If you’ve played even a minute of Breath of the Wild–or checked out my let’s play of it–you probably love the brilliant new entry in The Legend of Zelda series just as much as I do.
People have been praising many fun aspects of Breath of the Wild. The visuals are obviously stunning. Combat is complex enough to take some time to master but intuitive enough to not feel overwhelming. The 100+ shrines are brilliant alternatives to long, taxing dungeons. And both main and side quests are laid out so well.
My personal favorite aspect of Breath of the Wild is the exploration and how the game rewards you for it nonstop. From the very beginning, you’re dropped into the middle of a vast open world and no directions. You’re immediately rewarded for exploring with your first weapons, food, and essential items.
Large Scale Exploring
Once you get going, the world is overflowing with possibilities. You could start walking in one direction and travel through a small forest that contains a magical fairy fountain, a bokoblin camp with shiny treasure, a complex shrine, and a tough mini boss to strategically wipe out.
But you could also head 20 degrees to the right and have a completely different experience by happening upon a field of wild horses, then a stable with provisions you need, and eventually a large mountain you scale to discover a new shrine and the biggest mining deposit you’ve ever seen.
You literally cannot choose a direction to walk in Hyrule that will be boring or lacking in new experiences.
Besides the satisfaction of large scale exploration across the map, Breath of the Wild also rewards you exploring in smaller ways. The Korok spots are the best examples of this.
Towards the beginning of the game, I found a bog with treasure in the middle. Besides the treasure, on the side of the bog I noticed a big hollow tree trunk with a metal chain attached to it. When I turned on my Magnesis ability, I noticed a metal ball at the bottom of the bog. After some playing around, I placed the ball in the middle of the stump, and all of a sudden a little forest spirit popped out and handed me a magical seed.
There are spots like this all over. They require you to notice that something looks just a little mysterious or out of place, and then investigate. If you pick up that too-conveniently-placed rock, complete a small pattern of fruit, and so on, you’ll eventually have enough seeds to expand your inventory. Brilliant.
Beyond the adorable Korok spots, Breath of the Wild has tons of nooks and crannies to pop your head into, and who knows what you’ll find in them. Sometimes there’s a treasure chest behind a blastable wall of rock, sometimes there’s a new type of cooking ingredient in a distant forest clearing, and sometimes there’s a massive mechanical beast that wants to rip your head off. (But you always end up defeating it and taking some valuable body parts and weapons from its defeated corpse. Worth it.)
It’s that kind of exploring and “Huh what’s this do?” mindset that Breath of the Wild rewards so well. This game has so many heartwarming and exciting features, but I’ll never get over the joy and satisfaction involved in its exploration.