Saturday, May 13, 2017

Small Ways to Improve Breath of the Wild

There's no arguing that Breath of the Wild is the next big step for the Zelda franchise and a gigantic masterpiece in the history of gaming. Yet, the game is not perfect, especially if you spend a lot of time with it, some bigger and some smaller flaws are shining through. But it's not too late, because with Nintendo's DLC and update plans for the game some things can still be improved. So, let's compile an update wish list for the game.

Keep in mind that the goal of this post is to provide ideas of what can be improved within the scope of updates and DLCs. Things that still could be added or fixed for real. So, if you don't like the new weapon system (I personally do) or the game's ending (I personally don't), you can only hope that Nintendo will do it better in the next game. What's important now is anything that still can be changed for the better.

Nintendo already crossed off two major points of this list with their 1.2.0 multi language update, where you now can play in Japanese with English subtitles (or any language combination), and the upcoming Korok Mask, where we'll finally get a solid way of tracking down all those little guys.

But let's give them some more ideas:

Multiple Save Games

Zelda games and Nintendo games in general usually offer two or three save games, so you can easily start over without losing your previous progress. Breath of the Wild, much like Tri Force Heroes, broke this tradition, but unlike Tri Force Heroes you can't just replay any part of the game at any time. And since the game invites to experiment, especially with the way of how they set up the final dungeon and boss, you still might want to replay it.

The only way to do this right now would be creating additional user accounts on your Wii U or Nintendo Switch. And that's more of a workaround than a real solution. Maybe Nintendo thought that people only use additional save slots for friends and family, but the replay value of a game is very important and nothing should stand in your way there.

Especially when the first DLC comes out, this will be crucial. People might want to replay the game in Hard Mode, while at the same time they'd want to try the Trial of the Sword or look for the new armor pieces in their current savegame and that without juggling between different user accounts.

Currently a savegame takes 64MB of space on your hard drive, which is a quite a lot for save data, but that shouldn't stop Nintendo from doubling it considering that the game is 11GB large and has over 2GB of updates already.

Improved Options

While the option menu of Breath of the Wild is certainly the most comprehensive in the series, it still does lack a certain level of finesse with some of its options:

  • Separate camera controls for aiming
  • Fully customizable HUD
  • Fully customizable controls

The first issue would be the camera controls, where you can invert them both horizontally and vertically, if you want to. While this is an important option, it does apply globally to all camera controls, even if you're using first person or third person aiming. But here you might want different behavior, because after all that's how the Zelda games on the GameCube did it, where the horizontal camera controls were inverted, but not for first person. Twilight Princess HD already had the exact same problem, where it's not possible to have the same camera controls as in Twilight Princess on the GameCube anymore.

Otherwise the HUD options could have used some more gradation. Right now you can either clutter your entire HUD with all the information or only display your hearts and stamina. Something in between would have been welcome, where for example you can still see your currently selected Rune under the heart meter, but not the full D-Pad shortcuts. Ideally you could just turn on and off every part of the HUD to your pleasing.

Also, most modern games let you fully change around its button layout, while in Breath of the Wild you can only switch X and B buttons for some reason... Ideally you could assign every button to whatever you want. Want to swing your sword with B like in the good old times? Then this shouldn't be a problem!

Stash Chest

As soon as you have fully upgraded your house in Hateno, it should contain a stash chest under the staircase, where you can store additional weapons, bows, shields, armor and even food. It would work similar to the Item Check in Skyward Sword and offer an entire second inventory space: one page for weapons, one page for bows, one page for shields, five pages for armor and three pages for food. The last two might not seem necessary, but the additional armor stash should be nice for those, who like to have dyed duplicates. And overall it should be up to the player, whether he wants to use the stash chest or not.

It would solve what's more or less a midgame problem. Early in the game your weapons break too quickly anyway and at the end the player will invest his weapons in fighting Lynels and Guardians. However, especially when you keep exploring new areas and solve Shrines, you will find lots and lots of good weapons, where you'd want to save some for later. As the game is now, you might end up throwing away good weapons to make space for even better weapons or for basic tools like Torches or Korok Leaves.

Elemental Shields

Breath of the Wild offers an impressive variety of different melee weapons for different situations. And also the bows offer some good variety with different shooting styles and arrow types. Shields on the other hand don't. Other than the Ancient / Guardian Shields they only seem to differ in material and durability, but not in functionality. It's not even that different from what Skyward Sword already had offered with its shields.

The most obvious solution to this problem would be adding shields based on the game's three main combat elements: fire, ice and electricity. These flavors are already used by the different weapon and arrow types and it only makes sense to have the same thing with shields. The Flame, Frost and Shock Shields would respectively burn, freeze or zap your enemies, when they hit your shield. Of course the same happens to you, when you're on the other end, so you have to be more careful around enemies, who are using these new shield types. But this makes perfectly sense and it integrates so well into the current system that you have to wonder, why these shields don't already exist in the game...

(Also, another idea would be a Gust Shield, which would be another technological shield equipped with a propeller that creates an air stream in front of you. You would even be able to propel a raft by simply holding it, though you wouldn't be going as fast as with a Korok Leaf. And using it for shield surfing would be like using a "Hover Board", where you can utilize it in any terrain without losing durability. To compensate this shield would break quickly, if it gets hit, so you have to be careful not to actually use it in combat.)

Additional Rune Upgrades

Only half of the Sheikah Slate Runes can be upgraded in some way... And this feels somewhat unfinished, since there would have been interesting options for the other runes as well.

Magnesis+ should first and foremost offer a bigger distance for its initial beam. Especially with sunken treasure chests the short distance can be sometimes annoying. But of course this wouldn't be all - an upgraded Magnesis could offer one or two additional abilities (inspired by Trine 2). It could be used on Bokoblins, Lizalfos and Moblins, who are using metallic gear, to move a single enemy around as you please. Also, an object in your pull could be magnetically charged to attract other magnetic objects by holding down the "A" button, so that you can move around multiple objects at once.

Cryonis+ would let you create five or even six ice blocks at the same time. A simple, but effective upgrade.

Additionally there also could be an (expansive) upgrade for the amiibo Rune, where you can use all loot amiibo twice a day, instead of just once.

Regional Map Information

When you start the game, your map is divided in various areas, where each Sheikah Tower unlocks the map information for one of them. As soon as you're done with that, all borders will be gone and there's no way of telling, where the different areas were (other than studying certain landmarks).

There simply should be an option to display these boundaries again, maybe together with the names of the region. Next to these names there could be symbols used for your completion status:

  • Shrine Symbol for having discovered all Shrines in the area
  • Korok Seed Symbol for collecting all Korok Seeds in the area
  • Treasure Chest Symbol for opening all Treasure Chests in the area
  • Star Symbol for defeating all overworld bosses (Talus, Hinox, Molduga) in the area

This certainly would be helpful with tracking down any stuff that you're still missing at the end of the game. Can't find that last Talus? Well, just keep looking in the area that doesn't have a star symbol!

Of course if they do that for treasure chests as well, it would be nice, if they'd...

Fix the Unobtainable Chests

There are a couple of treasure chests in the game, where your Sheikah Sensor+ picks them up, but you can't get them for different reasons. Some might be glitched and out of bounds, others simply might not be there at all. Those are the ones that are known:

  • Great Plateau, Woodcutter's Hut (if you got the Warm Doublet from the Old Man directly)
  • Hateno Village, near the Dye Shop
  • Lake Floria, Rassia Lake
  • East of Aris Beach, stuck underwater
  • Chest Game in Lurelin Village

Please fix this, Nintendo, so that our Sheikah Sensors can finally rest!

A Way to Climb in the Rain

This probably doesn't need any explanation to anyone, who has played the game for a bit. Being able to climb everywhere in the game world is revolutionary and part of what makes this game so fun. But this fun goes away quickly, as soon as a single drop of water fell from the sky. In that moment you will struggle with climbing a tree, let alone a mountain. There are techniques to still get where you want, for example each climbing jump "only" makes you slip down by about 70%. However, it's still frustrating.

Ideally the Climbing Gear with its "no-slip gloves" and "no-slip toes" provided by ancient technology would already do the trick. It doesn't, but to keep things balanced they could introduce a new item called "Spiked Boots" (or similar), where you won't have the "Climbing Jump Stamina Up" Set Bonus anymore, but at least you won't slide down at all while wearing these. Another disadvantage of the Spiked Boots could be that they make you walk slower in general, so it's really just a tool for climbing.

Shortcuts for Armor

The armor system in Breath of the Wild is pretty sophisticated. It essentially combines the various outfits from Tri Force Heroes with the changeable boots and the different masks from the Nintendo 64 Zelda games. And with so many activities in the game you change your armor quite often. Climbing a mountain? Don that Climbing Gear! Swimming through a river? Don that Zora Armor! Fighting a Guardian? Don that Ancient Cuirass! Facing some Electric Keese? Don that Thunder Helmet!

However, changing armor is now even more inconvenient than it used to be in Ocarina of Time. You have to open the inventory and scroll to the armor section, which is right in the middle, where it's easy to scroll too far by holding the R-Stick, and then select the pieces that you need, which might even be scattered over different pages. And if you need to change it again, every item that you picked up in the meantime will alter your position in the inventory, if you open it again. So, you have to scroll back to the armor... again and again. And this wastes a lot of time.

Ideally there would be some shortcuts, e.g. pressing up and down on the R-Stick could bring you to the first and last selected pieces in your inventory. Simple as that. Or they could also make it so that Materials, Food, Key Items and Horse Gear get a second row. This way the Armor would be always in the top right and easier navigable.

Other than that it should be possible to equip a set with one button press (e.g. by pressing X), instead of having to equip each piece individually. Often you want the full set anyway and such a shortcut would save even more time.

Armor Set Bonus with Alternate Head Pieces

In the topic of Set Bonuses, there is the issue with jewelry, where the Set Bonus won't apply for no good reason. Getting and enhancing the jewelry is much more expansive than the normal armor, for example they all require Star Fragments on each upgrade step. But at the same time they aren't as good as the silly helmets that come along with the armor sets. And some of them really look silly.

The most prominent example is probably the Ancient Armor, where the greaves and the cuirass look really cool, but the helmet makes you look like the biggest dork in Hyrule. Wearing the super expansive Diamond Circlet fixes the look, but you will also lose the valuable "Ancient Proficiency" Set Bonus, where all Ancient / Guardian Weapons do more damage. And this shouldn't be the case.

Nintendo should make it so in an update that the Set Bonus still applies to jewelry like this:

It would be the same for the Ruby Circlet and the Snowquill set, the Sapphire Circlet and the Desert Voe set, the Topaz Earrings and the Rubber set, as well as the Opal Earrings and the Zora set. And while it's technically not jewelry, the Sheik's Mask is the most expansive piece of armor in the game when it comes to enhancing and shouldn't lose the Stealth "Night Speed Up" Set Bonus.

Enhance the Dark Armor

For some reason you just can't upgrade the Dark Link set. Usually there's a balancing reason as to why you can't enhance certain pieces of equipment, especially with the various monster masks or the Thunder Helmet. But in this case it's just one tunic of many and there's no good reason, why you shouldn't be able to upgrade it to a full 60 like the others:

Purchasable DLC Armor

Currently there is one piece of DLC armor in the game and that is the Nintendo Switch Shirt. What's weird about it is that you can sell it, but not get it back...

Why is that? Every other piece of armor in the game can either be re-purchased or it can't be sold. Why not just add the Nintendo Switch Shirt to Granté's collection?

Since the shirt gets added to the very end of the armor inventory, it may happen that players accidentally sell it along with any duplicate pieces that they might get from amiibo or certain places in the game. And if you notice this too late, you won't be able to get it back. This issue will be especially troublesome with all the new armor that comes with the DLC, if it behaves the same way.

No full Recovery on Hearty and Endura Ingredients

This isn't really an improvement, but a nerf for certain cooking ingredients. Right now the cooking in the game is completely broken, because you don't have to care about getting good health restoring recipes at all. There's no point, because all you need to do is cook one Hearty Radish over and over again, since this gives you a full recovery and some extra hearts. This also works with Hearty Durians, Hearty Truffles, Hearty Salmon or anything "hearty" really. It's the same with stamina and enduring / tireless ingredients.

Nerf this!

Fixing this would be simple: hearty ingredients only give you the extra hearts, but not the full recovery. That should be the job of other ingredients. As a balance you should now be able to get beyond the 30 hearts maximum using hearty ingredients by adding a temporary third row of hearts.

Riding Buffalos, Rhinos and Moose

Next to horses there are other types of animals that you can ride like deer and bears. But not all of them can be used as mounts, even if they look like they were made for job. It would be nice, if you could also ride around on Buffalos, Rhinos or Moose just for the fun of it.

Show Stats of Horses before Replacements

When you already have five horses at the stables, you need to let one go, before you can register a new one. However, they won't tell you the exact stats of the horse, until you register it. This way you can never be sure, if your new horse actually comes with an improvement. The game should simply show the stats of the new horse within the menu, where you select, which horse should leave your collection. It would also be nice to have more space general, e.g. up to eight or ten horses.

More Horse Gear

While Link does have lots of options to alter his appearance in the game, the gear for horses seems rather limited with only five sets of bridles and saddles. Imagine having some Ancient Horse Armor provided by the Akkala Ancient Tech Lab or something that makes a horse look like a dragon. If all the different outfits for Link or the different sets of boats and trains in past Zelda games have showed us anything, then it's that Nintendo can be really creative, when it comes to such customization options.

Let's have at least five more sets. This way there would be 20 pieces, where it also would be a good idea to have a separate tab for Horse Armor in the inventory, which would give the Key Item tab more room to breath.

Give Endgame Access to All Equipment

Weapons are broken and lost all the time in Breath of the Wild. But you can get almost every piece of equipment again in the game, if you know, where to look. Almost. It seems that there are certain pieces of equipment, where it's not possible to get them back later in the game, mostly stuff from Red and Blue Lynels:

  • Forest Dweller's Sword (only available at the Test of Wood)
  • Kite Shield
  • Lynel Spear
  • Lynel Crusher
  • Mighty Lynel Sword
  • Mighty Lynel Spear
  • Mighty Lynel Crusher
  • Mighty Lynel Shield
  • Mighty Lynel Bow

This is especially a problem, when you want to take good pictures for your Hyrule Compendium. And overall absolutely all resources in the game should be re-obtainable. To fix this, they could just keep some additional Red and Blue Lynels around, while the Blue Lynel in Hyrule Castle could simply drop his belongings, which he currently doesn't do for some reason.

Replayable Eventide Event

Probably one of the most interesting Shrine Quests in the game would be Eventide Island, where you're stranded without any of your equipment for a nice challenge. The upcoming "Trial of the Sword" will even make use of the same mechanic.

It would be cool, if you actually could replay Eventide Island as a minigame, where maybe even your best time gets recorded. Going back to the Shrine or leaving the island will stop the minigame.

A Proper Reward for Collecting all 900 Korok Seeds

Collecting all Korok Seeds is probably the mother of all collectible tasks in a video game. But it stops being rewarded halfway and if you really do it all, you basically get the middle finger from Nintendo. It's understandable that they didn't want to lock any useful item behind this task, because at this point in the game it would come way too late. But at least with the 100 Gold Skulltulas and 60 Poe Souls in past Zelda games you got infinite Rupees. A solution would have been, if you could trade the Korok Seeds for Star Fragments and maybe get infinite Star Fragments from Hestu (on a daily basis), if you trade them all. This would even solve another problem, where you have to grind too many of these in order to upgrade all the amiibo gear.

Any ideas as to what should be fixed or added to the game? List them in the comments!


wintercoast said...

So, I agree with almost everything you say here – more options can only be a good thing. You raise an excellent list, and I enjoyed reading it!

However, while your instincts about upgrading magnesis to affect enemies isn't bad, the explanation is pretty problematic. As is, Magnesis only effects metallic iron-based things. That includes steel and alloys and whatnot, but it doesn't affect anything that wouldn't be magnetic in real life. The fantasy of it comes from the power of the magnetic to move giant things around, not from the physics of electromagnetism.

Mineral content in blood is a terrible explanation for moving enemies. Magnets have absolutely ZERO effect on blood as the iron is bonded with the hemoglobin protein, causing the iron to lose its magnetism. This is why magnet therapy is a hoax, and its why Magnesis doesn't already affect enemies.

Now, a BETTER solution to this would be to allow Magnesis to drag enemies by the metal armor, shields, or weapons they're carrying. Like, dangle them from above unless they let go of that sword or shield, or dangle a Blue Hinox by its iron-plated leg, until that plate rips off, or throw around fully armored enemies. We haven't seen enough of those in this game, and that brings us to the other issue this game is lacking that you don't mention here (though you've mentioned elsewhere): we need more classes of enemies. The game has a good selection but relies on tiers for greater challenges rather than a great diversity of monsters. Where are the hiploops/helmasaurs? Where are the Darknuts or Iron Knuckles? Where are the Tektikes and Skulltulas? Where are the Poes or Ghinis haunting the various ruins scattered through Hyrule? Where are the Baba Plants trying to eat us alive in Faron's Rainforest? Some of these enemies (well, the hiploops and the iron-armored soldiers) could play really well with the magnesis feature for some fun interactions. But we could also have armored Bokoblins. SS's ancient Technoblins wouldn't feel entirely out of place in places like Hyrule Castle, for example.

Thanks for your journaling as usual. It was fun seeing when you discovered certain shrines or hidden features before or after me! Always enjoy reading your blog. :)

TourianTourist said...

Hey, thanks for the input! I really appreciate it!

To be honest, I didn't like the "blood" explanation either, I just liked the idea of moving around these specific enemy types with Magnesis. But I altered to your idea, where it works on enemies using metallic objects. That's pretty good.

About adding additional enemy types like Darknuts: I fully agree that the game could use some more, but I doubt that this is something that we're going to see in the DLC. Maybe a new boss for the new dungeon and golden tiers, but that's it. Otherwise this is more of a suggestion for the next game than something that will be retroactively added to BotW.

Wilberd Gijzel said...

I really, really hope with the first DLC and the Hard mode they give you one extra save file to play that Hard mode. Because like you said in your article, i will never throw away my current (and only) save file and want to try the Trial of the Sword and get the new stuff with that.