I shared a couple of weeks back about gaming in our home. Part of that essay was focused on how much I (and my kids) are enjoying Breath of the Wild. This article from late 2017 does such a nice job of summing up why it’s such an enjoyable game.
The vast majority of open-world games are actually very linear in terms of their core progression, with a series of primary story beats that have to be played through in order. Prior Zelda games were much the same, with a rote approach to acquiring items to solve dungeons to move onto the next. Not so with Breath of the Wild; in fact, most of its story is entirely optional. There’s so much to do in the world, and so much of it is delightful, that it’s easy to forget about saving the world from Ganon and get wrapped up in your own adventure. But you’ll always know how to get back on track, and the holistic design means that what you’ve been doing will rarely feel irrelevant or frivolous.
I’m just passed the first divine beast (maybe a quarter of the way through the game) and I’m in no hurry to finish (I only play a couple of hours each week). It’s the kind of game that encourages exploration and I prefer to savour the experience rather than rush to complete it.