The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review

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An evocative and exhilarating open-world adventure game.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s sheer freedom and sense of adventure is a remarkable achievement. Right from the start, the vast landscape of Hyrule is thrown completely open to you, and it constantly finds ways to pique your curiosity with mysterious landmarks, complex hidden puzzles, and enemy camps to raid for treasure and weapons. The fact that you can tackle any one of these things at your own pace and almost never get pulled to the main path is liberating, but the way all of Breath of the Wild’s systems fit elegantly into complex light survival game is even more impressive. I’ve been running around for over 50 hours and I still have plenty of mysteries left to track down and lots of wonderfully crafted puzzles to solve. I’m in awe of this scope and scale of this adventure, and I often find myself counting the hours until I can get back in.

The untamed, post-apocalyptic, techno-fantasy land of Hyrule is the main character in Breath of the Wild. Not only is it vast, beautiful, and filled with a diverse set of locations from grassy fields to craggy alpine mountains, but it follows surprisingly realistic rules that let you pull off solutions so intuitive that you might be surprised they actually work. The trees bear fruit, grass fields can be set ablaze, and even enemies and animals behave in a believable manner, based on the skittish and aggressive reactions I’ve seen in the wild. But the realistic touches don’t end there. Each object you encounter, from sticks to apples to rocks and metallic blocks, is made of a material, and those materials usually respond to forces like fire and magnetism as you’d expect.

It all sets up a surprisingly fun and responsive sandbox to interact with, and one I’ve rarely seen executed so well in an action-adventure game. If you think something should work, it usually does, and that led me to all kinds of fun and hilarious experimentation. You can stand under an apple tree with a torch and bake the fruit into a quick-healing snack before you even pick it, or drop a metal sword in front of a weaponless enemy and watch it get fried by a bolt of lighting. Meanwhile, Link needs warmer clothes to survive the cold and flame-resistant gear to near the volcanic Death Mountain. It’s consistently amazing to learn how all of these systems interact with each other while you play.

What elevates Breath of Wild above its contemporaries is its sheer freedom.

But what elevates Breath of Wild above its open-world contemporaries is its sheer freedom, both in its non-linear questing structure and in your ability to climb almost any surface and travel in any direction once you leave the starting area. It is the heart of what makes this action-adventure game truly special and addictive. Like many open-world games it delivers on the implied promise that if you can see it out in the distance, chances are you can eventually reach it – but here, figuring out how to get there is more often than not a satisfying puzzle in itself, and one that never gets old. For instance, a tantalizing island far off the coast of the mainland was just out of my paragliding reach for the first several hours until after I’d upgraded my abilities. When I finally did, what took place when I finally reached my objective was a great twist that blew my mind – including finding an easier alternate route I’d missed.

That paraglider is easily one of the most useful tools in Breath of the Wild because it’s so versatile. You can use it to effortlessly glide across lakes and gaps or ride updrafts into new areas, and I often used each long trip across the map as a way to scan the marvelously lit horizon in search of clues or meditate on what I need to do next.

Every IGN Zelda Review Score, And What Jose Thinks

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild  Review
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild  Review
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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild  Review
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild  Review
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild  Review
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild  Review
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild  Review
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild  Review
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild  Review
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild  Review
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild  Review
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild  Review
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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild  Review

Every IGN Zelda Review Score, And What Jose Thinks
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From overhead you get a glimpse of what’s even more evident from the ground: each individual area has its own little ecology, and systems built around extreme hot and cold temperatures and high altitudes mean you have to take the time to think and prepare in order to travel safely through them. It doesn’t matter, for example, if you can glide into the chilly mountains if you’ll freeze to death before you hit the ground. Going in with the right equipment makes all the difference.

As you continue to improve Link’s stamina meter and skills you can reach even more of these varied locations. But no matter how much stronger you get, the world and its resident Mother Nature is always more powerful than you will ever be. Random events like rain and thunderstorms slow down your movement across slick surfaces, and dangerous lightning bolts can strike with little warning if you’re wearing any metal. Additionally, the day/night cycle is constantly running, and makes meaningful differences: nighttime brings monsters that spring up from the ground, it’s easier to spot some useful bugs and plants, and other secrets that are best discovered for yourself. These are all constant reminders that you are always at the mercy of the world itself.

Yet there are still pockets of serenity and beauty spread throughout the gorgeous, tantalizing landscape. In these moments, subtle music queues matched the tempo of my adventure, swaying between playful piano melodies and ambient sounds of wildlife. In the foreground, Breath of the Wild’s anime-inspired art style is colorful, remarkably lively, and beautifully animated, but it comes at the cost of brief framerate hiccups and object pop-in that’s most noticeable when you’re playing the Switch in TV mode, where it renders at 900p, and when there are a lot of physics particle effects flying around the screen. The issues are less frequent playing on in portable mode on the 720p screen, but regardless of where I played the performance problems never significantly soured my gameplay. (Check back soon for what we thought of the Wii U version, which we haven’t received it as of this writing.)

Extreme Chef

The light and flexible cooking system offers lots of opportunity to experiment.

Unlike a lot of survival games in which every item you use must be created from felled trees and dug-up minerals, Breath of the Wild focuses all its crafting systems on cooking. It’s a light and flexible system that offers lots of opportunity for experimenting with different ingredient combinations to help you survive. Raw food and quick-and-dirty snacks cooked by a fire will replenish a small amount of health, but the most interesting and stat-boosting dishes come from tossing ingredients into a pot to make a hearty meal. I’ve spent many hours figuring out the best recipes by using clues noted in the ingredient descriptions to come up with effects like stamina boosts and elemental resistances of various potencies, and I loved that whenever I got a little carried away with the my recipes I ended up with a censored-out dish appropriately called Dubious Food that’s apparently too disgusting to even look at. Making buff-imbuing potions is equally as flexible, and you’ll find plenty of bugs and monster parts with which to mix up a special brew.

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1-2-Switch Review

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A successful demonstration of unique hardware, but a shallow, gimmicky game.

1-2-Switch is a totally bizarre party game that made me laugh much harder than similar collections like Wario Ware or Mario Party, but I’m still not sure if I was laughing at it or with it. The assortment of 28 diverse mini-games seems to exist to show off the fidelity of the sensors on the Joy-Con controllers, and they do, but the remarkably unique games lack any real depth.

The weirdness starts at the very beginning. Each individual game is introduced with a fairly well-produced live-action trailer-slash-tutorial that gives you an idea of the overall tone and mechanics. They’re color coordinated and neatly cut, but seem to be advertisements for the individual game modes more than helpful tutorials. Some are really bad at communicating what you’re supposed to do, and as a result a lot of your first play sessions will probably involve a whole lot of people saying ‘wait, what am I supposed to do here?’

Even when you do have an understanding of how different games work, some, like the baseball mini-game, are confusing. You know one of you has to bat and one of you has to pitch, but it doesn’t tell you what sounds to listen for to swing and hit the virtual ball at the right time, plus you can actually get caught out, which seems like it might happen at random. When you’re the batter, a virtual player on a non-existent field can ‘catch’ the ball you hit, and I was never able to tell the physical difference between a successful swing and a losing one. It never communicated that with me.

Baby is one of the most off-putting mini-games I’ve ever played.

Other games like Gorilla, Baby, and Zen serve very little appeal beyond the novelty of how odd they are. Gorilla has you pound your chest to a simple beat – something you could do without a Joy-Con if you really wanted – but you probably don’t. Baby has you take the console out of the dock and hold it like a baby, rocking it slowly until it stops crying, and then setting it down without waking it up. And it does seem to genuinely be the audio of a baby crying, which automatically makes it one of the most off-putting mini-games I think I’ve ever played. Zen has you sit perfectly still or hold a particular pose, or just put the Joy-Con down – the Switch largely can’t tell the difference.

There’s a big issue with audio-based games in a party setting, too: they become unplayable if there’s too much background noise. One of my favorite games has you move the controller up, down, left, and right if the in-built female voice commands it, but you have to do the opposite if the male voice says it. That game is, in the right setting, competitive and fun, but it’s odd to have a party game you can’t play at an actual party where people are talking or listening to music.

And yet, the things that do work make people laugh much more than most. Even after four hours experiencing all of 1-2-Switch’s absurdities with a small group I didn’t feel bored of the selection of games, and I easily could’ve added a few more hours of playing the simple reflex contest of Quick Draw on top of that.

It offers an oddly personal competitive experience.

Even if it’s laughter at the expense of someone chomping on absolutely nothing just for the Joy-Con to pick up how many virtual sandwiches they’ve eaten, 1-2-Switch offers an oddly personal competitive experience that’s tailored to your own social setting. At some point during our Switch party, we figured out that making a B sound while opening and closing your mouth seems to help you move faster, which resulted in a room full of people trying it out and trying to beat the previous person’s score, all the while making totally ridiculous “bababababa” sounds. We laughed so, so hard at Milk – the game where you milk a virtual cow – and the unnatural, frankly overtly sexual motions it forces you into, all the while encouraging increasingly awkward eye contact between the two players.

Beyond humor, there’s also a degree of wonderment in discovering exactly how the hardware works. Ball Count still seems like magic to me, in that it has you count the amount of small virtual balls that are present in the Joy-Con based on simulation through precise vibration and sound. It’s an interesting demonstration of the Switch’s “high-definition haptics” technology and it’s worth trying once or twice, but I don’t think a whole lot of people will repeatedly come back to it. It’s more gimmicky than anything, because when you think about it it’s literally just simulating marbles in a box.

There are a few different modes, too, including a shuffle mode that plays different games at random and a virtual board game that increases the usual number of players by encouraging you to split up into teams and pass the controllers around. In that, it’s inclusive and adaptable, and I think even people who’ve never played a game before could become wholly comfortable with 1-2-Switch in a matter of hours.

That said, I think this is a game you show to people once, when you’re trying to introduce them to the Switch, and then probably never again. It’s fun, and I’ve repeatedly seen it entertain a room full of people who might not even be playing, but the novelty quickly wears off.

Alanah Pearce is an editor at IGN, and she’s still amazed she somehow managed to pull herself away from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to review this game. You can find her on Twitter @Charalanahzard.

1-2-Switch  Review
1-2-Switch
Throw an impromptu party with anyone anywhere thanks to a play-style where players look at each other and not the screen.
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The Verdict

1-2-Switch is the Switch’s version of Wii Sports, in that it acts as an overall mission statement for the console itself. The quirky, bizarre nature of the unique mini-games make it a funny, memorable experience, but some games are hard to play at first due to unclear tutorials and dialogue cues. Despite its oddities and flaws, I have had so, so much fun playing and watching 1-2-Switch with a small group of friends that I can recommend it in that specific situation, but I don’t have much desire to go back.

Arrow Showrunner and Prometheus Actor Explain the Season 5 Villain’s Reveal

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Spoilers ahead!

Arrow finally revealed who the person behind the mask of its Season 5 Big Bad is, and the real identity of Prometheus might have been a surprise for many people. To weigh in on what the reveal means for the show and its main characters going forward, we spoke with showrunner Wendy Mericle and the actor who we didn’t realize was playing Prometheus the whole time.

Full spoilers for Arrow continue below, so read on at your own risk. Make sure to read our review of “Fighting Fire with Fire.”

Arrow Showrunner and Prometheus Actor Explain the Season 5 Villain's Reveal

Prometheus on Arrow

And Prometheus is… Adrian Chase. You thought he would really be Vigilante? You thought wrong. It doesn’t seem as though he is Vigilante as well, according to showrunner Wendy Mericle, and that’s why they wanted him specifically as Prometheus.

“One of the reasons we did do it was because everybody would be thinking, ‘Of course he’s going to be Vigilante,” she told reporters in a recent interview. “We thought it would be a really fun twist to do what we’ve always done on the show which is to take the comic book mythology and turn it on its head and see what kind of story we can mine from a surprise like that. It was also something different for this season. We wanted to change up how we introduced the big bad and change up when we did it, how we did it, and hopefully we succeeded in that this year.”

Josh Segarra also fell into the trap of thinking he’d be playing Vigilante. Though the executive producers on the show described his character as the Big Bad of the season, once he found out he’d be playing Adrian Chase, he initially figured he’d be playing Chase’s comic book alter ego. Segarra found out the hard way when he got to set to start filming that he’d actually be playing the season’s villain.

Arrow Showrunner and Prometheus Actor Explain the Season 5 Villain's Reveal

Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen andJosh Segarra as Adrian Chase on Arrow

“They announced Adrian Chase, Vigilante. And I’m like ‘oh my gosh! I’m playing Vigilante!’ So now, I get to Vancouver and I think I’m playing this guy Vigilante because that’s who everybody thought, right? I started reading Vigilante comics, and I’m reading about Chase, and reading all about the history of these guys, and I get to work and I’m talking to Marc and I’m like ‘Marc! I’m really doing my research! I’m really being studious about the Vigilante guy’ and he’s like ‘What do you mean?'” Segarra recalled. “I’m like, ‘Oh, dude, you know. We announced it, finally! So I’m going to be a great Adrian Chase – Vigilante.’ He was like, ‘That’s not who you’re playing.'”

Though the audience now knows Chase is Prometheus, Oliver and Team Arrow are still in the dark. Mericle explained that the Prometheus reveal came relatively late in the season because they wanted to build up Chase’s relationship with Oliver before pulling the rug out from under the audience. Arrow will explain Chase’s motivations and backstory in the coming episodes, leading up to the inevitable reveal of his identity to the rest of the characters on the show.

“We’re not going to leave it to the end of the season,” said Segarra. “We’re going to get to watch it all stir, and we’re going to get to watch the pot get stirred a little bit. It’s hard because I already know how he reacts, and I love the way it goes. You’re going to see Chase just kind of trying to burn the world around him. We’ve seen the reluctance [in] him to kill [Oliver]. I never want to kill him. It’s just to make sure that we can make him stir a little bit, make him uncomfortable. So I think that’s where it’s going. Once they do find out, it’s how then to continue with my mission.”

Arrow Showrunner and Prometheus Actor Explain the Season 5 Villain's Reveal

Prometheus on Arrow

“I think one of the fun parts about what we’ve done is to really allow us to live with that reveal for a while and seeing the characters not knowing what their lives are like, still continuing to interact with Adrian Chase in City Hall and elsewhere without knowing his real identity,” noted Mericle. “We really like the idea of doing that in story, and we’re going to play around with that for a little while before we let Oliver and the team find out.”

His supposed kidnapping of Oliver’s ex Susan Williams is yet another development in his plan to torture and torment the mayor of Star City. Though Segarra and Mericle wouldn’t say how long Susan would be in Prometheus’s custody, they did tease how this latest development in Chase’s “mental game” will play out.

“He’s moving pieces that he knows Oliver’s not going to be able to catch up with and I think that Susan is a very, very important piece of that puzzle,” said Segarra. “Susan is a very, very important piece and a very good move in the big chess game that’s going on. And then to get to see that relationship, how it develops between the two, because … Susan may feel betrayed by Oliver, so it’s interesting to see how Chase will try to let’s say navigate those waters, how he can get to his next move.”

Terri Schwartz is Entertainment Editor at IGN. Talk to her on Twitter at @Terri_Schwartz.

GDC 2017: Overwatch Wins Game of the Year at Game Developers Choice Awards

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Quadrilateral Cowboy takes top honors at the Independent Game Festival Awards.

Overwatch has been named Game of the Year at the 17th annual Game Developers Choice Awards, while Quadrilateral Cowboy won the Seumas McNally Grand Prize at the 19th annual Independent Games Festival.

Both award ceremonies were held tonight as part of GDC 2017, with Overwatch also winning Best Design and Playdead’s Inside also picking up two awards. Overwatch was also awarded Game of the Year at the DICE Awards 2017 last week, while IGN also gave the Blizzard multiplayer shooter our Game of the Year honor for 2016.

Check out the full list of Game Developers Choice Awards winners below:

Best Audio Inside (Playdead)

Best Debut Campo Santo (Firewatch)

Best Design Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment)

Best Mobile/Handheld Game Pokemon Go (Niantic)

Innovation Award No Man’s Sky (Hello Games)

Best Narrative Firewatch (Campo Santo)

Best Technology Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Naughty Dog)

Best Visual Art Inside (Playdead)

Best VR/AR Game Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives (Owlchemy Labs)

Audience Award Battlefield 1 (EA DICE)

Game of the Year Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment)

Pioneer Award Jordan Mechner (Prince of Persia creator)

Ambassador Award Mark DeLoura (formerly of Nintendo, Sony, THQ, and Ubisoft)

Lifetime Achievement Award Tim Sweeney (Epic Games founder)

At the IGF Awards, Quadrilateral Cowboy took home the Excellence in Design — for more on the game, check out our Quadrilateral Cowboy review. Hyper Light Drifter also won two awards. IGF winners are awarded cash prizes, represented below next to each award.

Find out the full list of winners below:

Excellence in Narrative ($3,000) Ladykiller in a Bind (Love Conquers All Games)

Excellence in Audio ($3,000) GoNNER (Art in Heart)

Excellence in Design ($3,000) Quadrilateral Cowboy (Blendo Games)

Excellence in Visual Art ($3,000) Hyper Light Drifter (Heart Machine)

Nuovo Award ($5,000) Oiκοςpiel, Book I (David Kanaga)

Best Student Game ($3,000) Un Pas Fragile (Géraud de Courrèges, Alisée Preud’homme, Gregory Parisi, Gaspard Morel)

Audience Award ($3,000) Hyper Light Drifter (Heart Machine)

alt.ctrl.GDC Award Fear Sphere (New Arcade)

Seumas McNally Grand Prize ($30,000) Quadrilateral Cowboy (Blendo Games)

Jonathon Dornbush is an Associate Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter @jmdornbush.

Unlocked 285: Phil Spencer Joins Us, Talks Scorpio

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Xboss in the house!

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Head of Xbox Phil Spencer sits in for the entire show and answers our questions about Project Scorpio, E3, Xbox Game Pass, and more! Don’t miss this episode!

Oh, and Unlocked now has its own snazzy new homepage! Bookmark this: go.ign.com/unlocked

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