xyzzysqrl: (Message for you!)
[personal profile] xyzzysqrl
Breath of the Wild does some really fantastic things.

The map, for example, is not laden with tons of icons. In fact it's blank, and you do the Ubisoft climbing tower thing to fill it out. But you don't have to. You can just explore as you like, marking things with your own little tags and your scope.

Placing your own map markers means that you're never just working off a checklist of "uh-huh, I gotta do this, I gotta do that, I gotta hit every icon on the road..." because if there's a blip on your map it's because it's somewhere YOU WANTED to go. It's somewhere that looked interesting to YOU, and if you don't want to go there anymore, you can take that off your map.

So the map is an uncluttered... MAP. It shows the landscape. And because this is still a Zelda game, you're going to stare at it for ten minutes once it's revealed by tower-climbing...

Okay tower-climbing is also an adventure because before you can climb the tower you have to A: FIND the tower against the horizon, which is sometimes quite tricky and leads to further exploration, which leads to further discovery of things, and B: you have to climb it, and they're ALWAYS guarded or surrounded by odd terrain and getting there is part of the puzzle.

... anyway, you're going to look at that map, stare at it for like ten minutes, and go "Okay, what is that spiral pattern? Why does that mountain have a suspiciously flat plateau halfway up? There's a canyon here and I bet something's down it. Oh look, a mysterious lake in the DEAD CENTER of a forest THAT'S not suspicious" and suddenly heyyy you have fifteen more places you want to be going.

But if you don't want to ... THAT'S FINE. Zelda does not actually INSIST you do anything. There are no numbers on the collectibles. You do not have 60/100 anything, you just have 60. There is no tension there. If you want to know for sure, you can look it up.

Do you want to fight? Okay, you'll probably break some weapons but you'll get new ones. Do you want to stealth past? You won't get the treasure there, but you may not need it or want it. It might not be worth the hassle for you. And that's okay too.

There's also the "powers" you get, the first hour of the game is about filling out your palette with verbs like an adventure game. Except instead of "look", "pick up", "taste", etc your verbs are things like "bomb", "bow and arrow", "freeze", "magnet" and "ice block". Puzzle after puzzle around the game world will call for some interaction of these verbs, but they're not just for puzzles.

You can bomb trees and get lumber, you can bomb stone and get flint, you can drop the wood and flint and smack the flint with your sword to start a fire, and dip your arrows in the fire and hey, you've made a makeshift fire arrow, and now you can melt some ice or set the grasslands aflame around an enemy patrol.

Everything feels organic. The closest you feel to being obliged to a single correct solution is in the puzzle shrines you can complete... but even in there, people have figured out how to do absurd things like bomb-jump their way past puzzles or build see-saw catapults to sequence break. Hell, just coming into a shrine with some elemental arrows can be a quickie back-door bypass past a tricky puzzle.

I have watched the BF solve a shrine that I already solved and gone "What in the HELL was that?!" and he's watched my solution and gone "Does that actually work?!" and it reshapes the possibilities of what is a correct solution.

Everything about Breath of the Wild cultivates a sense of wonder and the unknown. It trusts that you can handle doing things yourself, that you'll get around to things eventually.

It isn't AFRAID to give you dozens of quests, but they're often guidelines, things like "I heard there was a thing over there somewhere" or "When I was young I heard a story about that mountainside", so when you do get around to it, you're playing investigator instead of delivery-boy. (Although there are a few of the dreaded "Go find me ten things" quests. It's not perfect. You'll also need a fair bit of material to upgrade the armor value and special effects of your outfits -- and boy will you be collecting some OUTFITS in this game.)

I mean this doesn't even get into the characters or storyline or anything like that. Everything I'm talking about is just the joy of running through a field, climbing a mountain to see what's up there, or suspiciously adding a waypoint to that odd bit of coastline that looks "off" and clearly needs investigating when you get around to it.

I don't want to spoil anything, though. But when the credits rolled, I had something like 26% of the game explored, and I had been playing for something like 60, 70 hours. It's really that strong a game. I didn't want it to end.

This game not only was a blast, it completely revived my interest in the series. I'll be buying Hyrule Warriors Definitive when I get the chance. I may pick up Twilight Princess HD. I genuinely WANT to play in the Zelda universe again, and given that my favorite Zelda games previously were the Capcom-created super-linear Oracle of Ages/Oracle of Seasons pair...

...that's saying a LOT.

Date: 2018-04-12 07:13 am (UTC)
penguinmayhem: Hirasawa Yui looking at cake. Or Azusa. Or Mio. Or her guitar. (Excite!)
From: [personal profile] penguinmayhem
You can also surf on your shield and parry lasers with your sword.

Which are totally things that make sense shut up.

Date: 2018-04-12 10:09 am (UTC)
dang_bunni: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dang_bunni
I still haven't gone and beaten the big bad.

I've done the Divine Beasts, and done their upgraded versions in the DLC, and got the motorcycle. I just haven't fought the last boss. I kinda wanted to upgrade my armor all the way, and I need lots of parts. I should go smack some more robots.

Date: 2018-04-12 10:45 am (UTC)
renegadefolkhero: hyper light drifter (Default)
From: [personal profile] renegadefolkhero
I've been dismissive of BOTW in part because it seemed like collectible hell and open-world overkill. I could write a post ranting about in-game maps and waypoints and such, it's a sore spot for me right now. But your description of the general design, and conscious design decisions like player-driven map-discovery and waypoints and not explicitly listing collectible totals, has piqued my interest considerably.

I'm not up for 40 - 200 hours of running around just yet but I'm warming to the idea.

Date: 2018-04-12 10:46 pm (UTC)
chalcedony_starlings: Two scribbled waveforms, one off-black and one off-white, overlapping, on a flat darkish purpleish background. (scribble twins)
From: [personal profile] chalcedony_starlings

(∓) We are so intrigued but also the time aaa.

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