Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Zelda BOTW Impressions (20+ hours)

All of these statements are true:
1. This is the best game I've ever played.
2. I've enjoyed this game as much as any game I've ever played.
3. This game is infuriating.

Let's go in order, roughly.

This game is magical. There's no other word for it, both in design and in presentation.

Design? The presentation of information to the player is a masterclass in convenience without intruding on the experience. The controls are powerful without being overwhelming. The amount of environmental feedback is absolutely unsurpassed, but given in entirely organic ways.

The environment is unmatched. It's all incredibly natural, and beautiful, and convincing, with an endless amount of nuanced details. The world feels like a physical place. I have never seen the wildlife, and the forests, and the birds. I've never heard the sounds. It's just all so beautiful.

All of this is so tightly integrated, woven so well, that it feels entirely seamless. It's a wondrous, incredible adventure, and I can't even count how many times I've been stunned.

Oh, and did I mention it's laugh-out-loud funny?

The Bobolink are bad guys descended from Wile E. Coyote, and their antics are downright hilarious at times, including the excellent planning decision to occasionally have casks of dynamite in their camps.

Did I mention that you can parasail? Yeah, that's awesome. Oh, and the climbing is better than Crackdown's, with better animation. You can also sail.

Did I mention shield-surfing?

It's just spectacular, really, all of it, and that brings us to the weather.

Never, even remotely, have I seen the kind of weather systems they have in this game. The weather feels absolutely, entirely real, and getting lashed by sheets of rain, or seeing a gusty wind, is a singularly stunning experience.

Thunderstorms? Incredible.

So the weather is brilliant, and also, a very bad design decision.

There are multiple problems here, and it's unfortunate, because the weather is so beautiful. First, the rain affects you functionally. That's logical, but it becomes extremely frustrating, because you can't climb in the rain, and when you see lightning, you have to remove metal objects you've equipped (sword, bow, shield).

The first time it happened, I was blown away. Unequip or get hit by lightning? How cool is that?

Then it rained again. And again. And again.

I can't even remember how many times I've said "More f-ing rain". Or how many times I've just let Link stand there, waiting for the rain to stop.

It rains far too often, and for far too long. It feels real--really, it does--but it doesn't feel fun, because it's not.

How could this have been better? Well, it's simple, really--have a few fun things that you can only do when it rains. That way, the rain feels like a reward instead of punishment.

Seems kind of basic, really.

Now, having said all that, I still love the game. There are an incredible variety of things to do, a Zelda game has never been this accessible before while still retaining its challenge.

It's wonderful, really.

So while I will continue to curse the rain (note: this is after the rain-related thing that some of you have already played through), I will keep playing as often as I can.

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