It was finally time to try out Breath of the Wild. Me, TRIFORCE89, life-long obsessive Zelda fan finally being able to experience this hotly anticipated long-awaiting epic entry in the series. So what did I think?
…it was alright.
Nothing against the game. I have a lot of good to say about it from the little I played. It just wasn’t a very good demo. It is a 20min-timed demo of a game that begs the player to explore its every secret. This is not a combination that goes well together. Even with the option to skip most of the cutscenes, the bits you can’t skip still eat up time.
Moreover, the point of the game was not to play Zelda so much as it was to try out the Switch hardware. Part way through the demo we were instructed to switch from TV Mode to Handheld Mode. Admittedly, it is mightily cool. But, I wanted to play some Zelda, and I hit the demo time limit just as I entered my first dungeon.
But the game is nice. It is breathtaking, for a Nintendo game anyway – perhaps one of he most visually stunning and graphically demanding titles Nintendo has ever released. It feels like the showpiece for the Switch, despite being an enhanced port of a Wii U title. Much like Twilight Princess was, it should serve as a major draw to the hardware for gamers.
Within minutes of starting the game (or at least the demo), I was presented with a surprisingly lush, open world. The grass rustles in the wind, enemies camp in the distance, time passes, people move. Like a river’s flow, it never ends. The clear water’s surface reflects growth. You can see something way in the distance and then just set off in that direction and eventually make your way there.
The game is fairly dynamic for a Nintendo title. I encountered some Bokoblins partway through the demo. I snuck up on them while crouching and attacked one with an axe I retrieved earlier (yeah, I found an axe before I got a sword. What of it?). Another retaliated by firing arrows at me. I went after it next and stole the bow and quiver it dropped when felled. I then wandered the meadow picking up the arrows he shot at me, while dodging more incoming arrows from elsewhere. As they missed me, I could pick them up and add them to my tally. After picking up a couple of handfuls, it was time to finish off this Bokoblin encampment and get some headshots from a distance.
The equipment menu and general interface is also very western-oriented and clean.
Link is also more nimble now. Besides crouching, I can also climb, run up things, and even…jump! It plays like a refined version of what Skyward Sword was going for with the stamina meter (which still exists here), but with a less clunky feeling.
I played the bulk of this demo on a TV with the Joy-Cons in their Grip controller configuration. It was incredibly lightweight and surprisingly comfortable. I think the thing looks super weird, but it works pretty well. No real complaints.
Towards the end of the demo, I slid the Joy-Cons out of the Grip and onto the Switch tablet. I did not do this as coolly as everyone in the trailers did. There is a release trigger to press to unlock the Joy-Cons from whatever they are currently attached. After that, I also couldn’t really slide them out in one swift motion, never mind trying to attach them to the screen with that satisfying snap sound. I fumbled a bit…a lot.
Once attached, I lifted the Switch out of the dock and, boom: the game was instantly and seamlessly there in my hands. No pause, no wait, no delay. And, dare I say, it looked even better than on the TV. The smaller screen, while still HD, masks some of the shoddier texture-work you may encounter on the TV (I scaled one mighty blurry mountain). The screen is crisp and sharp – the Wii U Gamepad’s attempt is blurry in comparison. Switching from the handheld back to the TV did have a couple seconds delay though.
Be it the Grip or the tablet, while the Switch’s buttons are small, I never had to look down to confirm a button’s position. The assembled tablet itself carries a satisfying weight. Heavier than the Grip controller (and much heavier than an iPad), but still comfortable.