In 1986, when we first got to see Link in the Legend of Zelda, he had no weapon, but he had an entire world waiting for him to explore it. Perhaps this feeling of independence and freedom made the franchise so successful, but soon this was gone, since in time the game became more linear and more restricting for the player. The 2011 version, Skyward Sword, was definitely a mistake, since it offered only 3 main areas for exploring, and fans complained against it. However, Nintendo brought them The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to compensate for it.
How do You Play
In the beginning of the game, Link has to walk on a plateau while Hyrule is before him, and then you have the world to explore it. Even the initial tutorial is now centered on the player’s rhythm of exploration, and you can make Link travel anywhere you see. This is particularly helpful for players who have been waiting for this freedom for quite a while.
Purpose and Availability
Oddly enough (or not), the free exploration you do still drives you to the main goal. Link still has to get to the Hyrule Castle and win with Calamity Ganon before the can defeat the kingdom further on. You have to find shrines in order to increase his health, find secrets for armor and defense and raid enemy camps for better weapons.
Needless to say, people are started testing out the huge world on excellent quality, and also to use the new Joy-Con controllers for Link.