So after many hours of exploring Hyrule I finally finished Breath of the Wild. While there’s a lot I could say, from commenting on controversial mechanics like weapon durability, to doing an overall review of the game, today I’d rather discuss its final moments. Spoilers, I guess, if you want to go into the game blind. However I will say that the story is incredibly simple and straightforward, so I’m not really spoiling anything here.
Zelda’s ending made me feel empty and not very satisfied. What feels as if it was intended to be the culmination of hours upon hours of adventuring, simply left me saying “…that’s it?”. And yet I don’t feel like the issue here is in the ending itself, all things considered. The scale was on point with what should have been a climactic moment, definitely a large enough boss without being something drawn out and overwhelming. Through both climbing the castle and putting up the fight with Ganon it does test what you’ve learned throughout the game. It’s also presented well, with a final boss design that’s legitimately creepy, and gives off good reason as to why everyone in Hyrule is so threatened by the character to begin with. Could it have been more difficult? Maybe, but ultimately I feel that difficulty isn’t the problem here.
See, what I feel is the issue is that Breath of the Wild was not designed to be finished. I get that this sounds like it makes no sense, considering an open world with limited space for content can’t go on forever. However this is more a point to the design of Breath of the Wild’s core game loop, and why anything in the game is satisfying in the first place. Because anyone who’s sunk at least a few hours into the game can tell you that Breath of the Wild is addictive. It’s intoxicating to explore and discover what’s over every hill, completing every quest, and shrine, as well as defeating every enemy. Even small discoveries like seeing a new kind of mushroom growing somewhere is exciting. This is because everything you do in the game fulfils a grander purpose.
Take a new type of mushroom for example. Visually, a mushroom isn’t exciting, but mechanically it’s an item that can be cooked for a powerup. That powerup could be one of a variety of benefits. Let’s say in this example it provides cold resistance. This means you’re now able to access cold areas that you couldn’t get to before. That in itself will lead to encountering new enemies, getting new weapons, items, and equipment, all of which can open the door for new exploration later. So when you see that mushroom for the first time, it sparks your imagination for what you can accomplish with it. This applies to just about everything within Breath of the Wild, and is key to why it’s such a satisfying game. Everything is exciting, because everything can carry importance further on.
Now with this in mind consider how a game like that is supposed to end. It’s a bit hard for the ending to carry greater purpose when the entire point is that the game stops at that point. You’ve done it, you beat the big bad. But now what? Unlike everything else in the game, there’s nowhere to go from here. No crafting ingredients to make your character stronger, no new hill to go over, no armour set to defeat any new enemies. You can chase 100% completion at that point, but that makes defeating Ganon’s only purpose down to ticking a box on the checklist.
Personally, I’m not actually sure what could’ve been done to solve this. How to make a game about seeing what’s next still satisfying when there suddenly is no “next”. Maybe they could have included post-game armour, and content, but all that does is make the “ending” just another part of the loop. At that point the true ending just becomes reaching 100%, or alternatively when you get bored. Perhaps it really is just an unfortunately unavoidable flaw in an otherwise phenomenal game.
Or what do you think? Do you have a solution of your own, or did you finish the game and find it satisfying? Is this article total toss? Let us know in the comments below. Also make sure to follow us on Facebook and YouTube to keep up to date on any future content.