First Impressions of the Wii U version of Breath of the Wild

by James PinnellMarch 3, 2017

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.

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About The Author
James Pinnell

Freelance writer for @PCTechAuthority, @PCPowerplay and others

  • Laharl1313
    March 3, 2017 at 7:55 am

    Sweet. I will be playing this on my good ole Wii U. Can’t wait!

  • Arkhe
    March 3, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Thanks for taking the time to do a write up!
    It’s so easy to just let the older stuff like this fall to the way-side, but you made the effort to go out and give it a go!

    Good job!

  • Spengler
    March 3, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Thanks for the post. Been looking for a basic comparison, but almost everything online is about the Switch version (which is fair enough).

    Sounds like the Wii U version isn’t going to be a massive seller. It was similar when I hit the register to pay for mine – the few people in there were all buying the Switch and Zelda.

    Made me feel a bit inadequate!

  • Fandabidozi
    March 3, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Can you play it on the WiiU gamepad?

  • Star fox adventures
    March 3, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Yes I play it on gamepad it great !

  • Nicholas Steel
    March 4, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    You can connect headphones to the Wii U Gamepad to privately listen to the game, even when playing the game on a TV! You can’t do this with the Switch version!

    • Nicholas Steel
      March 4, 2017 at 7:24 pm

      Can also use Pro Controller while headphones are plugged in to powered on Wii U Gamepad.

  • Michael Verrenkamp
    March 4, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    It is very cool to see that Nintendo didn’t compromise on the vision just because Switch came on the scene. This is the most honorable send off of a video game console ever.

  • TD
    March 5, 2017 at 5:28 am

    ‘Wii U port’ you say? Pretty sure the Switch version is the port; this game was designed for the ol’ Wii U 😉

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