I was on-hand for E3 2016 to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The demo that blew critics away in its debut made for one of the biggest highlights of the entire show, leading to a glowing preview of Breath of the Wild from Game Rant. Fast-forwarding through the reveal of the Nintendo Switch to 2017, I was able to try out the same 20-minute offering, but this time it was on Nintendo’s hotly anticipated new console.
Our preview of the Nintendo Switch allowed us to elaborate on the nitty-gritty of the home/portable console hybrid, but the impact that the unique platform has on its most-anticipated launch game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is well worth exploring. And, as the game loaded up for a 20-minute session, I was able to take hold of the Switch Pro Controller for an immediately more traditional Zelda experience. Suffice it to say, the game looks just as beautiful as gamers have been lead to believe, with the rolling hills of Hyrule stretching as far a Link’s eyes could see. Indeed, it was a little overwhelming for a brief hands-on session, but the scale of this area is a promising glimpse of what awaits hopeful adventurers.
Now, it’s already been confirmed that the newest Legend of Zelda will have enhanced resolution and reduced load times on Switch, but despite knowing that going in, it was hard to spot much of a difference since the there was no means of directly comparing the two versions during this hands-on stint. Having said that, the Switch console rendered the surrounding scenery spectacularly, capturing the majesty of Nintendo’s immense in-game world and displaying it prominently on the television screen in front of me. Without a doubt, it’s sure to spark the debate amongst fans as to whether or not it’s the best looking Zelda yet. Juggling that though, my mind then began to reel. Was there a chance that the game would take a hit when jumping to the lower-resolution Switch screen?
Setting down the Pro Controller, I grabbed hold of the Switch console and slid it out of its dock. As I did so, the game instantly swapped over to the system’s screen. It was impressive, fully showcasing the core appeal of the console the exact moment I felt like taking the experience with me. Even better, the game didn’t suffer from any sort of chugging or downscaling during the swap, perfectly shifting the television-based experience to a smaller screen. Since the button layout of the Pro Controller is similar to the Joy-Con when docked to the console, there was no stop-gap to reacquaint myself with a new control scheme – creating a perfect flow to the process in that moment.
While there are sure to be slight differences when all the versions are stacked up, the world featured in Breath of the Wild will be just as sprawling and jaw-dropping on the Switch’s smaller screen – albeit running at 720p in lieu of 900p. Keeping in mind the fact that it took Nintendo 13 years to make the likes of Ocarina of Time a portable experience, it’s exciting to think that the latest home console iteration of The Legend of Zelda can be taken with fans whenever they want – albeit under the parameters of a 3-hour of battery life limit.
Even in spite of the demo that felt far too short, the hour-long wait time required to try it, and the occasionally frame rate drop that would sporadically occur throughout, the fact that I can take this with me wherever I may roam or simply breathe in the allure of this new Hyrule from the comfort of home is overwhelming. Breath of the Wild has all the makings of an extremely promising launch title for the Nintendo Switch that capitalizes on the core premise of the platform, delivering an immense, beautiful, and mobile adventure to the masses.
Whether or not the final product will ultimately deliver on this remains to be seen, but gamers won’t be waiting all that long to find out.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild arrives for Nintendo Switch and Wii U on March 3, 2017.