Game Recs

Play the decade's most influential game before the sequel drops this spring

The gold standard for Nintendo RPGs... until May.

Freedom sounds good on paper. We want to be able to do whatever we want, whether it’s eating cheese or surfing the darknet. But there’s a fine line between freedom and anarchy. Especially in video games. Too little freedom can make games feel linear and constrained, but too much freedom lets players break everything. Who gets it right?

Nintendo does. In 2017, Nintendo launched its latest, long-awaited installment in the Zelda franchise The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And six years later, BotW still holds up as one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) open-world RPG ever devised. With a sequel due out in a few months, there’s never been a better time to revisit this masterpiece.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is slated for release on May 12. Does this fast-approaching release mean we know a lot about the game? Unfortunately, no. Nintendo is playing its cards close to the chest on this one. Sure, we’ve had not one, not two, but three trailers for the title, each one as vague as the last. We get some glimpses of Hyrule, and of Link and (potentially playable) Zelda adventuring together against a creeping malevolent darkness. Oh, and we’re in the sky a lot.

This screenshot from Tears of the Kingdom gives us “high” hopes (get it?)Nintendo

Eagle-eyed fans and content creators have also churned out endless videos breaking down minute details, like the types of Moblin seen in those stone carvings and what owls mean, but those are a poor substitute for a lived experience. BotW is playable right now and, in addition to containing tons of lore that will undoubtedly inform the sequel, it’s one of the best RPGs ever and worth visiting for that reason alone.

Plenty of action (and even more puzzles) can be found within BotW’s 120 different shrinesNintendo

Odds are you’ve at least played BotW, if not finished it. Regardless of whether you’re a total newbie or a completionist, it’s one of those rare games that’s always worth your time. The Hyrule of BotW is massive. If you tried to just run from one corner to the next, it would take over an hour. It’s even bigger than Skyrim, a game legendary for its bigness.

And good luck on your corner-to-corner run without getting sidetracked by one of the many wonderful distractions along the way. An intriguing shrine puzzle could draw you in, or perhaps you get caught up in an epic battle with a Lynel. Maybe something as simple as photographing landscapes is your jam. Speaking of jam, don’t forget to cook! The cooking system in BotW is second-to-none and loads of fun to explore on its own.

BotW bravely explores a world without DoorDash.Nintendo

Of course, the real journey is the friends you make along the way. There are countless characters in Hyrule ready to share their tales with you. Talking your way through your next playthrough may be the best strategy for fans trying to do some homework on what’s coming next in Tears of the Kingdom. There are more than 200 characters to interact with, and surely some of them will reappear in TotK. So throw yourself into BotW with reckless abandon, and it’ll be May 12 before you know it. Or don’t! That’s freedom, baby.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is available now on Nintendo Switch and the Wii U.

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