Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a grand adventure that’s just as much about toxic expectations as it is about solemnly exploring lush landscapes, but only the players who take the time to complete their adventure before defeating Ganon would understand that. When compared to the rest of the experience, many players felt that the ending of Breath of the Wild failed to meet up to the expectations of the adventure preceding it. A complete playthrough of the title’s main quests can help to alleviate this issue by providing the context necessary to connect the story’s threads together.
At its core, Breath of the Wild is a game about choice and unprecedented freedom. After completing the non-linear tutorial area on the Great Plateau, players have the luxury of exploring the world however they choose. There are no restricted areas in the open world of The Legend of Zelda’s Hyrule, which means as long as it exists on the map, it’s possible to go there and, likely, complete some sort of challenge. No two playthroughs of Breath of the Wild are the same and, by extension, this means that there are some players who defeated Ganon before they completed other important main story objectives.
Like most games, there are a plethora of main quests to complete in Breath of the Wild, except that this The Legend of Zelda adventure doesn’t require players to complete any of those objectives, except for defeating Ganon. It’s possible to complete Breath of the Wild without having any idea what happened or why things are the way they are, much like a FromSoftware title. Breath of the Wild’s final boss may be underwhelming from a gameplay perspective, but the ending itself changes if players manage to gather each of Link’s memories before taking the Calamity head-on.
The story of Breath of the Wild is compellingly told because both Link and the player have the same knowledge about Hyrule at all times. Link has amnesia, and as such it’s up to the player to discover his lost memories and discover what happened 100 years ago that lead to the great calamity and the death of the Divine Beast pilots. By doing this, players also learn about Princess Zelda and how she struggled to master the sealing powers she’s supposed to have mastered. Her true passion lies in studying ancient technology, but her father and her nation demand she places those desires aside so she can seal away Calamity Ganon with Link and the champions on her side. In these memories, she’s clearly insecure about her shortcomings, and it gradually consumes her overtime.
In the last memory, she finally taps into her goddess powers, but only after Link was severely wounded. Her powers were earned after a great struggle, but players who rush into Ganon’s lair wouldn’t know this about her and take her powers for granted. In Breath of the Wild’s true ending, Zelda mentions that she can no longer hear the voice in the Master Sword, but she is actually okay with this. Zelda managed to overcome the pressure on her shoulders and become the person she wanted to be. Breath of the Wild is a story about overcoming the societal pressures of authority figures, loved ones, and peers, but only players who experienced the entire story would be able to realize this.