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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the nineteenth game in the The Legend of Zelda series of video games. It was released for the Wii U and Nintendo Switch on March 3, 2017. Set at the end of the Zelda timeline, the game follows Link after he awakens from a century-long slumber, as he races to stop Calamity Ganon before it can rise again to destroy Hyrule.
Upon release, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild received numerous accolades and awards, with many deeming it one of the greatest video games of all time.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an open-world action-adventure video game; unlike previous 3D entries in The Legend of Zelda franchise, this entry employs non-linear gameplay with no set progression or order to how the game must be played. In fact, once leaving the starting area is possible, one may challenge the final boss almost immediately. That being said, the game encourages exploration. The open world itself employs a complex physics system, including a day & night cycle, dynamic weather (for instance, wearing metallic objects during a thunderstorm will make the player susceptible to a fatal lightning strike), and high interactivity between objects and their environment.
The playable character is Link, who can perform a variety of actions, such as running, climbing, swimming, and paragliding, but is limited by a stamina wheel. Link can also obtain items from the environment, such as food, weapons, armor, shields, rupees, enemy parts, and other resources. Weapons and shields will degrade and eventually break with usage: the one exception to this is the Master Sword (which can be optionally obtained), although it will require a recharge period after a certain point. Like previous games in the Zelda franchise, Breath of the Wild features a Z-Targeting system in order to lock onto subjects of interest, such as enemies during combat. Enemies have dynamic behavior, and can grab items to use in combat from the environment. While this applies mainly to weapons, larger enemies can pick up rocks or smaller enemies to throw at the player.
Millennia prior to the start of the game, the malevolent entity known as Calamity Ganon threatened to destroy the kingdom of Hyrule. Anticipating the Calamity's return, Hyrule prepared countermeasures: the princess carrying the blood of the goddess, and her knight who wielded the Master Sword, the sword which seals the darkness. Aided by four champions piloting the "Divine Beasts" (colossal animalistic machines) and the autonomous Guardians, Link was able to strike down Ganon with the Master Sword, allowing Zelda to seal it away.
One hundred years prior to the start of the game, Hyrule begins to prepare for the prophesied return of Calamity Ganon. Uncovering the long-buried Guardians and Divine Beasts, Hyrule selects four champions from each of Hyrule's dominant races to pilot the Divine Beasts: Daruk, warrior of the mountain-dwelling Goron; Mipha, princess of the piscine Zora; Revali, archer of the avian Rito; and Urbosa, chief of the desert-dwelling Gerudo. Link is selected as Princess Zelda's knight, and manages to retrieve the Master Sword. However, despite her efforts, Zelda is unable to unlock her powers. Before Zelda can learn how to use her powers, Calamity Ganon returns. In an ironic twist of fate, Ganon takes control of the Guardians and Divine Beasts, and uses them against Hyrule. Countless lives, including the Champions and King Rhoam, are lost as Hyrule is ravaged by its own weapons. Link is gravely wounded protecting the princess, but Zelda manages to unlock her powers. Zelda has Link sent to the Shrine of Resurrection while she confronts Ganon alone, sealing the calamity and herself within Hyrule Castle.
Link awakens a century later, fully healed but without his memories. Guided by Zelda's voice, and an old man who later reveals himself as the spirit of King Rhoam, Link learns that he must defeat Calamity Ganon before Zelda's seal is broken. How Link chooses to do so is entirely up to the player, although they are highly recommended to free the Divine Beasts and the souls of the Champions trapped inside. When Link finally reaches Ganon within Hyrule Castle, Calamity Ganon finally breaks free. Link manages to defeat Calamity Ganon, which turns into its final and most dangerous form, referred to as "Dark Beast Ganon". With help from Zelda, Link manages to weaken Dark Beast Ganon, with Zelda using the last of her power to seal the monster.
In developing Breath of the Wild, the developers aimed to rethink Zelda conventions.
Breath of the Wild has been universally acclaimed by critics, many whom have called the game a "masterpiece".