Frankly, the reason I've not finished the main story in Breath of the Wild is because I keep getting side-tracked. Not on missions or side-quests, but just striking out on my own. Exploring. Discovering the world. Traipsing through the dust.
And that's because this is how I've chosen to play Breath of the Wild. It's that kind of game; so impossibly vast, so full of mystery, that everyone is going to have a slightly different experience. I've seen things that I've not read about elsewhere, and recounted my adventures with friends who've been on their own, entirely distinct, journeys.
We're all going to choose to play this game differently, and - given the size and scope - we're all going to play it in the way that suits us. Being able to walk, or run, swim, glide or climb (stamina permitting), to any point on the horizon means that everyone will be drawn to different destinations.
It's pretty much the game I always wanted to play from the moment I first picked up a joystick. For me, it's the game which finally delivers on their promise.
I might feel ready to express my opinion, but I still feel like I've barely scratched its surface.
Boldly, Nintendo chose to drop players into Breath of the Wild with virtually nothing in the way of instruction.
As Link, you wake up from some sort of suspended animation, are given a touch-screen tablet that's clearly meant to be the Wii U Gamepad, and sent out into the world.
Initially, your exploration is relatively confined (albeit to a huge area), as you explore Shrines - small, one-puzzle, versions of Zelda's traditional dungeons - to acquire the runes that will allow you to pretty much solve any problem in the game (they include bombs, a big-ass magnet, and the ability to make ice platforms out of water). Sadly, the big ass-magnet was abandoned during development.
A few hours in, a mysterious stranger will give you a glider, which opens up the remainder of the world. Gradually, you'll unlock more abilities - sand surfing on shields, horse riding - find more shrines, and encounter wholly new takes on the concept of dungeons. These are rarely as simple as descending into a hole in the ground... Without wanting to give too much away, you often won't even realise you're in a "dungeon".
This is a brand new Zelda; you can even jump at the press of a button.
In fact, the less specific I get about Breath of the Wild the better. This is a game about discovery.
Often puzzles or problems will have more than one solution - using the various items and runes. It grants you the freedom to experiment with the physics and rules of the world. In short; if you think you can do it, you can probably do it.
It took me a while to realise just how interactive the world is - how I could combine ingredients to cook a dish, or chop down a tree to make firewood.
And at first I wasn't sold on the way weapons are fragile - you'll rarely hang onto one sword, or spear, or bow for more than a single battle before they break. It can be frustrating - though that moment they finally shatter does give you a big damage boost - but it forces the player to juggle their inventory, and play around with the astonishing array of weapons you'll stumble across.
Stumble across. Your discoveries feel like your own, and Nintendo have kept the story in the background, never holding your hand, never shoving its tale down your throat. The history of the world, and the threads of that story are all around, though. Zelda has always had a strong sense of its history and mythology - but never has it felt so tangible.
Unlike certain games, when you do unlock a cutscene, or have a conversation with a key character, here it feels like a reward rather than some sixth form movie club project that you have to suffer through.
For all the fanboying and hyperbole that has been lavished upon Breath of the Wild, it isn't perfect.
Some of that is down to my choice to play it with the Switch's JoyCon controllers - the map and inventory screens are slightly tricky to reach. Switching weapons or ammo mid-battle (which you'll be doing a lot of when your weapons get damaged) isn't as seamless as it is in other games.
Some of it is due to the game design. For instance, Link has an annoying habit of clinging automatically to vertical surfaces - often at the worst possible moment. The camera also tends to go a bit haywire in enclosed spaces. Aiming is fiddly and often imprecise when throwing an object. While such flaws might've killed a lesser game, in Breath of the Wild they're just minor irritations.
It's worth talking about the graphics for a moment. This is a beautiful game to look at - cel-shaded, but without the extreme stylised look which seemed to put a lot of people off of Wind Waker. The animation is sublime, full of the sort of character that would only be undermined by voice acting.
Nevertheless, as huge and open as it is, there's no pretending that Breath of the Wild looks like anything other than a last-generation game.
Frankly, next to something like Horizon Zero Dawn it really does seem dated (at least, as far as aesthetics go)... but in saying that, I'm stepping outside myself here, and trying to see Breath of the Wild objectively.
Personally, I don't need games to look like Horizon Zero Dawn to enjoy them - especially when they offer an experiences like the one you're given here. There's beauty in simplicity.
Speaking of Horizon Zero Dawn... that game illustrates one of my biggest issues with open world games, which I hadn't realised was an issue until I could compare HZD and BoW side-by-side.
Most open world experiences don't trust the player to simply enjoy the world - they're swollen and overpopulated with wildlife, and enemies, and bases, and towns, and things to do. Basically, they seem to lack confidence in their own world design, always throwing some new action at the player for fear that they might grow bored. That ADHD approach ends up undermining their reality.
My favourite moments in Breath of the Wild are when I'm alone with the environment - when I'm just walking across desert towards some distant point. Yes, I might randomly encounter a monster from time to time, but such encounters are spread thinly, allowing me to just enjoy the peace, the space. To be alone with myself.
I admit that might just be me.
GOING TO AMERICA
When I was 13, I visited America for first time. My sister had married an American who was in the US Air Force. They lived for a few years on Edwards Air Force Base, in the middle of the Californian desert. My parents and I flew out there to stay with them one summer, and the thing which imprinted on me - more than Disneyland, more than vast portions of food dripping in honey BBQ sauce - was the scale of the landscapes.
At the end of their street was a desert; literally. The road and the houses just stopped abruptly, beyond which was sand and rock stretching for miles, and ending in a massive mountain range.
I've been back twice to that part of the world, and would happily go back again and again. Just driving through Joshua Tree or the Mojave Desert or Death Valley - occasionally stopping to explore something at the side of the road, feeling the sense of isolation, of being among those landscapes, miles upon miles from another living soul, resonates with me like nothing else.
And that's the feeling Breath of the Wild gives me. Of being out there, alone, and never knowing what's behind the next boulder, or what waits for me at the bottom of a canyon.
Consequently, it has already become a game for me which is very personal, which feels like mine and mine alone. Nintendo's approach to it is incredibly confident and trusting. It's like our parents are finally - after all this time - allowing us to go out on our own without a chaperone.
Pay attention, games industry: your obsession with neo-con recruitment and military-industrial propaganda, with sub-sub-Tolkien fantasy, with forcing your overwrought, overblown, tumescent, adolescent narratives on us has to stop - now.
Breath of the Wild needs to be what you're aspiring towards. This has to be the point at which gaming grows up.
I think we're ready.
SUMMARY: The most charming, most exciting, most daring, most trusting video game in years. One for the ages.
SCORE: One million out of ten. Give or take.