The State of Play – Is Zelda BotW Overrated?

I’ve been asking myself this question ever since I slayed Ganon and restored order to Hyrule in Nintendo’s latest instalment of its legendary franchise.

Peculiar perhaps, because I felt that I should have been more excited before waltzing off to Twitter to bestow wondrous platitudes on the game I’d just played. Instead, I was left slightly bemused. “Is that it?”, I thought, “is that what everybody was banging on about?”

Now, before I get dog turds thrown at me in the street, I must say that BotW is a great game. A visually stunning game.  Yet I was expecting perfection, and who can blame me after reading the reviews.

IGN gave BotW a 10 out of 10. A perfect score. Polygon again, gave it a perfect 10. By awarding a game a maximum score like this you are in effect saying that it cannot be improved upon, that it has excelled in every aspect of its construction. I’m here to say that whilst BotW is a fine game, it is far from perfect and therefore unworthy of being called a masterpiece.

The infamous weapon durability system divided gamers, but for me I found it annoying at best and a ridiculous gameplay decision at worst. Having to switch out weapons mid battle because the sword you were using has exploded into a dozen pieces ruins the flow of combat. This process applies to your shields and bows too. It’s a gaming mechanic that I found got old very quickly.

Many fans have said that this is the most “brutal” Zelda game ever made (with regards to difficulty) but there is nothing difficult about a lowly Bokoblin one-shotting you with a wooden club to the back – it’s just cheap.

Another huge mis-step which had me actually shaking my head in disbelief was not being able to continue playing post-Ganon. Being returned to the title screen where you’re greeted by your most recent auto-save before the final boss fight will have you wondering if the game has crashed or an error has occurred. But nope, that’s intentional. If you want to go and finish any side quests that you have active then you need to go back and do them from that save and then return to battle Ganon again. INSANE. I wanted to explore Hyrule Castle in all its glory, purified from Ganon’s filth. But no, it cannot be. Maybe they ran out of time in development to build it, who knows.

These are just 3 of the bigger issues I had with BotW but I did have others; crap side quests (the vast majority of which are just fetch quests for dire rewards), the stamina wheel, clumsy inventory and menus (why can’t I drop an item from the quick menu?), cooking, not being able to fast travel between towns, having to tediously remove weapons in a storm to avoid getting struck by lightening, CLIMBING IN THE RAIN, lack of depth with regards to story, lack of enemy variety, ropey/grating voice acting (especially Princess Zelda’s), lack of proper Zelda-style dungeons, the frame rate plummeting to depths I haven’t seen since Goldeneye 64, simple boss battles, large swathes of empty areas, the camera going dodgy when locking onto an enemy, steering rafts with a korok leaf and just the lack of explanation with regards to some of the games more important aspects – such as elixir making.

Now that there is a long old list of things I found incredibly annoying, yet I have to reiterate –  I really enjoyed this Zelda instalment. It’s not one of the best, for me it cannot be mentioned in the same breath (get it?) as A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time, but it’s a standout game nonetheless and a fabulous introduction for a new generation of Nintendo fans to the long running series.

However my point remains: a game with this many problems cannot be called perfect.

I’m perplexed that the major gaming publications neglected to mention or expand on the issues I mentioned above. Surely we played the same game?

I can’t help but cringe when I read about outlets that I both respect and admire gush utter drivel about how it’s the “game of the year”, with some going as far as to call it one of the “greatest games ever made”.

Go sit in a dark room and calm down, for Christ’s sake.



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