One of the main arguments I hear defending Bethesda’s buggy open worlds is “it’s impossible to create humongous RPG sandboxes without bugs”. But what happens if Breath of the Wild delivers an equally dense and large experience with the usual Nintendo polish?
Fallout 3 and Morrowind received the least amount of criticism for their bug-ridden, glitchy gameplay. The gigantic maps and ability to craft a personal experience out of the nearly infinite possible combinations of objects and systems wowed the industry and granted a free pass.
This was followed however, by the equally janky Oblivion, Skyrim, and Fallout 4. The act is wearing thin as it gets harder to defend a 14-year-old problem. I understand getting caught on a tiny piece of terrain amongst a huge map or combining objects in a way that the game didn’t expect, but there were glaring, immersion breaking issues with character interactions the second I stepped out of the vault in 2015’s Fallout 4.
Many might argue The Witcher 3 : Wild Hunt already outclassed Bethesda with their large world stuffed with an un-ending errand list of missions. But even the lauded CD Projekt Red couldn’t avoid a few bugs in the ointment upon launch (after initially delaying the game for a few months extra polish). They did however, release a helpful patch and go on to win numerous awards.
Does Size Matter?
Huge maps lacking content are a waste of everyone’s time. Wind Waker and Skyward Sword struggled to fill their islands with meaningful things to do. Early accounts have claimed Breath of the Wild has done a much better job of providing quality diversion while exploring the map.
Nintendo being Nintendo
Normally that phrase is an insult, but if Nintendo releases a stunningly polished open-world Zelda (without the crutch of a day-1 patch) will anyone be surprised?
For better or worse, Nintendo does things their own way, at their own pace. This can be frustrating but almost always results in them tackling concepts when they can absolutely nail it. Sure Breath of the Wild’s open-world and crafting is several years late to the party, but you can be sure Link won’t fall through the world if you access the inventory.