Critics who got their hands on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the Nintendo Switch finally posted their full reviews about one of the most anticipated Nintendo games ever.
All of these writers played the Switch version of the game, so there's no word on how the Wii U version is, but what we know about Breath of the Wild has us so, so very hyped. Reviewers say it completely revitalizes the 30 year-old franchise.
"Breath of the Wild isn't just one of the best Zelda titles ever made," our own Sam Rutherford wrote in our full review. "It's something that comes along only once in a generation, and it's a game that everyone should play."
The game has a typical Zelda start -- our hero, Link, wakes up in a mysterious place. There's something dangerous afoot (no spoilers here!), so it's time to grab a sword and set things right.
What we did learn? Breath of the Wild is hard. “Breath of the Wild demands your respect. And if you forget that for longer than a few minutes, it’ll remind you by knocking you flat on your ass," Arthur Gies wrote at Polygon. Conversely, he finds that the game is the most respectful of players as the series has been in years, treating them like intelligent people with the means to figure out their own path through the game's world.
Link has more physical limitations than ever. In his preview hands-on at GameSpot, Peter Brown explained that Link has to worry about getting too cold on snowy mountains and that if you don’t have the stamina to make it across a lake, you’ll drown.
The game seems to encourage experimentation. The open-world isn’t particularly linear, and you can get to most of the world soon after starting the game. Too tough? Go somewhere else for better items and come back later. Those items come from enemies and have limited use before they break. Breath of the Wild requires more strategy than ever before.
"What elevates Breath of Wild above its open-world contemporaries is its sheer freedom, both in its non-linear questing structure and in your ability to climb almost any surface and travel in any direction once you leave the starting area," Jose Otero wrote at IGN.
Reviewers agree that it looks and sounds great, too, especially on the gamepad. There are some technical issues -- in an otherwise glowing review, Kotaku's Jason Schreier noticed some frame rate drops, but not enough to keep him from calling it "groundbreaking" and "the pinnacle of Zelda." Julie Muncy at WIRED wrote that there are too many actions tied to too few buttons.
But almost all of the critics are unanimous -- this is the best Zelda game in years (possibly ever!), and an invaluable part of both the franchise and both the Nintendo Switch's launch lineup.