Guest writer: Mars#8919
Disclaimer | This article may contain spoilers for the game Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. These will be indicated so that you can skip the spoilers or highlight to read.
The story of Breath of the Wild (BotW) begins 100 years ago. Ganon has returned to Hyrule and Princess Zelda and her champions must defeat Ganon and put him to rest. When Ganon arrives, his beasts take over Zelda’s weapons and defeat all of her champions. Zelda makes it to the castle, but Link is unable to continue the journey. He is taken to the shrine of resurrection and wakes up 100 years later. The Calamity is still being held at bay by the princess, but not for much longer. Link must defeat Ganon and take back Hyrule.
The main quest in Breath of the Wild is to destroy Ganon and save the princess.
The exploration in BoTW was one of the biggest parts of the game. There were so many places to explore and go, and there’s always something you’ll miss even if you’ve travelled everywhere. The entire world is full of things to see or do, no matter where you look. In some places (like fields) they can be pretty empty, but there’s always something that will be hiding nearby. Every place you went there was something new, which really added to the game. The map was much bigger than in other Zelda games and there were a lot of familiar things to see as well.
There are a few spots from other LoZ games that have been featured in BoTW, such as Hyrule Castle and the Temple of Time. It was fascinating seeing these spots made in BoTW’s own way, which I really loved. Seeing the Temple of Time so old and crumbling gave a nostalgic feeling and Hyrule Castle took my breath away.
In BoTW, the music is extremely different from other Zelda games. Normally the music is exciting with a very defined sound, but in BoTW, the music is more calming and less intense. Some fans of the series don’t appreciate the slower music and prefer the more upbeat and lively music that’s been featured in previous Zelda games, but I personally enjoy the music. It enhances the journey, telling a quiet tale with each song. You focus less on the music in the background, and more on the adventure and/or quest you’re going on. It makes exploring to every place feel like a new breath of fresh air with memorable melodies and tempered movements. Some of the songs are on the quieter side, but some themes are bold and will easily get stuck in your head. The music perfectly fits the game and every location in it. When I first went to Hyrule Castle, it took my breath away. Its melody made everything much more intense, really giving me the feeling that I was there to defeat the Calamity with its powerful and heroic undertones.
BoTW features many little hidden designs in its music that go unnoticed. For example, the field theme: the song always starts the same, but the high parts and low parts play at random intervals. Sometimes you can even get a note played in reverse. For more hidden sound designs, check out this video.
The weapons in BoTW are different than other Zelda games, and other games in general. There are generally four types of weapons: ones that use one hand, ones that use two hands, spears, and bows. You have an inventory of 19 weapons (20, if you include the Master Sword), 20 shields, and 13 bows (7 are reserved for arrows). There are also different types of weapons, such as electric, fire, ice, and ancient types (there are also light arrows and bomb arrows, but light arrows only appear in the final boss fight). BoTW has an array of different weapons, making the game experience more unique. There are swords, mops, wands, and even spoons. It lets you improve your weapons as you improve in the game. Another thing I appreciated about the weapons in BoTW was how they could break. Not many games have this feature and it added a more real and risky element to the game.
Even the Master Sword can “disintegrate” by running out of power, making you wait 10 minutes until it’s available again.
The armor in BoTW was definitely one of my favorite features. Most have different bonuses, abilities, etc., and all can be upgraded with certain details. You can even dye your armor and change its color at the Hateno dye shop. Every set of armor is different and I just loved this feature in the game. It made me feel more like I was really experiencing it and it was fun to ‘dress up’ Link which you couldn’t do in any other Zelda games. Here are some of my favorite armor sets:
There’s also champion’s abilities. Each gives Link a certain benefit that can be used about 3 times, and takes a few minutes to regenerate. There are four abilities: Mipha’s Grace, Revali’s Gale, Urbosa’s Fury, and Daruk’s Protection, and they will ultimately help you in future combat and in Calamity Ganon’s boss fight. These abilities made the gameplay more enjoyable for me, as I could be revived instead of starting from my last save file or take a gust of wind up with my paraglider to reach a higher destination. Since I’ve never seen anything quite like this in other LoZ games, I got really excited once I beat my first Ganon and got the ability.
There are three types of enemies: mobs, mini-bosses, and bosses. There are plenty of enemies wherever you go, ranging in difficulty and power, and a lot of them can been seen in previous Zelda games, but there were some that are new to BotW. I loved rushing into combat against a group of Bokoblins or Lizalfos, testing out my combat skills. Also, whenever a Moblin threw a Bokoblin, it made me laugh. A lot of common enemies you see are Guardians, Bokoblins, Lizalfos, Octorocks, and Chuchus. The only thing is that I wish the enemies were a little stronger. They were pretty easy to kill once you get further in the game and I wish there was more of a challenge.
The Ganons are a big part of the game in BoTW. They can either be killed before the final boss fight and give you certain advantages, or you can just storm Hyrule Castle and have a boss gauntlet with all four Ganons (I recommend defeating them all before going to fight Calamity Ganon). Each Ganon has a different fighting type and attack pattern, so it’s hard to know what to expect. It was great how each one was different and it definitely made the game more exciting. The easiest for me was Windblight Ganon and the hardest was Thunderblight Ganon. In the end, it really made me feel accomplished when fighting the Calamity and made the victory that much sweeter.
The final boss fight was the one moment in BoTW that I was preparing for. After hours and hours of preparing, training, upgrading armor, this was the final moment of the game and I could not let down all of those characters I grew to love. Hyrule Castle definitely gave the perfect atmosphere for the final boss fight, with the sound of marching in the music. After fighting guardians, getting the Hylian Shield, and gathering powerful weapons from the different rooms, I made my way up to the top of the castle.
This next section contains spoilers for the Final Boss combat sequence. Highlight to view.
I entered the room and the boss sequence began. In the first half of the boss fight, I was honestly a bit disappointed. In my mind, I thought the boss fight was going to be extremely hard, but it was pretty easy, and that was a let down. I don’t know if that was because I over prepared or had an advantage with the Divine Beasts, but I defeated Ganon pretty quickly with ease. In the second stage of the battle was when my adrenaline really got pumping. You’re teleported out of the castle and onto Hyrule Field, then getting to ride your horse and get the Bow of Light with the Light Arrows. You have to shoot at marked spots until Dark Beast Ganon runs out of health. It was a truly amazing end to the fight, especially since you had a lot of space to move and to finish Ganon off. It really felt like it was the end of a long journey, even if the first stage had been underwhelming.
Instead of having your traditional Zelda dungeons, BoTW had shrines. They were basically mini-dungeons that you faced different challenges in and had to complete different puzzles to get through them. Your reward was usually a spirit orb, which can be used to buy stamina vessels and heart containers from different Goddess statues. You need 4 spirit orbs to get either one stamina vessel or one heart container. The puzzles/challenges were usually fairly easy and didn’t give me much of a struggle. They were either difficult or easy to complete so I preferred the old dungeons from previous Zelda games. They were more difficult, the puzzles more complex and the challenges were harder. Shrines did not really have much to offer for me, which is why they were kind of a let down.
The Divine Beasts were the closest thing to previous dungeons in the Zelda series. Each had 5 terminals you had to activate in order to fight a Ganon and get a champion’s ability. I really liked figuring out the Divine Beasts, but they were all pretty much the same. Maybe they had different puzzles to get to different terminals, but they weren’t very different other than the Divine Beasts you were in. I would have liked more of a challenge to them. For example, the Vah Rudania challenges had a small portion played in complete darkness, but doing the full challenges in darkness would have been more challenging and fun.
The Side Quests
There are a lot of these, including some that will help you find shrines. Here are some memorable side quests that I enjoyed the most:
Eventide Shrine quest: You are stranded on an island with nothing left and you have to survive and defeat a Hinox (mini-boss) to get the shrine. You will be awarded one spirit orb for this and it proves to be a fun challenge. This quest was one of my favorites in the game, especially because of the challenge it provided.
From the Ground Up side quest: After purchasing Link’s house and everything in it, one of the workers (Hudson) will ask for your assistance in starting his own town. You will have to gather wood and find people (whose names end in ‘son’) to help assist in building the town. At the end of this 7 part quest, you will get 3 diamonds and a new town with everything in it. It was worth all of the hard effort and it was fun to do in the process.
The Stolen Heirloom Shrine quest: After completing 3 specific quests, this one will unlock. Apparently, a precious heirloom has been stolen in Kakariko village, taken by a Yiga clan spy. After following him up a hill for a tough fight, [spoiler; highlight to read] he confesses that he was being blackmailed by the Yiga clan for wanting to leave. His wife was killed because of this, but he escaped to Kakariko with his two kids. It’s a very real and sad quest, really making the game more emotional and valuable.
Koroks are little creatures in BoTW that you can collect seeds from. You can use these seeds to open more spaces in your bow, shield, and weapon inventories. I enjoyed the little puzzles you have to solve to find the Koroks, but the only problem was that there were so many. It seems impossible to find all 900 of them, even just the 441 you need to fully expand your inventory. Also, all you get once you find them all, is a key item called “Hestu’s Gift”. It really has no purpose, which is kind of funny, but it’s also, obviously, disappointing.
The Easter Eggs
There are a few easter eggs in BoTW, but my favorite is the Lord of the Mountains. Want to learn more about it? Read my article about Satoru Iwata to find out how to find him.
The music perfectly fitted the game, which added a lot to the overall experience.
The armor was an exciting customization feature, which made Link feel more personal to you.
The story was something I could follow along with and learn more about on my journey.
The sidequests also added a lot to the story, no matter how meaningless they were.
The combat wasn’t as challenging as expected. I wish there was more difficulty in general.
The shrines were either too easy or too hard, there was no real middle to them.
The Divine Beasts weren’t too difficult and weren’t very unique. I would have liked to see more done with them.
Personally, I was very satisfied with Breath of the Wild. I loved it and I loved playing it, and it did not disappoint. There were a few things I wish could have been included/changed, but the pros outweigh the cons. In future Breath of the Wild games, I would love to see a two-player option. I would love to be able to play as Zelda and I hope we see something like that in the sequel.
Breath of the Wild games is definitely one of my favorite games and I’m excited to see more of it to come. The Legend of Zelda series has been my favorite since I was a kid and it never fails to impress me. One of my favorite games in the series just got a remake (Link’s Awakening) and I am excited to finish it. If you’re ever looking for an adventure game, or just a game in general to play, I definitely recommend playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild games.