The first major game on Nintendo's new console is one of the best games I've played in years

The biggest video game company in the world, Nintendo, is on the verge of releasing a new video game console. It’s called the Nintendo Switch, and it arrives on March 3 for $US299.

The gimmick with the Switch is simple: It’s a portable game console and a home game console, all at once.

But a neat gimmick isn’t enough to sell a game console, and Nintendo knows it. For a console to sell, it needs games. To that end, Nintendo has an elfin ace up its sleeve in “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” 

The game is gorgeous, massive, and arriving alongside the Switch on March 3.

So, is it any good? Good news: It’s fantastic. I play a lot of games — it’s my job, even! — and “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” is one of the best games I’ve played in years. It’s hard to be too hyperbolic about what a tremendous game “Breath of the Wild” is. Here’s why.

WARNING: If you want nothing spoiled in 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,' this is not the review for you. There are minor spoilers below.

This is the main menu screen. It's pretty great for a menu screen!

The story of 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' is a story 10,000 years in the making. Link, the game's main character, wakes up in a tomb of sorts, where he's been sleeping for 100 years.

A voice speaks to Link from the darkness. Who could it be?

Much of the setup for 'Breath of the Wild' happened 100 years in the past. The game supposes that you (Link) and Princess Zelda -- the long-time heroine of the series -- failed in a major battle against long-time antagonist Ganon.

The image you see here is actually a flashback to 100 years before the events of 'Breath of the Wild.'

There's far more to the story than that, but it's much more exciting to discover on your own. Discovery is at the heart of everything in 'Breath of the Wild' -- it's a massive open world full of secrets waiting to be discovered.


Everything you see in this image is somewhere you can go. If you're so inclined, right after the intro portion of the game, you can head directly into the final mission: Defeat Ganon, who resides in Hyrule Castle.

The open-ness of 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' is reminiscent of the first 'Legend of Zelda' on the NES. There are even fewer limitations in 'Breath of the Wild.'

The size of the world is daunting, no doubt, but the regions are varied and there's so much to discover in each. I've climbed snow-covered mountains and sun-drenched deserts, each area distinct and fascinating.


And what I've found in those places is remarkable. This massive elephant-like creature is one of the first major story missions I took on, but it could very well be something you encounter late in the game. Because of the open-ended nature of 'Breath of the Wild,' each player's experience is totally unique.


The elephant was in the Gerudo Desert, a massive area with several towns and a handful of entirely unique game mechanics. For instance, there are these adorable 'sand seals' that transport Link around the sand at high-speed.

I assure you that's Link in the foreground, despite the lady's clothing. You'll have to find out why he's wearing that for yourself!

Like so:


Much of the most impressive stuff about 'Breath of the Wild' happens naturally while you're walking from place to place. There are massive creatures out in the open, insane lightning storms, and even a blood moon. All of which is to say one thing: Hyrule feels like a real world that you're exploring, from the food that you cook (for health and more) to the impact of bad weather.

What happens under the blood moon? You'll have to see for yourself!

There's a rhythm to the gameplay of 'Breath of the Wild' that I fell into quickly. While heading to my next objective, I'd encounter any number of enemies on the way. Fighting means two things: Potential death, which comes often, or a reward for defeating Link's foes.

The moblins are a standard enemy you'll encounter in 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.' Despite their silly faces, these guys are dangerous every single time.

During the fight, any number of things could happen. Your weapon could break (as they often do) -- so could your shield or your bow. If that happens, you'll need to swap in a new one quickly or snag one off the ground from a defeated enemy. In 'Breath of the Wild,' every fight is a new experience, often with an entirely new weapon.

You may have noticed that Link is holding different weapons on his back in nearly every image here. That's because you're constantly swapping main weapons as they degrade.

OF NOTE: 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' is genuinely difficult, and does not hold your hand. I found myself hard stuck at several instances, whether a puzzle stood in my way or a particularly tough enemy. I've died A LOT of times playing this game -- like, dozens of times. Prepare for a much more challenging Zelda game than you've played before.

In many ways, 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' shares more in common with the 'Dark Souls' franchise than previous Zelda entries.

Through challenge comes tremendous reward. Over and over, I've felt genuinely clever after conquering a tough puzzle or defeating a massive beast. Combine that with the overwhelming amount of unique, distinct content in 'Breath of the Wild' and you've got a formula for a game that repeatedly surprised and delighted me.


And there is so, so much I haven't even touched on. There are 'shrines' all over the massive world that act as one-off puzzles. These are some of the most clever and exciting puzzles in any Zelda game -- it's exactly the kind of thing that makes the series so endearing.

In one of the many shrines, I encountered this puzzle that puts the Switch's motion controls to work. This whole thing was built for a single section of a puzzle in a massive world. It's hard to undersell how impressive something like this is -- there are entire games built around this one-off concept that Nintendo built as an optional puzzle. That's an amazing and crazy thing to do.

In a nod to the 'Assassin's Creed' series, 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' has towers scattered throughout its world that must be climbed to reveal sections of map. There's a notable difference in implementation here, however, as the game doesn't fill out those sections with a bunch of stuff to do. You must explore! That's the whole focus of the game.

Climbing is a new mechanic in the series, and its inclusion means you can go pretty much anywhere. You're limited by your stamina meter, which can be seen above in yellow over Link's head.

There's a ton more I could say about the incredible 'Breath of the Wild,' but I honestly don't want to ruin the joy of discovery for you -- that's the point of the game, after all.

One heads up: Stay with it! Try not to be discouraged by death. When you think something is impossible, remind yourself that it isn't. It may not always seem as such, but everything in 'Breath of the Wild' is intentional. Nintendo cared for every pixel of this game, and it shows.

I say this unequivocally: 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' is an incredible game that you should play. Depending on who you are, it's entirely possible that it's worth buying a Nintendo Switch for this game alone. While I'm hard-pressed to suggest that myself, I wouldn't convince anyone out of that decision. It's gorgeous and original and almost guaranteed to be an instant-classic. Do yourself a favour and find a way to play 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.' You're in for a real treat.


Check out the launch trailer for 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' right here:

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