Platform(s): Wii U, Switch
Our 50 best games of the year countdown isn’t in any order, we’re just going through fifty of the finest the year has given us. Find out more here.
Even in a year this stacked with must-play games, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has quickly earned a reputation for itself as one of the greatest games Nintendo has ever crafted. As the last game most people will play on the Wii U, and the first game most people will play on the Switch, Breath of the Wild’s place in history is more or less secure, but it’s worth noting again what makes this game so special.
First, and most importantly, is the awe-inspiring sense of freedom that is offered by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a freedom that hearkens all the way back to the very first Legend of Zelda title. The ability that this game offers to truly go almost anywhere in the game right from the outset is certainly its biggest boon, and leaves players with an endless sense of wonder and discovery as they explore the seemingly infinite world of Hyrule as never before.
Of course size and scope alone cannot a memorable open world make, which is why the sheer level of detail on display in this version of Hyrule is one of its greatest strengths. As animals scamper about through piles of fallen leaves, herds of horses gallop majestically past you, and scores of ancient ruins surround you, Breath of the Wild feels alive in a way that few other games can manage.
So, what else sets this entry in the venerable Legend of Zelda series apart from its predecessors? Well, the next natural thing to explore is the intense level of difficulty that Breath of the Wild boasts. In a franchise that has never been particularly known for its challenge, players will be shocked to find how frequently a pack of moblins or an errant cyclops will leave them in a smoking pile of ruin on the ground. Sure, it might feel a bit cliche to trot out the old Dark Souls comparison in this day and age, but how else to explain the sudden and sharp focus on keeping players on their toes than from the industry-wide influence of From Software’s Souls series?
Seriously though, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of change-ups that Breath of the Wild brings to the table. The latest, and perhaps greatest, entry in the Zelda franchise also offers a full on cooking system, the ability to hunt and forage for food, a full wardrobe of armor and clothes to outfit your hero with, an epic collection of breakable weapons, 120 optional challenge dungeons, and more side quests than any reasonable person will know what to do with.
If you still haven’t played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, then you absolutely do not know what you are missing with this epic, post-apocalyptic time sink of a game.Just make sure you’ve cleared your schedule though, because once you dive into this world, it’s gonna be a good, long while before you’re ready to come back out.