Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review — Read Before You Buy

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild Review
Gorgeous graphics, exceptional story, almost endless exploration. Almost.

Breath of the Wild has been out for over a year now and has largely received positive praise. I was unable to play the game when it first launched, which was probably a blessing for my circadian rhythm. I avoided reviews and spoilers like the plague and waited until I had a few days off to dive into the game, which I am glad I did. The game is incredibly immersive and one of the only Zelda titles I replayed immediately after finishing it the first time.  I will say that I am a longtime fan of the Zelda series and that I have found something to love about almost every game. Despite that, this will be my fair and unbiased review.

About Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild was released by Nintendo on March 3 of 2017 for both the Wii U and the Switch. The game had been in production for several years and experienced several delays. The developers stated that they would rather wait and produce a finished product than release something that wasn’t polished. Fans forgot about the long wait once they got their hands on it, and the game sold 230,000 copies in its first week. The game received predominantly positive reviews, and by June it had sold a total of 10.82 million copies, which earned the game its place as the top selling Zelda title.

Breath of the Wild – Story

The Return of Calamity Ganon: Breath of the Wild’s story places heavy focus on the princess’ insecurities.

Breath of the Wild is both the most recent entry in the Zelda franchise and the latest entry in the timeline. The Zelda timeline has been heavily debated and is too complicated for me to detail in this review. The main thing that needs to be remembered is that it is placed farther in the future than the other titles in the series. The game focuses on the events happening 100 years after the return of Ganon, the series’ long-standing main villain.

The central goal of the series is rescuing the eponymous princess from the ruined Hyrule Castle. The player travels to the homes of the Gorons, Zoras, Ritos, and Gerudos to take back control of the divine beasts, which are ancient, mechanized, animal-shaped weapons, from Ganon.

Doing so frees the spirits trapped within them and allows them to assist Link in his quest to destroy Ganon. This entry in the series isn’t as story-driven as past titles due to the open-world nature of the game. The story is mainly delivered through flashback cutscenes, which some gamers found lacking.

Breath of the Wild – Gameplay

Exploration is a major part of gameplay

There are no menus as far as character creation or selection goes in Breath of the Wild. In fact, there isn’t even a title screen. As soon as you start a game file, you are met with a mysterious voice and a ray of light. You get a little direction in order for you to get the Sheikah Slate, the main gameplay device, and then you’re on your own.

The voice does offer some guidance and the camera offers some subtle clues, but you are free to choose what to do next. You can pick up a stick and try to kill some enemies or climb pretty much any surface in the game (as long as you don’t run into rain, the true mortal enemy of Breath of the Wild players). If you choose to follow the game’s main plot line, you will start going through shrines to get runes for the Sheikah Slate which allow you to solve puzzles throughout the game. You can run around in the starting area as long as you like, but you do have to complete the initial quests to leave.

Once you are off the starting plateau, you can explore as you like. In fact, one of my favorite things about the game is its variety. There is no “right” way to do anything in the game. As far as plot goes, the game’s main goal is to help Princess Zelda defeat Ganon. That’s nothing new for the Zelda series. You learn about the princess and the four champions through a series of flashback cutscenes. There are other NPCs of varying races as well. Many of the characters are charming and funny.

There are difficult enemies to fight, and a large number of side quests to complete. One complaint I have seen repeatedly about Breath of the Wild, and one that I share myself, is the difficulty of the final boss. It borders on easy if you have rescued all four champions. After logging more hours than I care to admit, I will say you can run out of things to do.

There are several areas that are empty of anything other than scattered collectibles. The music is also lacking in memorability compared to previous titles in the game, though I will say the piano notes that come with an approaching Guardian have caused me to come running back to my Switch shouting expletives in order to save myself from being laser beamed to death. Speaking of death, you will die a lot.

This game is one of the most difficult entries in the Zelda series, and I believe the most difficult of the 3D Zelda games.

Breath of the Wild – Combat

At the start, you have no armor or weapons. As soon as you leave the starting area, The Cave of Resurrection, you have the Sheikah Slate and some threadbare clothing. After beating the game’s first four shrines, your Sheikah Slate will be equipped with runes that give you the ability to form ice blocks, move metal objects, use bombs, and briefly stop time.

As you play, you can pick up weapons, bows, and shields for use in combat. Your first weapons will likely be tree branches and rusty swords, but as you progress you will find more powerful items. There are single-hand weapons, two-handed swords, spears, and even some odd entries such as soup ladles and mops.

Shields range from pot lids to the long-standing Hylian shield. Bows have less variety, though you can find bows that fire multiple arrows. Inventory space is limited but can be expanded through an NPC. Until you get used to combat, you will probably die a lot. You are weak in the early stages of the game and will not have access to better quality gear.

As you find and beat shrines, you will be able to gain more heart containers (health) and stamina (used for running and climbing). The more health and stamina you get, the farther you can travel and the better gear you can find. If you’re impatient, you can temporarily enhance your stamina and health by cooking dishes with the correct ingredients, such as Hearty Durians or Endura Carrots. The temporary boosts are consumed upon use, but they can be lifesavers.

Overall, the combat system works well. You can lock on to one enemy in order to keep track of them. Locking on also gives you more ways to maneuver and dodge. The biggest pitfall of the combat system is weapon durability. All of the weapons, save one, can break on you at any time. There’s nothing worse than fighting a tough enemy and suddenly finding yourself with nothing but a torch and a pot lid.

Breath of the Wild – Quests and Missions

This game has a laundry list of quests. They are divided into three categories: main quests, side quests, and shrine quests. Main quests have to do with finding lost memories, meeting plot central characters, the game’s four dungeons, and your ultimate goal of defeating Ganon and saving the princess. Side quests are varied and can involve anything from taking a picture of a specific monster to rescuing a girl’s sheep. Shrine quests give you hints on where to find the more well-hidden shrines. The quest system works well, and there are enough to keep players busy. I will give a few examples of my favorite quests:

Hylian Homeowner/From the Ground Up – Probably the most involved side quest in the game. Involves buying a house and then helping to build and populate a town.

Eventide Island – Shipwreck Simulator -You lose all your equipment (temporarily) and have to find and place three shrine orbs using only what you find on the island.

A Royal Recipe – Exploring the castle ruins to find a recipe for cake.


Breath of the Wild – Graphics

The game features lovely cel-shaded graphics.

Nintendo gets a lot of criticism over graphics. The Switch is not graphically on par with its contemporaries. That being said, Breath of the Wild is still a beautiful game.  The game is cel-shaded like many of the past series entries, but with more realism than that of games such as Wind Waker. In my opinion, the graphics have a bit of a watercolor feel.

When playing in handheld mode, the Switch version runs the same as its Wii U counterpart. When docked to a TV, the Switch version does have better graphics. The game only suffers graphically in heavily wooded areas and may lag for short periods of time when switching between areas, but those are the worst graphical issues I have experienced.

The art style is well-suited to the game, and there have been several instances I have paused just to look at the scenery. Check out Lurelin village in the far southeast corner of the map for some of the best views in the game.

Breath of the Wild – Developer

The game was developed by Nintendo and took five years of development. It was originally going to be released on the Wii U in 2015, but its release was delayed until 2017 in order to polish and perfect the game.  After the criticism garnered by Skyward Sword in 2011, developers wanted to take their time to make sure the game was ready.

Since it was delayed, it was also released for the Nintendo Switch. The game has relatively few bugs and runs well.  Nintendo does make an effort to listen to its fans, which is evident in the fact Breath of the Wild took a step away from the linear nature of recent games in the series and went with a more open world approach. Since the game’s release, there have been two DLC packs. Both are currently available.

Breath of the Wild – Price

The base game costs $59.99 new. The two DLC packs are available as a bundle for $19.99. The first pack contains new quests and armor. The second provides a new quest line that can be completed after most of the main game’s quest line and  provides background stories for the four champions. Other than the $19.99 DLC pack, there are no other purchases to be made after you buy the initial game. So, the full experience of the game will cost you $79.98.

Final Verdict

Breath of the Wild was 2017’s game of the year. It is a wonderful game; I have replayed it from the start four times, and I am still finding new things I haven’t previously noticed. That being said, I don’t give it a perfect ten. There are things that I wish were included that weren’t.

I wish there had been post game content as the ending didn’t bring me the satisfaction I hoped for, and the music was pretty, but not memorable. Overall, I would give it a 9 or 9.5 out of 10. It’s an amazing game, but not perfect.


  • Huge Map
  • Open world exploration
  • Beautiful art style


  • Lack of post-game content
  • Empty areas in overworld
  • Lackluster music

You may also be interested in:

  • Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Guide
  • Why Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is my game of the year
  • It's the Perfect Time to Return to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Breath Of The Wild Gets Its First Custom Dungeon
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Overview
I'm all about the classics! The epic Legend of Zelda and Soul Calibur sagas are my absolute favorites, followed closely by the Kingdom Hearts series.
Gamer Since: 2005
Favorite Genre: PVP
Currently Playing: Soul Calibur III - V
Top 3 Favorite Games:Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, ,