The Wii U version of Breath of the Wild is great, but could have been glorious
The reimagined land of Hyrule is teeming with so much to see and do that even now, weeks after the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, people continue playing. I'm hours upon hours into the game, and I still feel like I've just barely scratched the surface of my adventure.
I've been enjoying Link's latest quest on the Wii U as a sort of fitting swan song for the underrated, underutilized Nintendo console. And in case you were wondering, yes, Breath of the Wild is every bit as incredible on the Wii U as it is on the Switch.
No Switch? No Problem!
If you've been holding off on playing Breath of the Wild because you still don't own a Switch, but you have a Wii U just sitting there like a lonely reject next to your other consoles, you should just play the game already! The only real reason to pick the Switch version over the Wii U version is if you're actually interested in taking the game with you on bus rides or family visits. Personally, I think an adventure of this magnitude is best enjoyed on a giant HD set.
Graphically, the two editions of Breath of the Wild are practically identical, with the only difference being the Switch version's slightly higher resolution. Both versions are also prone to frame rate drops in the same areas, though Nintendo recently released a patch to fix some of those issues on the Switch. Even so, I've encountered dips in frame rate a few times on the Wii U, and I would hardly call these instances game-breaking or even all that distracting.
Ultimately, what you get with Breath of the Wild on the Wii U is an incredible journey across all of Hyrule. And, honestly, the fact that it's displayed in a lower resolution shouldn't dissuade anyone from playing this remarkable accomplishment in the open world genre, even if it is on older hardware. Whatever your reason may be for not owning a Switch at this time, if you're itching to play Zelda and you have the means, then you should really just play the game on the Wii U posthaste.
A Missed Opportunity
My biggest gripe with Breath of the Wild on the Wii U is its lack of touchscreen functionality. And if I'm being honest, I think this version of the game very well could've been the definitive way to play, but Nintendo kind of screwed up. One of the biggest grievances with Breath of the Wild is its inventory system. Going into the pause screen to get rid of excess weapons and items because your stash is full is tedious.
It would've been great to be able to just access your entire inventory on the GamePad's touchscreen. After all, wasn't the whole purpose of the device to create fun, intuitive, and unique ways to play games? Instead, all the GamePad's screen does is provide off-TV play. Seriously? Well, if the argument is which version of Breath of the Wild does portable gaming better, then yeah, the Switch wins that one, because not only can you play while lying in bed, but you can also take the game with you anywhere using just the tablet.
I can't help but wonder if Nintendo purposely sabotaged the Wii U version of Breath of the Wild by not including a function that's essentially a no-brainer. Remember ZombiU? That game's use of the second screen was magnificent, and it added a degree of ingenuity to the gameplay. There's no reason Breath of the Wild couldn't be just as awesome, unless Nintendo was really hoping to sell those Switch units. But I'm not trying to vilify Nintendo, because at the end of the day, we still got one of the best games in recent memory on not one, but two platforms.
System Seller or Grand Finale?
Breath of the Wild is already being talked about as one of the greatest games of all time, and with good reason. It offers an incredible range of freedom in how you explore its grand world. It reinvents the Zelda series while retaining a lot of the conventions that put that series on the map in the first place. And it's just really, really fun to play. If you're a fan of Nintendo's epic fantasy franchise, you should totally play Breath of the Wild if you're one of the 11 or 12 people on this planet who haven't already.
If you already own a Switch, well, I can't try and argue against that version. Because, yes, the resolution's a tad better, and you can take the game with you anywhere you go without lugging around an entire console. Not to mention, you'll need something to tide you over while you wait for the Switch's upcoming big releases. And what better way to stay busy than with a sprawling Hyrulian journey?
But if you don't already have a Switch hooked up to your TV, if you're saving up your hard-earned cash to buy Nintendo's newest console, or if you're just waiting for more games to become available before taking the plunge, then there's really no reason to delay any longer. Play Breath of the Wild on your Wii U. It's a worthy version of a great game, and it plays well on the older hardware and is just as much fun.
Switch. Wii U. It doesn't really matter how you play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. All that matters is that you play it.