Zelda games had been in a bit of a rut lately (as in 2015 lately). Sure the games were good, but they followed the exact same formula that they have had since Ocarina of Time. Go to a dungeon, gain a new power, use that power to defeat the boss, and on to the next dungeon.
Breath of the Wild breaks the formula by going completely open-world and giving you most of your powers in the first few hours of the game. Instead of focusing on the next big task, you are free to take your time and explore the world.
While it’s not the most densely populated game world, there are tons of little tasks to accomplish. Unlike other open–world games, these aren’t simply collectable items floating here and there. You have to be observant (korok seeds, photos, chests) and you have to be able to use your wits and abilities (shrine quests, towers). At its core, the gameplay is good old-fashioned puzzle solving. The shrines are the best part of the game. They offer plenty of challenge and its always a nice sense of accomplishment to complete one. There’s also a bit of crafting (the bane of modern gaming) in its cooking system. My daughter spent most of her hours in the game cooking various stews and skewers. I blame her Tik-Tok attention span.
All this puts you on the path to building your strength, stamina, and inventory size—all things you need to fight off the monsters and, eventually, Calamity Ganon. If there is any flaw to the game it’s the uninteresting story. It gets the job done, but it’s as shallow as the Toh Yahsa swamp. I’m sure idiot Zoomers have spent hours “shipping” the various Hyrulian species characters together in their fanfic notebooks, but me, an aging Gen-X’er have no patience for this drivel.
In the end, although I probably ranked some of the older games higher, this is probably the best Zelda game in the series. It has much more replayability, more to do, and more to discover. As I type this, Tears of the Kingdom is tearing up the charts. Maybe someday I will get to that one, but I am holding out for the Wii U port. It’s the way the game was meant to be played.