Posted on August 08 2017 by Jarrod Raine
As humans, we have a natural drive to explore. It’s satisfying and exciting to push the bounds of what we know and to find new things. In fact, this is why games and game series such as the Fallout series, The Elder Scrolls series, and Minecraft remain popular. It’s what made the original The Legend of Zelda great, as almost every map screen had a secret for everybody to find. With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo went back to that original play style and has since been praised for that decision.
In my previous editorial, Breath of the Wild and the Joy of Discovery – Part 1, I discussed how Breath of the Wild satisfies (to varying degrees) the joys of Geologics Discovery, Mechanics Discovery, and Content Discovery. I would highly recommend reading it first as I laid out a basic definition of the Joy of Discovery as well as went over the first three of the four joys. Before I begin, I will acknowledge that some people are disappointed in Breath of the Wild‘s story and I can definitely see where they’re coming from. However, while I do believe that Nintendo could have done better, the way they handled how you learn the story is, in my opinion, a step in the right direction for what Breath of the Wild was trying to accomplish. That being said, let’s talk about the joy of Narrative Discovery. Also, this is your obligatory Spoiler Alert for Breath of the Wild‘s story.
But what is the joy of Narrative Discovery? Games that have this joy will never automatically give you the full story over the course of play. The Dark Souls franchise is an excellent example of this. While some games that implement this joy may give you 1 or 2 required cutscenes, those cutscenes can never give you the full story. In Breath of the Wild, the only mandatory cutscenes are of King Rhoam asking you to save Hyrule and Princess Zelda, and the cutscenes during the fight with Calamity Ganon, as well as the final cutscene of Zelda thanking you. Something interesting to note about the last cutscene is that she asks “Do you truly remember me?” This is an amazing move by Nintendo as it implies that the player might have missed some backstory on Zelda. In fact, I would say that half the characters in Breath of the Wild, alongside the memories and main quests, embody the joy of Narrative Discovery.
The memories in Breath of the Wild are a great way to inspire the players to find the story, and they reward the player with a sense of who Zelda is. Not only do they reveal Zelda’s character, but they also show her struggles and frustrations, which in turn makes Breath of the Wild‘s incarnation of Princess Zelda possibly the best incarnation of the character to date. The memories also serve as a way to introduce players to the champions as well as offer a basic idea of their personalities and characters, ranging from Revali’s annoyance and jealousy of Link’s position as the one to defeat Ganon to Daruk’s confidence in his abilities and in his fellow champions. The main quests even take the player to meet interesting characters in their own right, such as Purah of the Hateno Ancient Research Lab, Prince Sidon, and the Great Deku Tree.
The joy of Narrative Discovery ultimately comes down to the joy of finding new pieces of information that expand the lore of the game, and the memories and the characters help expand that. While I wish that there was more lore presented through the backstory, I do believe that Nintendo has taken a step in the right direction at the very least in Breath of the Wild‘s narrative, which in turn makes me look forward to the next DLC pack coming out this Winter.
But what do you guys think? Do you think Breath of the Wild satisfied the different joys of Discovery? Are there any aspects of the game that you would like to see talked about further? Let us know in the comments below!