Some games are destined to live in your memory forever. These are the ones that become instant classics; people talk about them for years after release, sometimes even decades. They appear on every best-of list and get played and replayed over and over again. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of these games.
First released as a launch title for the Nintendo Switch in 2017, people are still discovering Breath of the Wild four years later. Many who have played it are already clamoring for its sequel, set to release in 2022. I first picked up the game about six months after the Nintendo Switch came out—the earliest I could finally get my hands on the console. It was late enough to have heard the accolades but before it had been cemented as one of the best video games of all time. I loved every second. It was tough, but worth pushing through. I’ve spent hundreds of hours on Breath of the Wild. I’ve done most of what there is to do (except finding the 900 Korok seeds because no thank you). But there’s one big thing I haven’t done: beat the game.
I’ve completed all the story quests up to the ending. I’ve even poked around Ganon’s castle. But I can’t bring myself to save Hyrule. Every time I decide I’m going to take the plunge, I throw my controller aside. I can’t bring myself to do it. If I beat Breath of the Wild, the adventure is over. As long as I avoid finishing it, there’s still something new to discover.
Chances are, I’m not alone. Surely other gamers do this—and not just with Breath of the Wild. It took me years to finish the original Kingdom Hearts and months to play the final mission of Control. And to this day, I still haven’t finished button-mashing my way through Final Fantasy X-2 or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. This isn’t about losing interest; it’s wanting to always have more left to play. When Mass Effect: Legendary Edition came out, I binged my way through it and now I regret not taking my time. I didn’t savor it enough.
This refusal to complete a game might sound ridiculous. But let’s be real: It’s not uncommon for the finale to be far from the best part. Too often, I’ve been upset about the way a story ended (::cough:: Mass Effect 3 ::cough::) or that a character didn’t get the closure I really wanted. Only recently did I realize those things didn’t really matter; the point of a game is the quest itself, not the ending, so why bother rushing through it?
Avoiding a fateful end also means more time with a beloved character. Yes, restarting the game is an option (as is New Game+ on some titles), but it’s not the same as having something new to play. I still remember the thrill of stumbling upon the Omega Ruins when I was buried in a replay of Final Fantasy X because it was something I’d never experienced. While downloadable content can scratch this itch a little bit, usually it comes too late and I’ve completely forgotten the controls by the time it arrives on the scene.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever finish Breath of the Wild. At this point I’m not going to dive back into the game because I’ve completely forgotten what to do and how to do it. I have vague plans to replay it before the sequel comes out, and knowing there’s a new installment will make finishing it a more attractive option. But for now I’m sticking to my guns—I’m fine with not having finished this Zelda variant, and if I never finish it, it means I will always have more worlds to conquer.