The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an amazing game. A few weeks ago, I had decided to give the game another go. See, I initially didn’t find Breath of the Wild to be all that great. I kept wondering why everyone seemed to have such high praise of the game, but my own thoughts were that it was just okay. It was okay. I remember taking a break from the game to play Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I immediately was pulled in by Xenoblade. Right afterwards, my thoughts were: “How did Xenoblade Chronicles 2 get scores that were much lower than Breath of the Wild?” I personally enjoyed Xenoblade Chronicles 2 a lot, unfortunately, I couldn’t make it through the game. Yes, this is one of those games that I had started and just had to drop after a while because it just started to wear me down. This same exact thing happened to me when I was playing the original Xenoblade Chronicles. I liked the game a lot, and consider it to be one of the best role-playing games to come out on the last generation of consoles, but, the game eventually took its toll on me.
After putting down Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I decided to pick up Breath of the Wild again. It was at this point when something just hit me. It was like I started to understand the core of the game. When I first started playing Breath of the Wild on my initial run, I was trying to get to everything as quickly as I possibly could. See, I don’t think that this is how Breath of the Wild is meant to be played. I think that the game is meant to be approached in a manner where you are able to take in everything as you go. There was so many random little locations that I had initially missed because I was trying to rush to beat the game. I didn’t quite take it all in, and that made the game feel a bit hollow. A lot of games these days are fast-paced and short. Breath of the Wild, does not follow that standard. When you slow yourself down and take in everything, you start to appreciate the world a lot more. And that is where I stand. The world is absolutely phenomenal with so much endless freedom. It’s the idea of seeing a mountain in the distance, and then making it a goal to climb it. There isn’t anything stopping you. With enough stamina, you can scale pretty much every mountain the game. There is something about discovery and accomplishment in this game. It feels satisfying to come across some of the interesting things that the developers laid out for the player to uncover. The prime example of this are the shrines. A lot of them are visible along the roads throughout the game, but there are also ones that you can find off the beaten path with a little extra exploration. My favorite example of this is Eventide Island. There is no reason to go out to this small island to the southeast of the map, but you can if you choose to do so there is a quest that you can do to unlock a shrine. Unless you take the time to explore the world, you might miss something like this. It’s things like this that make this game more interesting to explore, because, you may never know what you’ll find at any given moment.
In the early stages of the game, you made aware of your main objective, however, I would say that it isn’t the main point of the game. Yes, you will eventually have to go and fight Ganon, but the game is more about the steps you take to get to him. Basically, it’s all about the journey. This is where we now come to the deep immersion of Breath of the Wild. As I said before, I was initially indifferent about the game. I remember having conversations with a friend about it. She had told me that “Breath of the Wild was more of an experience than a game.” It honestly took me a while before I started to feel the same way. I can’t say that I was too keen on the way the game felt at first. Things like the weapon durability, the seemingly useless horse, and the overall learning curve had greatly bothered me. I don’t think that the game is on the level of difficulty of something like Dark Souls, but I wouldn’t say that it’s very welcoming either. You can easily find yourself getting killed by so many things. It’s about trial and error. For example, the first time I had experienced a thunderstorm in the game I had metal weapons equipped. In Breath of the Wild, using metal weapons during a thunderstorm is a big no-no. I didn’t really understand this until I repeatedly died to this aspect. Before long, I eventually figured out that the weapons I had been using were essentially causing me to be a lightning rod. After learning to take off my metal weapons during thunderstorms, I no longer had a problem. It was a learning phase. One that makes the game feel like you are progressing with experience of knowledge more than anything else. It feels gratifying to figure things out, the game doesn’t really hold your hand. Outside of that, there is also a lot of attention to detail that you just wouldn’t realize. It’s easy to take a pack of horses grazing for granted, or fireflies shining at night, or even something as simple as individual blades of grass blowing during a windy day. There is a lot of beauty in some of the overlooked immersive detail within Breath of the Wild. You can find the world to be quite stunning, when you do take the time to stop and appreciate all of your surroundings. I didn’t start to think about it until around the time that I had played Red Dead Redemption 2, another game with an impressive amount of attention to detail, but the main difference between the two is that I find Breath of the Wild to be a lot more engaging. In an odd way, Red Dead Redemption 2 made me appreciate the gameplay of Breath of the Wild a lot more too. Yeah, they’re both trying to be realistic in their own ways, but I personally feel that Breath of the Wild does a lot more things to make the game feel less annoying. I mean, I never had a situation where Link died from having his horse collide with a tree.
At the end of the day, I still find myself very intrigued by Breath of the Wild. At this point in time, I’ve put well over 110 hours into the game. Even with the amount of time that I’ve spent in the game, it still feels like I have much to uncover. Every time I pick the game up, it seems as though I come across something new. There aren’t many games that you can say that happens in. I would look at that as an absolute positivity when it comes to game design. It leaves you wondering just what else is there to find. In a way, this also makes me interested to see future Zelda games. I can only imagine how much this team had learned from this experience, and I can only imagine how much the next game will improve in certain areas. It’s been 2 years since the game had first come out, and I would honestly say that it still holds up very strong. Even with the amount of time that I’ve spent with the game, I feel that I have so much left to do. And I honestly can’t wait to see what other things that I can uncover in the game.