Posts Tagged ‘shrines’

My Top 20 Zelda: Breath of the Wild Moments

In less than one week, it’s probably fair to say the most anticipated game of the Nintendo Switch’s life will release at last. It follows the single longest development cycle for a main series Zelda game in history, six years and two months after Switch launch title Breath of the Wild. To mark this momentous occasion, I’m going to do something I’ve never done before: resurrect an old article I’ve had floating around in my drafts folder for years and publish it in a fresh light.

This one was initially thrown together in the hazy afterglow of completing BotW in late May of 2017, envisioned as a 20-screenshot roadmap of my own (at the time) 140-hour path through the game. However, the draft was already well past 30 entries and nowhere near the end of my journey when I first gave up on it, as I was unable to cut out anywhere near enough moments to prevent the list from ballooning into a true word count monstrosity. It’s also easy to forget in 2023 just how many articles, critiques, videos and morsels of general coverage this revered game was receiving a mere two months after launch, so I hardly felt like I’d be making enough unique noise to stand out from the crowd and justify such a massive piece.

That task is much easier now. Separated from the game by more than half a decade – I have not touched this one since its excellent dungeon DLC came out at the end of 2017 – only the moments I remember the strongest get to stay. Thus, right before the launch of its sequel, we can reflect on the legacy of one of Nintendo’s most impactful games and have a bit of nostalgic fun along the way. After a touch of reformatting and an emotional scroll through thousands of compulsive screenshots, here are my top 20 moments from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, presented in chronological order.

1. The Plateau

It’s been said in approximately a million video essays: The Great Plateau of Breath of the Wild is one of the best tutorials in gaming. Over an area that feels impossibly massive at first, you learn and test interlocking mechanics over four multiple-solution tests that get you well and truly into the groove of the weirdest Zelda in decades. For me, this was undertaken in the small hours of the morning while staying at a mate’s place post-midnight-launch, with my body screaming at me for daring to deprive it. I obviously didn’t care; after multiple rewatches of various gameplay demos from the previous year’s Zelda-only E3 show, I was enthralled at how many new approaches were still apparent.

2. Out of Link’s Depth

I cannot separate my memories of Breath of the Wild from the conversations I was having with anyone I knew or met who was playing at the time. And nor would I want to; in my opinion there have only been two games since that could possibly challenge it for water-cooler chat value: 2020’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons and 2022’s Elden Ring. From those very chats I picked up rather quickly that most people go directly east after the Great Plateau, following the only real suggestion the game gives you other than the refreshingly direct “Defeat Ganon”. But I wasn’t about to let a game that bragged about being this open tell me what to do: I went north, towards the castle. I died. Again and again and again. Soon enough I discovered a shrine and eagerly dived in to escape the high damage output all around me – only to be met with one of the game’s longest and most intricate shrine puzzles: the Trial of Power. Yeah, that took a while, and it left me with some massively overpowered weapons, but I adored the feeling that I could do it anyway.

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