The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a massive change in structure for the franchise. After Nintendo was seemingly making the experience more closed-off and linear, this game bucked all of the franchise’s own trends to become not only one of the best Zelda games but one of the best open-world games ever made.
While the game doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, it builds on what others hinted at. It takes the tower system from Assassin’s Creed and makes it more exciting, it has combat reminiscent of Dark Souls with its use of dodging. There are many examples of this in the game, but with how much inspiration they took, it seemed that Nintendo had created the perfect game (the review scores certainly echo that).
That said, the game isn’t perfect (as much as we love it). Looking back on Breath of the Wild, there are a lot of issues and hiccups that are a bit weird in hindsight. The game is still great, but there are some flaws that pop up here and there that do tarnish it ever so slightly. Some of the design choices regarding enemies, bosses, and even dungeons haven’t stuck as well over time as Nintendo was likely hoping.
With that out of the way, we’re going to explore 25 weird problems with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild that true fans noticed. For this list, we are including the Expansion Pass content, so all DLC is subject to criticism here as well.
There is something to be said about how well the Divine Beasts were designed. They served as massive titans in the world that beckoned players to explore them and figure out their secrets. They also made great use of the game’s physics engine. However, they all felt lacking in the design department and blended together. With a world as beautiful as the one in Breath of the Wild, it felt like there was something missing by not having environmentally based dungeons.
The Champions Ballad DLC came with a new dungeon for players to tackle. While it came with the best boss fight in the entire game, it also had a bit of a problem. The big visual draw with the dungeons in the game was that they were all Divine Beasts. This final dungeon was not a Divine Beast. Instead, it was just a big chamber hidden in the Shrine of Resurrection. It was still well-executed, but it’s less memorable because it had no standout visual features to distinguish it from the rest of the dungeons.
The idea of sneaking up on a horse and calming it down to then ride it across Hyrule is a fantastic idea, but the horses in Breath of the Wild don’t offer that much. They give players less interactivity with the world and can only be called at certain distances. This made it easy to lose them and difficult to grab new items. For many players, it was easier to just travel on foot. The DLC tried to make the system better but introduced the Master Cycle Zero in the process.
Breakable weapons were a new and controversial feature in Breath of the Wild. While we’re not going to argue that the feature was bad, there was one aspect of it that was just a weird problem. Players would often encounter Bokoblins and take their clubs to use in battle. Unfortunately, those clubs would last only one more battle (if that) before breaking. It was extremely frustrating considering wooden weapons were the only options while fighting in a thunderstorm. They should’ve lasted a bit longer.
It’s a cool addition that rain makes it more difficult to climb surfaces. However, it’s not just difficult to climb things in the rain, it’s downright impossible. While it does enhance the realism of the game, it does present some problems in exploration. Breath of the Wild is a game that encourages players to explore the world vertically. If the weather system constantly inhibits that type of exploration, though, it feels at odds throughout the adventure. The rain always seemed to come at the worst times too.
While attempts to give Link a voice in the past have been less than impressive, Breath of the Wild was perhaps the best opportunity to try again. However, Link was not given a voice, but every other major character was. It seemed a bit out of place to not have Link talking. While the game did try to give a reason as to why Link never talked, it was still odd for all the Champions, Zelda, Impa, and the King of Hyrule to each have full voices with Link only grunting.
One of the problems with the Divine Beasts is that the Blight Ganons at the end of them didn’t pose a serious challenge, particularly in the later hours of the game. Once players had all the right equipment, taking on these foes was easy. What made this a weird mistake was how punishing the rest of the game world was. Even the enemies scaled their difficulty as players would complete the game. However, the Blights never got harder and were just a simple obstacle.
Octoroks, Bokoblins, Lizalfos, Moblins, Wizzrobes, Stalfos, Lynels, and Guardians. Those are the only enemy types in Breath of the Wild. While that seems like a respectable amount on paper, some of them behave similarly, and the amount of these different types don’t spread well to the massive version of Hyrule in the game. By the time players have explored a few different sections of the map, they’ve seen every type of enemy in the game and just have to defeat more of them until they face Ganon.
Korok seeds originally had a purpose to being collected. The more players gathered, the bigger they could make their weapon, shield, and bow inventories respectively. However, at about halfway, it’s impossible to make those inventories any bigger. Instead, players only collect to get all of them. However, there’s no motivation for even doing that apart from getting 100%. Hestu only gives a useless gift, which looks and apparently smells like a pile of poo. It’s like the game gives completionists a big middle finger.
When Breath of the Wild first came out, it had some frame rate problems, particularly in areas where there was a lot of grass. Post-launch patches have come out to ameliorate that issue, but it still pops up. It’s still impossible to go through the beautiful Korok Forest without experiencing some frame rate dips, which is a shame because it prevents players from fully appreciating that location among others. It’s a bit baffling considering how good Nintendo usually is at hitting a steady frame rate with their major releases.
Link was asleep for 100 years after the destruction of Hyrule, and he awoke to find his Champion friends all gone and Zelda imprisoned at Hyrule Castle, holding back Ganon with the remainder of her powers. When he finally beat Ganon and freed Zelda, though, players were shocked to find that she was still at her young age. This makes no sense because she had essentially been alive for 100 years, so she should’ve at least looked the part when she was finally rescued.
A lot of the enemies in Breath of the Wild’s overworld are pretty tough, especially the Lynels. While engaged in those fights, the fear of perishing can cause players to make rookie mistakes at any moment. It requires the utmost skill and patience to take some of those creatures down. However, all of the tension essentially goes away when players remember they can pause the game at any time and chow down on some extra food to regain their health.
The final fight with Ganon in Breath of the Wild was exciting when he took the spider form. However, when he was unleashed on Hyrule in the form of Dark Beast Ganon, the fight was severely underwhelming. Players were given the Light Bow and had to take down special weak spots around his body while on horseback. The fight certainly looked cool, but it was one of the most brainless sequences of the game. It was a poor final conflict for a game that could be brutal at times.
The Champions were unique additions to the Zelda franchise. Having specific characters that represented a race of people in Hyrule was a nice touch, but they were never featured enough that players ever learned to care about them. The game gave out basic personality traits, but apart from a cutscene or two, there’s nothing seriously impressive about any of these Champions in the character department. Even in the Champions Ballad DLC, which could’ve been the chance to develop them, nothing of the sort ever happened.
On paper, Champion Abilities are cool. They serve as optional rewards for completing Divine Beasts that make the game world less threatening. However, they make the game too easy at times. Daruk’s Protection lets players soak up three free hits before going on cooldown. Mipha’s Grace restores all their hearts if they perish. Revali’s Gale makes climbing nearly obsolete, and Urbosa’s Fury makes certain battles a cinch. They’re fun to use, but they make the game significantly easier in the end.
Calamity Ganon was the result of Ganon succumbing to his dark form when conquering Hyrule. The man was gone, leaving only the monster within. While this was much more impressive and threatening, it’s a bit of a shame we never got to see Ganondorf. Imagine how much more imposing he could’ve been with the help of voice acting behind him. The fact that he had successfully conquered Hyrule could’ve led to some perfectly smug scenes that put his personality on full display.
The first DLC pack for Breath of the Wild brought a special Master Mode, which made the game more difficult. The problem with this mode is that it doesn’t do anything creative with that premise. All it does is make the enemies one color shade stronger and introduces gold enemies for even greater difficulty. It also has platforms with treasure chests, but that’s about all there is to it. It’s the same game and world, but the enemies just hit harder and have more health.
Lots of AAA games are adding picture functions for some sort of replayability factor and Breath of the Wild is no exception. Players can use the Sheikah Slate to take pictures of animals and monsters and add them to the Compendium, which serves as a visual encyclopedia that they have to fill themselves. There isn’t a lot of use to using the Compendium. There isn’t any unique benefit to filling it out, and the players that decide to complete it are probably doing so just to get that coveted 100%.
Cooking was a fun and unique way of giving Link more health. Players could mix ingredients to see what new entrée they got. There was even a pleasant jingle that played when throwing ingredients together. The only problem with the cooking system was that there was no way to keep track of recipes. When there were all sorts of combinations with different results, it was nearly impossible to keep track of what was what. Most people resorted to online guides to keep the best recipes at hand.
There is something beautiful about Breath of the Wild’s world. It doesn’t bog players down with objectives on a mini-map. Instead, it has gorgeous mountains and volcanoes that entice players from the distance, just begging to be explored. It encourages a purely organic sense of exploration that few games capture well. However, it’s possible to make it to the edge of the map where players are met with a “you can’t go any further” message. It breaks the immersion of the world, especially where there are more sections they can see in the distance.
While the addition of sailing on a raft is welcome, the implementation could’ve used some work. There were few sections where it was practical to sail, and it required a Korok Leaf, which took up a weapon slot (few of which were ever open). Then, players had to get just the right angle when using it to make sure that they were propelling themselves in the right direction. The only time players truly needed to use it was to get to Eventide Island.
Breath of the Wild is a jaw-dropping game that makes clever use of its art style to convey beauty and scale. However, the game’s visuals aren’t without their own series of problems. One such problem is that not all of the textures were treated with the same care. There are moments, especially when climbing up the sides of a mountain, that the textures are flat and basic. They contrast with the stellar visuals of the rest of the game and stand out even more because of it.
While Breath of the Wild handles weapon management quite well, forcing players to collect weapons they want and leave others behind, it doesn’t do the same with its inventory system. Players just grab every item they can find and fill up several pages in their inventories. There is essentially no limit to the resources they can have at once, which can make scrolling through them a chore. Finding certain ingredients and items was a pain for most players. Good luck in the late game.
Breath of the Wild had over 100 Shrines to find, but it didn’t force players to find them all on their own. It included the Shrine Sensor which beeped when players were close to a Shrine. The problem with this is that the sound effect alone was extremely annoying. With so many Shrines to find in the game, it would constantly beep, which quickly became frustrating. Players could turn it off, but then they were given no help to find the game’s trickier shrines.
Like most open-world games, Breath of the Wild had an added stealth mechanic that didn’t feel seamlessly implemented. It was little more than crouching behind enemies and stealth striking them and then tackling the remainder of the horde. With no different options to tackle stealth scenarios, it never felt like it meshed as well with the combat. The section with the Yiga Tribe and the first Lynel were better implemented in regards to stealth, but they were the only exceptions.