
The worst part about this game and Tears of the Kingdom is their non-linear storytelling methods, which aren't very compelling. While the storytelling on the Great Plateau is a little effective, everything else you do is just about defeating Ganon...with such an open world, nothing can be told in a coherent order that conveys a genuinely intriguing story. This story, while beautifully expressed graphically, simply isn't gripping enough to warrant any investment from me. And, in the end, I don't have much to say about this story—I don't think it was worthy enough to be worth any more discussion in this review.
Music - 10
Don't worry; from here on out, I'll mostly sing this game's praises. Speaking of singing, this song has some very... singable... music? Yeah, that wasn't gonna go anywhere now, was it? Anyway, anti-jokes aside, this game handles its music prestigously. It uses small doses of music to enhance exploration, adding an indescribable flair to each moment of the game. While I initially disliked the atmospheric music (or lack thereof), I grew to adore the genius behind this soundtrack. The music adds so much flavor to the world, and the smallest of music cues become so memorable once you get into the meat of this journey. However, while most of the game's music is about establishing the atmosphere, the Divine Beast and Guardian themes are still so memorable and themes I will always continue to gush about until the day I die. The Ruta and Medoh themes are some of my favorite video game tracks of all time, and I occasionally pull up an hour-long extended version to jam out to these tunes for a bit. While I wouldn't say this is the definitive best music in the series, it is my favorite because it just adds so much to building an unforgettable atmosphere. While I didn't used to care about atmosphere all that much, one of my best friends opened my eyes to how great the atmosphere is in this game and its sequel, and I will forever be grateful to her for that because, quite honestly, this music has been elevated to god-tier status for that.
Art & Graphics - 9
I could see this being a 10 with access to better hardware, but as-is, this is still a beautiful game. While I'm not gushing about Link's luscious locks, the not-so-subtle yellows and reds of the Akkala trees, and the splashing animations of the water in this game (you guessed it, that's the duty of said friend), I still think this is a stunning game. The environments look fantastic, the effects are beautiful, and, let's be honest, Nintendo making Link hot probably doubled the sales. I have some girl friends (with a space, please don't hunt me down) who bought this game just for Link... just saying (said friend only bought Age of Calamity for Link, it's that big of a phenomenon). Ultimately, this game looks great, but it isn't precisely reaching the beauty of Persona 5 or Paper Mario: The Origami King.
Characters - 9
This game had some terrific characters! When it comes down to it, while the memories made for a disjointed story, it also made for some beautiful character development. Namely, the champions and the Old Man were so captivating for how little they contributed to the overall runtime of the game, and seeing their impact on the thin plot made this game feel so grandiose. My favorite character here was Mipha, whose love for Link is so beautiful... I gotta find myself someone like her someday. Maybe a little less digital, but, you know, nuanced love is one of the most beautiful things in the world. Seeing her love for LInk but knowing she had to die was incredibly tragic and bittersweet, and she's such a fantastic character. However, all the others are also fantastic! And let's not forget Sidon, a hot-as-Death-Mountain (yet simultaneously cool-as-Zora's-Domain) fish man who can make even a human girl (I'm sure you can guess who I'm referring to by now) swoon. The characters in this game almost make up for how weak the story is; for that, this deserves a 9 out of 10.
Abilities - 10
Link's arsenal in this game is fantastic! From being able to freeze time, create ice out of water, use Magnesis to manipulate metal objects, spawn bombs out of mid-air, use the Camera to collect information and solve puzzles, and best of all, the Master Cycle Zero, my favorite ability in the series. I'm not even remotely a fan of stunt-focused games, but I've gotta admit that exploring the world on a motorcycle is one of the most extraordinary things in gaming. I had more fun on this thing than anything I built in Tears of the Kingdom, and, quite frankly, that's saying something—an absolute testament to how fun this is. Yet again, I must bring up my friend... who doesn't like the Master Cycle Zero because the noise it makes is too futuristic. I guess it's fair, but the other Divine Beasts don't sound very ancient either, so let's agree to disagree on this one. But I digress. My other favorite is Stasis, which allowed for some of the most wacky physics ever and gave me so much satisfaction that was definitely missed in Tears of the Kingdom. Overall, the abilities in this game are fantastic and are part of why I like this game better than TOTK.
Sidequests - 10
With so many shrines and shrine quests, the two fantastic DLC packs (The Master Trials and The Champion's Ballad), rebuilding Tarrey Town, buying a house, upgrading armor with the Great Faries, collecting Korok Seeds, and more, this game had so much content outside of its main story that these sidequests surpassed the story content... and then some! Without these fantastic sidequests, this game would be so much worse and wouldn't be nearly as revered as it is today. This game has some of the best side content in any game I've played, and for that, this easily deserves a score of 10 out of 10.
Locations - 10
This game has one of the biggest, best, and most beautiful worlds ever put in a video game. While the dungeons aren't nearly as good as other Legend of Zelda games, this world is gorgeous and fleshed out. The atmosphere is fantastic, as aforementioned, the towns are beautiful, the Divine Beasts are incredibly intriguing (even if not too well-designed), the shrines are impressive... this world and these locations were life-changing in the gaming scheme! There's a reason this is one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time, and this category may be this game's biggest strength. While this game is not perfect because of its combat and story, the world in this game is something that, quite honestly, may never be beaten. I have yet to play Elden Ring, Skyrim, Red Dead Redemption, Horizon Zero Dawn, or whatever games have fantastic worlds, but this world transcends what a video game world can display.
Quality of Life - 9
Weapon durability, stamina, and rain could be frustrating at times, but in the end, this game is very well-polished. Yes, I love the insane physics engine that adds to the charm of this game, and I will die on that hill. Really, I'd give this a score of 10 if it weren't for how frustrating the rain could be at times... I didn't find weapon durability and stamina all that frustrating; it fits the game's vibe and makes things more dynamic and realistic. As a whole, this game didn't have all that many quality-of-life issues, so let's move on to the verdict.
Fun Factor: 9
Overall Score: 86%
Letter Rating: S
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is regarded as one of the best games of all time, and while I wouldn't exactly agree, I still think it is a phenomenal game and pretty close to being a masterpiece. While its story, dungeons, and boss fights were severely lacking, the world and atmosphere it built through its music and locales are unrivaled by almost any game I've ever seen. This isn't my favorite Zelda game (I'm more of a 2D Zelda type of guy), and it isn't really a traditional experience that I came to expect from the series, but it still is incredible. As someone who typically likes more streamlined, linear gaming experiences, Breath of the Wild made me fall in love with more open-ended games, and that is something that I don't think any other game could have done. I highly recommend this game to anyone, Zelda fan or not, open-world fan or not, gaming fan or not—you will find a lot of joy in this game! Just make sure you set aside a couple hundred hours to complete it...
Want to enjoy one of the most critically-acclaimed games of all time? Check it out in one of the links below to help out our website! Most people like the Nintendo Switch version better, but if you have a Wii U, that is also a great version... it runs better and has better graphics! However, the Switch version is portable and much higher regarded. Either way, it'll be a fantastic experience!
Primary Version: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U)