It's far less Ray Mears survivalism than Michel Roux slightly roughing it, and then for that added Heston twist, Link can throw in any manner of weird monster parts, bones, minerals, frogs and insects to begin imbuing his creations with temporary stat boosts to help cope with the cold, the heat or various forms of attack.
Cooking combinations feel absolutely endless, and just never stop surprising. It's wonderful, and means if you're not deviating from your path to find Shrines, you're doing to gather mushrooms, berries, herbs and spices to see what that one new ingredient might do to your next round of chicken and apple skewers.
But when all's said and done, Breath of the Wild's true beauty doesn't stem from its combat, its climbing dynamic, its puzzles or even its cooking.
What this game manages to reveal - by paring down the icon-infested masses of tick lists and busywork that comprise our modern sandbox diets - is a simple, quiet confidence in the freedom, and constant wonder, of the world Nintendo presents to you.
Silhouetted by the sea
And that's the rub. Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a game about exploring a world. And doing so often alone, taking in its sights and sounds. Its vistas, skies, sunsets, rain, shine, dust clouds, snow, foxes, big marauding lizards and huge, voluptuous fairies that want to fix your clothes. And that's even before we mention the copious amounts of bold, subtle or simply seriously strange surprises that lurk in the folds of Hyrule's expanse.
It's wandering for hours, from Zora's Domain to Death Mountain. It's catching and taming an Epona (or "Gordon", as we called ours) to actually go on that journey you tried so hard to squint, dream and believe in Ocarina of Time. And doing so over the course of hundreds of hours in order to see and experience everything.
Living that Legend - the Legend of Zelda, no less - in real time, as you map a hero's journey in real time, climbing every peak, gliding down every valley and developing and growing your Link through a real kind of emergent experience.
Not led by cutscene, breadcrumb trail of conveniently supplied puzzle-solving item, or that damn distance blip. It's like Journey on PS3, except with substance. It's like Skyrim, except genuinely interesting and with random things happening. Like Dark Souls, except a lot less depressing. It's even, actually, a little like Capcom's forgotten fantasy sandbox Dragon's Dogma, except not (quite) as gurningly eccentric.
There's a ridiculous argument going on on the internet about how many "ps" Zelda should be running at, and how well. Is it 720p on your undocked Switch, or 900p on your TV, or maybe you're a total loser and playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild on your Wii U at 720p on your 48in television?
Anybody engaged in this debate doesn't deserve or even need Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It is not a ‘tech' game. It's not going to win prizes for pushing the boundaries of the visually possible. It's beautiful because it's inherently designed that way - painterly, well-lit and impeccably geographically informed - not because of resolutions, post-production and bump-mapping.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild isn't perfect. It's probably not even deserving of that 10/10 score a spellbound press seem to want to keep hurling at it. The combat's often nonsensical and frustrating, the camera can misbehave something rotten, and early-game insta-deaths come brutally and often, occasionally undoing fifteen minutes or more of careful item-gathering as you're flung back to an auto-checkpoint after so many senseless, unavoidable bludgeonings or falls.
But none of this matters in the long run. Nintendo has delivered the sense of freedom and possibility that made the original game a household name in the 80s, and it's done it on ‘last gen' hardware. It's proof, if ever proof was needed, that we now live in an age where just about any developer has the tools and the technology to create worlds that achieve an artistic and personal vision.
It boldly stares down every committee-built, bottom line led gaming ‘investment', every annual or generational incremental sequel from global mega-studios, and rubbishes the lot.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the only important open world game to emerge in the last five years and probably - sadly - the next five to come.
Buy it for your ageing Wii U or maybe even consider shelling out on the Switch just to play it on the move. It's almost £340 well-spent, and we don't say that lightly. µ