The Legend of Zelda is an icon in the RPG genre. It has inspired games from the beginning and continues to push the limits with every single detail even decades later. Zelda is the only game that you see people purchase full consoles for. The Nintendo Switch is breaking sales records just on this title alone. So with such a huge influence in RPGs it is interesting that Breath of the Wild has taken so much influence from MMOs in this recent version. It seems like for the first time, Nintendo’s team paid close attention to the other MMOs and RPGs on the market when building this game. Today we wanted to talk about what MMO elements are in Breath of the Wild that really add to the experience. If you are an MMO player, but do not play Zelda, we think you will find some key elements in this list that set the game apart.
5. The Open World
Breath of the Wild hosts an amazing open world. In the past you did quests through Zelda in an almost linear fashion. Nintendo has really broken down the walls of their experience and allowed you to explore a vast and graphically gorgeous environment. Players who like to find ruins or shrines off in the distance can now go there at will and find different adventures. Parts of Zelda have always been open world, but this game really stand more with Elder Scrolls Online or World of Warcraft in terms of freedom. You can literally go try the final boss Ganon after the first couple hours, or you can spend hundreds of hours scouring Hyrule first.
4. Cooking System
Every MMO has its crafting and gathering. This is something fairly new to the Zelda franchise. You gather ingredients throughout your journeys and when you come to a cook fire, you get to make all kinds of food. The best part is, different foods impact game play. For example, the spicy peppers help to keep your body temperature stable in icy areas. This is a great new mechanic which encourages the player to cook. In many MMOs you have the option to create meals and all, but usually they are somewhat of an afterthought. With Zelda, you now have to cook in order to do parts of the map. It plays out very well and finding out what different foods do is all part of the fun.
3. It is Actually Hard
Zelda pulls no punches this time around. The game is tough and unforgiving. If you mess up, you pay for it so save early, save often. Many RPGs and MMOs have gotten easy over the past decade. Somewhere we gave players the ability to die, resurrect, and continue with very little consequences. However, Ultima and Everquest began the early MMO tradition of some brutal death penalties. Breath of the Wild heralds back to these days. Many writers compare it to Dark Souls as well. What Nintendo has done here is follow the Minecraft philosophy. A whole generation of gamers have grown up knowing perma-death and fear. Zelda capitalizes on that mechanics and brings in a much harder game for everyone. We like this bar being raised as for years now games just simply got easier. It no longer seems to be going that way.
Zelda has a history of famous tools for the right job. Whether it is the bow, bomb, or sword, you had a small arsenal that you knew well carry over from each game. The updated version adds a ton of melee and ranged weapons to choose from. Link is no longer bound to his classic sword and shield. You can use spears, polearms, clubs, and various bows to get the job done as well. The big thing is that weapons break all the time forcing you to constantly have a supply on hand. This feature is much more open thinking RPG than MMO, but we love it. You do get a warning when a weapon is in bad shape, but Zelda has a trend of breaking weapons in mid combat forcing you to switch a lot. They're not permanent, and while it can be frustrating, it keeps the game and the challenge fresh.
1. Playable Anywhere
MMOs needs to take this lesson. With Wifi available now more than ever, it is time games where playable anywhere in the world. Every night I would sit down to World of Warcraft and wish I could sneak in a few hours during my day. The Nintendo Switch allows you to do that. MMOs have always lagged behind in this area mostly do to their high end demands. However, as more MMOs make the leap to console gaming, it seems like they should also make the leap to mobile gaming. I am not talking about mobile MMOs specifically, I am talking about playing WoW or ESO on your tablet or a device which would connect you across every platform. The Switch sets the building blocks for this idea nicely. It also works with online and offline play, something other MMOs could really benefit from. In time we will see this happen, but Zelda and the Switch herald in the first steps of what gaming will be like in 2020.