Open-world games have had a difficult relationship since their inception, trying to balance their main story with all the other content found in those worlds. Honestly, it’s something I’m used to. I’m not playing Skyrim to kill a bone dragon or whatever the real story of this game is about. I play it to play in a huge fantasy world where I can have several professions and no real accounts. However, the tension between storytelling and adventure in the open world stood out in a way I could not ignore in Breath of the Wild.
From the moment you wake up, Link has the freedom to explore. Without memories and responsibilities, the world is his oyster. His kind and curious nature leads him to help people and solve problems organically, but it all collapses as soon as the real bets of the game are revealed.
While Breath of the Wild goes with the fantasy trick of having to save the world from a greater evil that threatens existence itself, unlike Dragonborn, Link is directly waiting for him. In addition to the wider threat that Ganon poses, Zelda literally fights for his life every time Link passes through Hyrule.
With this knowledge, take the time to tame the perfect horse, or find that the next seed of cork just makes me feel more guilty than enchanted. Training and preparation are one thing when you take a number of hard-hit enemies, but indulging in some of the lesser pleasures of the game feels selfish while the princess still holds on after more than a century of fighting.
Which is a bummer, because the world of Hyrule Breath of the Wild is a world where I would like to spend long periods of time. From fishing, cooking, to simply discovering what is on the next hill, there is so much simple slice of goodness to find following the Link. I would like to indulge in it without knowing that my delay will cause someone to suffer longer than necessary, or that it will all lead to another great struggle with the bosses.
This probably seems unintuitive to what’s in the game Legend of Zelda. After all, these games are about being a little boy who takes the opportunity to save the world over and over again. But Breath of the Wild had already played a significant role with the LoZ formula, removed iconic temples in favor of shrines and thrust Link into the largest map he could ever explore. Why not take it a step further?
Link has saved the world so many times in grandiose ways, why not make him and Zelda think a little smaller? There are so many people in this version of Hyrule to meet and help, it would be nice to see the framework of how saving this post-post-apocalyptic world looks like a shift on a smaller scale.
Instead of taking Ganon off for the eleventh time, I think I’d rather see Link gather his memories and help these people build something new from the bones of the past. Rather than continuing this cycle, I would like to see the future of Link and Zelda, where they can find beauty in what is left and help create anything else together. Darkness will always loom over any world we inhabit, but it is as small acts aimed at the community as the big ones that show stops that help keep it under control.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 is one of many games to be released in 2022. You can find the full list on our video game release dates page. We also looked at BotW’s predecessor, Skyward Sword, which in many ways laid the groundwork for what was to come.