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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Brave New Massive Open Zelda World or, Yet Another Fan's BOTW Experience

Well this is long overdue. I meant to have this up in March but well, have you tried pulling yourself away from this game? It is no easy task.

I think I'm having the same problem my buddy over at Cross Up is in choosing titles for these posts. In truth, I haven't been exactly sure what to name my previous editorials. Do I go for the to the point titles or something more elegant? I tell ya, it is always an easy call. At the end of the day, this is one of the hundreds of posts about a game that has taken the industry by storm, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

My first few hours with this game started off the way, I imagine a lot of other player's did.

Already? But I just started!
By no means am I the world's best gamer but I'm not used to seeing the game over screen in any game so frequently, specifically in Zelda games. The last times those two words appeared on my TV screen in a Zelda game so often is when I was trying to complete the original Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. The later often is loathed for being a massive departure from the original and it's high difficulty while the former is praised to high heaven but I think a lot of gamers forget that the first Zelda game was no cake walk.

They say that there is no great teacher than the one called life. It is a harsh teacher and it does not play favorites. Life in BOTW is also a tough teacher, especially in the early stages of the game. And when you get more gear, more stamina and hearts, you get confident to take on other tasks. But just when you start thinking you're all that and a bag of chips. BOTW shows you what's up. In this game you don't live and learn.  You die and learn.

The many deaths that befell me in BOTW was a learning experience. I learned that blue Bokoblins not only had more health than their brown cousins, but were packing much more harder hitting clubs, enough to one shot me. I wanted the club one was carrying and he was hiding out in one of those skull caves. After many failed rush in and attack methods, I knew I had to go about things differently since I did not have the hearts or strong enough weapons to take on so many foes at once. This situation caused for some stealth. Instead of letting the goon on lookout keep summoning his buddies, I got close to him and when he was looking elsewhere, pumped some arrows into him. I drew the rest of the gang out of the cave with bombs, spacing them out, giving myself more room to move. After a different approach, I was the proud owner of a spiked club.

One of the shrines on the Great Plateau was located in a very cold area. There's actually a piece of clothing, the Warm Doublet, that you can get to help make this area a lot easier to travel. I found this out days after I trekked through the cold and completed the shrine. I hadn't even started cooking yet so I had no means of eating food with anti-cold affects. So how did I get through this cold climate? Well did have several bundles of wood on me and some Fire Arrows so I set up a few fires to keep warm and then sprinted off between them, eating food to regain health when needed. The enemy camps I came across had fires so I also used those to keep warm.

What I love so much about BOTW is that there are multiple ways to approach things. More often than not there is more than one solution to reaching your destination or taking out a camp of enemies. I've seen videos on YouTube where other players arrived at the cold shrine on the Great Plateau by taking a completely different path from the one I took. BOTW does not favor one player's style over the other, rather it is fair to both.

I didn't actually really keep up with BOTW over the years leading up to it's release. As a result, I came in to much of the game blind. I had no idea Hyrule had been destroyed and that the game takes place 100 years after said destruction, meaning Ganon scored a major W. Yes, there is an interesting plot to BOTW, but it for me, a lot of it took a back seat to exploring. Never have I wanted to go off and see what's out there in a game than I have in BOTW.

I love when video games reward me for my curiosity and BOTW always yields some sort of treasure for those that explore. Perhaps you'll find a cool weapon after raiding a Bokoblin camp? Maybe a sizable amount of rupees? There could be a Korok hiding behind that bombable wall. Because there was so much to find and so much to see, I didn't make story progression for weeks. No doubt some people miss the huge dungeons of past Zelda titles but I could honestly care less if I never set foot in one in BOTW and this is coming from a guy that loves the cleverness behind the puzzles in the Shrines and Divine Beasts.

When I look back on all the games I played in 2017, I'll be able to say that running around a vast world looking for treasure, gliding off mountaintops and wearing monster masks made for one of, if not the best games I played this year. I'm in no hurry to beat this game. Zelda has been waiting 100 years for Link to head to Hyrule Castle and defeat Ganon. A few more weeks or months won't kill her.

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