…and I must admit that I’ve become quite obsessed.
Back in early August, I caved in and bought a Nintendo Switch bundle pack with Breath of the Wild (including DLC) and, ever since August 18 when I unpacked everything, I haven’t spent a single day without playing the game. (It is currently the only game I have for Nintendo Switch, but I might consider getting Puyo Puyo Tetris, and I definitely plan on getting Super Mario Odyssey.)
After 70 total hours of playing, my current progress is as follows:
- All Divine Beasts freed
- Full Stamina Wheel
- 12 Hearts
- 83 Shrines
- 105 Koroks
- 12 Main Quests
- 23 Shrine Quests
- 30 Side Quests
- All Sheikah Slate runes, completely upgraded
- All Towers activated
- 4 Memories (out of the main 12)
- 45 Hyrule Compendium entries
- 20 Creatures
- 16 Monsters
- 5 Materials
- 2 Equipment
- 2 Treasure
- 3 Great Fairies
In all this, I have and will, above all else, try not seek any help online. Granted, I did look up that there are 120 Shrines, 900 (!!!) Koroks, 15 Main Quests, 42 Shrine Quests, and 76 Side Quests…but simple quantities like that are acceptable in my book.
Despite that I got DLC with the bundle pack, I plan not to indulge in any of it until I’ve beaten the game normally, and I won’t beat the game normally until I feel fully prepared to do so (i.e., once I feel like I’ve discovered enough areas on the map, or at least recovered the remaining 8 memories and pulled out the Master Sword (in that order)).
Anyway, it’s been quite an adventure, honestly. If I had to describe the game in just a few words, I would describe it as an Elder Scrolls + Skyward Sword hybrid. That is to say, it has all the open-world goodness of an Elder Scrolls game, with bundles of aesthetics and mechanics reminiscent of Skyward Sword.
Not only that, but the puzzles within the shrines and such are brilliantly designed to require plenty of brain power (as in, not much hand-holding here) while not quite being on the echelon of a dedicated puzzle game. That said, I recall having trouble with more than a few portions of the game. Before I go on, though, note henceforth that when I say “I had to,” I actually mean “I felt like I had to.” Just think of it as an abridgement, really. Anyway, so…what exactly I struggled with:
- Fighting a Guardian for the first time (in Great Plateau, with no ancient weapons or anything like that)
- Surviving the path to Zora’s Domain for the first time
- Fighting a Lynel for the first time
- Immobilizing Vah Ruta without missing any shots (I thought this was mandatory at first)
- In Sha Warvo Shrine (the one near Flight Range, along the path of the Vah Medoh quest), it took me way too long to realize that the penultimate platform block had an opening concealed from the view of the fan before it.
- In my first fight against a Talus, I only used arrows and Lizal boomerangs, being blissfully unaware of the possibility that I could simply climb up on that enemy (when the time is right, of course) and go ham on its weak spot.
- The Yiga Clan Hideout took me three tries to sneak through. Everything past the second guard is a huge pain, like a ridiculous jump in difficulty compared to the beginning. On the third try, I had to avoid everything except the Mighty Banana stash. As in, from the closest opening to the stash, I paraglided all the way to the final stretch, having to creep around the suspecting final guard. It was a struggle at first, believe me…but the final result felt so easy, despite feeling a bit wrong.
- Climbing one of the towers (the one with the ancient sentries and the Pools of Malice) was a pain, and so was even finding Gerudo Tower (let alone without traversing the desert).
- All those “Major Test” Shrines (and even a Savage Lynel that killed me) on the path of searching for Gerudo Tower
- The two upper terminals of Vah Naboris were a humungous pain to get to. All I could think to do was haphazardly shoot arrows through whatever openings I could find near the Pools of Malice, and I eventually managed to find and destroy one of the eyes blocking my way.
- Getting through Lost Woods—particularly the second part, where you have to follow the embers of a lit fire to get to the end
- Facing intense cold and heat for the first time
- In the case of intense cold, I didn’t know that Rito Armor existed until after doing the midair arrow shot training, so I had to keep a Torch with me at all times…until the training, during which I had to fight the bitter cold.
- Intense heat was much tougher to deal with. I can’t imagine the intended way of going through it, but I went all the way to the southern mine of Eldin, making sure to keep healthy by way of healing items, Mipha’s Grace, and the hot spring near the southern mine…and then hunting down 10 Fireproof Lizards to complete the quest for the fireproof armor. (Side note: I tried to take a picture of one to take advantage of Sheikah Sensor +, but I learned the hard way that taking damage forcibly takes you out of camera mode.)
- Wrapping my head around how the Goron cannons work, specifically that you have to hit the lever with an equipped weapon to get the cannons to turn
- I used up 2 Ancient Arrows during the attack on Vah Rudania. On the path to the second cannon, I didn’t really think outside the box and ended up having to fire at two sentries that were giving me a hard time. The path to the third cannon was also quite a handful, but that was when I realized that the path to Vah Rudania is designed with a way to take out the sentries without engaging them in direct combat.
- Rock Octoroks and phase 2 of Fireblight Ganon have a particular trait in common: They suck in their surroundings, and they fire a projectile that deals ridiculous damage. In the case of Rock Octoroks, I had to fire a precisely timed arrow between the interval of when they spit the projectile and when they hide in the ground. In the case of Fireblight Ganon, there was nothing else I could do. That was when I realized: If a monster sucks things in, simply feed it a Remote Bomb! Since then, needless to say, Rock Octoroks have become much easier to deal with.
- Fighting the Igneo Talus on the isolated platform surrounded by lava (that thing knocked me into the lava so many times before I figured out how to fight it…)
So, those are things that I struggled with but ended up prevailing over. And even now, I still have some mysteries on the back burner:
- The fourth Great Fairy
- The Keo Ruug Shrine riddle
- The Eighth Heroine (I plan to not fully explore Gerudo Desert until I complete this quest…however I do it)
- Savage Lynels with clubs (seriously, I can literally only get a flurry opportunity from one of those attacks…)
- How to snipe the eyes of the thunder and fire dragons, like sniping the eye of the freeze dragon after liberating it from the calamity
To end this off, I’ll try to think of particular things that I like and dislike about the game.
- Nods to other games in the series
- The Divine Beast names
- Vah Ruta is named after Ruto, the Water Sage of Ocarina of Time
- Vah Rudania is named after Darunia (literally an anagram), the Fire Sage of OoT
- Vah Naboris is named after Nabooru (and Urbosa even says that in the cutscene after freeing the Divine Beast), the Spirit Sage of OoT
- Vah Medoh is named after Medli, the Earth Sage (is that even the proper term…?) of Wind Waker
- Part of the Rito Village theme is remixed from the Dragon Roost Island theme of Wind Waker
- Locations like the Linebeck and Mercay Islands (Phantom Hourglass), as well as Darunia Lake (OoT again)
- Kass plays Epona’s Song (from OoT) on accordion when at a stable
- The Divine Beast names
- The minigame music (that plays during the climbing challenge, footrace, and such) and Talus battle music are particularly catchy
- Champion powers can be really helpful, especially Mipha’s Grace and Daruk’s Protection (that sort of mechanic is reminiscent of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, now that I think about it…)
- Sidon is a cheesy yet somehow likable character, and baby Zora and Rito are adorable.
- Stuff that I’ve already mentioned
Cons (take these with a grain of salt; I freaking love this game):
- Random undead and Chuchus are pesky (especially when I try to sneak up on some random enemy or group of enemies)
- Rain hinders climbing to a crippling degree
- They removed Beetle’s signature “THANK YOU!!!” from Wind Waker…and now his most notable line is “Saa, saa!” (which is essentially Japanese talk for urging Link to buy/sell something)
- That freaking blood moon… Well, that in itself isn’t too bad, considering it makes Lynel and Hinox drops significantly easier to hunt for, but it irritates me that the same old dag-blasted cutscene plays every single time after the first blood moon, and you have to press X and + to skip it. I mean, what’s so important about seeing it any more than once?
- If you approach a Divine Beast while it’s preparing its attack on Ganon, the game moves you to one set point nearby. …Why not just have Link turn back and take a few steps, similarly to how the boat in Wind Waker makes a U-turn if you hit the edge of the map?
For now, this is the best that I can use words to express my admiration for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Next time I talk about this will probably be when I complete the game to a satisfactory degree.
À la prochaine! (Until next time!)