Many games are good. Some are great. And others, those rare few that are conceived by a unique vision and crafted with meticulous, dedicated precision, become known as masterpieces. But even these pinnacles of near-perfection fall short in their execution. It isn’t possible to create a perfect game, and that is okay. For the sake of fun, however, I thought I’d tear into some of these well-known behemoths for all of their chips and cracks. And we’re starting with the game that made me consider this idea in the first place: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Let’s start with perhaps the most frequently vocalized complaint in this ambitious game: the fragility of weapons. Every stick, sword, and spear has a predetermined number of uses that it will endure until at last, under the straining duress of cutting through yet another unlucky foe, the blade snaps and the weapon is gone forever. I actually don’t dislike this feature on a base level: I believe it amplifies the survival aspects present in the game and gives it a distinct flavor that separates Breath of the Wild from other open-world titles. What upsets me is that even high-level weapons, including the Master Sword, are subject to this ruling. Why is the Blade of Evil’s Bane snapping against even 100 Bokoblins? It contains the power to snuff out the Demon King! The Zelda series’ main weapon should have been excluded from the degradation system. Another improvement would have been increasing the durability of weapons and implementing a smithing system, so that players who have had their heart set on a Great Flameblade aren’t forced to part ways with it because a Keese flew down took up the last swing. Providing the opportunity to hold onto your favorite weapons is a much-needed addition to the formula that Nintendo should keep in mind as they undoubtedly begin planning for their next Zelda title.
Swimming Drains Stamina
Moving on to some basic physics here (and in a game where natural laws are dynamic in how they affect each other, nonetheless)…why does swimming eat up stamina?! Human beings are naturally buoyant: simply floating in a small pond doesn’t require significant strain or effort, nor does paddling forward. Stamina bars should be utilized solely for those in-game activities that would tire a human out very quickly, like sprinting, climbing a wall, or utilizing heavy attacks like greatsword spins. It would be one thing if players were able to traverse underwater while adhering to a timed air meter. That makes sense. But limiting someone’s traversal ability in water by having it drain the stamina meter isn’t effective: it’s annoying, especially considering that the Zora Armor encourages players to explore aquatically yet the incentive is removed immediately upon jumping into the water. Perhaps the developers intended this function to funnel players into using rafts, but the issue is that they would still be more efficient than swimming due to their superior speed! It boggles my mind as to why the swimming function was left in such a poor state.
As magical as my time with Breath of the Wild has been, the shining moments often stem from unique, random events during marathons of free exploration. A lone, dancing Bokoblin in his hut. Thrown weaponry that attracts lightning to hit an enemy. Gliding through the skies and colliding with the fiery elegance of Dinraal’s face. None of these incidents stem from the forgettable side quests that Breath of the Wild piles you down with. Most of these so-called “missions” seem lifted right out of video game antiquity: talk to a character, bring them a certain amount of a particular item, get the reward, rinse, repeat. There is no creativity. I’m not trying to hate on every quest ever that involves collecting items for NPCs, but the errands in Breath of the Wild feel more like monotonous chores than adventurous undertakings meant to expand your time spent in the game world. I’ve slowly been chipping away on my second playthrough of this game and I find myself caring less and less about completing quests the further I progress.
Speaking of not caring about things, I’ve never seen a cast quite like Breath of the Wild’s in that it is diverse in its makeup, yet simultaneously bores me to tears with blandness. Let’s start with the Champions: you have the shy one, the snarky one, the upbeat one, the badass one, and the silent one. That’s it. And, spoiler alert, THEY’RE ALL DEAD. You only even get to know these characters through minute flashbacks, where they serve their only purpose of being a walking stereotype. Their current-day counterparts aren’t much better. The only character that truly held my interest was Zelda, who struggles continually with self-doubt regarding her strategy to save Hyrule from Ganon, as well as the subsequent failure which nearly breaks her spirit. Even the Demon King himself is reduced to nothing more than a scary rage monster. While he is truly terrifying to behold, I would have enjoyed some kind of social interaction between Link and his timeless foe to add some depth to his century-long imprisonment in Hyrule Castle.
Ridiculous Korok Hunting
I want to clarify this right away: I love the concept of tracking down these forest spirits and solving their puzzles to unlock long-term rewards. What I don’t enjoy is the sheer magnitude that you are required to find to truly “complete” the game. 900 Koroks? Seriously?! That kind of goal is only feasible with an online map or by driving yourself batty with hours upon hours of aimless searching. Luckily, though, your strained efforts are not in vain! Once this task is finished, you are rewarded with the holy grail of treasures! A prize that tops all others! A priceless relic to cherish for the remainder of your time in the gam- okay, I’m lying. It’s poop. You get a golden Korok turd. Screw you, Nintendo.
It might not be a lengthy list, but these are some areas of concern that I really hope Nintendo addresses before diving into another Zelda adventure. Just because a formula works well doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement. Do you have any great games that you feel could’ve been better by adapting some of its features? Let me know below! As always, friends, game on!