Miscellaneous · Video Games

Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the GTA IV effect


1) This is not “clickbait”, nor is it intended to be. I intend to show off my opinions and observations to whoever stumbles upon this without trying lure in potential readers in with catchy, misleading titles. Articles that do that are bullshit most of the time, and, whether you like what I have to say here or not (truth be told, I’m probably partially, if not more than that, wrong about some things here), I don’t intend to pull up to an art gallery with bags full of bull feces hoping to get a million dollars.

2) This is all theoretical – there’s a strong chance that what I believe to be the truth may not even be close. Please, do not go into this expecting greater examples than I could provide (given my opinions on the matter), revelations, or leaks in any way, shape, or form. This article is intended for the purpose of expression and is not entirely factual. Feel free to give me shit because I put Zelda in the title and my attitude towards it isn’t 100% positive, though… for fuck’s sake…

3) Though I do provide one with the concluding paragraph, I cannot provide an entirely comprehensive ‘TL;DR’ as I get fairly extensive with my opinions here. Just like “reading” War & Peace in one sitting, trying to quickly summarize everything I have to say here misses the point quite a bit if not entirely.


With those in mind, you may proceed.

So, I’ve been playing quite a bit of Nier: Automata. I have yet to touch the original Nier, (which has a cult following so passionate that a sequel exists in the first place) but I really enjoy Automata. I can’t really describe it very well, but here goes anyways – it’s like a Hack-N-Slash Zelda but with an emotional story, great characters (in my opinion), and gameplay-related twists. It’s a perfect combination… which is why it’s such a damned shame that it released so closely to Zelda. It was released with high fanfare and great reviews… but with a more critically praised game already out, why pick it up? Breath of the Wild is overrated, in my opinion. It’s a great game with excellent gameplay and a nicely done Open World, but it’s NOT the perfect game every Zelda fan and critic has been hyping it up to be. My biggest issue with Breath of the Wild is its narrative; it’s predictable as all hell,

My biggest issue with Breath of the Wild is its narrative; it’s predictable as all hell, and the characters, while memorable, have little emotional stakes throughout the story. You could say I’m lying here, but please consider that many of the motivations just boil down to saving Hyrule and that’s all. You could say it’s all about the Journey, but if the payoff, in the end, goes exactly as planned, was it as thrilling as it should have been? Sure, Nier itself can be predictable at times but it’s sure to infuse some surprise into those elements that you can see coming from a mile away. I’m not saying that Nier is objectively better (which, for the record, it can’t be due to differing opinions), but I do prefer it.

And now here’s where I connect Breath of the Wild and stop justifying the 50 dollars I spent on a game I genuinely enjoy. Grand Theft Auto and Zelda are not comparable in any obvious way, considering one is literally named after Car Theft and the other is a grand adventure in a fantasy setting. Looking past the gameplay, however, I was hit by a shocking revelation. The same over-praising of a game (with an Open-World, mind you) also happened 9 years ago with Grand Theft Auto IV. Like Zelda, it’s a great game that was released with incredibly high fanfare and, intriguingly enough, quite a “few” scores that don’t really present what’s wrong with the game.

Then I thought about it more and came to a conclusion. Zelda: Breath of the Wild has fallen under, what I call, the GTA IV effect. The GTA IV effect is when an ambitious and well-done game gets immediate praise for the things it does right but a ton of scores that tend to neglect the things it does wrong. The reason this happens is simple: extreme amounts of hype that somewhat pays off. If you expect the product you get to be the game of the century and then play it to find out that it was good, the critical part of you tends to shut up and the part of you that bought into the hype becomes louder. This doesn’t just happen with games, it essentially happens with every form of media. An example I’d like to use here comes courtesy of the 2008 version of me. When WALL-E was coming out, to say I was hyped would be an understatement. I was so eager just to see that little robot go on a grand adventure that any bad announcement that may have come would have hurt me inside. When it came out, I saw the movie and absolutely loved it. That year for Christmas, I got the DVD, a WALL-E themed journal which I just doodled in, a blanket with WALL-E on it, a sheet with WALL-E on it, and even a remote controlled WALL-E toy which I never, ever used. In retrospect, WALL-E is still a very good film, but not the masterpiece a younger me once claimed it was.

Just like 2008 me, when the critics reviewed Zelda they loved it and could only share the love they experienced with the game. Again, it’s a fantastic game but is far from a masterpiece to me. This, in turn, boosted the hype with its fan base which was already going into an orgasm-like state with what they’d played. Now is when I get to the point of this article instead of meandering: this type of hype can be very dangerous.  Say a Breath of the Wild 2 were to come out in 2020 and be very mediocre in every way. Instead of optimistically seeing the game as a flawed but interesting game, the fan base would flip out and think it was complete shit even though it’s not. Sure, you can say some people wouldn’t quite see it that way because it’s fucking Zelda, but this article isn’t about them; it’s about fans who bought into the hype so much that a decent, but not perfect, review of BotW by Jim Sterling (who gave the game a 7/10, which is still a great score) got him an almost instant DDoS attack by zealous fans (who I will now be calling Zeldots). Whether you’d like to believe it or not, there are people like that out there.

The reason why overhyping is bad is that it could tarnish the reputation of a talented developer if it doesn’t pay off in many ways. Sean Murray, up until the release of No Man’s Sky, was seen as a showman and developer with talent. Once No Man’s Sky was released and it was revealed that it was incredibly rushed and therefore missing many of the promised features, everyone who bought into the hype grabbed their pitchforks and began to focus mainly on the negatives. His name, as well as the title of his newest game, became a joke afterward. While Hello Games certainly has balls for still supporting No Man’s Sky after having so much shit flicked on them, not every developer will and those scared enough will jump ship, thus why Hype is bad. Failed hype could potentially kill a game just as it does with its player-base.

In conclusion, Zelda is a good game but it’s not perfect. I can see why the narrative that it is, indeed, perfect rings true to most people – it’s Zelda, after all. The hype was successful and is good for Breath of the Wild itself, but will not prove beneficial if any future successor to Breath of the Wild fails to meet the expectations it sets up for itself. Also, I talked allot about Nier: Automata in this article because I really like it. I’m being honest when I say I have no bias towards it (never played a Yoko Taro game before it and I’m not a big fan of Platinum Games or Square Enix).

And that’s all. I’d like to point out as a final FINAL thing that I do not claim to be entirely correct in any way with what I’ve written. See ya when I choose to rant about Disneyland diarrhea and have a good one!


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