Zelda: Breath of the Wild–The best video game ever

Mythology as people who know me best is my favorite topic.  I talk about politics because it has a direct impact on culture and mythology informs the philosophy which becomes politics.  But the foundations are always in mythology and to be entirely honest the latest Nintendo game Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the most powerful tools of mythology to ever hit human culture.  I’ve been playing it now for about six weeks with no end in sight and I have to say—it may well be the best video game ever made.  I’ve talked about some great video games before, but this latest Zelda game is just something special. It is unbelievably good.  It is worth buying a Nintendo Switch just to play this game. It is astonishing.

I have no idea how they did it, or even why, but what the makers of Zelda: Breath of the Wild did was make a video game that has at least 200 hours of potential game play, perhaps even a 1000.  The world of Hyrule as presented in this game has so much in it, and it’s so vast that I’m not sure a video game player could do and see everything.  The amount of programming and planning that had to have gone into this game is simply mind-blowing.  I continue to be impressed with it even after playing it for nearly two months now.  It has become our primary source of entertainment at my house and is enjoyed by all ages.  My wife and I would rather play Zelda together than watch anything on television.  Its compelling, it’s adventurous and it is full of optimism.  It has been and continues to be a real treat—one I never came close to expecting.

Before I was able to get a Nintendo Switch I was at a local Target department store and saw two moms and about four little girls sitting in the floor with a long check list buying up hundreds of dollars of Amiibos that were on display.  Amiibos are little Nintendo characters that can be scanned into their game systems to give bonus rewards.  I looked at them as a pure gimmick and as a rip-off until I did manage to get Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  After that, I completely understood.  Adding up the cost of the Switch and the new Zelda video game, my wife and I have put in nearly $1000 into playing it.  We’ve had to go to Ebay to find special Zelda Amiibos which are sold out everywhere thus making them extremely rare and expensive online, and the whole adventure has turned out to be quite a nice journey.  While it’s possible to play Zelda without all the accessories, my wife and I have enjoyed using those accessories to enhance our experience.  For instance I am not a guide-book kind of video game player, but there is just so much in this game that without a good map and some details on how to find all the hidden parts of the game—you really wouldn’t get your money’s worth.  So we have gone all out on Zelda: Breath of the Wild knowing that we were likely to be playing it five years from now still.  It’s that kind of experience.

We were playing the game with our grandson and he was so into it that he spread out a big map that I have from the guidebook of the entire realm of Hyrule and he was comparing things on the map to what was in the book.  He’s too young to know how to read yet, but it was wonderful to see him take to getting the book on his own and pretend to read it the way I do in trying to unlock as many of the game’s secrets as possible.  For him this is his first big experience where an entertainment option extends over into other parts of his life which is what a great adventure should do—whether in real life, or just in a video game.  The mind really doesn’t know the different.  Some of the puzzles are monstrously hard but once you figure them out you feel great and want to tackle more of them.  Just guessing but I’d say there are at least 500 puzzles if you count all the shrines, the Korok seeds hunts, hidden treasures, and the normal plot parts of the game for which some are extremely complex.  Every new place on the map is a new discovery and every time we turn the game on we are doing something else.

I’ve talked about before how my wife and I played Star Wars: The Old Republic for at least two years every day back in 2013.  It was something we could do together and we had a blast.  She’s played World of Warcraft with my adult children before so we have some reference on MMO games so it says a lot when I say I think Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the best video game made to date.  What makes a game like this good is the open world game play where you feel you can do anything and go everywhere.  Usually there are parts of a video game experience where you run up against a programming blocks—even on the massive MMO games where you can’t go certain places because the video game designers were too lazy or not motivated to fill every possible place on a map with an opportunity for adventure, but not in Breath of the Wild.  You can literally go everywhere and do anything making it a nearly infinite experience.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  I mean there are a lot of great games out there, and I tend to talk about them when I run into them, but this Zelda game is in its own category.  It’s a true technical achievement that never sacrifices itself.  It clicks on all cylinders in what will surely become an industry setting standard that will change the video game industry.

While Breath of the Wild isn’t the biggest game ever created it makes the most of what it has.  The map of the new Zelda game is 23.5 square miles—about the same as Manhattan Island New York, but in literally every section of that map has something to do.  You could spend countless hours looking for things hidden in Breath of the Wild making this such a wonderful little treasure hunt that can frustrate you at times only to leave you elated with each accomplishment and coming back for more to recover the sensation. Never was that more real for me than in the section of the map called The Korok Forest.  Not only was that area playfully optimistic, it was extremely spooky at the same time and the puzzles were at times really difficult.  I can just imagine a team of people coming up with the various stories and puzzles just in that forest as the design lay out was just magnificent.  But that is such a small part of the whole game that it almost gets lost in the reviews—because there’s just too much to cover.  There is nothing small about Zelda: Breath of the Wild but as I said this isn’t the biggest video game world ever created—it clearly has the best level design that I’ve ever seen.  I have no idea how the Zelda creation team managed to get all the ideas for this game down on paper to a bunch of programmers to implement into a working reality.  There are so many options, so many outfits, good combinations, objectives that there is no way one player’s experience will be exactly the same as another yet the game works.  You don’t come along and find many glitches which allow you to buy into that world and the characters.

Then there is that other issue for which I am more than just a little obsessed, the idea of ancient technology being superior and the cycle of life coming around and around again,–the Vico cycle. There is a huge amount of that topic in this game, so it has been a wonderful experience—and I’m far from done with it.  But when I finally do finish it, I have no doubt that this will be one of the greatest games ever made—yet another benchmark for the industry but even more than that, an exceptional entry in perfection.  It’s easy to consider video games as silly things for a new generation to keep themselves busy with—but Zelda: Breath of the Wild is certainly something bigger than that.  It is the first massive game of its kind that can go with you while traveling due to the nature of the Switch game console.  It essentially is the first game of its kind to actually weave itself into all aspects of our reality with an optimistic story of honor and fearless pursuit of vanquishing evil all while enjoying the little things in life.  The only thing that I wish was that every video game was as good as this one—because this is one of those things you only see a few times in a century—creatively as an art form.  It’s that good.

Rich Hoffman


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