Allen gets lost in the new LEGEND OF ZELDA title.
As any modern gamer can tell you, open world games are all the rage. Just look at Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, The Elder Scrolls, The Witcher 3, etc. and a pattern emerges. All of these games encourage exploration and discovery, but the experiences vary from game to game. Lots of single player games these days are known for world maps that tediously unlock once you climb a tower or find a vantage point. From there, countless map icons show you exactly where to go and what to do. Breath of the Wild takes the opposite approach.
Sure, there are towers in Breath, but these serve more as hub points since the map only shows the topography of a certain region, not the areas of interest. The game encourages you to use towers to scan the horizon for Shrines, towns, stables or basically anything that catches your eye. Once you’ve found something, you can easily mark it on your map, but it’s up to you to find the best way of getting there. Of course, you should expect to get sidetracked along the way.
Moreso than any other game I can recall in recent history, Breath of the Wild rewards the inquisitive player. I remember leaving the Great Plateau, the starting area, and being completely overwhelmed by the sheer variety of locales and activities. Along the way to Hateno Village, I unlocked a tower, raided several enemy camps, and registered my first horse. Around every corner, there was a brand new vista awaiting, full of possibilities and wonder. In short, I was absolutely hooked, but that’s when I ran into a problem.
Somewhere along the way to Hateno Village, I found myself lost. I travelled by horseback past riverside ruins,stopping to discover a Shrine. Then I came upon a large arch and beyond the arch, a Lynel. For those who haven’t played the game, Lynels, more commonly known as centaurs, are some of the hardest enemies in the game. They have devastating attacks that can kill you in one hit if you’re not prepared (hint: don’t fight one with only 4 hearts). I considered retreating and attempting to find a new path to Hateno Village, but I wanted to press on despite this equine roadblock. After a few unsuccessful attempts to defeat the Lynel, I decided to take the high road, literally. I climbed a nearby mountain, completely circumventing the Lynel, only to find myself face to face with a Hinox. Out of the cooking pot into the fire.
Vastly outgunned, I decided to stand my ground instead of retreating to find an easier path. My nerves were tense and my heart pounded as I narrowly dodged attack after attack, whittling down the cyclop’s health. The battle was intense, the music pounding, but in the end, I emerged victorious. This enemy was another not-so-gentle reminder that I should probably turn back. I consulted my map, but unfortunately I hadn’t unlocked the tower for this region so the map was almost useless.
I thought to retrace my steps to find another possible route, but that would take me back to the Lynel. Fraught with uncertainty, I wondered if I had missed a turn or a hidden path. Tracing my steps with the map, I followed the main road, searching for a clue as to where I went wrong. Nothing. Checking the map once again, I saw the blinking yellow objective in a sea of purple. I had no other choice. Ahead of me lay Mount Lanayru, a foreboding frost-bitten giant that was the last obstacle in my way. Drinking a quick potion to stave off the cold, I headed up the mountain.
Along the winding path that leads to the peak of Mount Lanayru, I dodged wolves and various other creatures. I didn’t have time to stop and smell the cool safflina as I watched the countdown timer dwindle on my potion. Eventually, I had to leave the beaten trail, and took to scaling a mountainside, hoping that I could reach the other side before my potion or stamina ran out. Finally, I reached the top of the mountain range, and with great pride surveyed Hateno Village in a valley below. I took a giant leap and parasailed down to the village, proud that I had forged my own path and relieved that I would finally reach my destination.
Of course, I later learned there was a far easier path to the village that I had missed completely. What’s more, this certainly wasn’t the only time that I would get lost playing the game. Many games give players freedom of movement and freedom of choice but few games give players the freedom to get lost. Breath of the Wild trusts that players will eventually find their own way, and I can’t thank the developers enough for having that confidence in players.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild comes at an interesting point in my life. I’m a new father, and with that comes overwhelming emotions and a whole new perspective. As I leave my twenties, I think back to all the times I felt lost or overwhelmed by life. It’s all too easy to think you are stuck on a particular path or that you’re headed the wrong way. Only after we reach a major life goal do we realize that there isn’t just one path to follow. Some of us will have to climb mountains while others will find an easier route, but with a lot of determination and a little stamina, we’ll make it in the end.
Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Allen Brasch is an aspiring writer who loves good science fiction, fantasy, and horror. When Allen's not writing or gaming, he's talking about all things geeky on his podcast, Devil May Play.