What can I say about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild that hasn’t been said already? It is a landmark game. At one point, it had over a 100% attachment rate to the Nintendo Switch. This means that more people were buying the game than the console it was made for. This doesn’t even include the number of copies that were sold for the Wii U. Somehow, more people owned Breath of the Wild for the Switch then the Switch itself.
It isn’t hard to see why Breath of the Wild has done so well. The game takes all of the old things we loved about Zelda and merged them with new ideas and mechanics. Well, at least new for a Zelda game. Some of these mechanics are actually pretty old, like voice acting. To be fair to Nintendo, this is the second Zelda game to feature voice acting. Although, our main hero remains as silent as before.
It is no secret that these “new” mechanics are the reason Breath of the Wild's release date got pushed back as many times as it did. The Nintendo developers went out of their way to pack the game with everything they could think of. Many of these familiar features offer a unique twist. But that doesn’t negate the fact that other games did them before Zelda. Here are 15 Breath of the Wild game mechanics that are found in other games.
15 Breakable Weapons - Dark Cloud
If Breath of the Wild had one major flaw, it would be its weapon durability system. There is nothing worse than running around with your new favorite weapon, only to see that devious text screen appear to tell you that your weapon is about to break. However, Breath of the Wild is hardly the first to do this.
Dark Cloud, an action RPG for the PlayStation 2, gave its weapons their own hit points. In Dark Cloud, a weapon had WHp (weapon HP). If the weapon loses all of its WHp, it breaks and disappears forever. What really separates Dark Cloud’s weapon durability from Breath of the Wild is that in Dark Cloud you can repair your weapons using repair powder. Additionally, if you continue to use repair a weapon, it will actually get stronger over time! So, while managing your WHp on top of the characters HP can be a pain, it’s worth it for that sweet weapon upgrade.
Of course, Dark Cloud is hardly the only game with breakable weapons. Dark Souls, Elder Scrolls, Fire Emblem, and Monster Hunter are all series that have some kind of breakable weapons. Although, most of these also let you repair said weapons. There are a few weapons in Breath of the Wild that can be remade, but these are few and far between. Breath of the Wild, I love you, but please let me repair at least a few of my broadswords.
14 Climbing Everything - Assassin’s Creed 3
Nothing is sacred, everything is climbable. This new ability is a major overhaul from previous Zelda titles. In Breath of the Wild, you can climb just about anything you want too. Horribly steep mountain? Sure! That random building? Why not? Just, try not to do it in the rain.
Like everything on this list though, Breath of the Wild didn’t do it first. Many games from Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed, Uncharted, etc. offer players the ability to climb to astounding heights. But few of them let climb you anything your heart desires. Most of these require you to follow designated paths or have things that logic dictates should be climbable but, for some reason, aren’t. Assassin’s Creed 3 was one of the few games that did away with those restrictions and gave players free reign to go anywhere. It really helped to increase the verticality of the game since the cities in colonial America were lacking large infrastructure. Thankfully, there was no stamina wheel.
13 Stamina Wheel - Dark Souls
Speaking of that stamina wheel, it’s back! The stamina wheel, or the stamina gauge, made its first Zelda appearance in Skyward Sword. This time, it comes with upgrades. No literally, you can finally upgrade the stupid thing. Breath of the Wild uses that wheel for just about everything; from running, to climbing, to taming horses. Running out of stamina will render Link exhausted for a few seconds and leave him vulnerable to attack. It is a major part of the gameplay.
Video games in general love stamina gauges. Although, most of them display the gauge as a little bar. Dark Souls, in particular, loves its stamina bar. Because the game just wasn’t hard enough without it. Dashing, blocking, even attacking can and will deplete your stamina reserves. You can augment your stamina by enhancing your character’s endurance or equipping items that increase stamina recovery. But run out, and you’re in for a terrible fate.
Fun fact: Secret of Mana was one of the first games to ever implement a stamina mechanic.
12 No Tutorial - Minecraft
Breath of the Wild has been praised for its lack of handholding. There are the occasional pop-ups that explain what some of the buttons do, but there is no tutorial sequence. Heck, the only thing you get that is remotely close to a tutorial doesn’t happen until about three to five hours into the game depending on how long you take. Plus, this little combat tutorial isn’t even in the starting area! To add insult to injury, I’d figured out most of that stuff on my own by the time I found it.
Minecraft, much like Breath of the Wild, simply drops the players into the procedurally generated world and says “have fun!” Or not, depending how many creepers you come across and how quickly you can make your safe hole in the ground. However, Minecraft goes to an even bigger extreme and tosses the whole idea of a tutorial out the window. Even the biggest part of Minecraft, the crafting, needs to be figured out. A large number of players end up fleeing to the all-knowing power of the internet to help them figure things out.
Now, it’s entirely possible that Breath of the Wild is taking its no handholding approach from the original Legend of Zelda or even Super Mario Bros; two games that didn’t have tutorials either. No matter the case, I think it’s a good thing.
11 Shield Surfing - Kingdom Hearts II
You know that big metal or wooden thing that you can stick on your arm and use to protect yourself? Let’s use it to ride some waves! Or well, in this case, icy mountains slopes, steep hills, and wet grass. Shield surfing is a neat, and fun, little trick in Breath of the Wild. The mechanic is even used as the central theme for a minigame. Although sliding on your shield will eventually cause it to break, or help it break a lot faster, it is still a ton of fun.
Kingdom Hearts II offers an earlier example of shield surfing with Goofy Turbo! During combat, Goofy will jump on his shield, flailing wildly, and slide into enemies. This knocks them towards you so you can deliver a nasty punch. Of course, it’s hard to tell if this is on purpose or a complete accident since this is Goofy we are talking about.
Dynasty Warriors 8 takes shield surfing to the level of bad puns. Huang Gai actually uses a small, metal boat as his shield. One of his attacks lets him hop onto the “shield” and ride a wave onto his enemies. A pun at this level would make my dad proud.
10 Follow The Animals - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
In Breath of the Wild every stable, and a few other locations, has a cute little canine playing nearby. Link can befriend one of the Hylian retrievers by feeding it a few scraps of food. If the dog likes you, it will begin to wander away. Follow the pooch, and it will lead you to a hidden chest nearby!
In Skyrim, foxes are man’s best friend. These little creatures are everywhere. Most of the time, you can just ignore them or hunt them for their pelts. However, these little creatures offer more than you might think. If you manage to follow a fox for long enough, it will lead you to a secret. Sometimes it’s a chest, other times it is a hidden dungeon or a bandit camp. These places are unmarked on the overworld map, so it is worth the effort! Next time you run across one of these beasts, take time off from dragon slaying (and world saving) to go follow the little guy.
9 Taming Horses - Black Desert Online
Epona might be locked behind an amiibo, but there are plenty of other horses to grab in Breath of the Wild. Of course, it isn’t as simple as just walking up to a horse and pressing A. In Breath of the Wild you have to earn your horse! This means finding a wild herd and sneaking up to one of the horses. When you get close enough, you can jump onto the horse and mash the R button. If you have enough stamina, or are just plain stubborn, the horse will calm down enough for you to ride it back to a stable and register it.
There is a similar mechanic in the MMO RPG Black Desert Online. Black Desert offers a wide variety of horses that you can track down and tame. To do this, you have to first purchase some capturing rope from a stable keeper. From there, you can find a wild horse and toss the rope over its head. This will allow you get close enough to the horse without it running away. Players can even use raw sugar to try and bribe the horse into liking you. It's kind of like how you can feed an apple to a horse in Breath of the Wild. And just like Breath of the Wild, different colored horses have different stat tiers. So looks are everything! At least when it comes to your digital mount.
8 Your Horse Has A Mind Of Its Own - Shadow Of The Colossus
Horse AI has really improved over the years. When you first get a horse in Breath of the Wild, the horse will not trust you. It will fight and buck. It will slow down or try to go another way. You have to increase your bond with the horse by regularly praising it or bribing it with food. When your horse’s bond is at max, the horse will actually follow the roads of its own accord! Plus, the horse will naturally avoid obstacles. This lets you sit back, and enjoy the ride. Or shoot things.
Agro, in Shadow of the Colossus, was also programmed with a fairly advanced AI. Agro would come when called or run away from enemies. She would slow down when the path became narrow, steer herself around objects, or even refuse jumps! Sound familiar? Agro’s abilities were especially important during combat as they let you shoot freely. Agro would naturally steer herself so that she wouldn’t plow headfirst into walls or pillars. Or better yet, hang off her side when you needed too.
Agro’s impressive AI is not surprising as Team Ico, the developers of Shadow of the Colossus, were the ones behind Trico from The Last Guardian. Team Ico sure does love their smart animal companions.
7 Cooking And Potions - Fallout 4
Hearts are no longer strewn across Hyrule like the lost remnants of lonely souls. Instead, Breath of the Wild introduces a new cooking mechanic. Cooking pots are scattered throughout Hyrule, although they mostly in appear towns or stables. Simply toss anywhere between one to five ingredients into the pot and tada! You have a hot meal. Many of these meals can offer beneficial status effects in addition to the hearts they replenish. Throw in a few monster parts and some random bugs, and you can make yourself a nice potion. Of course, the pot isn’t necessary, but it does make better, dishes and only status effects can be added using a pot.
Fallout 4 also offers a few cooking stations. These, like in Breath of the Wild, allow the player to use the various cooking stations to make themselves some grub. Fallout 4 foods can offer health or status effects as well. Although, Fallout’s cooking stations are a bit more diverse than what Breath of the Wild offers. They range from cooking pots to spits, and even stoves! Add with a mod and you can be barbecuing in no time. Not bad for a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Burgers anyone?
6 Dialogue Trees - Mass Effect
Dialogue trees aren’t really new in the Zelda series. But they aren’t common either. Skyward Sword was the first to prominently features dialogue options. The dialogue options in Breath of the Wild can be very funny and even show off Link’s snarky side on occasion. Unfortunately, most of these choices offer little to no lasting consequences. They just help to make the dialogue feel a bit more personal.
This is not the case in games like Mass Effect. Dialogue trees are heavily relied on to get story and lore details. They offer moral choices that can’t be taken back. What you say can have lasting consequences. So like real life, but with more aliens. It really takes "be careful what you say" to a whole new level.
Other game series like Elder Scrolls, Deus Ex, or Dragon Age offer similar dialogue options to varying degrees. This mechanic is quite popular in RPGs.
5 Dynamic Weather - Shenmue
I can already hear the groans. Yes, the rain makes climbing just about impossible and happens more often than a sunny day in the Mojave Desert. However, you do have to give it to Nintendo that the weather system is impressive. The weather changes from region to region and hour to hour. It can start as a cloudy day and become beautifully sunny. A light drizzle can gradually increase to a torrential downpour, or a thunderstorm can strike out of the blue. Snowfall can turn your game into a winter wonderland or sandstorms can bury faster than The Mummy.
Shenmue was one of the first games to offer dynamic weather. The game was released on the Dreamcast back in 1999. It boasted what it called the magic weather system. Like Breath of the Wild, weather in Shenmue was subject to change at any time. These weather changes were even present in cutscenes. NPCs would react to the weather by seeking shelter or using umbrellas. It helped make multiple playthroughs feel unique.
Harvest Moon is another early example of weather changes. Many games since, like Horizon: Zero Dawn, have included these weather systems.
4 Using Updrafts To Glide - Assassin’s Creed II
Whoever designed the physics engine in Breath of the Wild deserves a medal. It is incredibly realistic and extremely detailed. Small things, like updrafts created by fire, are programmed into the game. It makes for a funny trick when you watch your apple fly off into the air and come back baked. However, it can also be used to your advantage. These updrafts can be ridden using the paraglider. You can use them to get out of the way of an angry lynel or help boost yourself high enough to shoot the scale off of a dragon. Or better yet, use them to save your skin by lighting something on fire with a fire arrow and riding the draft to safety.
Assassin’s Creed II uses a similar mechanism in one of the story missions. During the Infrequent Flyer mission, Ezio must glide across the city using Leonardo’s flying machine. In order to stay airborne, you have to fly over giant pyres that are lit all over the city while avoiding arrows from guards. Of course, if you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can kick said guards off the rooftops. If you aren't careful, you'll miss a pyre and plow face first into the ground.
3 Fire Propagation - Far Cry 2
Again, we come back to the fire. I’m not a pyromaniac, I swear. But the fire is just so freaking impressive in Breath of the Wild, especially how it spreads. Breath of the Wild encourages our inner pyromaniac early on. There is a nifty spot near some cliffs where a group of bokoblins spawn. They are also sitting on a large patch of brown grass that extends out of the pass and into a field. To add to the temptation, there is a pile of exploding barrels beneath a watch tower and a conveniently placed fire near the field. It is hard to resist the urge to light set the whole thing ablaze. Wind can make your fire go faster in a specific direction and rain will quench it.
Far Cry 2 also offers an equally impressive fire engine with more realistic graphics. Like Breath of the Wild, the fire in Far Cry spreads quickly from one burnable thing to another. It will consume trees and grasses. It will even go out when all of its fuel in a specific area is consumed. Plus the wind can be a fortuitous ally as it will help spread the fiery destruction!
2 Paragliding - Just Cause
Why do we need a paraglider? Just cause!
All joking aside, the paraglider in Breath of the Wild is an extremely fun mechanic that was obtained through extreme frustration. You get it through an old man that jerks your chain and sends you off on a series of fetch quests after promising to give it to you once you completed the first shrine. Yes, I’m bitter! However, the world opens up to you once you obtain the paraglider. It is a life saver and a best friend. I’m glad that they brought the glider over from Skyward Sword and Wind Waker. Especially since it is even more useful than before.
While Just Cause doesn't have a paraglider, it does offer a reusable parachute. The very first mission in Just Cause, Devil’s Drop Zone, has you free falling towards an island. When you get close enough, you pull a string, and a parachute erupts from your back to save you from becoming a digital pancake. Later, you can obtain a grappling hook so you can parasail behind boats and cars. In Just Cause II, you can upgrade your parachute with dual pack thrusters! I just want to strap one of those bad boys onto Link's paraglider and watch him fly! That or give him the wingsuit from Just Cause 3. Nintendo, please put this into one of your DLC!
1 True Open World - Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
At last! Zelda has finally become a true open world. The past Zelda games have all been pseudo open worlds. They required loading screens in order to move from one area to the next. Even the panning frames from one section of the map to another that occur in the handheld Zelda games are a kind of loading screen. True open worlds have no such screens. You can go from one end of the map to another without encountering a single loading screen. Many Zelda games in the past, like Wind Waker or Ocarina, managed to get close. Breath of the Wild is the first Zelda title to go all the way.
Black Flag was notable in the Assassin's Creed series for being a true open world. You could easily run off of the dock in a city, swim to your ship, sail to a completely different country, and hop off without encountering a single loading screen. This is quite a feat when you consider how huge the map is in that game. Now, loading screens were required to start missions or to hop between the Animus and Abstergo Industries. However, this does not disqualify Black Flag from bearing the title of true open world.