So I've been utterly engrossed in Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I think the last open world game I played was Shadows of Mordor, which left me thoroughly unimpressed. But Zelda is absolutely blowing my mind. And I think a part of that is because it's having a little bit more faith in the player.
Lately more and more AAA games that I bother to play are obsessed with The Path. The developers put a lot of effort into this game, and they don't want you to miss their efforts. So they lead you around by the nose to parade it all in front of you. Come over here and look at this cool minigame. Come over here and check out this cool cutscene. Oh, come over here and check out this cool boss fight. Come over here and get started on this massive metagame you can dump 100 hours into if you so desire. But no moving on until we've at least shown you how it works.
As a player, the only agency you have is to play it, or not play it. And while I haven't kept completely up to date on the state of the art of open world games, the last several I played reserved all their best content for The Path, and all the optional content was a bit sparse and padded out.
But what I'm loving about Zelda is that so much amazing content exists off The Path. Tarry Town is off The Path, the entire boss fight around the Shrine of Wisdom is off The Path, all the korok seed puzzles are off The Path, and more I don't dare spoil. Breath of the Wild will actually allow you to miss something cool.
All this makes Breath of the Wild the first game in a long while I've found fun to talk about. With many other games, you only need to say how far you've gotten, and not much else need be said. Because you know you've had a near identical experience. Breath of the Wild is the first game in an era where I feel like a kid waiting for the bus again, swapping insane stories about things we found in the original Zelda. Or the plethora of warps and tricks in your average NES era Mario game.
So bravo Nintendo. You still had it in you after all.