It’s been hard to keep football on the brain these past few weeks with it being the doldrums and Zelda coming out so I made a Zelda comic instead and if you do not know or care about the new Zelda game you can just go ahead and click away now because that’s all this post will be about.

Longtime readers will remember my affinity for the series. I grew up with it, it was my childhood, I’ve played every game, blah blah blah. I was distinctly disappointed with Breath of the Wild. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good game, but it fell far from the hype for me. It felt…shallow. The combat was shallow. The quests were very shallow. The enemy variety was shallow. The story was shallow. The rewards for exploration were fairly shallow. The world itself and exploring it was pretty much the only thing that saw me through it. I found the “freedom” everyone bragged about to be distinctly overrated.

The combat itself sucked. The wide weapon variety was kind of a lie, you had one-handed weapons, two-handed weapons, spears, and occasionally magic rods. The moveset for all of them was the same thing no matter the power or element. With everything being so fragile nothing became special, and every fight from midgame on felt like a pointless exercise in breaking 2-3 weapons and replacing them in the same battle. It just became a pointless cycle of fight dudes, break which weapons you wanted to get rid of, pick up new ones, gather monster parts for the tedious cooking system, repeat. The actions never had buttery smooth movement like Wind Waker, or had the sword moveset variety of Twilight Princess, or had the puzzle directional element of Skyward Sword. Just swing and smack. You couldn’t even use shields at the same time unless you had a one-handed sword, which tended to be the weakest ones. The slate powers added some fun but in limited capacity. Arrows outside regular arrows felt very hard to come by so why waste them.

At the time I came away tired at the end and I remember thinking to myself: BotW is the foundation of a different game I actually wanted to play. They had an outstanding foundation sitting there, but what they slapped on top felt undercooked. Well…uh… they cooked it. TotK is the game I wanted BotW to be, in ways I needed, wanted, and didn’t even know I wanted.

I love almost everything they updated. The sidequests are so much better. The story is more Zelda-y and engaging. The freedom has been exponentially expanded in all ways, and it was exactly what it needed to actually feel freeing. Combat now has so much more you can do, and by making every weapon into a weak base palette to fuse whatever the fuck you want to it, the weapons actually do have variety now. You can create powerful monstrosities or goofy nonsense at any moment. The world is just as fun to explore. The “dicking around” quotient has exploded into a delightful physics sandbox of glee and I couldn’t be happier about it. I’ve never seen a Zelda game do anything like The Depths before and it’s my favorite part of the game. I like making stupid airplanes and really tall cars with flamethrowers on them. I also sometimes just build structurally well-engineered bridges just for fun. With the arrow fuse mechanic, I actually use the bows, a lot. I actively seek out combat now, because enemies yield valuable resources that I can glue to my claymores to create stupid horned swords. The shrines are just more physics sandboxes and they removed the bad combat boss shrines and replaced them with helpful training shrines or trial shrines where you lose your gear.

It’s not perfect. Horses are still a waste of time and I hate that the world music only plays when you are on them. There’s no point to horses. They control worse, you have to get on and off constantly to check things out, and they can’t climb most of the interesting terrain anyway. With Zonai devices they are even more obsolete. Who wants a horse when I can build a monster truck? The world map is reused valiantly with a lot of change but it still doesn’t help that if you played BotW the main overworld won’t quite have that same sense of wonder to it since the setup is mostly the same. The real new exploration comes from the Depths, which sadly has a bit of a “everything looks the same everywhere” kind of problem. I find the music as a whole still disappointing like BotW’s was, which is a massive letdown for someone who holds every other Zelda soundtrack close to his heart. None of the dungeon themes or environmental themes have any meat to them and the main overworld music (which again, only plays on horseback for some stupid reason) features a lot of annoying piano plinking. Despite the increase in weapon, enemy, and tool variety the weapon movesets are still pretty basic. Outside the Goron power (which is amazing), the dungeon powers aren’t as good as BotW either. I’m also significantly less invested in finding Koroks and the new puzzles are tedious, which is what inspired this comic to begin with.

I’m just happy I finally got the experience it seemed like everyone else was having with BotW. They gave me the game I wanted all along.