Why The Witcher 3 is better than Zelda: Breath Of The Wild – Reader's Feature
A reader explains why he thinks Witcher 3’s combat is one of its best features and Breath Of The Wild only deserves a score of 6/10.
I have some observations to make about Zelda: Breath Of The Wild and The Witcher 3.
The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
Firstly, I don’t know exactly what it is about the game, but I can’t help but find it ludicrously overrated. Yes, it has some strengths, and in some cases I can see what about it captivates people, yet conversely there are those of us out in the gaming world who find the fact that it’s held up as a pinnacle of modern gaming to be tiresome.
I think I sunk about 40 hours into the Switch version back in March 2017, unlocking all the towers on the map (pretty difficult in some places, where the enemies are very over-levelled as compared to Link) and started on the giant elephant beast but then got really bored of the gameplay loop and haven’t felt compelled to return to either the Wii U or Switch version since.
The story isn’t much to write home about beyond the usual ‘go defeat Ganon, power up first if you want to’ setup and other than the ingredient-combining cooking mini-game and a few other novel moments, I couldn’t and still don’t see what all the fuss is about.
Despite some clever gameplay mechanics like that there are also plenty that aren’t great, for example the exploding weapons, Link dying of cold far too easily in certain regions, and far too many of those boring, tedious puzzle-solving temples located in often hard to reach places. It’s also hard to get attached to a character build when you’re forever having to change their base gear and some of the best unlockables are actually kind of a joke: what seemed amazing the first few times quickly becomes a mundane grind by the 50th time.
Because Link is given a tablet PC made of stone it’s clear this was written entirely with the Wii U GamePad in mind and cross-platformed to the Switch due to poor sales of the Wii U. This identifies another poor Nintendo trend, while we’re here: re-releasing old Wii U games as new Switch games at full RRP. Just as shameful as Sony or Microsoft doing it and somehow worse because they held off for so long. But I digress.
I’ve spoken to a few gamer friends of mine, one who loved Breath Of The Wild when it first appeared, and one said trying to replay it was impossible because this time around the frustrations outweighed the great bits he loved but had already experienced.
To be honest, I’d still rather take Link’s Awakening which now has the advantage of having a nice if poorly optimised Switch remake (the frame rate is choppy even after patching) because although it’s more linear it’s also a lot more fun in an old school role-playing kinda way. [No Zelda is a role-playing game, the only one that even comes close is Breath Of The Wild – GC] For me, this is an overrated title and gets a 6/10 at best.
The Witcher 3
In comparison, having had troubles starting The Witcher 3 several times, when I bought the portable Switch version last year and decimated the griffin fight for the fourth time and then got out of Tutorialand (aka White Orchard) I found myself hooked by what I was seeing.
I mean seeing literally and metaphorically; the lush visuals that still shone despite the downgrade to get them running on the less powerful console (I tip my hat to Saber Interactive, they’ve worked a minor miracle getting this to play at a steady frame rate and to me that’s one of the most important aspects of graphical fidelity). Geralt’s wry, sarcastic humour; compelling side quests; great choice of character customisation to suit most play styles; and a pretty well-crafted main story that doesn’t shy away from adult themes.
I would personally hold up The Bloody Baron main quest line as one of the high points of mature, articulate and well-written gaming story craft, using the medieval setting and supernatural elements to carefully explore the themes of drug and domestic abuse. Captivating.
No game is perfect though, and like Breath Of The Wild it too has technical issues – in short, some of the quests are bugged and Roach definitely is – but the gripes about the combat? I don’t see them. If you view the way witchers fight as dancing then it’s essentially a case of deftly box stepping around the enemy so as not to get hit and then pragmatically landing side and rear blows to keep them off balance and guessing.
It takes a little adjustment because the controls are much less instant than a hack ‘n’ slash game like God Of War (the original series or the Norse mythos reboot) but I found that with practice the rhythm of it was actually lots of fun. If I’m honest, inverse to most people, I find it to be one of the better parts of the game because it required me to challenge my abilities as a gamer and learn a different way to play.
It requires finesse and planning. Knowing when to dodge, use magic or fire a crossbow bolt can be the difference between a clean fight against a hulking great beast where Geralt takes no hits and one where the creature throws him around like a rag doll, especially at higher difficulties. Unlike, say, a Fable title you can’t just run in and mash the attack button unless you like seeing the Game Over screen often and waiting a minute to reload a save.
Okay, now if you’ll excuse me, I have some work-related chores to blast through so I can get back to coercing Geralt of Rivia into hunting down bandits and looking for treasure. Who shall toss a coin to him on this play session?
By reader Gary Diamond
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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