Breath of the Wild is my favorite Zelda game of all time, but it is a strange and special case for me. This game helped me get a job, make a name for myself, and carve out an entire section of my gaming career. With 17.5 million views on my Breath of the Wild content across two YouTube channels and 3 million more on social channels, it did–without getting too corny–change my life.
That being said, I don’t remember much about my first playthrough anymore. I started roughly seven months after the initial launch, and I remember enjoying the game, just like everyone else. After some time, though, something clicked, and I wanted to make a quick video with some combat tips of my own. This was my first voice-over in a video I’d ever done, and I loathed listening to my own voice. I wrote it off as a one-and-done project, even stating at the end of the video: “Please DON’T subscribe; I don’t make content like this on the regular, so just enjoy the content you may have learned today.”
At that time, there was a large void of combat-specific content for Breath of the Wild, and after that video’s initial success, for some reason, I slowly started to come out of my shell and grow to become a content creator. Being one of the first combat players in Breath of the Wild and the originator of the whole genre of Breath of the Wild combat montages with cinematic music was something I am still proud of. Other gaming outlets such as Kotaku, IGN, and Gameology even picked up on content I created.
But after four years of growth with the game, there is a part of me that wishes that I could go back and forget what I learned. I’ve been playing the game wrong, after all. The insane journey that this game has led me on career-wise is amazing on its own merit, but it’s the original wonder and magic of the game itself that I miss the most. Being a glitch hunter and all, breaking the game and understanding its mechanics too well naturally destroyed the magic of Breath of the Wild’s immersion for me, and Nintendo’s acute understanding of how to make a world that feels alive and breathing at all times is something that feels less impactful four years later after having broken the game so much.
Yet, when I think about it, I know that I still love Breath of the Wild’s tone, style, environments, characters, and most of all, the absolute freedom, resulting in what I think is the best sandbox game in history. Embedding something like rules in the world, such as burning grass or slippery wet cliffs, is nothing new to gaming, but it’s the way the game presents itself without too much hand-holding or direction that makes it such an enjoyable experience that really connects with me on a personal level.
Ever since I played my first Zelda game, Ocarina of Time, when I was seven years old, Link has always been an icon and anchor of my childhood, and that has never stopped throughout the years. Breath of the Wild just cemented my love for the series more than it ever has before. Breath of the Wild did indeed change my life.