Disclaimer: The following impressions are based off of two nearly hour-long demos with Nintendo at E3 2016. Due to the nature of the event, I did not have time to watch the full Treehouse event that Nintendo streamed throughout the day. I am not completely sure what was and was not shown off to the public as a result.
When I was dropped into the land of Hyrule for the second time in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I ignored the instructions the game gave me. I hurried out of the very first introductory cave without even putting on any clothing or gear, and soon saw the waypoint the game gave me. Instead of heading toward this objective, however, I turned around and went the other way. Clothed in just underwear, I trekked toward the nearby Temple of Time.
At its very essence, this is what Breath of the Wild is. It is completely up to the player to decide where they want to go and what they want to go. After exploring the Temple of Time, I continued on further to an area I had not explored the first time I played the demo.
Off a little ways, I noticed some ruins — prime exploration territory. As I began looking through the remains, however, a giant guardian awoke, exactly like in the first Zelda trailer. Without any gear, I decided to take on this far more powerful enemy. It did not go well.
My weapons were pretty much useless against this large monster. Meanwhile, the guardian had the ability to lock onto targets with a laser beam. The guardian flirted with me, allowing me to land a few hits. Then, with a single hit of its laser, the guardian took off all my health except for a quarter of a heart. Obviously, this enemy was way out of my league. I ran for dear life away from the monster, hoping to avoid the wrath of death. Perhaps I’ll have more luck defeating the creature in the full game.
I continued on, coming across a Bokoblin camp. I came in stealthily, climbing up one of the archery towers and defeating the archer up top. I grabbed the dropped bows and arrows, and used this weapon to dispose of the rest of the camp’s enemies — still only on a single quarter of a heart.
I felt free. I could do what I wanted, and there was little direction.
However, after nearly two hours with the game, I became far more familiar with my surroundings. The chunk shown off during E3 was far more recognizable, and by E3’s end I knew the demo’s map pretty well. The game was not necessarily as foreign as when I first arrived in Hyrule.
Although the game was hard to comprehend the first time I tried the title, after more time the game has become much more manageable. Yes, Breath of the Wild is open and free, but it is also conquerable. With some time and exploration, Hyrule becomes far more manageable. This is not to say the game is small; the part of the map I learned was just 1% of the entire map. However, I no longer felt so lost, and I felt ready to take on the rest of the game.