The Witcher 3 vs. Zelda: Breath Of The Wild – Reader’s Feature

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A reader compares two of his favourite games of the generation, and tries to decide which is the best.

I recently finished Breath Of The Wild and The Witcher 3 and they both blew my 35-year-old mind away. Since then I keep thinking about which of the two is the better game. Unable to come to a conclusion, I decided there was only one thing for it: Reader’s Feature! The categories are ones that are most important to me and relevant to both games (in no particular order).

Graphics
Both games excel here but for different reasons. The Witcher 3 looks incredible from a technical standpoint, the textures are crisp and detailed, lighting and particle effects are jaw-dropping, and the animation is beautifully smooth. Walking through Novigrad for the first time was an enveloping experience – the sheer size, scale and complexity is mindboggling. Arriving in Skellige with its ice-capped mountains and turquoise lagoons was also awe-inspiring.

Breath Of The Wild, although made with inferior tech (it was designed for the Wii U after all) still holds its own due to Nintendo’s legendary visual design and art direction. Although details look simpler, the vibrancy, imagination, and overall polish make up for this and the weather effects, particularly the lightning, are beautiful. I’d say the animations are slightly smoother than The Witcher 3’s as well. In 10 years’ time, Breath Of The Wild will have aged much better than Witcher 3 (like most Nintendo games and their peers).

Winner: Draw

Gameplay
This one’s a bit of a landslide. No other company in the world can really match Nintendo when it comes to gameplay. Link controls pretty much perfectly, combat is precise and satisfying, as is the brilliant gliding mechanic. The menu system could be less clumsy but it’s simple to use and cooking is both whimsical and charming, but essential for progress.

Contrary to some of the letters I’ve read in the Inbox since the game came out, I love the fact that the weapons break after a certain time – it encourages you to experiment with different weapons and change up your tactics. The stamina bar is implemented perfectly and firing the bow is fluid and satisfying. Although the first dungeon was fun I found the others a bit of a chore and probably the weakest element of the game. The shrines however, were mostly genius and never overstayed their welcome.

Unlike a lot of other readers, I love the combat in The Witcher 3. Using a combination of swords and spells is a lot of fun and decapitating a foe always feels great (as psychotic as that sounds). The menu system is a lot more convoluted than Breath Of The Wild and took me much longer to get used to it, but it all eventually clicked. The biggest problem with Witcher 3 is that Geralt just feels way too light on his feet. He needs more weight and feedback and the game lacks the spit and polish of Breath Of The Wild. I was much more likely to encounter bugs and glitches that affected gameplay in The Witcher 3.

Winner: Breath Of The Wild

Story
This one’s a bit of a landslide in the opposite direction. Story in Breath Of The Wild is pretty much non-existent. I liked the concept that you’ve been in stasis for 100 years and the bad guys have run amok, and they’ve built a beautiful world around that, but the characters and story are pretty bare bones and badly written. It’s all far too simplistic.

The Witcher 3 on the other hand is a rich tapestry of storytelling and characters, which is probably partly down to its Polish literary routes. I was gripped throughout, not just by the main story but the storylines in the side quests are just as riveting. Geralt, comically gravelly voice aside, actually has a lot of range, particularly in the DLC stories.

The stories also reflected the endings of each game, Breath Of The Wild was a complete anti-climax whereas Witcher 3, although far from the best ending I’ve ever seen, felt like a satisfying conclusion to an epic journey.

Winner: Witcher 3

Sound
Breath Of The Wild features a beautiful subtle orchestral score that never intrudes and always knows when to kick in at the right time. Unfortunately, the voice-acting lets the side down. The fact that most characters aren’t even given voices just feels lazy and the voice-acting that there is seems as though Nintendo just went with the first take that every actor provided. Zelda in particular is just awful.

The Witcher 3 has an equally sumptuous soundtrack, and although it is more present here, the melodies are so catchy and, most importantly, atmospheric, they never get annoying. The voice-acting is some of the best I’ve ever heard in a video game. How CD Projekt RED managed to write such great dialogue and get such wonderful performances for every character (even from minor characters wondering around the game world) I do not know, but they should be applauded for this accomplishment.

Winner: Witcher 3

Overall Winner: The Witcher 3

Look, it’s such a close call it almost makes this entire exercise pointless, but I guess it just made me realise that these are amazing times to be a gamer. These are two of the best games ever made, they’re in the same genre but very different experiences. When video games fire on all cylinders, no other medium can touch them and these modern masterpieces are a testament to that.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to GC and its readership – see you in 2018!

By reader Rangersingh (PSN ID)

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