It’s shocking to think that it’s already been four years since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild launched. Four years ago, in the fine year of 2017, the Nintendo Switch launched, bringing a new era of Nintendo to the world - a hybrid between console and handheld play - and with it came the grand adventure that was Breath of the Wild. BotW was characterized heavily by the sheer vast beauty of its design and the freedom it offered to players in how they could approach their journey. On the latter, Breath of the Wild offers so much freedom that even four years later, players are still making their first breathtaking discoveries. Whether it involves the numerous secrets of the natural game or the most mind-bending physics manipulation you can imagine, Breath of the Wild is still a gift that keeps on giving.
A huge part of the experience of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is in the sheer lack of boundary it gives you very early on in the game. Once you’ve escaped the Plateau early on, you have freedom to wander to pretty much every corner of Hyrule as you please. There are so few limitations and, even then, many of those limitations can be cheesed by any number of tricks and manipulations naturally available throughout the game.
The vast variety of physical reactions between objects, abilities, and elements in the game ensured that most people would never be able to discover every single possibility in even one playthrough. It also ensured that even to this day, there are natural discoveries, quirks, and beauty in Breath of the Wild that still capture the hearts of players, whether discovering them for the first time or the tenth.
It’s not just the natural beauty and discoveries of Breath of the Wild that aid it in withstanding the test of time. It’s also the aforementioned manipulations players have discovered through years of experimentation and study of the game’s physical interactions, mechanics, and the wacky combination of physics that can come from putting these things together. So ridiculously over-the-top are the possibilities that even four years later, the currently-listed world record speedrun of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was set only a handful of months ago as of this writing. It’s currently set at 26 minutes and 27 seconds, held by RasenUrns as of December 9, 2020. If you want to see masterclass in Breath of the Wild mechanics and momentum, just watch below.
That’s not all. Even outside of speedruns, players regularly share a bevy of their more ridiculous encounters and achievements in Breath of the Wild. You can see just a small sample of recent zaniness just below.
A legacy worth hanging your hat on
There are arguably few people who were more invested in the success of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild than former Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime. It was back in 2019 that Fils-Aime announced his official retirement and exit from Nintendo, handing the reins to Doug Bowser.
Fils-Aime admitted that his retirement was hugely influenced by the passing of Satoru Iwata, who forced Reggie to consider the legacy he wanted to pursue and leave behind. However, Fils-Aime also accepted personal responsibility in the belief that he could not leave Nintendo on anything less than sturdy and capable standing before his exit. It was with the success of the Nintendo Switch, the sheer love for Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo titles, and the strong years of that followed that Reggie finally felt his heartfelt goodbye was an easy decision.
Hard to believe this was four years ago. Zelda Breath of the Wild is still magical, and Nintendo Switch still has great momemtum. pic.twitter.com/IvReEwpTJ3— Reggie Fils-Aime (@Reggie) March 3, 2021
Shacknews retrospective and the journey behind us
And what of us here at Shacknews? Where do we stand on the game? A look back at our coverage when it launched shows we were absolutely in love with the game. It earned a near-perfect score in its Shacknews review and would go on to win Shacknew Game of the Year 2017. Do these feelings hold up? Well, see for yourself from some of the staff here at Shacknews Editorial.
I, myself, wasn’t at Shacknews when Breath of the Wild launched. That said, I have my own vast amount of love for the game. The Rito and Zora are some of my favorite designs of any being in any game and the quirks of Breath of the Wild catch me in all kinds of moods every time I see them. I found the much-debated weapon durability debacle made more for incidental comedy than anything. Can you believe a legendary Thunderblade could just break on a tree? I still laugh about it.
Then there’s just the respect it gave me for the treasures I collected from various encounters. Do you remember when you first discovered any of the three spirit dragons? I do. It was such an incredible experience that when it left me with a gift, I kept it safe. I refused to break a weapon attained for a godly spirit dragon like that on something stupid. I kept all three of the weapons that can be gained from the dragons proudly displayed in my home - a memento of each awe-inspiring encounter held with utmost respect.
I think the reason all of this stands out for me in particular is that it was only by having the interaction and knowledge that I gain that appreciation. By learning I could break even special weapons, the gifts of the dragons took on so much more importance for me. It stands out to me more than getting the Master Sword, defeating Ganon, and other narrative elements that were supposed to happen. It was my story, my sentimental moment. And surely so many other players have their own. That’s the kind of emergent bond that can be formed with the game and it’s hard to draw to mind another game that has allowed this to happen more effectively. Moreover, I'm confident that any new player of Breath of the Wild remains just as capable of discovering this bond today as I did the first time I played through it.
Eventually, we will see the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and it will be exciting to see what new experiences it brings. That said, four years in, Breath of the Wild is a game that keeps on giving. And I would dare to say that even when Breath of the Wild 2, or whatever it’s called, comes out, that will continue to be the case. For all of these last four years, thank you for all of the magic and discovery, Breath of the Wild. And hey, Shackers. Do you have your own memories to share? Feel free! Share your BotW story or retrospective in the Chatty section below.