March 3 marks the one-year anniversary of the release of Nintendo’s latest console, the Nintendo Switch. The Switch has become the fastest selling video game console in US history. It sold 14.8 million units worldwide in 2017 alone.
The same-day release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was an important contributor to the console’s success. The game soon became my own personal favourite, and it was met with universal critical acclaim. Since its launch on the Switch and the Wii U in 2017, Breath of the Wild has sold over 6.7 million copies worldwide. It also currently holds 70 perfect scores on Metacritic, including from major publications such as IGN, GameSpot, Polygon, and Time.
I grew up playing video games. Nintendo’s second international-market home console, the Super Nintendo, was my first experience with them. Since then, video games have become a constant source of enjoyment in my life, whether that be through multiplayer games with friends or in an immersive, single-player experience.
Admittedly, as the years go on, Nintendo’s new releases gradually cease to impress me. The same goes for the rest of the gaming community. The Switch’s predecessor, the Wii U, was the company’s lowest selling console with 13.56 million units sold in its lifetime. It was a financial plague to the company — a year after its release, Nintendo reported an operating loss of $355 million USD.
It was, therefore, refreshing to see Nintendo returning to its former glory with the release of Breath of the Wild.
The game has resonated deeply with me and countless other gamers around the world because of the unprecedented amount of freedom that it provides its players. There are no organized levels, no time frame or rigid story structure. The game encourages players to veer off the game’s main path to solve hidden puzzles, climb mountainscapes, help villagers find true love, or tame wild horses.
It allows itself to be tailored to the individual player, whether they’re a novice at Zelda or a longtime fan of the series. Every individual will have a unique gaming experience when playing Breath of the Wild.
Breath of the Wild’s clever reinvention of open world games’ tropes and its careful handling of a unique story provide players with a Zelda game that is unlike any other.
While other open world games consistently encourage the retrieval of collectible in-game items, Breath of the Wild inserts hundreds of collectibles and hidden items throughout its landscape, but it never forces the player to look for them. Despite its attempt to reinvent a 31-year-old franchise, the game also still includes several fan favourite characters, iconic locations, and gorgeous renditions of classic Zelda tunes that evoke feelings of nostalgia and excitement.
Exploring the world of Breath of the Wild has proven to be one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had in a game.
Though we’re all exploring the same world, I’ve had many conversations with my girlfriend, close friends, and even strangers about our unique playing experiences.
The game proves tough to accidentally spoil too, because each player’s experience is entirely unique. The cutscenes for the story missions are the same for all players, but how and when one reaches them often differs completely from one to the next.
Only time will tell what the next Zelda game will look like or when it will be in our hands. Until then, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will continue to stand as a new benchmark of quality and care in video games, of any genre, for years to come.