The video game industry churns out gems that are worth playing and sticking to each year, and 2019 is no different. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Metro Exodus are just two examples of good titles released in the first quarter of this year. Nonetheless, the newest addition to the classic series of The Legend of Zelda - Breath of the Wild is still a worthwhile play two years down the road.

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In spite of the different flavors of gaming that this year and the year before offers, it seems like Hyrule and its trope of characters is still a personal favorite amongst many gamers. And me, as well. It is rather strange to think that a two years old game that I had played for hundreds of hours could still be this attractive and fun.

That is not to say that current games are not as good: There are some that have great storylines, amazing graphics, and technologies that are pushing the boundary of gaming. But there is one thing they all have in common that cannot really beat Breath of the Wild in my mind is that … they’re not Breath of the Wild. There is something about the game’s open design and a lively world that just invites you into the experience. And it is that same experience when you feel as if you are enraptured by the virtual world is what makes picking up the Nintendo Switch and returning to Hyrule time and time again so effortless and fun.

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The fantasy world of Hyrule is teeming and pulsing with life.

Much to Explore

And in that sense, it is kind of pity for people who were able to speed-run the game and complete it in a couple of days following its release. The world within Breath of the Wild is substantial that, like tea, you really have to kick back and feel the world to truly comprehend its beauty and size. While it may sound like a ramble, I am fairly sure that even when you have done a couple of shrines, beaten all of the major dungeons, and defeated the final ‘boss’: Ganon, once you returned you could still find things unexplored.

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Defeating Ganon is not the end of the game. Rather, it is a new beginning.

I mean, I have done all of the above and people are still telling me that there are still things to do: There are still dozens of shrines left for me to find an innumerable amount of Korok seeds spread throughout Hyrule. Despite the fact I have been playing the game for quite some time, the world doesn’t feel like it is ‘over’ like most open world games I had played. Nintendo really knows how to make a re-playable game.

The world’s ‘open’ structure means that even after a long time away, rebooting the game doesn’t feel awkward and have to struggle to remember which part that save was at. There is not a solid mission structure you have to follow. Instead, you’re free to do whatever you want. The worst re-acquaintance phase you’re going to get is probably the controls, the combat, and the enemies, which you would learn how to tame in a couple of minutes or less.

Now that you no longer have to chase after the main quests, the little side quests would suddenly become interesting, as I have learned. Just before this, you were on a relentless push to complete the game, now, it’s just exploration of a remarkably lively world.

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These dragons are rare sights in the game that most new players wouldn't focus upon. But as a re-player, however, it would be endlessly amusing trying to spot them.

That is why the game can become a perfect and timeless gaming companion. Its compatibility with the Nintendo Switch also makes it rather convenient for you to play the game on the go. On a bus to school? About to go to bed? Maybe at the party you don’t want to be at? Hyrule is just a couple button presses away, and it offers massive entertainment and fun.

Brilliant Philosophy

The game is designed so that there are little mechanisms and features in place that you might miss out on the first play-through, but once you returned and started experimenting, you’d have a laugh once you had discovered them. After all, someone told me that you wouldn’t appreciate stealth until your 70th hour in the game, and that is so true.

All in all, it is the design philosophy behind Breath of the Wild that makes it so worthwhile. Exploration is not treated as if it is just a narrative device to get the players from the beginning of the game to the ending. Instead, the game designers take exploration and make it ‘the end’ of the game: Once you have completed the main quest, the game’s still not over, and the cycle of exploration and discovery only ends until you have decided to stop playing the game for good.

There are always new things to see and strange things to discover.

Something that I realized might very well be impossible. I can’t remember how many times I have told myself that I would not play Breath of the Wild again until - months later, I found myself back again.

VR Compatibility Incoming

If you’re looking for a different motivation to get back or get into the game, in a couple of week Nintendo will release an update that makes Breath of the Wild compatible with VR. And I’m fairly sure that Hyrule - already beautiful through the little screen of my Switch - will be breathtaking through the Nintendo Labo VR headset. Heralding a couple of weeks of my life lost to the game once more.