After years of anticipation, tomorrow marks the long-awaited release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Expectations are high for Nintendo's first mainline Zelda instalment since 2011, especially given that the game is the jewel in the crown of the Switch launch line-up.
Breath of the Wild has long been billed as a major diversion from the standard Zelda format. While many fans are excited to see what that means in practice, traditionalists might be concerned that the game strays too far from what made the franchise so compelling in the past.
We're finally set to see whether Breath of the Wild lives up to the hype. Here's the word on the new Zelda from a variety of different critics — don't forget to check out the Game Rant review for the full lowdown.
IGN (Jose Otero)
"The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a masterclass in open-world design and a watershed game that reinvents a 30-year-old franchise. It presents a wonderful sandbox full of mystery, dangling dozens upon dozens of tantalizing things in front of you that just beg to be explored. I’ve had so many adventures in Breath of the Wild, and each one has a unique story behind what led me to them, making them stories on top of stories."
Eurogamer (Oli Welsh)
Breath of the Wild isn't just the most radical departure from the Zelda tradition in its 30-year history, it's the first Nintendo game that feels like it was made in a world where Half-Life 2, Halo, Grand Theft Auto 3 and Skyrim happened. It's inspired by those greats and others, but it doesn't ape them any more than it rests on its own laurels.
Game Informer (Kyle Hilliard)
Breath of the Wild’s version of Hyrule is consistently compelling and full of discovery and reward. The sections of the world are thoughtfully designed, each an important part of the larger whole. Every trail I took, even the ones off the beaten path, led to interesting discoveries like hidden puzzles, new weapons, and strange architecture.
Gamespot (Peter Brown)
From its mysterious opening to its action-packed conclusion, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a revolution for Nintendo's revered series. It's both a return to form and a leap into uncharted territory, and it exceeds expectations on both fronts. The game takes designs and mechanics perfected in other games and reworks them for its own purposes to create something wholly new, but also something that still feels quintessentially like a Zelda game.
Kotaku (Jason Schreier)
This is a game that will dominate dinner conversations. It’s a game that will lead to countless anecdotes, discoveries, and swapped stories. Already, colleagues and I have spent a great deal of time comparing notes and talking about how we solved major puzzles. For one early section in which you have to figure out how to get Link through a freezing cold mountain, three Kotaku writers found three completely different ways to proceed.
Based on this response, it seems fair to say that Zelda fans have a real treat in store when they get their hands on Breath of the Wild. The game certainly seems to be a departure from its predecessors, but one that's been highly praised across the board.
In particular, it seems that critics have been impressed by the sheer sense of freedom given to players. It's also worth nothing that Breath of the Wild seems packed with content, as more than one reviewer noted that they spent fifty hours completing the game, with plenty of sidequests and collectibles left over.
As if it wasn't obvious before, it seems that anyone buying a Switch at launch will be glued to Breath of the Wild for quite some time.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild launches for Wii U and the Switch on March 3, 2017.