I Still Don’t Get Breath Of The Wild

I'm a bit of a bandwagon jumper when it comes to most of my hobbies and interests. If it's connected to the MCU, I'm going to watch and probably become mildly obsessed with it. If it's a new God Of War, The Last Of Us, or any other series connected to PlayStation Studios, I'm going to mention it in every conversation for a month. And, just like everybody else (right?) if you put a picture of a Pokemon on something, I'm almost definitely going to buy it. Speaking of which, does anyone know if Nestle is still selling that Pokemon milk?

My penchant for anything everyone else likes made me very excited to finally play Breath Of The Wild. Like many of you reading this, I am on a neverending quest to try and play all of the games in existence as part of an ever-increasing backlog. Earlier this year, after five years of hearing how it is one of the best games ever made, I finally pulled Breath Of The Wild out of that backlog and began my journey through Hyrule. I figured with Tears Of The Kingdom on the horizon, now would be the best time to play through it before I fall two games behind in the series.

My first, second, third, and so on impressions of Breath Of The Wild are, well, I don't get it. Before you hunt me down on Twitter for an angry DM, allow me to clarify something. By no means do I think Breath Of The Wild is a bad game. Far from it. The visuals are stunning, the gameplay is terrific, and the story has me intrigued. Most of all, I still can't get my head around how all of it fits on a Nintendo Switch cartridge. A Switch cartridge at launch, no less.

There are clearly multiple ways to play Breath Of The Wild, something else that goes to it being such a great game. However, there's no getting around the fact that there are long periods of nothing, especially at the very start. Portions of the game where you are left to your own devices, sometimes spending hours of your time to make what feels like very little progress. Even that isn't necessarily a bad thing, so at this point, you're probably wondering what my problem is with what is objectively one of the greatest games of all time.

For starters, problem is the wrong word. I don't have a problem with Breath Of The Wild. What confuses me is how many people love it, and some of the people who have sung its praises to me as they've urged me to play it for the past half a decade. While those I work with and most of you reading this are the type of people I'd expect to love Breath Of The Wild, friends of mine, even family members who are incredibly casual gamers love it too. The type of people who I would have previously assumed didn't have the patience for a game that doesn't open with an explosive cutscene or offers up instant gratification for absolutely everything.

At this point, you might throw the Zelda name at me. It's tied to a beloved and long-running series, the very reason why I, the IP sheep, wanted to play it in the first place. To anyone raising that point, I would like to highlight The Legend Of Zelda's sales. Breath Of The Wild has topped 25 million units sold. Impressive, and probably in keeping with a few other Zelda games, right? Wrong. The next best-selling Zelda game after Breath Of The Wild is Twilight Princess with eight million sold. Still impressive, but less than a third of what its Switch-based sibling has achieved.

That means Breath Of The Wild has tripled the Zelda player base. Millions of people I wrongly assumed don't have the time or the patience for a game like Breath Of The Wild. This brings us back to me “not getting” Breath Of The Wild. Maybe it would be more accurate to say I don't understand its popularity. It benefited from being a Switch launch title, but that's a console built around playing with family and playing together, something Breath Of The Wild is not.

I would almost go as far as to label Breath Of The Wild an anomaly, a label I may have to reassess when Tears Of The Kingdom launches and performs just as well sales-wise. If nothing else, I'm impressed with the success the latest Zelda game has managed to achieve in a world where everyone's attention span seems to be getting shorter by the second. If a tweet is longer than two sentences, we're not going to read it. If a video on TikTok is longer than 30 seconds, we're not going to watch it. However, if a game needs all of your time, much of which will require little more than traversing a vast and empty countryside between tasks, apparently that's exactly what everybody wants.

I will continue to put the hours in, but they will effectively be breaks between games I want to play more and titles that don't require all of my time. Breath Of The Wild will be on hold while I play Sonic Frontiers, God Of War Ragnarok, and Pokemon Scarlet & Violet. It's going to be a very busy November if you hadn't already heard. Maybe that's exactly why Breath Of The Wild is so popular. While it needs a lot of time, it doesn't demand it. I'll have no qualms picking it up a month later and making a little more progress, but with so much stuff coming in the next six months, it seems unlikely I'll be ready for Tears Of The Kingdom if it arrives on time, but I'm okay with that too.

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