Breath of the Wild is easily Nintendo’s biggest and most ambitious title in the series to date, and you can expect to complete the game within around 60 hours. This estimate includes completing the main story, a few side quests, time spent traveling, and engaging in random encounters or scaling Sheikah towers.
Of course, the game features a sprawling open world with a ton to do and see, so the above estimate depends on how the length is defined. Below, I’ll look at a few different ways of interpreting the game’s length to give you a better understanding.
The Story-only Route
If you were to blast through the main story and skip everything else, it’s widely considered that the game will take you around 45-50 hours to get through.
Of course, your mileage will vary here. Experienced Zelda players will probably get through faster than those playing this game as their first foray, so this figure isn’t absolute. The Devine Beast puzzles from the main story can soak up a lot of time, and for me personally, I seemed to take longer than my friends to beat some of them.
The Completionist Route
The completionist route entails completing everything in the game, including the main story, all side quests, finding all hidden items, completing all trials, and opening up the whole map by finding and scaling every Shikah tower. On average, you can expect this mammoth task to take you anywhere from 150 to 200 hours.
It’s worth noting, however, that it’s difficult to take a systematic approach to 100 percent completion with this game. Finding and doing everything comes with exploring, and you’re not exactly given a checklist. For this reason, completing every aspect of the game is far more variable than the time taken to finish the story.
Prerequisites for Completing the Game
There are a total of 15 main quests as well as 76 side quests in the game plus a bunch of other peripheral tasks to get stuck into. You don’t need to do everything to 100% the game, though. For 100% completion, you’ll need to defeat all four divine beasts, beat all 120 shrines, find 900 Korok seeds, discover and visit every labeled map location, and of course, defeat Calamity Ganon.
Factors like completing the Sheikah Slate’s compendium, finding all 18 lost memories, or collecting all upgrades and armaments, don’t count towards the 100% achievement. If you’re planning to do absolutely everything, assume the upper end of the 100-200 hour completion time.
So far as completing the game on a basic level, seeing the story to its end requires you to beat the main quests (which encompass defeating the Devine Beasts) and defeating Calamity Ganon.
What About the DLC?
Many will consider the length of the entire Breath of the Wild experience as both the base game and DLC. There are two DLC packs to play after you’ve finished the game. You can expect completing these pieces of extra content to add about 15 hours to your Breath of the Wild tenure.
The first is The Master Trials. The main element of this pack is The Master Sword Trial: a collection of 45-part combat part puzzle challenges that test every skill you’ve learned in the game. The DLC also features new clothes and tools for Link, as well as Master Mode — a mode whereby those who have beaten the game can replay it for a tougher challenge that alters many aspects of the overall game. This pack is about 4-5 hours in length.
The second piece of DLC is called The Champion’s Ballad. The Champion’s Ballad is a story-focused experience featuring new survival challenges, time trials, treasures, bosses, and quest lines. It’s essentially more of what you’ve experienced in the main game and will take around 10-12 hours.
Champion’s Ballad also rewards players with a Sheikah motorbike called the Master Cycle Zero, which may lessen your total hours spent with the game given how quickly you can traverse the map.
Helpful Tips When Completing BOTW
Try Not to Rush
The lengthy amount of time required to complete the game may be daunting to some, but try not to let it phase you. Rushing through Breath of the Wild would be the worst way to experience it: to do so would be to go against the fundamental structure of the game.
As such it’s best not to fixate on beating the game in the fastest time on your first run. Trying to open up the map as quickly as you can leads to a tiring and frustrating time, so you have to let the game guide you itself for the most part.
Allow Things to Unfold Organically
In my opinion, the best way to experience this game is naturally: by exploring and getting lost in the vastness of Hyrule.
Unlike other open-world games, it’s not really a game you can approach like a checklist. There’s so much here that cataloging it all to the player would be overwhelming. If you keep exploring freely and visit every location, you’ll slowly uncover all of the game’s secrets.
Don’t Try to Fight Calamity Ganon Early
Breath of the Wild uses an impressive non-linear structure. Technically, you can head straight to the swirling pink fog in the distance and fight the final boss after you beat The Great Plateau (the game’s starting area). You’ll die immediately, of course, and in reality, tackling the final boss before you’re truly ready is the wrong way to go about it.
Take benefit from the non-linearity in all the other ways, but fighting Ganon earlier in a bid to take a shortcut will just lead to frustration. This sentiment goes for other encounters, too: fighting a high-level enemy before you’re ready isn’t really worth it. Maybe you’ll get lucky and beat it, but you’re usually just wasting your time.
Extra Resources to Help You
Our History of Article
We covered an extensive breakdown and history of all the background information you might need in our article entitled Legends of Zelda Universe Guide and History. No one likes taking time out from a game to look up backstory, so do yourself a favor and check out this article before playing!
Our Breath of the Wild Game Overview
Our article Breath of the Wild Game Overview does a great job setting the scene before playing. For a game as large as this, it can help you prevent fumbling around for hours, which may be the case if you’ve never played a Zelda game before. The article will acclimatize you to the basic principles which will help you in both the early and middle stages of the game.
The Official Strategy Guide
Personally, I’d rather avoid using strategy guides for a game like this. For me, Breath of the Wild is a take-it-as-it-comes sort of game, and it’s at its best when it surprises you with a spectacular new boss or beautiful new location.
While the official guide does take a lot of the mystery out of the game, it can be an invaluable resource for struggling players. Spending a large amount of time wondering what to do in an already lengthy game can be exhausting, so I recommend having the official guide by your side if you feel you’d benefit.
Question: This is Clearly a Huge Game! Would it be Better to Play a Different Title in the Series First to Ease me in?
Answer: Unless you want to, it’s not really necessary. In fact, I’d argue that Breath of the Wild will be one of the easier titles for new gamers to try. You’re likely already familiar with the open-world format from modern games that this game draws from, so just take your time to get used to it, and you’ll be fine.
Question: You Recommended Lore-related Articles for Help With the Backstory. How Important is it that I Read Into This?
Answer: Realistically, you can easily get the gist of what is going on without having played the other games. It’s not a requirement to read into the lore, but it might help enrich your experience to learn at least a little bit.
Question: Given the Time it Takes to Complete the Game, is There an Optimal Route to Take?
Answer: Technically, yes. You can look up the fastest route tactics to find several sources on the topic, but I’d recommend against this. As I said in the article, Breath of the Wild is best experienced organically: save the speed runs for your second or third playthrough!
How Long is Zelda Breath of the Wild: Conclusion
I hope this article sufficiently answered your queries regarding Breath of the Wild’s length and has provided insight into the deeper contextual elements surrounding your time with the game. Good luck, and be sure to check out our other Breath of the Wild articles to help you on your journey!