rejj I played Breath of the Wild last year, and think I might have an answer for you!
I was in a similar mindset as you. Many critics whose opinions I trust, as well as my wife and friends, all raved about the game. I didn’t really get it at first. While I devoured every Zelda game I could get my hands on in high school, I had soured on the series as an adult and thought BotW might be a breath of fresh air. On the other hand, Morrowind had ruined most open world games for me (because I love it so much), and open world games are genre I really don’t like. So the cards were stacked against the game with my bias against both traditional Zelda games and open world games.
And was mildly entertained? At least for awhile. I had enough to keep me going because I liked the shrines more than traditional Zelda dungeons, but in general the game wasn’t really clicking with me. It didn’t feel like the transcendental Zelda game that I was expecting to play.
That being said, I can point to a few moments/mindsets that changed the game from one I was warm on to one that I ended up really enjoying.
Not to spoil anything, but I was just exploring looking for shrines, and I stumbled upon a huge flying dragon. I didn’t know what it meant, there was no cutscene to explain, and the dragon just flew off. Then it happened again in a different area. It wasn’t until I was 40 hours into the game that I understood what was happening and what I had to do wrt/ dragons. It’s refreshing when a game allows there to be mystery.
Another moment I was on top of a large hill, thought that something looked out of place, and was rewarded by examining the area with a Korok Seed. They are all over the place, and mildly helpful. But after that moment I began to look more closely at the world. If I ever thought “huh, wonder what that’s about” as I played, I decided to poke around whatever thing caught my eye. I was almost always rewarded. The rewards aren’t special! But the world is full of meticulously designed areas. Nothing is truly empty (which is my complaint with most open world games).
The last moment that made the game click was while watching this Ocarina of Time video by KingK while I was washing dishes. At 35:34ish Link looks down at a heart piece while on a ledge. I thought “easy, just jump, glide down, climb up the pillar.” But that’s not how the game works! In that moment I realized that Breath of the Wild changed how I thought about traversal in games, particularly open world games. It’s also cool that if you see somewhere on the map you can just go there.
That is to say, here’s what I like about the game: it allows there to be mystery, there’s a lot of subtle detail and the game rewards you for poking around, and the way you explore the world actually rewired my brain and how I think about movement/traversal in games. If any of those things sound interesting, it’s worth pushing through.
Ignore combat (mostly) because it’s not fun, and not rewarding. Especially if you want to see what’s good about the game
Poke around, there’s probably something for you to find
If you see something in the distance and are even a bit curious, check it out!
That being said, I don’t love the game. The shrines are great!… except for the “test of strength” ones, which I once got 6 times in a row! The combat in general is slippery and I don’t personally think it’s fun. I’m not in the game for the combat. In fact, except for necessary combat encounters and the big minibosses (idk what else to call them) I just ignored it altogether. It was a fine experience. I played the base game, did 100 shrines, collected all memories, completed Tarrey Town, and beat the story. It was fine! Fine game! Dare I say, good game! But, to me, it’s not a great game.