First Impressions of the Wii U version of Breath of the Wild
Nintendo’s razor eyed focus on the Switch’s imminent release meant that any information around the development of its Zelda: BOTH WiiU port was almost non-existent. It was barely mentioned outside the fact that it would, in fact, be available at the same time as the lead version, and contain the same amount of content. This was likely since Nintendo had just lopped the head clean off the Switch’s failed predecessor, and drawing any attention to the fact its killer app could curtail crucial launch and 30 day sales away from the main event.
So much so that when I went to preorder it, the store staff were confused that I wanted it and that wasn’t I sure I wanted the Switch instead? No thanks – I had barely used my WiiU since I originally bought it on a sale induced whim and I needed to pull some element of value out of the old girl before she was retired. I picked up my copy during the flurry of midnight switch pickups, the ONLY one mind you (the store had about 11 copies) sold during the night.
Those of you looking to hold off on a new console purchase are probably wondering – is it any good? Can the WiiU handle the magic? Well, yes, it is very good, and yes, the WiiU does a more than admirable job of doing everything it should. So well, in fact, that when I compared Switch videos to my own I struggled to notice any difference. Sure, the water doesn’t look as good, the draw distance is reduced and some of the textures are a little muddier. But this is only noticeable when it’s side by side.
On its own merits, Zelda: BOTW is probably the best looking and most ambitious game on the system, with Xenoblade Chronicles X coming a close second. The framerate is consistent, with only the slightest of chug apparent when you enter new areas or begin fighting large numbers of enemies. Even then, it’s not always the case – I only counted 2 genuine, very short, dips in performance during my first 2.5hrs of play. Load times range from 5-8 seconds – both post death and bootup – which few people would be complaining about.
The gamepad is basically useless however – there is no map or inventory available when playing on the TV – so unless you’re using it to play in bed or whatever you’re probably better off using the pro controller. It’s much more comfortable. If you don’t have one, the gamepad is fine and the wide control scheme works since it’s what you’d be using on the Switch anyway. I also highly recommend you take advantage of the menu option to switch the Jump and Cancel buttons. The control scheme is a little fiddly at first but that modification is a must – the fact it’s even in there baffles me.
Do you need a Switch for Zelda? No. The best version is, obviously, on the new beast but it’s not better enough to warrant a purchase if you are happy with your WiiU.