Breath of the Wild 1 Year Later: Great Game, Average Legend of Zelda Title

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a great game. Metacritic rates the Nintendo Switch version 97/100, landing it in the aggregator's top 20 games of all time and behind only the 99/100 Ocarina of Time in the storied franchise.

It's a refined pinnacle of modern gaming. It has a massive open world full of depth and nuance for expert gamers. More casual gamers, or non-talented ones like myself, can appreciate its artistry while playing linearly or wandering around. It's not an RPG and yet is entirely immersive in its protagonist, story and world. It doesn't defy system limitations or push hardware (see the WiiU version), but uses everything in Nintendo's arsenal. It's a triple-A gaming done right.

Still, despite the accolades, it's nowhere close to being my favorite Legend of Zelda game. It's not science - the two categories are apples and oranges - but it's fun to consider the differences between critical and personal preference.

I try to live in the now. I don't care what a game was like when it came out; I just care how much I could enjoy it at any given time. Here are my preferred Legend of Zelda titles today:
          1. A Link To The Past
          2. A Link Between Worlds
          3. Link's Awakening (DX version)
          4. The Wind Waker
          5. Four Swords Adventures

Force me to consider more of Link's 3-D offerings and I'd add in Twilight Princess, Ocarina of time, and then Breath of the Wild. It's no better than eighth on my list overall. (I also really enjoy Oracle of Seasons/Ages and Four Swords, and haven't even played Minnish Cap.)

I don't know what creates these preferences. I do know that I like Legend of Zelda games to be top-down, open-ended yet simple, bright and vibrant worlds, and over-the-top orchestral scores. (I don't have an explanation for Twilight Princess; I just love it.)

Breath of the Wild lacks most of this. Its world is lush but not always vibrant, and it all operates with realism. It's certainly neither top-down nor simple, and I literally despise the ambient sounds, noisy footsteps and clanking weaponry that cannot be adjusted.

Many of the same traits that make it a "refined pinnacle of modern gaming" and absolutely immersive are likely the same things that separate it from my favorite Legend of Zelda titles. That says more about me than this game, but I'm willing to bet I'm not alone in this regard.

If you ask me to list off the best overall video games of all time, there's a great chance this one would make my top 10. If you ask me to list my favorite Legend of Zelda games, it's nowhere to be found.