Games for Breakfast: Climbing in Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Welcome to Games for Breakfast, a new feature series here on BagoGames!

Games for Breakfast, written by Features Editor Angelo De Bellis, is a daily opinion piece of about 250-500 words—I gotta keep it brief—that engages topical game news. Every new post will go live at 9am EST so that you can grab your cup of coffee and read a brief account of a particular gamer’s take on the latest goings-on in the industry.

I bought a Switch last week, so naturally I’ve been playing quite a bit of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Amidst all the critical and fan acclaim it’s been getting for its return to open world design, its puzzle elements, and its many endearing surprises, I’ve come to realize something special about Link’s new adventure that I don’t think has been talked about much. I find the world traversal, the climbing in the game to be something unique, something that I haven’t seen a game before.

As far as my mind can take me, I recall Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time being one of the first games to introduce climbing mechanics. Since then we’ve gotten tons of games that include characters who can climb, leap, and use their bodies to perform a bunch of other parkour techniques. Games like Assassin’s Creed or Uncharted demand that players climb a series of structures to keep the game going, but have any of these games perfected it as I think Zelda has? Not really.

(The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo)

(The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo)

The thing is with the latest Zelda, it gets around the trickiness of having to color interactable ledges or design architecture in such a way that makes it obvious to players that they need to press against specific structures in a predetermined order to progress. How does Zelda get around this design issue? In a rather Nintendo way, simple yet effective, Link can climb essentially anything and is only held down by weather effects or his heart when it’s unable to keep up with his appetite for adventure.

I’m not sure if many have thought of this, but it’s a great feeling to play an open world title and not have to fight with its controls. I find exploring a breeze in Zelda because climbing isn’t a hassle. Truly, in other games that require you to climb, I would be less inclined to see what waited for me over the other side of a mountain because it would mean fighting the controls to get my characters past the steep grades of ground or my eyes to locate the next ledge to grapple to.

How are you enjoying Zelda? Do you agree that doing away with the perhaps more realistic climbing mechanics used by the typical AAA titles makes Zelda a more enjoyable experience? Or what new feature or function are you most proud of in Breath of the Wild?

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