The other day, I said to myself "I wonder how many hours I've put into The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild?"
(Yes, I referred to it out loud by its full name. Truth.)
I turned on my Switch and looked at my records, figuring I've put in 50, maybe 60 hours.
The verdict: "125+ hours."
I'm still not done. And so far, I've felt no compulsion to rush to the end. 'til now, the only other game I've racked up more than 100 hours on is Dragon Quest VII.
Breath of the Wild has been my "happy place" for a month, and I'm fascinated at how players are still finding weird and wonderful things to do in its huge world. Look at the person who just discovered how to turn a broken minecart into a trash-Ghibli flying machine.
Breath of the Wild delivers exactly what I've wanted out of a Zelda game since Nintendo announced Ocarina of Time: An organic fantasy world I can get lost in, a land full of rolling fields, towering mountains, and sprawling lakes and oceans. So when I learned Nintendo plans to make at least one more open-world Zelda game, I nodded and made a "Bring It" motion at the confused pigeon sitting outside my window.
Zelda games and open worlds go together like Bokoblins and clubs. Nearly every Zelda title allows some degree of exploration, even the games that force you to complete a controlled tutorial beforehand. But Nintendo seemingly couldn't push the modern installments of Zelda past its limits until it looked west, regarded Skyrim, The Witcher, and Far Cry and said to itself, "Say -- maybe we can do that."
It's encouraging that Breath of the Wild's open world is big, but never boring. Nintendo clearly understands the fundamentals of open-world design, and hopefully its energies for the next open-world Zelda game can go into perfecting Breath of the Wild's shortcomings.
Let me drop my voice for a second while I reiterate my last statement: Breath of the Wild isn't perfect. But those imperfections make me eager to see how Nintendo builds on its established work.
I feel, for instance, that the next open-world Zelda game can stand to make its dungeons more interesting. The movable parts in the Divine Beast dungeons were a neat addition, but overall, Breath of the Wild's dungeons don't supply anything as unique and memorable as A Link to the Past's Hera Tower, Ocarina of Time's Forest Temple, or Twilight Princess' Snowpeak Ruins. That said, I'm still a fan of Breath of the Wild's Shrines. I enjoy how diverse their challenges are, and I'm fond of how Nintendo put a small fraction of them in plain sight, then hid others behind riddles. Seeking out Shrines is a big reason why I take long trips across Breath of the Wild's overworld.
I'm also interested to see how Nintendo changes up the overworld for the next open-world Zelda – if it does so at all. I can probably put up with another land full of mountains, jungles, plains, and oceans (I guess), but I'd love to see something completely different, even if that radical change only accounts for part of the map. A huge city / town, maybe? Another endless ocean, a la Wind Waker (and many ways to traverse it, not just a single boat)? I have ideas, and most of them involve horses. Horses. More horses, Nintendo. Swimming horses, if necessary.
We're probably a long way off from the next 3D Zelda game. After all, Breath of the Wild took this long to arrive, it's only a month old, and it still has at least one DLC package to pitch to us. It's never too early to start thinking of the next Zelda, though!
Despite the fact I haven't yet finished Breath of the Wild.