A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an action role-playing game set in an open world. It stars Link, a noble knight who must journey to defeat an ancient and growing evil by fighting monsters and solving puzzles, helping strangers whenever he can along the way. Combat against monsters involves swords, axes, bows and arrows, and other medieval weapons, but enemies simply disappear when defeated, and no blood is shown. Players also hunt animals, but their bodies disappear in puffs of smoke, leaving behind food items and materials for crafting. Some characters exhibit mild sexuality, including a two-story-tall fairy woman with large, bouncy breasts covered only in leaves. Another character behaves as though drunk.
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What's it about?
As with all Zelda games, THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD is set in the fantastical realm of Hyrule, a world filled with a mix of familiar animals and fantastical creatures and populated by several intelligent races, chief among them the human/elf-like Hylians. Players once again take control of the timeless hero Link, who wakes up without any memories in the Temple of Time and gradually learns that his kingdom was destroyed long ago. Now it's up to him to journey on an epic quest to defeat the evil entity that brought ruin to his country and nearly killed him a century ago: Calamity Ganon. Unlike previous Zelda games, this one provides players an enormous open world to freely explore. It's filled with plains, mountains, deserts, towns, and more. Much of the game is focused on exploration and survival, with Link needing to gather, kill, and cook his own food and work out how to survive drastically different climates, scale cliffs, and battle monsters. He also explores scores of shrines, each one containing clever puzzles that need to be solved to earn orbs that will increase his stamina and life. There are dozens of hours of side activities that can be tackled in any order players wish, but Link's primary goal throughout is to recover his memories, grow in strength, and gather the forces necessary to confront and defeat Calamity Ganon.
Is it any good?
Nintendo's iconic adventure series has finally taken its first steps into modern open-world play, and it's done so in a way few other franchises could muster. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an absolutely huge game, providing players with a vibrant and colorful world that presents itself almost like a living painting. And over every hill, ridge, and mountain lies one or more new locations that you'll want to explore, such as towns full of interesting characters and shops, shrines loaded with puzzles and treasures, imaginative monsters to challenge, and secrets waiting under rocks and within old ruins. Keeping track of everything would be nearly impossible were it not for Link's tablet-like Sheikah Slate, which lets you place pins in a map to denote areas of interests and allows you to capture photographs of everything encountered -- animals, monsters, plant life, and more -- for posterity or to be used as a method for future tracking.
A lot of this is common to many open-world games, but Breath of the Wild injects its own flavor via an upbeat atmosphere, quirky characters, and an all-ages sense of humor. More than that, it adds little details -- many to do with survival -- that other games haven't dared. A storm in the distance? Better store anything made of metal, lest Link risk getting struck by lightning. A mountain in your way? No need to go around. Link can climb virtually any surface (so long as he has the stamina required and rain doesn't come along to make the surface slick). All players need to guide them is common sense and a curiosity to seek and discover. Nintendo's designers have taken care of everything else. And in doing so they've created the first essential game for Nintendo Switch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an enormous game with few clear boundaries between objectives, making it easy to just keep playing, but how do you limit sessions based on duration rather than accomplishing specific tasks?
Discuss duty and responsibility. If you woke up after 100 years with no memory of the past, would you feel obligated to fulfill the obligations of your former self? What makes something your responsibility?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Wii U
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo of America
- Release date: March 3, 2017
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Horses and Farm Animals, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.