Alright, it looks like my next substantial sit-down with the game will wrap this up. After nearly good two months worth of gameplay and having done virtually everything, I think I'm ready for closing thoughts. Just gonna spoiler everything, because why not.
So, first up? Game of the Year. A game changer. The polish, the mechanics, the world crafting, everything is incredible. The novelty of much of it wears off over time (more on that in a bit), but otherwise, the game is just fantastic. Nintendo was brave, thoughtful and masterful in creating Breath of the Wild. But, it's not perfect. Warning: this is gonna be lengthy.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
• The look, feel and depth of the game's world. Eventually, you'll not even think twice about seeing just what you can get away with. Things like setting trees on fire and picking up the baked apples that fall from it, attaching Octorok bladders to a raft and creating an aerial assault platform, using Stasis to hit a rock, grab on and travel faster. But for those first few dozen hours, it's staggering how many options and how much freedom you're given in this world.
• The tightly-crafted story. Take away all of the exploration, travel, side quests and collecting, and the game's main story is actually very brisk. However, having Link recover his memories as a way to give us more time with Zelda (more than I think we've ever had in a game, save Wind Waker) was nice and really helped to develop the characters -- even Link. Learning that Zelda initially resented Link because he had found his destiny while she was struggling to fulfill hers, eventually coming to fall in love with him, and finding her true power while saving his life was all a fresh new sense of discovery and character depth for the franchise. The "dungeons" go fast (there's no Water Temple-esque sections of the game; every Divine Beast can be beaten within a half hour), but the reward for completing them - more time with each of the old Champions - is great.
• The bravery in the game's design. Slapping a shirt on your back, giving you the Sheikah Slate abilities you need and setting you loose on the world is really brave on Nintendo's part. The fact that after leaving the Great Plateau, you're able to walk straight to Hyrule Castle and potentially beat the game is really cool. Making your own choices on where to go first, which parts of the story to uncover and complete and even skipping some, most or all of the story entirely is fucking cool. There's little if no hand-holding in Breath of the Wild, but always a sense of direction and purpose. It's impeccable sandbox game design.
• The game is punishing. I'm not talking about difficulty; the game starts out hard as hell, and you're going to get better through trial and error, sticking your neck out for better weapons and hearts/stamina upgrades. Very quickly, you end up pretty overpowered and even bosses are a total breeze. I'm talking about the not-so-awesome choices Nintendo made with the game. For the sake of realism and depth, Breath of the Wild forces you to accept a lot of frustrating game play mechanics. Rain is not the least of these. Not being able to climb things when it's raining started out as a cool and interesting quirk in the game's mechanics... until you get about a dozen hours in and discover the massive amount of climbing involved in the game. And how most of Hyrule (aside from desert and snow areas) experiences rain like every 12 fucking in-game hours. It's wildly frustrating to have to stop and re-think your path because it's suddenly started raining and won't stop for a while. Just recently, I was trying to climb out of Tanagar Canyon to the West in full sunlight when I started sliding down the wall. I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on. The game had decided it was time to rain again, and the game world hadn't caught up yet. So it was several seconds of climbing and sliding before the rain actually started, and I was fucked. Then - get this - I walked about a hundred feet over, and the rain stopped. I walked back, and the rain began again.
There's other aspects like this. Stupid shit like a registered horse I'm riding suddenly deciding to veer left and off the side of bridge because oh, he's got a wild temperament. Even though I've spent the last week or so riding around on him, training him and feeding apples each time we stop. Every decent horse in the game has a wild temperament. Every time you go for a ride, you run the risk of that horse - no matter how long you've trained him - suddenly deciding to jump off a cliff, run into a boulder, stop in the middle of a fight. That's not fun. When your gameplay choices shift from obstacles to rage-inducing, gameplay-stopping walls, you've made an error.
• Much of the quests, collecting, side quests and more rely too much on the massive game world, and it doesn't quite work. Where Elder Scrolls stands to learn much from this game, Breath of the Wild could stand to learn from Elder Scrolls about balancing content versus space in the game world. And the rewards for completing something are lackluster and usually not worth the damn trouble. Towards the end, finding all 120 shrines became a guessing game with an online map of their locations. One in particular, up in the Hebra Mountains, is damn near impossible to find without the use of the guide. And finding and completing all 120 gets you some awesome, classic armor... that's weak as shit by all standards at that point in the game, and requires some ridiculous farming to upgrade. I'm probably 200 hours into the game and I can't be fucking bothered to go farm four claws from each of the dragon guardians, when they spawn at specific times each day and only once per day. Fuck that. This isn't an MMORPG. The weapon connoisseur mission has you bringing back a specific weapon from somewhere out in the world to a kid in Hateno village who wants to see them. That's fine, if weapons didn't constantly break and are in very short supply. I'll never finish that quest because I haven't had a Guardian Axe+ in probably two weeks or more.
• The controls could honestly be tighter. Countless times, I've tried to lock on to a Guardian to use the shield parry to deflect its beams back at it... only to suddenly have the game not lock on at all, or turn around to lock onto something else. The powers gifted to you by each Champion you avenge actually get in the way. Shield parry becomes a pain in the ass because it's hard to see Link inside the red shield that comes up every time you block. You can only briefly charge your attacks after finishing the Gerudo storyline, because doing so triggers a lightning attack that you may not want to waste. It's little things, but they add up.
So, overall the game starts out every bit as magical as playing Ocarina of Time for the first... time. But with each dozen or so hours spent with the game, the veil slowly starts to pull back, and many of the game's aspects begin to wear out their welcome before the end. I've had an overall fantastic experience with the game, but I'm ready for what I hope will be a satisfying conclusion, and it'll honestly be some time before I revisit it.