Breath of the Wild: Giving the Player Agency

in gaming •  7 months ago

Well, hello there, dear steemians! Recently I have been squeezing in some The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild game time...and the game is actually really solid!

My first impression of the game was pretty damn bad, because it acted like a pretty generic open world game with some survival elements. It even featured the, oh so dreaded, Ubisoft, not-yet-trademarked, map towers, for crying out loud! So, I abandoned the game for a while (I only reached as far as Hateno Village, for those who are intereseted in my progress at the time ). I was really burnt out by generic open world games, which are churned out by today's industry almost every week at this point.

About two weeks ago, I started playing it again, abiding to the mentality that, hey, I have paid 60 Euros for this game, might as well get the bang for my buck with it. And it bloody clicked. Only the critical path of the main quest is highlighted with waypoints that lead you directly to you objective. Add to that the fact that only one of the main quests is obligatory to finish the game, the others being basically side quests to ease the final confrontation, and you can literally skip them. If you have the necessary balls and skill, you can make a B line for the final boss of the game, Calamity Ganon, as the game shows you his location at the beginning of the game. You will most probably die a million times if you try that, as the way to him is dotted with pretty tough enemies, but the game stops you naturally ny showing you that your character is still an inexperienced guy who wont be able to defeat the big cloud of evil goo that inhabits Hyrule Castle.

So, I started wandering around the place, eventually reaching Kakariko Village, as part of the side objective of freeing the Divine Beasts, four machines which are alive and their purpose is to weaken Calamity Ganon. I did not start pursuing this quest because I was told to do it, I did it because I wanted the bastard to suffer before I went on to fight him (in retrospect, this sentence sound quite sadistic). Before continuing this quest, I started gathering a multitude of other, side quests, I started pursuing shrines at which I received Orbs for upgrading my heath and stamina, which are really impactful in the moment to moment gameplay. The side quests gave the game a new sense of exploration (or old-school, if you know gaming history), as the objective marker is glued to the person giving you the quest. Crazy, right? So, how does one advance a quest then? By actually taking in the directions given to you by the quest givers, by actually reading the quest log and by looking on the map for certain areas. That means that there is no magic "Follow" marker, you have to actually take in the world, sink into its intricacies.

So, exploration is in the hands of the player. What about interacting with the world? Well, here is the interesting part: the game features magnetism, electricity, momentum, temperature and friction as gameplay mechanics. This actually reminds me of immersive sims in a way. A few examples of this are: wooden weapons burn when subjected to great temperatures or fire, equipment made out of metal attracts electricity, so you attract lightning during storms, there are ice blocks you can melt by bringing heat sources near them, including fire-based weapons. Some puzzles can even be bypassed by using these systems. For instance, puzzles featuring electricity can be cheesed by completing circuits with metallic equipment,instead of using the puzzle blocks you are given. Also, you have to take into account the climate of areas, because keeping your body temperature in check is vital to your survival, also, trying to climb when it is pouring will result in you always sliding downwards, no matter what you try.

All in all, everything present in the game is left up to the player to use as he or she sees fit and anything goes, whether you succeed in your goal or not. This is the kind of ideology that should be implemented into games, letting the player experiment with the world and not holding their hand throughout as if they are a toddler with their mom.

Sources: cover, 1, 2, 3, 4.


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