Returning to Breath of the Wild, Part 1 – The Great Plateau

Thanks to the fine fellows at the Sacred Realms podcast, I’ve decided to start a new play through of Breath of the Wild from scratch! Since I’ve been neglecting my blog in favor of writing at Geek to Geek Media, I’ll be chronicling my return to Hyrule here as a sort of stream of consciousness journal and recap of my adventure. For this post, I’ve got some thoughts on my fourth play through of The Great Plateau.

Controls – Horrible and Great

I actually had to look up what weird combination of buttons you have to hit to shield surf.

Picking Breath of the Wild up again, the most blatant first impression to mention isn’t the visuals, or the dynamic gameplay, or any of the things you might remember that made this game great. No, the first thing that stood out was how absolutely buckwild the control scheme is.

Between attacks, jumps, sprinting, dodging, and swapping weapons, bows, arrows, shields, and spells – ALL WITHOUT PAUSING THE GAME – Breath of the Wild has the most convoluted and weird control system I’ve seen on a console. The weirdest thing about it, though, is that it all works!

I’ve been playing Horizon Zero Dawn lately, a game that’s got a lot of comparison points with Breath of the Wild. In fact, I dropped off of Horzion when I first tried it because Zelda overshadowed it… and I might do the same thing now.

Anyway, I bring up Horizon Zero Dawn because it’s controls are also complex, but a bit less so than those of Breath of the Wild. It feels like there’s just a tad less of a hurdle in your hands, but also doesn’t work as well. Breath of the Wild is insanely complicated, but having all of your gear available through shortcuts is absolutely amazing.

You’ve just got to take the time to get used to it.

Link’s Abilities

The other thing that really stood out to me in this sequence of Breath of the Wild was the abilities you unlock. The four shrines on the Great Plateau unlock bombs, magnetic telekinesis, the ability to freeze an object in time, and an ice magic ability that spawns pillars out of water.

It doesn’t take long to gather these up, but even before that Link is fantastically capable. You can battle with melee weapons, thrown spears, and use bows just as soon as you find them. You can scavenge for berries and herbs, catch fish, and hunt animals, then use those ingredients to cook up food. Every surface you see is climbable. You can even use your shield to slide down a mountainside or deflect deadly blows.

Link is, from the moment you start Breath of the Wild, a butt-kicking, world-exploring machine.

Unlike just about every other open world game out there, Breath of the Wild goes out of the way to give you nearly every ability from the very beginning of the game. Sure, there’s a few things you can’t do yet, but for the most part this game doesn’t lock ways to interact with the world behind artificial gates.

I think it’s that detail that makes Breath of the Wild as amazing as it is, both for a first play but especially as a game to revisit. Instead of feeling like you are fighting with the game to be able to do cool stuff, Breath of the Wild is built from the ground up for the players to have all their tools available to them from the very beginning.

Next Steps

So, I’ve finished the four shrines on the Great Plateau, and I’m ready to move on. The game and the Sacred Realms podcast are both pointing me east to Kakariko village, but I’m thinking of heading north to explore the fields in front of Hyrule Castle instead. I know that most of the DLC items are hidden there, and picking up the mask the detects Korok Seeds would be pretty nice.

In any case, stay tuned to see where we go next, and let me know here or over on discord what you think or the Great Plateau!

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