Since its first DLC, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has given players the option to look back at all the places they’ve traveled by showing their path in green, known in the game as the “Hero’s Path.” While the feature has always been neat, it looks even more unique and intimate when turned into a real-life work of art.
A Zelda player whose name is Andrew Czudak did just that and recently shared the results on Imgur. Taking over 200 screenshots of their overworld map using the Switch’s in-game camera, they were able to compile a pretty zoomed-out and high resolution encapsulation of all the time they and their partner spent with the game. Creating the work required painstakingly scrolling across every section of their Hero’s Path with the analog stick and then cropping and re-cutting the resulting screencaps in Photoshop to line them all up.
“Moving the map in regular intervals was especially difficult due to the analog stick, so I ended up taking more screenshots than I probably needed,” Czudak said in the Imgur post. “Even then, I did need to go back once or twice and take screenshots of little gaps that I’d missed. This did come in handy for removing the green cursors in the center of every image though.”
The point of this complex method, rather than just blowing up a single screenshot of the entire thing, was to get more detail. The resulting image ended up being 5842x4868, which was then printed out at 16x20 and 300 dpi.
Breath of the Wild’s Hero’s Path is a great way for players to take stock of everything they’ve done in the game that goes beyond just a list of achievements or total time played. Unlike raw numbers, the visual illustration of someone’s time with a game also yields different insights into how people play—whether they stick to objectives or prefer to go off the beaten path, for instance. “Seeing different playstyles in map form is interesting,” Czudak said in a Reddit comment. “I liked gliding and teleporting, and my partner loved riding a horse on the main roads. We did plenty of exploring on foot as well, but it did leave our map looking cleaner.”
He and his partner have put about 300 hours into the game, with the Hero’s Path tracking the most recent 200. It only records active gameplay, however, so after the Champion’s Ballad DLC was completed he was looking for a way to preserve their shared adventure. “I noticed that our entire playthough only JUST fit in the 200 hour limit,” he said in an email. “Seeing how close it was made me want to preserve it somehow, which is how this project came to be.”
In Czudak and his partner’s case, the map turned out pretty cleanly since they mostly stuck to the main roads going from one point of interest to the next. “Despite BotW’s Hyrule being so vast, following our paths on this map still brings back familiar imagery and vivid memories,” Czudak said. “There are many memorable moments that I’m sure plenty of users share, such as the Talus on the Great Plateau, the rainy approach to Zora’s Domain, or the secret of the Lomei Labyrinth.” There were many moments that were unique to their playthrough, however, including things like failed gliding attempts and needless backtracking back before they realized they could fast travel. Another included “Searching way too long for the Kakariko Fairy Fountain before realizing it was the giant thorny plant.”
Having an actual physical object takes these personal insights and memories adds a kind of permanency to them. It’s sort of like preserving a playthrough in amber. Even if Czudak and his partner eventually lose their Zelda data because the Switch doesn’t have cloud saves, at least they’ll always have a beautiful map.