Much like that original Zelda for the NES, Breath of the Wild is a game that begs you to keep exploring and it does this right from the start, immediately instilling a real sense of wonder, no matter how familiar you are with the series. As soon as you emerge from that opening cave, you’ll find yourself on a vista, looking out at the beautiful mountains and ruins of a post-apocalyptic, techno-plagued world. And from that moment on, the world is your oyster. What elevates Breath of Wild above any other game in the series is its sheer freedom, both in its non-linear structure and in your ability to reach almost any surface. Breath of the Wild isn’t interested in telling you where to go. In fact, it rarely gives you explicit directions as to what to do. Instead, much like the original Zelda, it dares you to probe and gives players the ability to decide in what order they complete each mission. It isn’t a secret that Breath of the Wild features the biggest Hyrule Nintendo has ever created, and having such a massive open world can pose a problem in that a player can easily miss many things. So we’ve decided to put together a list of the ten essential things we feel a player should experience before setting off to defeat the Calamity Ganon.
Eventide Island which lies far away from the mainland of Hyrule somewhere near Cape Cales (next to the Muwo Jeem Shrine) offers perhaps, the most original and possibly most challenging shrine quest in the entire game (which is saying a lot since there are a whopping 120 shrines to discover). When you first arrive on the beach, your supplies are stripped away. Every weapon, shield and every piece of food you’ve collected over time is no longer accessible and the only way you’ll get those items back is if you complete the quest. It literally strips Link down to his underwear and isolates him in a situation where his reliance on using the weapons he’s scavenged along the way is no longer an option. It’s a disorienting setback indeed especially since now you have to survive using only your wits and whatever new supplies you can scavenge from the area. Your objective is to place three metal orbs on altars located on each of the triangular island’s three edges. You can’t save your progress along the way either and since Link is without any armour, enemies inflict more damage than usual. The only good news in this castaway scenario is that Link can at least rely on his runes and paraglider to get the job done and to complete the island you will need to rely on bombs to uncover secret areas and magnesis to retrieve them from precarious places. Along the way, you’ll have to battle a hinox, raid a bokoblin camp, steal their weapons and use giant explosive barrels to kill them all. But it isn’t the bokoblins, moblins or even the hinox that will give you the most trouble but rather the unexpected thunderstorm which makes it nearly impossible to climb any surface.
Just north of The Lost Woods, you will find Typhlo Ruins, a small forest surrounded by a moat. Much like Eventide Island, Typhlo Ruins takes something away from the player in order to make the task increasingly difficult, only time what it takes away from the player is the ability to see your surroundings. Typhlo Ruins is drenched in darkness and outside of the few torches, luminous stones and glowing mushrooms, there is no way of seeing anything in your path unless you’ve come equipped with some fire arrows and/or a flame spear. You’re tasked with finding a golden orb to open the shrine situated on the island. The problem, however, is that the orb is well-guarded by a hinox that players must defeat in order to advance. Typhlo Ruins may not be as challenging as Eventide Island but it’s the most atmospheric part of the game plunging players into the nightmarish hellscape they soon won’t forget.
One of the many highlights in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is defeating all four Divine Beasts and each Ganon creation who you find at the end of each gigantic monstrosity. Now grant it, it is impossible to miss any of these four dungeons but since a player does not have to complete any of the four in order to finish the game, I’ve decided to include it on the list. Of the four, Ruta is perhaps the most interesting of the bunch and for my money, the most exciting dungeon is without a doubt found here in the Gerudo desert. There’s something just so damn intriguing about this mélange of Spaghetti western iconography and East Indian spiritualism, named after Nabooru, the Sage of Spirit. The Vah Naboris main quest is simply put, epic. Not only does it include some of the game’s most challenging encounters and puzzles but it also opens the doors to several side quests. The camel is an electrifying creature, but one you can overcome with enough determination and a sharp wit. You’ll be required to ride a sand seal, show off your archery skills and deactivate the glutton by rotating parts of the large cylindrical room inside the mechanical creature. This will allow you to move around and open up new areas, and align electrical wires to power up certain places. With its whirl of arresting visuals and its puzzle-within-a-maze-within-a-puzzle of nauseating dizziness, the Devine Beast is certainly the most daring and original dungeon of the game, as well as a visual tour de force. It’s a sublime brain-twister of a challenge that plays out so intricately on so many levels that a bathroom break comes at your own peril.
While some have criticized Breath of the Wild for its lack of storytelling, I would argue the game’s best stories are born out of a player’s own personal experiences playing the game. That said, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild does provide plenty of backstory in various ways, spread out across Hyrule via flashbacks, sidequests and even in books you can read. The game’s iteration of Hyrule Castle also offers plenty of things to see and grab if you’re willing to look for them. One of these just so happens to be Zelda’s diary which can be found in her study located on the western side of the castle. Players can flip through the journal which painfully details Zelda’s personal struggles and just outside the study you will find the last forgotten memory. Finding her diary is a small quiet moment but one that players get to experience amidst a high-speed demolition derby to get to Calamity Ganon. Meanwhile, the forgotten memory might just be the best cutscene in the entire game.
The Forgotten Temple
Somewhere left of Hyrule Forest, right of Tabantha Tundra and inside the Tanagar Canyon you will find the Forgotten Temple, guarded by a dozen guardians, you know, those enormous eight-legged machines that stalk the Hyrule landscape and make your life a living hell. When you enter the Forgotten Temple you need to be prepared for one hell of a fight since the Temple is beset on all sides with numerous enemies guarding the area. Make sure to bring lots of weapons and food because you are going to need it. Scattered across the barren landscape are several handy items, a few powerful weapons, a lot of rupees, and a shrine which will reward you with something extremely valuable.