Saturday, January 14, 2017

Waiting for Breath of the Wild

Sooooo... the Switch presentation yesterday. That was a thing. I ended up watching it with a couple friends on voice chat on Discord. Sadly, voice chat means I didn't get a real chat log of it, but... it doesn't really matter. I was honestly... silent, for all the parts that really mattered to me.

I spent the majority of the presentation making fun of the Switch. Don't get me wrong: I'm SO hyped for this console. And guys... PORTABLE SKYRIM. PORTABLE FREAKING SKYRIM. You have NO IDEA how much I freaking love Skyrim. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Skyrim is easily my favorite non-Zelda game. And with my recent love of Oblivion (CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT HOW GOOD SHIVERING ISLES IS I CAN'T STOP PLAYING IT), Elder Scrolls is probably easily my favorite non-Zelda series. (Past Sierra: "I'VE NEVER PLAYED SKYRIM AND I LIKELY NEVER WILL...") So you can imagine how hyped I am to play it on the Switch. Although I'll miss my... poorly named level 83 High Elf. (Zeruda... a perfect combination of weaboo and fangirl. Lovely.)

But yeah. I spent a lot of time making fun of the Switch, because they made it really easy. But when freaking Breath of the Wild showed up, I just fell... completely silent. With this dumb, stupid grin on my face.

I feel so dangerously optimistic about this game. I'm honestly really scared. The problem is, while Breath of the Wild is a full reboot (more or less), I'm being promised so many things that I was promised before and never received. And it's scaring me. But I'm excited at the prospect of those things coming true, too... does that make sense?

First of all, let me say why I love this game. It's beautiful. It's different. It's... okay, it's basically SKYRIM ZELDA. I literally just went on and on about how much I love Skyrim. AND THIS IS ZELDA WITH A SKYRIM WORLD. I probably can't, you know, murder everyone in town with a fireball when they group up on a Christmas-themed mod-initiated holiday and cause my daughter to run from me in terror while my husband fights my dog and my housecarl cheers them on, but... it's an open world Zelda!!! And it's absolutely GORGEOUS man. And the voice acting is so amazing! And... And Zelda... she seems like she might actually have a personality? Will we get Skyward Sword's type of Zelda, where she has her own tale to tell? Will she even accompany Link on his quest? What about Link? Can he get more emotions (again like Skyward Sword, which was an excellent step in the right direction for storytelling if not so much for other things)? Can Link be more customizable? There are horses and sand walruses and adorable yawning white foxes and Gorons and Zoras and Koroks and FREAKING SHEIKAH and FREAKING GERUDO... and... and...




So, yes. I'm freaking hyped as heck. I honestly didn't even realize how hyped I was until I started typing and the caps lock came out.

I would, however, like to throw out a few points of caution, however. I have a lot of faith in Breath of the Wild, but I do think it's hilarious -- if nothing else -- that Nintendo has promised the things it is promising with BotW before and they did not deliver.

I spent a lot of time hyping Skyward Sword. In fact, I would venture to say that the MAJORITY of this blog is, in fact, Skyward Sword hype. This blog was in its prime in 2011, the year of SS's release, and most of my posts were just my excitement over how great of a game it was going to be. I was near desperate for SS to be the flagship Zelda game, the game that put a dent in Ocarina of Time's infallible reputation as the groundbreaking, amazing, best-game-of-all-time representative for the series. After all, it was Zelda's 25th anniversary; surely they could make a good game for it?

Skyward Sword was nothing like it was promised. We were told we would get a non-linear, personal Zelda experience. We were told it would be groundbreaking and unique and unlike anything the Zelda series has done before. But no... it was another Zelda game. Without block puzzles -- except, you know, for the few block puzzles in the game. With a brand new stamina meter, and a brand new Zelda design, and a fantastic open sky world! -- that has virtually nothing in it. With immersive 1 to 1 motion controls! Which, yes, they worked, but... you had no option but to use them, even if for whatever reason, your controls weren't working as expected, or you had a hard time moving the controller around. It was... not what fans had hoped for, and many people wound up disappointed.

Obviously, we're being promised many of the same things here. Now, I don't really doubt that BotW will deliver on most of what they promised, as far as switching up the formula (pun not intended). Obviously we've been shown the open world, we've been shown the new races and gameplay features... it looks amazing. But I've been burned before. I approached Skyward Sword with so much fangirl loyalty that I was completely blinded and wanted so badly to love it. I... do love it still. I do. I love the story of it, I love love LOVE Zelda and Groose, the cutscenes are gorgeous, and the motion controls, for me personally, made the game so much more fun. But it's not what I thought it was. It has its problems. The sky was barren. The game was linear, with very little to do on the Surface aside from follow the main story progression. There was pointless backtracking. And for the love of nyan why did they switch the item controls from TP? How can I play both games if in one game B uses the item and in the other B cancels it?!?!

Speaking of Twilight Princess, it's also very much worth mentioning that this is more or less a port. Just like TP, the game was originally made for the previous gen, but it was brought to the next gen console due to numerous delays. For Twilight Princess, that didn't work so well. Most still consider the GameCube version to be the "real version" more or less. Again, I think they've handled it better with this game release. I wasn't around for TP's release, so I can't say much about fan reactions at the time, but it seems like BotW is really taking advantage of the Switch's enhanced power. Not to mention that the fact that the Switch makes it portable is worth it. (Trying not to make comparisons to people who might have said "but the fact that you can play with MOTION CONTROLS makes the Wii version worth it!")

Also, a note about the delays. It only just now hit me exactly how many delays we've had. I wanted to reread my original reaction to the first ever reveal of Zelda Wii U, and I found it in my unpublished E3 2014 post (which I finally published, in case you're curious for some reason). I then realized that... we got this trailer in 2014. Three years ago! Not to mention that, as I say in that 2014 post, that trailer was supposed to be unveiled in 2013. My goodness. And Skyward Sword came out in 2011, for goodness's sake. And then, that 2014 trailer tells us it'll be out in 2015. But noooope, it'll have to be 2016! But wait, Nintendo's new console comes out in 2017... guess we'll just wait until then!

I'm just... I'm scared. I have such, SUCH high hopes for Breath of the Wild. I really really don't want to be disappointed.

I've been playing Skyrim and Oblivion nonstop these past few weeks (okay, well, I've honestly been downloading mods probably more than I've been playing, but whatever). I've got over 600 hours in Skyrim and 100 in Oblivion, so I LOVE some good open world fantasy games. I really, really pray that Breath of the Wild can capture that same magic, that sense of freedom, that feeling that you're part of a world that's truly ALIVE and you can do whatever you want in it. And I hope they still bring back what I love about Zelda: touching, classic tales and characters, a huge arsenal of unique items, fun and challenging puzzles, and of course memorable dungeon design. The fact that so many races are coming back is a great sign to me -- I just hope they don't screw them up. I also hope they attempt to be at least somewhat lore-friendly with the rest of the series, although I kinda doubt it considering Nintendo's track record.

And for the love of Hylia, I really honest to goodness hope that the world isn't boring to explore. I'm so scared about that. Skyrim's world is fun to explore because of random encounters throughout it, the beautiful scenery, and the fact that you can find caves, crypts, camps, villages, and tiny stories everywhere. Breath of the Wild has shown a lot of... enemies in the fields. I hope it's not just enemy after enemy, with the occasional award or village or dungeon. I hope the Sheikah caves or whatever you call them don't get repetitive, because if that's the only thing I'm able to find out there and there are like a hundred of them... That sounds like it could get old fast.

tl;dr I am extremely hyped for Breath of the Wild, but I'm also worried that my faith will be misplaced. All we can do now really is wait and see what Nintendo has in store for us, and hope that they can really pull through with a game that not only meets my expectations, but exceeds them.