Whether or not The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is any good is almost irrelevant. Longtime Nintendo fans will eat it up anyway. I don’t even blame them; I’ll buy the next Dragon Age title sight unseen. But Breath of the Wild feels different, with parts of its design and marketing aping the likes of everything from Final Fantasy to Assassin’s Creed. In a way, it feels new and old for Nintendo at the same time.
While at PAX South 2017 in San Antonio last weekend, I got a chance to check out the latest and greatest Zelda title on the Nintendo Switch. It was my first foray with both the hardware and software, having missed the special demos in New York City. There’s a media hour before the convention officially starts on Friday (a common theme at PAX events) where I literally stood in line for the entire time, all for the sake of content.
Once I actually laid eyes on the game, I was struck by how lovely it was to actually see in person. The trailers are a good representation, sure, but actually being able to move Link around in that bright, colorful world is a whole different experience. Every little thing is so vibrant that it almost hurt my eyes.
I only managed a little over 20 minutes with the game — that’s how long each demo was on the floor — but I ran about as much as I could. It’s not like it was long enough to really understand what was going on, but I did manage to wake up, gather my wits long enough to escape wherever it was Link was sleeping, and frolic in the beautiful meadows above the starting area.
And you know what sticks with me? It’s not the little Switch-looking device Link picks up, it’s not the old man NPC directly outside or the Temple of Time-looking derelict building immediately in front of where Link comes out of his cave. What sticks with me is the fact that you can pick up an ax and then cut down trees. Seemingly any old tree will fall over with a couple of whacks.
The second thing I most vividly remember is this: While running around fighting goblin-looking critters, their comrades with bows would fire at me from a distance. I didn’t think much of it at first, dodging whenever possible and generally just grumbling about how much of a nuisance they were. But then I noticed a little prompt that I could interact with. Each arrow they fired was sticking in the ground, and I could retrieve them to then fire back with my own bow. (Also, I died here, and the dude in charge of monitoring my little demo station laughed at me.)
Ultimately, I didn’t get very far, it’s not like I have pertinent answers for anyone’s questions. I did, however, get just enough of a taste to want more. I ran around, I climbed some stuff, and I died once. And I can’t wait to play more. Maybe there’s more things I can chop down.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is scheduled to release for the Nintendo Switch and Wii U on March 3 for $59.99.