When Breath of the Wild launched in 2017, it was immediately showered with glowing reviews. 10/10 ratings were thrown at it without even considering any of the negatives about it.
Don’t get me wrong, BOTW is one of my favorite games of all time. It’s a rare thing for me to play a game more than once, and I’ve beat it twice and I’m still enamored with it. There’s a lot this game got right, but it also has some glaring issues no one can really turn a blind eye to.
Is Breath of the Wild overrated? No, it’s definitely not overrated, but it’s also not a solid 10/10.
Personally I hate rating games on a number scale, but that’s another issue. Here I will explain what the general consensus is about BOTW, and address some arguments people have about.
Story (or lack of one)
Breath of the Wild is known for throwing you into a world with literally nothing, allowing you to blaze your own trails through the land. This is part of the allure of this title, and I think it’s part of what makes it so great.
Once you escape the Great Plateau, you can go anywhere and pretty much do whatever you want. While this is awesome, I think the game relies on this too much.
The story is pretty much nonexistent. While people say it can take around 30 hours to beat the main campaign, it’s so light on the story that you still have basically no idea what’s going on.
It seems like every story character repeatedly echoes the phrase “100 years ago,” referring to the time before Link took his century long power-nap. First of all, how are so many people still alive after all this time? Second, why couldn’t they just restore his memory from the start?
It’s awfully convenient to the plot for his memory to be wiped for the whole game. Half the dialog is centered upon characters explaining things to clueless Link.
On top of this, the ending of the game is incredibly underwhelming. I won’t spoil anything in case you’ve never played it, but don’t expect anything special.
The characters are all uninteresting, and I can barely remember their names even after playing it twice. Along with the characters, some of the English voice acting is atrocious. A title such as this should have had at least some halfway decent voice acting, but the characters still sound like a low-budget indie game.
The side quests in this game somehow manage to be even less interesting than the main story. Some of the quests will lead you to new shrines, but most side quests aren’t worth doing.
It’s quite obvious the story wasn’t the main focus of this game. It was mostly just filler so it has some resemblance of past Zelda games. Fortunately there are lots of other things to do in BOTW.
The shrines in this game are basically like mini dungeons. They usually have some puzzle (a lot of them are actually really fun) or enemy guardian to defeat. Others will give you a Spirit Orb for simply finding the shrine.
There are a total of 120 shrines in the base game, with the DLC adding 4 more Spirit Orb shrines and 12 Champion’s Ballad ones. Searching for these shrines can be a lot of fun for people who enjoy traversing across the environment, but really boring for those who don’t like exploring.
In order to find all of these shrines without using a guide, it’ll take you basically exploring every possible corner of the map. The good part about shrines is that only a certain number are needed to progress for things like obtaining the Master Sword.
The rest are purely optional to obtain loot and upgrade points. A lot of them are easy to spot from the towers, and you’ll find many just on your travels to the next waypoint.
The more of these that you’ll find, the stronger Link will become. After probably 15 hearts or so, Spirit Orbs are only really good for stamina. You’ll become so overpowered later in the game that you may only use the shrines for fast travel points rather than completing them.
Some of the towns in this game are actually very fun to visit. They have some nice variety, as well as giving you different things to do in each one.
The Zora village is a beautiful area, and the harsh desert and volcanic environments make the others unique to explore. The towns have nice variety, but the stables really don’t.
Every stable is pretty much the same as the last, complete with the same stable owner and that creepy merchant Beedle following you wherever you go.
You do get a sense of safety and security while at the stables though. No monsters can attack you there, and the areas surrounding them are usually peaceful and pretty to look at.
Korok seeds were the one aspect of the game I really couldn’t care less about. At the beginning you’ll need a bunch to increase your inventory sizes, but after a while they are unnecessary.
There was no need to waste half my arrows trying to hit floating balloon targets when there were much easier ways to get Korok seeds. Sometimes you pick up an out of place rock and get a Korok, or simply by putting an apple in a statue’s bowl.
It’s possible to get every seed without a guide, but it will literally take you hundreds of hours to do so. Even then, the reward for getting them all is a completely useless item.
The weapon durability system is one aspect of BOTW that has been constantly debated. People argue that weapons breaking is unfair and boring, while others argue that they like the mechanic.
While this mechanic is inconvenient, I think it provides another way to make the game more interesting. Imaging if you could get one powerful weapon and use it the entire game. It would make you way too overpowered, and you’d plow your way through virtually every enemy in the game.
Some people say that they never have any weapons since they constantly break, but if they looked around essentially anywhere they would find new gear. Durability adds a new realm of depth to the game, and causes you to try out pretty much every weapon they have to offer.
If weapons never broke at all, players would find the best weapons they could and never try out the rest of them. Breaking weapons forces players to try new things and to adapt to new situations.
Some people love them, some people hate them. BOTW sometimes has some issues with lackluster textures, and experiences framerate dips in docked mode, but I think they did a really good job getting this game running on the switch.
My opinion on the graphics is that the style will age very well. The Zelda franchise has always experimented with interesting graphical styles, and I think Breath of the Wild’s fits the world perfectly.
Being a PC gamer at heart, I was surprised how quickly I adjusted to 30 FPS gameplay, and even the occasional drop to lower than 30. These happen in really crowded areas and places like Kakariko Village.
Like I said in my article about getting stronger in BOTW, cooking is broken. You can store as much food in your inventory as you want, and all it takes is farming for edible items.
Basically think of it as having infinite health potions with no cool down time. That really does a lot to take the challenge out of the game.
Even though it is overpowered, it’s actually a very fun part of the game. There are dozens of new recipes to discover that give you tons of different benefits.
Need to go into a freezing cold area? Make a spicy dish using hot peppers. Want to have extra hearts? Cook up a Hearty Truffle for some bonus hearts
Lots of people have enjoyed foraging for fruits and hunting animals. I know I enjoy this aspect, but a lot of people couldn’t care less.
I know fairies aren’t counted as food, but they are consumables that make the game insanely easy. You can have up to 11 fairies in your inventory at once using special methods. This basically means 11 extra lives on top of having tons of healing food.
A major critique of Breath of the Wild was that the dungeons were short and lame. They all look largely the same, and you can complete them in only a few minutes.
Awesome dungeons were always a staple of the Zelda series. Shrines can be considered mini dungeons, but even then Zelda fans still gripe about the missing dungeons.
I really didn’t like the whole Divine Beasts aspect. They were quite boring dungeons each ending in annoying boss fights. The main thing you get out of it is the Champion ability, such as Revali’s Gale that allows Link to be blown high into the air.
The Ganon bossfights in BOTW are pretty lame. They all have an elemental form and have similar looks to them.
There are some really fun bossfights in this game, with enemies such as a Stone Talus, Hinox, and Molduga. Master Kohga was barely considered a bossfight, and the monk fight in the DLC was okay but not great.
None of the fights in this game are really hard. Lynels will give players 10 times the amount of trouble than any boss will, and they aren’t even considered a boss.
Let’s just hope in Breath of the Wild 2 that we get some actually good Ganon fights.
The enemies in Breath of the Wild are quite fun. Some are more annoying than others, such as Lynels and silver enemies. The silver ones are a really cheap way of upping the difficulty later game.
I’d rather not break half my weapons fighting one ultra strong baddie, nor do I want to repeatedly wack them while dealing almost no damage. There really aren’t that many enemy types in this game, although the enemies change their elemental forms enough to feel different (ie Fire Keese and Ice Chuchus).
Usually the enemies come in groups, which are much more formidable than one by themselves. There isn’t much point to fighting every single enemy camp, as that will waste your weapons and food very quickly.
I’d say the enemies in this game were really fun, but the variety is average. It’s not really something major to complain about, but it’s definitely not something to hate the game for.
After beating the DLC, I thought there would be more too it. While it was fun, it was still pretty short compared to the base game. The DLC gives you things such as new shrines, teleporting horse armor, and a couple forgettable stories about the Champions. Some things are actually really useful, such as a fast travel point you can place anywhere. The new shrines were actually pretty fun; there were some fun boss fights and the DLC also gave some pretty cool perks such as the Master Cycle Zero.
The Trial of the Sword is extremely difficult. You can literally spend hours on the final trials only to die on the final boss and be forced to restart. It’s frustrating, and it’s only really fun on the shorter trials.
Many people argue that Master Mode should have been added in the base game, and I’d have to agree with them. Basically it’s just increased difficulty combined with a couple new enemy types.
There isn’t many hours of content added in the DLC, depending on how long Champion of the Sword takes you to complete. Master Mode could extend the play time by a lot if you play the game through on that difficulty. I don’t regret buying the DLC, but I think they should have added a little bit more content.
I love Breath of the Wild, but it has some issues no one should really ignore. I do recommend that gamers play it through once, just because of the amazing experiences I’ve had playing it.
Game sites have reviewed the game way too highly. I’m always cautious reading these large corporate sites, as they are very likely to be biased towards companies paying them for reviews.
When you do play BOTW, don’t go into it expecting a perfect game. It might be a masterpiece on its own, but it missed to many Zelda staples to be considered a perfect Zelda game.