The next two weeks will see the release of two highly anticipated titles — The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn. The former is releasing alongside a brand new console, the Nintendo Switch, as well as the Wii U, while the latter is set to grace one of the fastest selling systems of all time — the PS4.
These two exclusive franchises may not appear to be direct competition at first glance, but the similarities between the two can almost guarantee some cross-over (or hard decision making) for gamers.
Nintendo is aiming to make its most ambitious Zelda title to date. Harkening back to the days of the first game in the series, Breath of the Wild boasts a massive, explorable open world nearly twice the size of that featured in The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.
Fusing elements of survival and role-playing games with the classic puzzle-heavy dungeons the series is known for, the newest game in the series is geared to change everything we know about Zelda. Regardless of exclusivity, Breath of the Wild still ended up being the most talked about game during E3 2016.
Nintendo fans have proven time and time again that they are extremely loyal, and when a new Zelda title as promising as this one is set to release, you can bet that fans will be lining up for its release.
Horizon, on the other hand, is starting off with a fresh slate. Although sequels are known to generate mass amounts of revenue, Horizon could easily follow the footsteps of popular new games like the original Titanfall or The Division, both of which sold marvelously for new IPs. In a world where annual releases are becoming more common, gamers all over are itching for something new and original.
Horizon does an excellent job of making itself stand out from the rest of the competition. Featuring a female protagonist, a uniquely futuristic, yet primitive post-apocalyptic setting, and an intersting open world, the new franchise is gearing up for success.
Watching a short clip of either game will make the two appear drastically different in terms of gameplay. However, both of these action-RPG titles share some distinct similarities:
- Both titles feature an open-world with unprecedented freedom
- Both heavily emphasize bow and arrow combat
- Both feature survival elements like crafting
- Both heavily focus on resource gathering, whether to increase your character’s health or simply create stronger items
- Both share similar weather systems, where clouds roll and storms kick up depending on the temperature of the area.
Regardless of the similarities, however, the two heve their own distinct features that set them apart. Right off the bat, Horizon is clearly a more scripted, story-heavy narrative game, whereas Breath of the Wild focuses more on exploration and letting the story unfold through travel.
Horizon’s skill tree splits into three upgradable, chaining categories that emphasize stealth, combat, and health and resource acquisition. Although the game also features a variety of weapon types and armor, Breath of the Wild features an array of weapons found in the environment that break and must be replaced as time goes on.
The physics engine inBreath of the Wild is what really stands out. Link can climb virtually any surface, start fires to create an updraft for flight, and surf on sand with his shield. These mechanics change the way the combat plays out — and are dramatically different when compared to Horizon, which is a far more action-oriented game.
Graphically, the two games cater to different audiences. Horizon caters more toward realistic, adult focused gamers, while Zelda has a more light-hearted, stylized art style that works better for both the hardware it’s on and the audience to which it’s targeted.
The biggest factor that will play into sales for each game will be the hardware. The PS4 has already sold more than 50 million consoles since release, while the Wii U managed to only sell a measly 13 million consoles during its whole life cycle.
And although Nintendo Switch pre-order numbers are high, Nintendo has a tendency to limit console production, so the system may not be as easily accessible as most would hope. With a much larger install base,Horizon appears to be the game that will easily sell the most.
However, the Switch is looking to appeal to a much wider audience than the Wii U did, and fans who are looking forward to playing an already established franchise (and that skipped the last system) will be able to start fresh with the Switch. Buying a new console is a serious investment, meaning that even gamers who are planning on buying both games at $60 will most likely have to wait until they recuperate their spending before doubling down.
At the end of the day, both games look fantastic and both have received a plethora of praise during previews, meaning that we as gamers are the real winners here.
Zelda fans will be as loyal as ever, and Breath of the Wild will likely have one of the highest attach rates for a console. Due heavy investments, this will definitely take away a number of potential sales from Horizon. However, with the PS4 selling better than ever, and Sony really emphasizing on marketing Horizon, this will not deter the game from being a commercial hit.
So whether you end up spending all of your money on the Switch and buying Horizon later down the line during a sale, or you plan on waiting until the Switch has a bigger library to grab Zelda, 2017 is looking to be an excellent year for gamers of all kinds.