Lately I've been playing Breath of the Wild and last night, I think I finally had a moment where things clicked I realized exactly why the game was getting all the lasting hype and adoration.

My experience up to that point so far has been, just a lot of aimless wandering, grabbing food and loot. Then on a whim, I decided to start mountain climbing, seeing every peak I could get to and what the furthest reaches I could travel to contained.

Eventually my attention turned to the Lanayru Heights, where previously my last expedition was cut short due to the freezing temperatures and I had absconded down the mountain. This time, I was less prepared than my first attempt, had a lot of food, and was determined to see what was up there. What I found was some Korok seeds, wolves (and other baddies), and a dragon posessed by Calamity Gannon. I knew that once reaching the dragon, I wasn't prepared for any big boss fights and had every intention to flee, but on a whim, I shot the bugger in one of the eyes, starting the sequence. I guess at that point, I was in the grips of morbid curiousity, so I followed the dragon around, shooting (and mostly failing), at the eyes to free him. After a while, with my arrows running low, and my food almost spent due to freezing damage, I resigned myself that this was probably a failure, started to take off on my glider, and accidentally hit the arrow button in the process, and then realizing that I could shoot arrows in mid-air. After that discovery, I quickly wrapped up saving Lanayru, grabbing the spirit orb, and turning my attention elsewhere.

Feeling pretty good about myself, I spotted a canyon that beckoned to be crossed and a suspicious mountian in the distance. So I took off, landed on the cliffside of the canyon, then realized that my mortal enemy, rain, was in constant effect and climbing would probably end badly. Still, something in me told me to climb this thing, and so with much trial and error (and spending even more of my precious cooked food for speed buffs), I eventually accended over the cliff face into a land of thunder and rain. I later discovered that I traversed into Zora's Domain, and I was probably over my head.

After some frantic traversing, restocking of food, and working on the main quest a little, I came face to face with a Lynel, as part of the story to get some arrows for later. The game seemed to urge to try to sneak around to get the goods. Apparently, I thought otherwise, and charged the bugger. And then died.
So I charged again stratigically with a shield, made a little progress, got punked, and died.
After that attempt, I made one more go at it, sacrificing all my good equipment and food in a mortal battle to the death, until all I had was a rusty shield and an ice spear to his last 500 health. I don't know how I didn't die outright from there, but using the shield and dodging some of his attacks to make openings to approach and spear him a few times before switching back to waiting for the next opening until he eventually died at my clearly bloody hands. At that point, I could hardly contain myself after having spent so much mental energy invested in trying to overcome what should have been an insurmountable wall, and overcoming it.

Needless to say, if the rest of the game has moments like this, I think this is going to be one of my new favorite games.