If you think playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild is only about completing quests and finding shrines, this article will show you how it also teaches important life lessons.
Everyone knows BOTW is the best Nintendo Switch game, but I’ll use specific examples to show how it makes us all not just better gamers… but better human beings.
The best part? 10/11 of the life principles don’t involve electric Keese (which I’m sure you’re sick of).
WARNING: these points contain spoilers. Let’s begin!
1. We all start out as amateurs.
When BOTW begins, Link starts with only his pants and a complete unawareness of the world around him. As Link, you learn to respect every object in nature, every character, and every enemy as an opportunity to learn. Nothing can be taken for granted.
2. Special skills are earned, not won.
Each divine beast provides a power that significantly impacts Link’s ability to navigate his environment. But you cannot access it without proving yourself.
Earning Urbosa’s fury requires preparation for an unfamiliar culture, adapting to a hot desert environment, and understanding of the needs of the citizens in Gerudo Town.
Only then do you earn the right to show your fighting skills against Vah Naboris.
3. There are no cheats.
BOTW shows realism in many different ways. Your weapons wear out and break all the time. Your competition gets (much) stronger even as you earn more heart containers (i.e. Silver Moblins).
Even if you show up prepared, you still might get grilled to a crisp by well-timed Guardian laser. Advancements in the game come from learning how to navigate a dangerous and unfamiliar environment.
4. Some people take advantage of you.
It’s pretty much inevitable that you will encounter a deceitful member of the Yiga clan in your travels. They sit crying on the road until you speak with, but by then it is too late. If caught unprepared, your best option is to run for your life.
But other characters offer positive opportunities to earn elixirs and complete new side quests. No matter the character’s temperament, you have to assume they have the best intentions until proven otherwise.
5. Creativity leads to rewards.
One of the coolest parts of BOTW is cooking opportunities. You can literally create dozens of recipes based on the different ingredients you find throughout the world. But watch out! Get too creative and you’ll wind up with dubious food that makes Link want to throw up.
Instead, you learn how to combine ingredients that compliment each other to get premium results. My personal favorite is the seafood paella. The recipe? Any porgy, a hearty blue shell snail, Hylian rice, goat butter, and rock salt.
6. Everything comes at a price.
When I first discovered the 4th great Fairy Fountain in the far southwest portion of the map in Gerudo desert, I was thrilled. This seemed like a great opportunity to upgrade my inventory.
I quickly learned of Tera’s 10,000 rupee fee as well as the materials cost for working with her. The catch? There was none! I either showed up prepared, or I risked wasting my time and money.
7. Getting money costs your time.
Even in techniques like hunting for meat in Tabantha Snowfield, investments of time and resources are required to get rupees.
I had to learn how to efficiently hunt the great-horned rhinoceros and elk roaming the region (Pro tip: use a horse and headshots with lots of arrows).
All of that while avoiding the Bobobklins and Lynel roaming the area. Highly lucrative work with a little cooking and selling, but I couldn’t simply show up unprepared.
8. Some relationships can be ambiguous.
By the time I completed all of the captured memories and defeated Ganon, it was pretty clear to me that Link and Zelda had a special relationship. But how special, exactly? Are they friends? Work partners? Do they secretly harbor romantic feelings for each other?
BOTW never really answers that question, and life can be similar. We all meet people we work closely with where the relationship dynamics can be unclear. It is important to live with that, yet also recognize times to set clear boundaries.
9. Learn from others for more effective results.
When I bought BOTW in 2019, most online gamers had already completed it months or even years ago. To increase my rate of progress through Hyrule, I relied heavily on YouTube tutorials to learn from the techniques and experiences of others.
I also used this handy Hyrule map guide on IGN. Sure, I could have done it the hard way and learned everything on my own. But there is power in learning from others. It’s the same in real life.
Running StudyGate, I focus on building out my abilities in areas where I am weak (like coding in Java) even as I continue to enjoy things I’m really good at (like playing saxophone).
10. Many different methods can get the same result.
The first time I encountered a shrine with a major test of strength, the Guardian Scout killed me with ease. I eventually won in a war of attrition using bombs, elixirs, and a lot of weak weapons.
Once I realized I could defeat these machines with stasis and well-timed electric arrows during their laser spin cycle, they became extremely easy to defeat.
But we always get the same spirit orb no matter what technique we use. The lesson? We should ask ourselves what is the most effective way to solve a problem before we unthinkingly dive in.
11. Respect the environment, never overestimate your powers.
I got a little ambitious at the mid-point of the main quest and sought out the Hyrule Shield in the Hyrule Castle Dungeon.
Unfortunately, I got the impression that I could take on anything with this legendary shield. I was parrying Guardian lasers like nobody’s business.
So when I got shocked by an Electric Keese in Gerudo desert, I quickly recovered and moved on. It wasn’t until 20 minutes later that I realized I had dropped my shield in the attack. I never found it again.
So that’s it for my 11 life lessons I learned playing BOTW. By now, you can understand how important this game is for learning how to respect the rules of life.
Now I want to turn it over to you. What do you learn from playing BOTW? Or maybe there’s something I missed.
Let me know by leaving a comment below.
About the Author:
Jacob is the learning-obsessed co-founder of StudyGate, a tutoring platform for college students. Why so obsessed? Well his skills on the Zelda BOTW have nothing to do with it (OK maybe a little). It’s because StudyGate provides insanely practical help students can use to get better grades.