EDGE Magazine has just updated its top 100 list of best games, placing Breath Of The Wild at #1. But surely it’s too soon to make such a grand statement about a game that is isn’t even six months old?
Firstly I’ll start with the usual disclaimer – this is a personal opinion, I do not represent the thoughts, feelings, emotions, biases, fetishes or beliefs of the entire LLC crew. Secondly, I am not going to champion another game that I think deserves the title of ‘best ever’ in place of Breath Of The Wild – because let’s face it, that’s a completely subjective can of worms.
However, there are a few qualities of the “best game ever” that surely any gamer should expect, which I’ve detailed below. Put simply, some of these things can’t be achieved within the short time frame that Breath Of The Wild has been on sale:
The best games ever should have stood the test of time. They should be games that still provoke passionate discussion amongst fans – Final Fantasy VII is the obvious comparison here. Two decades after it was released, the adventures of Cloud and his crew are still fresh in people’s minds – indeed the same is true for fellow Legend Of Zelda title Ocarina Of Time. Will we be talking about Breath Of The Wild in the same way in 20 years time? Maybe. But right now it’s far too soon to know whether Link‘s latest adventure will endure in people’s hearts and minds.
The best games ever should have a palpable influence on the games that follow them – it might be wholesale copying (how many franchises have followed Mario Kart onto the racetrack now?) or it may be small refinements made to an established genre. Either way, the best game ever should bring something to the table that other people will want to try and emulate. It’s likely that Breath Of The Wild will set a new bar for action-adventure games, but it hasn’t. Yet.
In the days before DLC, this was less of an issue. But now you can never be sure that a game is “finished” until the sequel is in your hands. Breath Of The Wild hasn’t even dropped its second portion of expansion pass content yet – and who knows what will happen in 2018. Sure, it’s optional, but it’s still part of the game. If Breath Of The Wild is already the best game ever then does that render the expansion pass void because it couldn’t possibly improve on what’s already there? Hmm…I want a refund.
A talking point
How much a video game breaks into the public consciousness is variable – but I would expect any of the best games ever to be a talking point in my social circle. They should be games that people go out of their way to try and play (or watch someone play), even if they don’t own the console. Breath Of The Wild doesn’t yet appear to have that magnetism for people itching to have a go or talk about what they thought of the game. That might change in time as the Switch gets into more and more homes.
A functional inventory
The inventory mechanic has always been my biggest specific bugbear about Breath Of The Wild. The inability to swap an item into your inventory whilst simultaneously dropping another is so incredibly frustrating, time consuming and fiddly – particularly when it involves repeatedly opening chests. It’s a basic mechanic that almost every other game with an inventory system uses. Should the best game of all time have one specific thing that almost everyone unanimously agrees they would change? It’s a largely subjective point, but I don’t think there is any excuse for the best game ever making such a fundamental oversight.
I am not calling Breath Of The Wild a bad game. Nor do I wish to take away from anything that it has achieved critically and commercially during its first five months on sale. It is, undeniably, a huge technical achievement for Nintendo.
Gaming is a relatively young medium compared to music and cinema, so perhaps we can excuse ourselves getting over-excited from time to time. However, there is no way that a new song, album or movie would be considered for a “best ever” position a few months after release, because that’s simply not enough time to measure the cultural impact of it.
Therefore, perhaps there is the mere possibility that we’ve gone a bit “emperor’s new clothes” with Breath Of The Wild. It wouldn’t hurt to take a bit of time to consider what we expect from the best game ever so that we don’t use the term flippantly and end up unnecessarily parading the streets naked.