Beating ‘Breath Of The Wild’: Why I Can’t Bring Myself To Finish

Floating platforms in 'Breath of the Wild: The Master Trials' Nintendo of America

Breath of the Wild is Nintendo’s tour de force, the first step towards making the Nintendo Switch a huge hit and a game that defied expectations for Nintendo fans and critics alike. I’ve sunk well over a hundred hours into the game, and have had access to it since shortly before the system launched. And yet, despite absolutely loving the game, I can’t bring myself to finish it. Like other great games before it, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is hard to leave behind.

Why Breath of the Wild Is So Hard To Finish

gerudo legend of zelda breath of the wild
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Photo: (c) Nintendo

Breath of the Wild is a hard game for a completionist. There are some 900 Korok seeds, and you almost certainly won’t find all of them without a guide or a map. There are over 100 shrines, and it’s not necessarily easy to find the ones you’ve missed. And there are endless little secrets around hidden corners. It’s hard to do it all. Yet that urge is there nonetheless—the fierce desire to discover every hidden bit of joy in Breath of the Wild, a world designed around that whole concept.

There’s always a sadness in coming to the end of a sweeping open world that you’ve put hundreds of hours into—be it Skyrim or Witcher 3 or GTA V or Breath of the Wild. In a world that feels as alive as Breath of the Wild, it can be even harder. But there eventually comes a moment when you have to make a choice: You can beat a game, or simply drift away and leave it unfinished. In some ways the latter is easier; you don’t have that sense of finality and sadness from finishing a sweeping epic and leaving its world behind, possibly forever. But it’s also a cop-out. Beating a game is part of the game’s overall experience, even a fundamental part.

I’ve beaten all four Divine Beasts, reclaimed the Master Sword, found all but one of the Memories, and completed about half the shrines. I’ve built Tarry Town, and accomplished every side quest I’m terribly interested in except for one (Eventide Island). But the vast majority of my armor is still at level 2 or 3, and I’ve barely dipped my toes into dragon hunting or chasing meteorites or any of the game’s innumerable minigames. I’ve found the Lord of the Mountain but never ridden him; I’ve seen White Lynels, but never fought one. It feels like there’s so much more to do. But I shy away, for fear of being overpowered when I face Calamity Ganon. And for fear of finishing such a beautiful game and leaving it behind.

Some people have no trouble finishing games they love. Others of us do. But remember this—you are invested in the narrative of Breath of the Wild. If you love the game, as so many of us do, the world matters to you. And that means you have an obligation. You need to save Hyrule from Calamity Ganon, even if the consequences are dire—even if you have to leave Hyrule behind.

And then you can come back this summer to try out The Master Trials DLC!

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