On my first playthrough of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild I didn’t know anything specific about the game other than I had seen and heard enough in the build-up to the release that I could trust it. I didn’t understand this until maybe 30 hours in but BotW gives you total freedom. No other game comes to mind when it comes to solving puzzles and problems how you want. You will never find yourself asking “what does the game want me to do here?” Zelda has always been my favorite franchise but that was one of the most frustrating things about it, it was never about completing the game or resolving issues in the game, but doing so in the way the game was programmed to allow you through. Breath of the Wild gives you tools and sets you free. That’s as true to life as it gets, and because of that I kept thinking, why is this game so easy?
If you want to complete Breath of the Wild you will, there is very little difficulty. After two spirit beasts I started to feel like I was putting off completing the game just to see the rest of the map. There was nothing new to discover that I needed. I had upgraded my runes which was cool but I never thought I needed to. Armor was the same. It was such a big deal to find the fairy ponds and spend for upgrades but it didn’t matter. Set bonuses? For what? Once I graduated from sticks to real weapons after first talking to the Old Man I felt like that was the only progression I needed to finish the game. Sticks to real weapons. But those sticks were super effective. All of the tricks Nintendo developers gave us to use within the game are fun, but whats the point when you can bash a baddie in the face a few times, dodge their slow attacks and be done? Not so in Master Mode.
I needed a fire to cook some hot food for mountain climbing in the cold soon after restarting the game. The first fire with a pot I found was surrounded by Bokoblin. In normal mode I’d run up and start swinging; master mode I stand for a minute thinking. I’m still on the Great Plateau, just completed the 4 shrines there. I decide to single one of them out, arrow to the face at close range, drop a bomb, run out of blast range and detonate sending the other two over the cliff edge taking the third out with a nearby club the others didn’t have time to get to. Then I was cooking. It is that kind of thinking that makes the game feel real. Before, battle encounters felt like they were included just because this is Zelda and fighting is required, but everything else in the game had moved on to something more fleshed out. Now the enemies are tough, intelligent and properly equipped to cause real damage in a world that will otherwise swallow you hole. Master mode is the only way to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild that truly respects every aspect of the game. Master Mode feels the most authentic, these monsters should flatten you, you should be afraid of encountering them in numbers and if something is 3,4,5 times your height, you should hesitate before approaching.