The best way to play Breath of the Wild

I’ve been storming through Hyrule once again for the past 2 weeks via the Nintendo Switch and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I’ll post my impressions on the game in a later post, and podcast episode over on Power Time.

In this post, I wanted to quickly touch on what I believe is the most powerful way to play Breath of the Wild (which actually runs contrary to how I’ve played games for the past decade, or so.)

 It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this…

This the iconic phrase from the original Legend of Zelda. “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this,” is uttered by an old man who gives you your first sword. It’s with this sword that you embark on your quest, with little to no direction and a vast world map to explore.

You only know when you’re venturing a bit further than the game intended  if there’s an obstacle that can’t be passed, or if the difficulty of defeating enemies becomes a bit too challenging. Other than that, you kind of are on your own.

Now, having grown up in the 80s and 90s, I know that you’re never really on your own. Gamers had resources like Nintendo’s tip-line, which cost a butt-load of money to dial into. I never got parental approval to do that. You also had Nintendo Power, the popular magazine which inspired me to start my own video game podcast. Then of course, gamers had each other. You’d exchange tips, tricks, strategies, and secrets at school, or hanging out at a buddy’s house, or loitering in the neighborhood.

Eventually in the 1990s, full strategy guides became popular (possibly due to Nintendo Power’s success in creating and distributing them.) Later, with the adoption of the internet, the world wide web became a strategy guide. Tip sites, game FAQ sites, communities, and now YouTube, will reveal everything you need to complete a game 100%. You never have to fear getting stuck again.

Strategy guides still exist, but I mostly for a niche audience that prefers physical print, and as collector items.

Bottom line: Breath of the Wild is huge, so let internet will be your guide. Right!?

It’s dangerous to go alone! But do it anyway…

I’ve used the internet as a game aid for the past decade or so, and the primary reason is because I’m old. I simply don’t have time anymore to spend 60 hours on a video game that I can complete in 20 hours with the appropriate guidance. This allows me to make the most of time.

As a 30-something Dad with responsibilities, I wouldn’t be able to push through a backlog of unplayed games without GameFAQs and YouTube. It keeps me moving.

For some reason, within the first 5 minutes of Breath of the Wild, a switch went off in my head (pun intended.) I decided right there and then that the best way to play this game would be without a guide. Much like playing A Link to the Past for Super Nintendo years ago, I would trust my adventuring instincts, let the game take as long as it’ll take, meander, get stuck, explore, and most importantly, enjoy every minute of it.

I would not buy a strategy guide. I would not consult the YouTubes. I would not look up how to defeat bosses, solve puzzles, or “where to go next.” I’d simply experience the game as it was intended. Spoiler-free, and off-the-rails.

The result: I’m completely lost in the beauty and story-telling of this epic. For the first time in forever, I’m playing video games like a kid again. I don’t care how many hours I’ve sunk in, and I don’t care how long it’ll take me to complete. Other games can wait. This is exactly how I wish to play Breath of the Wild, and I believe, this is exactly how Breath of the Wild wishes to be played.

Sure, I’ve gotten stuck a few times. Luckily, I can drop map pins to remind me of places to revisit. I’m barely into the main quest, but that hasn’t stopped me from spending hours of exploring, cooking, experimenting, and experiencing everything else this game has to offer.

If you haven’t played yet, I highly recommend you try it this way. Turn off the internet, relive the old days of gaming.

Tom Tate

I'm a suburban polymath living just outside Philadelphia with my wonderful wife and three kids. Digital marketing nerd for a SaaS company by day. Rabid movie, music, game, and book consumer by morning, noon, and night. I share life hacks and learnings via email at Weekly Coffee. I also host Power Time Podcast, a Nintendo retrospective. Sometimes I write stuff. Most of the time, it's on the internet.