Nintendo Switch launch: 'Zelda' hailed as high point for franchise, gaming at large – Here's what makes the game so great.
“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” invites players to scale an expansive kingdom. (YouTube/ Nintendo – screengrab)
Two launch-day releases have become de facto standard bearers for the Nintendo Switch, the new home and portable games console hybrid, and reaction to "1-2-Switch" and "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" could hardly be more different.
Even before the Nintendo Switch was revealed, "Breath of the Wild" was so central to Nintendo's vision that it was the focus of a day-long showcase at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, mid-2016.
At that point, it was introduced as a release for the Wii U, though its appearance on the Switch was a given.
While "Breath of the Wild" is available for both the Wii U and its 2017 successor, with minor differences between the two editions, "Zelda" may as well be exclusive to the Switch.
Certainly, Nintendo is treating it as such. With the Switch offering improved performance and the ability to play at home or on the go, many fans are too.
And initial reaction to "Breath of the Wild" implies that the game is up to the console-launching task.
With a launch-day library of 14 games, coming top of its class — as "Breath of the Wild" has done — may not seem to be that much of an achievement.
But in some quarters, critics are hailing it as the best in its franchise, and that's some claim.
For context, 1996's "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" has long been held up as the beloved franchise's high point.
Not only that, but it's widely considered to be among the greatest video games of all time, if not the number one.
Perfect scores have come rolling in from numerous specialist outlets including Giant Bomb, US Gamer, Destructoid, and The Daily Dot.
Eurogamer spoke to the rarified company kept by Nintendo's new standard-bearer, saying 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."
What makes it so great?
Players are immediately empowered with four basic abilities that can see them through the course of the game, paving the way for a "profound sense of discovery," wrote Giant Bomb.
The game contains a "host of systems that are interconnected," explained US Gamer. "There's an underlying core of physics and chemistry to the world, and on top of that Nintendo has laid combat, cooking, crafting, and more… there is a clear plan at work."
There are "secrets and rewards to be found around every corner," wrote The Daily Dot, and "a staggering amount of ways in which you can interact with [the Kingdom of] Hyrule."
According to Destructoid, the action adventure's highest virtue is its freedom, and players learn to use familiar items in novel ways over and over again; "Everything funnels back into every other aspect of Breath of the Wild in a deliberate fashion."
But "Breath of the Wild" has been welcomed with an exceptional level of enthusiasm.