MDA Writeup – Breath of the Wild

A game that I’ve loved since the first day it came out is Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This is in no small part to the huge world of gameplay styles and options presented to the player the moment Link  leaves his cryogenic cave. Here are just a few examples of some mechanics that help support BotW’s creative gameplay:

To start, Link has never been more mobile himself, with the ability to jump and climb now, in addition to a stamina bar to govern sprinting. All of these are justified and necessary to traverse the vast expanse of land the game gives you.

Additionally, BotW does a great job at implementing dozens of interactions that many new players wouldn’t even think about being possible. Want to raise a box or barrel up a cliff? Slap an Octorok balloon on it and let it set sail. See a dog in the background? Throw a stick and he’ll chase it. These are definitely curated examples, but they represent only a fraction of the freedoms introduced by this game and the level of interactivity with the environment they give the player are largely unmatched by BotW’s contemporaries (with the notable exception of Metal Gear Solid V).

Finally, and probably most importantly in my eyes, is movement. The first time I played through Breath of the Wild I was a slug. Movement was walking or horseback riding, with occasional drifts down from heights back to the field to continue my trudge. In hindsight, I’ve never been more disappointed by my lack of creativity and exploration skills. A second playthrough opened my eyes to the full, expansive movement tools at Link’s disposal in game. Within 10 minutes of starting the game, you can skip the long walks by just blowing yourself up and launching ridiculous distances. After gaining the Paraglider, you can further expand this to sailing through the wind at dozens of kilometers per hour. There’s stasis launches,  cryo launches, octorok balloon sailing (I love octorok balloons). Each one of these methods feels so unique and refreshing and stringing them together truly gives you the sensation that you are an explorer and you have mastery over the terrain at the same time. All because of a few quirks in the game’s physics engine.

All together, these mechanics tie together nicely to create a wonderful dynamic of exploration and innovation. New mechanics are being discovered every month as players continue to get weirder with their playstyles, and that’s exactly the kind of game that I love.

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