I cracked the Breath of the Wild open (metaphorically speaking) for the first time in a while. I was at the end of a very tiring day, I was excited about the recently released trailer, and I just wanted to provide myself with a little comfort. I figured at least thinking about Breath of the Wild would be relaxing, since I love to just wander around the world, doing whatever catches my attention. As I loaded my most recent save file, I was reminded that I hadn’t finish my most-recent play-through of Master Mode. I don’t remember why I stopped, though I suspect I just got distracted by another game (since that’s why I usually stop playing something), but I realized I still had a long way to go before I was finished with that run. I closed the game shortly after that. I felt more inclined to start the Master Mode file over than continue it, but I also knew I wasn’t really in the right place to make that decision, then. Playing the game all the way through is a big committment and I needed rest, not another item on my to-do list.
I haven’t gone back. I wound up choosing to play something new, so I have fun and interesting things to think about during my quiet moments, but I still want to go back and play the game again. With all the games I’ve bought and the ones yet to come out, I expect I won’t be getting to Breath of the Wild any time before Tears of the Kingdom comes out. Unless, of course, something dramatic happens in my life that massively increases my gaming hours, but that’s incredibly unlikely since I still haven’t had any luck finding a job that will allow me to work fewer hours for the same amount of money. Which feels like it shouldn’t be hard to find given I have nearly a decade of experience and a wide range of skills, but a year of only rejections is telling me that maybe I thought wrong. So, as much as I’d like to play through the game again, I don’t think it’s going to happen.
If you count all the abandoned attempts that made it through at least 50% of the game and not just the successful ones, I’ve played Breath of the wild seven times. Four full play-throughs and three that got abandoned about sixty to eighty shrines through the game. Thanks to playing through so much of the game so many times, I know where pretty much everything is, from shrines to hidden chests to random Koroks, to monster spawn locations. I could probably provide directions from any of the map towers to any of the villagers or more interesting locations. I can tell you were to find any kind of monster, material, food, or gear you could want. Given enough time and someone else playing the game while I watched, I could probably point out 300-400 korok locations just outside the camera’s view. I know the world of this game better than most people I’ve encountered and still enjoy wandering around it, hunting for things I don’t remember or never noticed before (which I still find every time I go for a wander). I don’t think I can say this about any other game or real-world location of a similar size and scope.
When one of my ex-roommates was playing the game, I had to practice holding my tongue because he would get annoyed every time I pointed out something he was ignoring or didn’t see. He was a good sport about it, especially since I was only telling him that there was a korok or a chest over thataway or thisaway rather than how to solve the puzzles or where, exactly, stuff was hidden, but it quickly became a joke where I’d suggest that he could just hand me the controller if he really wanted me to shut up. It was a fun time, watching him play the game and realizing just how well I knew the world.
One of my favorite parts of the world is there are a plethora of locations that are modeled or named after locations and people from previous games. The names that fill in on your map as you explore, the condition of those places, and the overall condition of the world tell a lot of small but impactful stories. Finding as many of those as I could was one of the most emotional parts of the game for me, as I saw all these places and names from my past that were reduced to rubble and ruin. As we move towards Tears of the Kingdom, I find myself wondering what all these places are going to look like in this game. After all, we’re more or less in the same place. Sure, there’s an element of veriticality that didn’t exist in the previous games that seems to be a major element in this one, but will this world still resemble the one I’ve gotten to know like the back of my own hands? Will this knowledge be a useful tool in this next game, or will it hold me back as I expect to find things in places that now contain nothing?
There’s no way of knowing, yet. This is the first time there will be a direct sequel to a Legend of Zelda game that is supposedly happening in the same place. Every other direct sequel has a location change (or at least a partial one, in the case of the difficult-to-classify Link to the Past/Link Between Worlds relationship), so there’s no way of knowing. Lots of other games that repeatedly use the same location will do something to at least nod at the prequels, but The Legend of Zelda broke the mold with Breath of the Wild so there’s no knowing what they’ll do here. All I can do is count the days until the game comes out just a bit over two months from now.