After over six years I have finally finished The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I’m guilty of not finishing most Zelda games, especially the console ones. Sure, I start them but after a while, I just move on to something else. It’s not that I don’t like them, but for whatever reason, I end up playing something else. In the case here, while I loved the sense of discovery, I never enjoyed the combat. But, in the end, I’m so glad I saw the credits roll.

Link at the site of a shrine looking towards the mountains in the distance

Trying to come back after a while

For the purposes of this retrospective, I’ll have to spoil some things. Nothing specific for a game that’s nearly seven years old, but I do need to describe why I feel the way that I do. There were two aspects to BotW that hampered my enjoyment. One is entirely my fault while the other stems primarily from the controls.

There are a lot of mechanics involved in this game. Over the many hours of playing, especially early on, Link learns new skills and gains access to a number of different abilities, including runes. However, if you’ve gone a while between play sessions, it’s possible that you will forget those things. If you don’t remember how to use the runes required to complete most shrines and free the divine beasts, you will struggle.

This was a huge problem for me, especially late on. As I was attempting to finish my last Divine Beast, Vah Rudania, I had to look at a walkthrough and realize that I not only needed to use some of my abilities to open areas, but I also needed to remember that you can rotate the beasts. The latter part is huge and if you forget that aspect of these sections, it can be frustrating. I also didn’t go into that section properly prepared. I didn’t bring any arrows and I accidentally destroyed the torch you get, so I needed to leave to get more.

Link riding his horse in Breath of the Wild

Struggling with the Camera

The very last battle isn’t necessarily a hard one. They give you the key item and unlimited arrows to complete it, but the annoying part of it was the camera. You’re riding your horse, trying to shoot arrows at the enemy. But for whatever reason, the camera kept reverting and moving on its own. Looking back, this might be an issue with the horse. I spent most of the game without riding it, so having to use it now felt odd.

At the same time though, this battle requires you to move to avoid Ganon’s attack and also shoot arrows at eight very specific spots. I died twice before being able to land the pivotal last hit. When I died, it was because the camera was getting too close to Link and I couldn’t see the necessary updraft required to lift him up.

I struggled with the camera in most battles. The fight in Vah Rudnia was also a challenge. This version of Ganon moves around and there are pillars that can make it difficult to see where it is. Obviously, I finished the game, so I managed to overcome those obstacles. But it was still frustrating to have to juggle the camera and controls.

Link on his horse riding towards Ganon from the final fight in Breath of the Wild

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of fantastic things here

In all honesty though, those setbacks aside, I absolutely adored my time with Breath of the Wild. Yes, I wish I played it on a more consistent basis. Taking over half a decade to finish it is my fault. Even after finishing the game, I feel like there is a lot I missed. I definitely did not locate all the shrines. There are so many side quests I began but never completed. The concept of playing the game the way you essentially want is refreshing. I wrote about that on a blog a few weeks ago and BotW does it really well.

It was a lot of fun going into an area and not knowing what to expect. Did I have the correct gear to handle the environment? Do I have the correct weapon(s)? Will I actually find the shrine my radar is telling me is close by? Yup, I died a lot of times because I went into an area ill-prepared or overconfident. But I was rarely discouraged by death. It only made me want to go back and see if I could venture through without getting killed again.

Zelda games always have fantastic variety. Everything from the vastly different areas to the forms of enemies you encounter. The Wild Guardians were a hassle but also incredibly satisfying to defeat when I could. The trek through Hyrule Castle, which is littered with powerful enemies, including many variations of the Guardians was quite exciting. I spent so much time devising ways of getting around, so I can hit and hopefully destroy them. Yes, I still got killed multiple times. However, when I got the better of them, I was incredibly happy.

The key art for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, featuring Link on a ledge looking to the left

Tears of the Kingdom

Tears of the Kingdom, the follow-up game is coming this May. In other blogs, I’ve talked about how playing too much of a game franchise in a short period of time can cause fatigue. Unlike other recently released sequels (God of War: Ragnarök or Jedi: Survivor), I think I can jump into TotK when it launches and not feel the same way.

I also jumped back into Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. It was a game I sampled a few years ago and really enjoyed. That game is also different enough that I don’t think it will hurt my interest in TotK. In actuality, depending on how much that game connects with BotW and TotK, it might be good to have more insight into the lore of this era of The Legend of Zelda.

But, even if that’s not the case, Tears of the Kingdom is a game I’m really looking forward to playing. I’m hopeful the limitations of the Switch don’t hurt the game. At the same time, I’m eager to see what’s new. The brief snippet we got during Nintendo’s most recent Direct still left a lot of questions unanswered. There have been a lot of good to great open-world games released since 2017, and I’m curious about what other game elements the development team has used as inspiration here.

Link and his horse from a cutscene in Breath of the Wild

Play it if you haven’t already

Chances are, if you own a Nintendo Switch, you have probably played Breath of the Wild. However, if you haven’t, then I can’t recommend it enough. Even if you’re like me, and you fell off, it’s definitely worth jumping back in. Just don’t be afraid to refer to a walkthrough or search for help if you’ve forgotten how to do certain things.