Despite a plethora of 10/10 reviews, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is not a perfect game. Even if Breath of the Wild is the best Zelda ever – or even the best game ever – absolute perfection is probably impossible and unrealistic. Those kinds of standards are unfair even for the best game. And yes, Breath of the Wild problems exist.
If a “perfect game” exists, it can only exist for a short time. Ocarina of Time was once the most incredible game that could be imagined. Decades later, Breath of the Wild has overtaken it on almost every level. Someday there will probably be a game that will dwarf Breath of the Wild just as it has dwarfed its predecessors. Games are always improving and we should never be totally satisfied.
With that in mind, here are the five biggest issues with Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
(Warning: Some Breath of the Wild spoilers below.)
1. A raft of technical issues
Breath of the Wild is an impressive technical achievement. It achieves AAA quality in terms of visual style and content, and yet it fits onto a Switch cartridge at only 13GB in size. In comparison, console games like The Witcher 3 and Horizon Zero Dawn are three or four times bigger than Zelda in raw data size. Yet Breath of the Wild still contains sophisticated physics, advanced AI, and a fully interactive world. It runs with remarkable stability – but not perfectly.
Frame rate drops, particularly in heavily wooded areas or bustling towns, are a nagging problem. Combat can be plagued with freezing issues as the game struggles to render a particularly awesome strike. Draw distance can also be problematic, with seemingly peaceful hilltops turning out to be crawling with enemies that don’t pop in until you glide in closer.
These issues don’t happen for everyone, but when they happen, they take you out of the moment and out of the stunning world of Hyrule.
2. Irritating and clunky menu systems
The menu system in Breath of the Wild is a source of almost constant frustration and could easily be classed as the game’s worst aspect. There are quick access menus for certain items, but not for others. None of the quick access methods are customisable so you’re constantly left fumbling with menus as you try to switch from fire to ice arrows in the heat of the moment.
Finally, while the game’s limited menu slots are necessary to heighten the game’s survival elements, being forced to drop swords to make room for better one can be frustrating. The only way to rectify this is to collect Korok Seeds and swap them for more inventory slots. It’s not ideal and is sometimes more irritating than anything else.
3. Dungeons that don’t live up to series expectations
There are four major dungeons in Breath of the Wild. All four take the form of giant animal robots, known as the Divine Beasts. They make for a unique twist on typical Zelda dungeons, however, they’re nowhere near as long or complex as the more traditional series alternatives.
There are no keys or Boss Keys, no Compasses, no significant items or new weapons to find, and no minibosses. The dungeons all follow the same general pattern too. Your first experience with a Divine Beast can be exciting, but by your third and fourth you see the repetition. You find the map, you complete the puzzles to open up the five terminals, and finally, you get to fight an incarnation of Ganon. All that takes about an hour and throughout that time there doesn’t seem to be much of a difficulty curve.
The real meat of the puzzle solving is found in the hundreds of Shrines scattered across Hyrule, but again these are shorter than we’d like. They don’t quite scratch the itch of solving the longer puzzles you’d usually find in games like Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess or the classic Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
It’s also frustrating that none of Breath of the Wild‘s puzzles take advantage of its huge open-world.
4. Lacklustre sidequests
Most of the NPCs in Breath of the Wild have great little personalities and some are even adorable, they don’t exactly have the best sidequests. The requests in Breath of the Wild tend to only get you money or gems and generally fall into three major areas:
1) Fetch an item
2) Kill something
3) Locate a hidden Shrine
Shrine Quests, for us at least, are the worst with the fruits of your labour usually ruined by the game itself. When you’ve climbed a mountain to find a white bird, only to be rewarded by YET another Shrine just like the others, it fails to feel special.
Why bother unless you’re aiming for 100% completion?
The best side-adventures are ones you have without involving NPCs at all. There’s plenty to discover on your own, from massive mazes full of treasure to the most terrifying of monsters. It sometimes makes you wonder why most of the sidequests were added at all.
5. A story that’s happened without you
The bigger problem is that the NPCs just aren’t rewarding from a story perspective. You don’t really learn much about the characters you’re interacting with or how they fit into the wider storyline. They can’t even teach you much about the world. Majora’s Mask had an intricate system of characters and quests to solve that often took you to wonderful bizarre places (aliens, anyone?).
The larger issue is that most of Breath of the Wild’s story has already happened. Link, Zelda, and their friends already had an adventure and failed. You’re just picking up the pieces afterwards. Even the main villain is a shadow of his former self. The game really lacks urgency. Hyrule has already waited 100 years, what’s a few more days?
Does it matter if Breath of the Wild isn’t perfect?
Anybody can love Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and we really do. The game is great, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact it has flaws. Some elements of the game simply don’t appeal to everybody the same way. (Weapon degradation is a common issue for some, but necessary to the game’s balance.) However, even fans rating this game with a perfect score, like us, can still see places for improvement.
Even the strongest advocates have to admit in actuality, they don’t want Breath of the Wild to be a perfect game. If Breath of the Wild is perfect, then the series is over. If this game has accomplished everything a Legend of Zelda can accomplish to 100% satisfaction, then why should we ever make another one? Nobody wants the series to end, especially not its biggest fans at one of the series best moments. They won’t stop asking for more, and neither will anybody else.