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I am questioning the world as it was built in the game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Consider the following map:

Map of Hyrule

Using the game's own paragliding system, it's been calculated that the map has an area roughly equal to 84 sq km.

Is this calculation correct?

It only takes a few minutes to fly across the entire desert, and less than a half hour to cross the entire map on foot. However, the time scale is 60x faster than real life, so one would need to take this into consideration.

For those unfamiliar with the game geography:

  1. There is a desert in the south-west corner, surrounded by mountains to the north and east. (all of the brown area in the bottom left is desert)
  2. Elevations are depicted by lighter colors. The more white it is, the higher the elevation.
  3. There is a huge volcano in the north-east, with large lakes of lava.
  4. West of the volcano is a large forest/wooded area, surrounded by water on all sides.
  5. There is a large butterfly-shaped lake in the southern center of the map with a bridge going across. This bridge only takes a few minutes to cross in the game in real-world time.

Good answers will give estimates based on real calculations, explaining how answers were arrived at.

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    "However, the time scale is 60x faster than real life, so one would need to take this into consideration." How specifically? Shouldn't you be able to ignore that completely, since we are only concerned about distances and not speeds? – JMac Sep 19 at 17:39
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    @JMac If we're determining the "real" scale of the map, then the travel times are important in deciding if the distances you calculate are reasonable or not. – overlord - Reinstate Monica Sep 19 at 18:04
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    As a rule of thumb, open world games have far smaller maps than is physically realistic. For example, in Skyrim, Whiterun has about 20 houses and a similar number of residents, but is allegedly a large-ish city. You can find similar discrepancies in BotW itself (e.g. Gerudo Town is not a "town" by any reasonable standard). The usual interpretation is that the "real" version is bigger, but was shrunk due to technical limitations. – Kevin Sep 19 at 18:12
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    @overlord If you want to put importance onto travel times, you have to put the same importance onto Link's movements and size. If you take into account how quickly time travels, you just get a lot of weird irrelevant details, like that we can watch Link's limbs move incredibly slow in "real time"; so obviously we wouldn't be able to use Link's motion as any type of traditional measurement for distances, since when time is factored in, Link doesn't move like a regular person. You're better off to just use lengths and ignore how time passes; because it has a lot of weird consequences. – JMac Sep 19 at 18:14
  • @JMac because one way of measuring distance is how long it takes to cover – Stop Harming Monica Sep 20 at 8:36
5

84 square kilometers is roughly 9.16km to a side (5.6mi). Eyeballing the map, this seems reasonable.

However, the average walking speed of a human is about 5km/hr, which means you should be able to cross the map in about 2 minutes Real Time. If it takes about one day/night cycle in-game to cross the map, this would imply that the map is 120 kilometers across (or ~75 miles). This makes for a total map size of 14,400 square kilometers

If I had to guess, I'd say the map is indeed closer to 85km2, but that Time is not set to reflect this in terms of movement speed.

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    Did you mean 2 minutes there? Or hours? – HorusKol Sep 19 at 22:03
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    I'd also say that the day/night cycle is probably the most inaccurate part of this calculation, purely because the speed of everything else doesn't match up with the day/night cycle speed. It is unrealistically fast compared to everything else to be considered any kind of accurate measurement of time. – Ben Sep 20 at 6:20
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    Yeah, I think the assumption that Link's walking speed is 5 km/hr can be easily dismissed here, because if you assume that, the scale of all the objects and people in game would become way different than what we expect in real life. – JMac Sep 20 at 12:39

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