As some readers know, I have a bucket list item to beat every Zelda game ever made. So, after finally beating BREATH OF THE WILD (BOTW), I only have one to go – THE ADVENTURE OF LINK. So, why did it take five-plus years to beat what many consider the greatest Zelda game? My stepson. No, really. I played through the laborious training session in the game about five times. He would take the controller for an hour or so and lose all my items while wandering off into an area I had no idea about. So, I would start over repeatedly. 🤦‍♂️

I picked BOTW back up once my son was born in April. I know, odd timing for such a HUGE game. Yet, it worked. I was on paternity leave and had these sixty-minute chunks to dive into Hyrule while everyone was asleep. It was my “yoga” during a stressful moment. However, while BOTW is a masterpiece in gameplay mechanics and open-world narrative, it all felt lonely. 

In other Zelda games, there are monsters and characters near you constantly. Also, you usually have a charismatic helper that keeps you company. Fi in SKYWARD SWORD and Midna in TWILIGHT PRINCESS, to name a few. Without them, you are tasked with exploring this living and breathing world alone. That loneliness is part of the narrative, and it’s bittersweet. 

I need to repeat this so I don’t get any hate from BOTW readers. BOTW is a masterpiece. It’s easily a top-five Zelda game and deserves all of its accolades since its release in 2017. Sadly, I don’t have the heart to put it at number one because the story doesn’t soar, and at times, it lacks the fun of other Zeldas (A LINK TO THE PAST, and even 2019’s remake LINK’S AWAKENING). 

Hunting for shrines, memories, and divine beasts became my evening work. I spent close to fifty hours helping the residents of Hyrule, finding my memories, and solving the complex puzzles in the divine beasts and shrines (I have 80 total right now). Surprisingly, the biggest thrill in BOTW was not fighting Ganon. Instead, it was seeing a section in the game that you weren’t strong enough to beat earlier in your quest and having the courage, tools, and smarts to survive now. That intuitive mechanic is what kept me coming back. I wanted the proper armor, strength, and weapons to trounce enemies. And eventually, I did.

Despite beating BOTW, there are still two DLCs, several shrines, and a couple of memories for me to unlock. I’m looking forward to “Opening my Eyes” and experiencing more in BOTW. And I will be there on day one when the sequel, TEARS OF THE KINGDOM, is released.

It’s available on Nintendo Switch. 

Aaron "Dobler" Goldstein

Aaron Goldstein is a Product Manager by day, ludicrous speed content consumer by night. He’s a LA Film School Alumni and TV Academy / Producers Guild of America member. Aaron is a proud parent and dad joke enthusiast.

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