Half-Bit Software

Breath of the Wild, Escalation, and You

I’m going to start this tiny bit of controversy with a warning: don’t @ me. You know what that means, so don’t. I liked the game just fine, don’t hassle me about any of this. Your efforts are better spent elsewhere.

Okay. So. Breath of the Wild was pretty great. I’ve put hundreds of hours into it and I’m still finding new stuff in it - little groves of trees, koroks (naturally), characters just hiding out in the middle of friggin’ nowhere.

It’s big, and it’s mellow, and it’s a world that I find fascinating.

My problem, if that’s even the right word for it, is this: artificial escalation.

Remember Oblivion? Put enough hours into it and you start seeing doofy little bandits wearing full Daedric or Glass armor. Immersion shattered, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.

Zelda’s got that same problem, kind of. At the start of the game, you’ve got rusty swords and junky wooden shields and your armor’s tattered rags that you found on the floor. You’re fighting dinky little red Bokoblins with a few blues thrown in, and maybe you’ve bumped into a Lynel or a Talus and had a really bad time. A couple hours in and you’ve got shiny knight armor or a stealth suit (A SHEIKAH SLATE?!) and you’re off to the figurative races, with decent weapons and a better understanding of how to make people sad with them. You see black Bokoblins and maybe even a silver one, which is great because those drop gems.

Fine! That’s how videogames work! As you play more and more, new, cooler stuff shows up. Lightning swords and royal halberds and - wait a second, didn’t this world get totally thrashed? Where’s all this great gear coming from, anyway?

That’s my problem: the escalation scale’s all kooky.

I don’t even know if it makes sense or if these are just the ramblings of a madman (pro-tip: they are) but if the game’s ever moddable, I’d love to see a fairly simple edit. Raise the ceiling, sure, but keep the frequencies skewed towards the low-end. You’re still mostly fighting dumb little guys with dumb little weapons, but every once in awhile you’re going to find something truly exciting and rare, something that you’ll want to save for a really big, scary, dangerous encounter, rather than just going “oh, which Royal Sword do I want to ditch now?”

It’s a little numbing, at the end of the day: there are no highs or lows at that point, and there’s no feeling of desperation there, either. I played it through on Normal, restarted on Master, then noticed just how weak, frail, and flimsy I felt for the first few hours. It was the most exciting part of that playthrough, knowing that I had to be careful and strategic and couldn’t just headbutt my way through every problem I got myself into.

Maybe they’ll do that in the sequel. Or not! I’m fine either way. I’m certainly not foolish enough to expect them to add any kind of hunger/weakness system to the game. That’d be a bridge way, way too far.