I hadn’t either, not since the days of Ocarina of Time. We were all comparing notes at work and seeing what we’d encountered, whilst Twitter was full of people swapping spoilered sightings of weird things respectfully.
I think it’s because mainstream games since really the 32-bit era have been getting easier and more linear. This came out at the perfect moment where people had fatigue of being patronised or guided. Even open world games like Assassin’s creed and GTA are gated off until you do X or held together by structured sequences of cut scenes.
BOTW was the first major franchise in decades to just say ‘you have everything you need, go explore’. I think that’s where the Dark Souls comparisons came from, but that game didnt have the reach of a Zelda. That feeling of having no map, no real focus, no guide or any items nagging you on the map was so liberating. Turning that HUD off was everything I wanted for years.
That’s what I loved about it more than anything. Freedom to explore and being treated like an adult for the first time in years.