As I watch my friend play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I’m thoroughly enjoying watching him hunt for animals and cook. Little did I know, it’s tedious things like this turning fans away. Maybe it’s the fact I’m growing up and enjoying cooking myself, but damn watching Link find ingredients and prepare food for 30 minutes was almost therapeutic. There’s a long list of possible recipes to cook! When everything is said and done and you’ve collected your keep, you build your fire and make food for Link to heal and power up.
Cooking is only a small aspect of The Legend of Zelda‘s incorporated survival mechanics: it’s a full-fledged process to live, whether you like it or not. In the hour and a half I’ve seen of footage, it’s been about about collecting items for survival (sans the 20 minutes he collected a spirit orb from the flower Trial). The hunting process isn’t a piece of cake, either. On the corner of your screen, a meter tells how much noise Link is making. For capturing items, you must sneak through the grass or else your prey will run away. It’s a meticulous and carefully crafted task.
You have to be cautious of how you consume goods. Weapon durability remains a big issue for many, especially if you expected to keep all your weapons like previous games. When you defeat enemies, like a Lizalfos, you can pick up their previous held weapons, but overuse and time will eventually cause these weapons to break. Not to mention, some of these weapons aren’t even repairable and disintegrate with the wind. It’s a long process to get the weapon only to lose it in a few shots, and people don’t want to spend significant amounts of time rebuilding if it takes away from story and sidequests. I’m sure the Master Sword is going to be fine, but until that point I understand the frustration of others.
I have no plans of playing the entirety of Breath of the Wild, and I’m also not going to pretend I’m a big fan or played all the games. For what it’s worth, as a newcomer viewing this series on the outside, I appreciate the survival elements and find them innovative. It brings a different dynamic when playing the game, where you have to think about what weapons you choose to use on certain enemies. It brings variety in battle, and you’re not dependent on any single weapon. I really enjoy survival games, like Terraria and Minecraft, and Breath of the Wild makes the player conscious of its surroundings and in a way makes everything feel more organic. I feel accomplished when I build things and I feel closer to the game environment. Of course, that’s not what everyone wants in an action-adventure game and I get it. The survival aspect does get tiresome, but for me it doesn’t ruin the game, only elevates it.
One thought on “Breath of the Wild’s Heavily Debated Survival Mechanics”
There’s been a lot of stink online about the weapon durability mechanics in BotW. After my first few hours into the game I stopped thinking about it as a restriction/punishment for numerous reasons. While you might be tempted to save that new powerful sword for a rainy day, you also run into the issue of limited weapon slots/inventory management. If weapons lasted forever you’d constantly have to pick and choose between the sword in your bag and the sword on the ground, fiddling with menus and such. Instead, each weapon is exciting and necessary because each strike has now become a resource. In any other RPG, item duplicates are worthless because they have the same stats and perform in the same manner. In BotW, 2 x Traveler’s Swords in your bag is great because when one breaks you have a backup. Furthermore, the weapon breaking blow stuns and deals bonus damage to the enemy, incentivizing the player to actually use the mechanic to their advantage.
As you have surmised, the Master Sword functions a little differently than most other weapons in the game. Rather than breaking after use, the legendary weapon will actually “run out of energy,” and need to recharge for ~10 minutes. In practice, this is as silly as it sounds, and only really exists to balance the Master Sword in the context of the rest of the game arsenal. Interesting to note, however, is that the Master Sword glows blue in the presence of Ganon and deals double damage to all enemies.
Anyway, the cooking is unique in BotW when compared to other open world survival games because you don’t expressly NEED to do it. Link has no “hunger meter” and doesn’t actually need to eat to live. Of course foods and elixirs are the only way to heal and get status boosts on the field, however. My favorite thing in the game is discovering new critters to help deal with environmental hazards like scorching sunlight or freezing snow. You can find butterflies in the colder areas that naturally radiate cool air. Brew those in the pot with monster horns and you got yourself an elixer! Overall it’s a huge departure from the older games that required you to buy all your potions from witches. I’m into it.