No more distractions. Well, aside from writing. Time to really sink my teeth into this open world. I spy a Bokoblin outpost gliding distance from the tower. Let’s test out some of my gear. I glide towards the lookout and I’m pleased when I get a cursor option for a dive attack. I perform said dive attack, but seem to miss, instead creating a burst impact upon landing, enough to damage my target most of the way. One more strike and he falls from the platform, dead. His friends are oblivious as ever, but this time there’s two of the dark colored ones. I sneak attack and headshot one with a bow, but it does negligible damage. This calls for better artillery. I switch to ice arrows, and freeze two of them as they claim their weapons. Another dive attack and they SHATTER spectacularly. It’s nothing to clear the rest from the camp and grab the loot. It’s great that for once in a video game, I don’t feel limited in what I can do by what a designer could think of. If I can conceive of it reasonably, there’s a way to do it.
It’s great that for once in a video game, I don’t feel limited in what I can do by what a designer could think of. If I can conceive of it reasonably, there’s a way to do it.
I use my Amiibo again, happy to see they’ve cooled down and again shower me with loot, and I realize I have a lot of food. I do lots of cooking, condensing and discovering what works and what doesn’t. Now its’ time for what I’ve been looking forward to. I summon my Wolf Link Amiibo. I’m sad he doesn’t carry over his Twihard nickname assigned to the Amiibo, but happy he has all 20 hearts despite ending the Cave of Shadows with 19 and a half. I ride onward, away from a lake monster shooting rocks at me, feeling AWESOME. No sooner then I get going do I cross paths with a guy named Mezer, trying to sell meats, but I sell him a bunch of my crafting components instead because I’m still pretty poor.
Time to put Twihard through his paces. I use Cryonis to cross a river without swimming and advance towards another Bokoblin camp. Twihard decides he’d rather teleport than swim, complete with Twilight Princess sound effects. Now I use Magnesis to start the fight by dropping a nearby metal rock on their strongest guy, crushing him. I go in for the usual sword fighting and hear familiar barking as enemies fall around me. We clear the camp, and I appreciate that the game is getting easier and more satisfying. I just wish there was some more variety in minion-level enemies. Why are there so many Bokoblins and what do these camps accomplish for them?
My reward for this particular outing is a boomerang. I’m so excited, I almost run past the Ree Dahee Shrine. Some timing puzzles and another quick Spirit Orb. I return from the shrine and fight off an aquatic ambush, exhausting my normal arrows, but my wolf is missing. I use his Amiibo and have him back again. Best leave the Amiibo within arm’s reach. Another nearby shrine is surrounded by pointy sticks, so I guess I’m not going there yet. Aww, he barks at some birds and chases them, but can’t catch one before they fly away. Suddenly I’m playing Duck Hunt.
Nearby I find my first sign of civilization, Dueling Peaks Stable. The frame rate dips hard as Twihard runs around, chasing other animals. A lady teaches me about elixirs, and some kids teach me about horses. Beedle, a merchant and old Zelda favorite, sells me bugs and frogs and buys my gems. Wow, arrows are expensive at 6 rupees a piece… I also buy a bug and a toad to try to make elixirs. My wife cries out in horror as the frog hops around in the pot with other things, forming a Hasty Elixir.
Some things never change.
I find a big, cracked rock in the middle of a field. Some things never change. I bomb it for an Emblazoned Shield, better than any I’ve looted so far.
I keep moving, trying not to stop and pick every collectible I see, and have to stop and tread with caution as I spot what appears to be a giant mushroom. I draw my sword and approach slowly, but it shows no signs of hostility. He introduces himself, Hestu, another Korok, only bigger. He asks me to retrieve his maracas. No, really. I go under some rocks and find a Bokoblin camp Hestu directed me toward. It occurs to me as I press the attack button and get smacked before I can actually swing, two-handed swords aren’t working for me. I downgrade and drop one Bokoblin as Twihard drops the other. Returning to Hetsu, I give him is maracas, but he’s distraught as they don’t work anymore. If only he had some seeds, he’d trade me inventory expansion in exchange for just one. Well, just one is all I have from earlier, and I can carry another weapon now.
Continuing along the trail, I meet a woman named Brokka, who says nothing important. Across from her, there’s a simple block puzzle. Solving it draws out yet another Korok, giving me another seed. Back to Hetsu! That’s convenient. My nav tells me there’s a shrine nearby. I decide to climb a cliff with streams trickling down. Yet another Korok, but no shrine. I climb higher still, but nothing but a great view. Onward, to Kakariko Village, a favorite of mine in the series.
Onward, to Kakariko Village, a favorite of mine in the series.
An old lady calling herself Nanna greets me asks about the Sheikah Slate. She points me to Impa’s house, the most impressive and hardest to miss of the houses. Well, it’s important for old people to feel useful, in any case. Twihard disappears and I get a dialog about him returning to where he came from. I forgot he doesn’t do well in towns.
I explore nooks and crannies, finding loot in places I’d expect like in the waterfall and under the bridge, and a lady outside a shop gushes about my looks and my slate. What kind of store is this anyway? Clothes? CLOTHES! Finally, I can stop wearing these ineffective peasant rags I was frozen with for some reason! I buy a new cloak, shirt, and pants, and sell back my rags to the shopkeep, who claims to have been eyeing them. Apparently, she has to clean up a spill somewhere? Well, now I look like a hoarding colorblind reject from Assassin’s Creed, but I’m hopeful I can absorb hits better.
Past some guards and on to meet Impa. Before I get to her, I meet her shy daughter and have fun embarrassing her by removing all the clothes Nintendo will allow. Now back to Impa. Important plot points ensue. I’m not spoiling much to say I’m tasked with reviving four beast automations. I leave and find that it’s storming, but there’s an inn, so I sleep for the night and recover my hearts. I’m rested and well-armed and armored, but broke.
Rather than jump back on the quest rail, I follow the road away from my objective. I can resummon Twihard but not my horse. He kills a bird and eats the meat it drops, healing himself, something I had read wasn’t possible. God boy! WHO’S A GOOD BOY? YES, YOU ARE! I try to mount a wild horse, but it bucks and kicks me right in the face. Only a quarter heart damage. I guess the new duds work.
I try to mount a wild horse, but it bucks and kicks me right in the face. Only a quarter heart damage. I guess the new duds work.
I order Twihard to stay, and I sneak up on a wild horse and mount it. The horse is not happy, but he adjusts. I’m not happy either, as he only has three spur-boosts to my other horse’s four, but we both settle. I come to a cliff where I can see several shrines I could probably glide to, but there’s a guardian between us, and the village didn’t give me a teleport beacon, so I decide to turn back to the town.
I do a few errands for the townsfolk and get rupees and food, and then discover Ta’loh Naeg Shrine up a hill just out of sight. Things get interesting. In here, I’m taught the Side Hop, and given a small guardian to fight, along with some spiffy new weapons to fight him with. For my victory, I get his glowing energy sword, an opal, and another Spirit Orb from the monk.
Exiting the shrine, the nearby mountain figuratively begs me to climb it. For listening, I’m rewarded with lots of shiny plants for crafting, and views of other glowing things in the near distance I’m want to investigate. One is a bunch of blowing mushrooms around what seems to be a large cactus. I inspect the cactus, and a deep voice claiming to be the Great Fairy Cotera calls to me, begging me for 100 rupees. I pay up, and sure enough, the plant opens to become a spring with a giant fairy lady! Yay charity! She offers to enhance my clothing with the Bokoblin horns. Of course, I just sold off most of them… With just enough horns left for one upgrade, I naturally tell the pretty fairy to blow on my pants, and they go up one level, so to speak.
Since I can’t give any more horns to the fairy (giggity), I teleport back to the shrine and climb the mountain again. Can I reach that distant red crater thing with the paraglider? Sure can. Seems to be a slot for a like colored orb, like the one I saw in the village or the one in a shrine earlier… Stamp it on the map, and then back on the quest rail.
Twihard at my side and riding my Smash Link Amiibo Horse once again, I’m able to gallop through the landscape, passing people and monster alike. I stop to examine some ruined guardians and loot them for ancient parts. A monster shoots a rock at me and misses, and Twihard kills it before I can even find it. I like this dog. There must have been a battle here long ago. I see dozens of ruined guardians, unnaturally worn landscapes, and a damaged wall. I could spend all day looting, but I’d rather keep moving. I pass through the open gate and the name Fort Hateno is splashed. A traveler named Garill is inside to greet me and hints at the tragedy, in case I didn’t figure it out on my own and assumed the guardians and wall were some kind of abstract art project.
I find another, larger than usual Bokoblin camp, and this time I disregard strategy and charge right in, feeling like the Terminator.
I find another, larger than usual Bokoblin camp, and this time I disregard strategy and charge right in, feeling like the Terminator. I take a hit, but it does negligible damage, and Twi and I clear the camp for an opal. Continuing on up the mountain, I come to an abrupt stop, spotting off-color cracked rocks. Some things never change. Bomb them for amber.
Something in the mushrooms?
I pass some more bad guys and stop to inspect a shack, find some arrows, then realize I’ve come to a bit of a dead end. There’s still a short hill to climb, though. I go on horseback, but part way up my horse slows, the lighting changes, and then some dull, ominous music starts to play. There’s a big door I can move with my magnet and OH MY GOD THE CLOUDS ARE ALL RED AND GOING FAST. Zelda’s voice warns me monsters are going to spawn under the blood moon. Then, everything goes back to normal. That was random… and the door was only hiding a Korok.
It would seem despite my best efforts, I cannot proceed on horseback. I do some rock climbing and ambush more Bokoblins. Twihard charges in and distracts them, I come up from behind and backstab. We’ve got good teamwork going. A very big enemy slowly advances on us, taking his time, and leaving me time to set up a bomb trap to set him off balance and we pick him apart. Come to find he was a true Moblin.
Hateno Tower. Slightly out of the way for my objective. It’s like the other towers but brambles are wrapped around it, making a maze. Twihard gives a pathetic whine as I begin traversing the maze without him, much more of an inconvenience than a challenge. Once at the top I get the area map and a new beacon. Also, thanks to the view, I spot a village in the distance and near my goal. Looking between the map and the overworld, it’s hard to gauge the distance. I go for a long, long glide and have to drop sooner than later before my stamina depletes and I crater to death. It’s lucky I did, a Bokoblin had captured a lady traveler named Nat. Not so much as a thank you for throwing a pitchfork in the Bokoblin’s face and rescuing her, just some talk about gathering truffles and she runs off.
Hateno village, more of the same with a general store, inn, and shrine. A kid by the gate asks if I want to see what he found, and I indulge him. He takes me to a creepy statue that starts brooding to me about being trapped by the goddess Hylia. IT STOLE MY HEART TANK! I talk to it again, and it gives it back and offers to provide a service to me in buying my spirit orb upgrades for 100 rupees and selling them back for 120. Oh…kay? I think this is some kind of Japanese folklore thing. Doesn’t matter. I have a hard time seeing this as useful, but the game is still new to me, even some ten hours in. Let’s keep poking around the town. Someone will dye my clothes white so I can look like a stock Assassin’s Creed character, or green to look like a Zelda character. Or pink to look like Little Mac in his warmup sweats… Oh, wait, his business is reliant on me giving him the dyes to use on me. Because video games!
I load up on side quests and find an odd statue of some sort with a blue flame. Guess I should take my torch and use it to light all these unlit lanterns around town. Before I can finish, it starts to rain and my torch is extinguished. I think someone is trying to tell me I’ve been playing for too long, but to hell with that. Let’s go to the town shrine. Myahm Agana Shrine, ohhh, it’s one of those marble maze board games! I’m pretty good at these! Only with this one, there’s a part where the ball has to drop down to a platform once it reaches the end of the maze, and I can’t get it to line up because the exit chute is really short. Like, not even close. I can even cheat a little by turning the maze 90 degrees counterclockwise and having a new ball fall right at the end, but I can only get it to bounce off the end of the ledge. Well, there’s a treasure chest inside the maze. Clearly, I’m supposed to go there. I take a nice bow from the maze, but now I’m stranded and I cannot lift the orb because it’s too big… Magnesis doesn’t help. Well, right when I’m ready to throw in the towel, I go around to an opening in the maze, barely glide back to safety, and I’m finally able to fling the ball out to the goal and open the door to the end.
Going to keep me after class?
Ohh, good, the rain outside stopped and the blue lanterns are still lit. The kids running around are amused by the flame, too. The adults, and some of the kids say it reminds them of the research lab. My OCD quest to light all the torches leads me up the hill to said lab, where I light a final strange device and activate a teleport beacon! There’s also a giant outdoor telescope that I’m surprised isn’t pointed at the hot girl who runs the inn. Inside I meet the director of the research lab, a little girl named Purah (because Japan!), who calls me Linky. Oh no. Of course she’s like that because of an experiment gone wrong, because Japan. Looks like this was the main quest, anyway. I wasn’t even paying attention to it. She adds a camera to my slate. Now I can stop taking pictures of my television with my phone, right in time for me to almost be done with my articles! She thinks Zelda might have taken pictures with this camera. I sure hope Apple isn’t behind their secure storage.
Purah tells me whatever I do, don’t go reading her journal…so off I go to read her journal. She was 120 and her anti-aging runes worked a little too well. I’m not sure if that explains her demeanor, but I guess she’s just having fun with it. I take her main quest and teleport back to Impa for information. We’ve unlocked twelve photos on my slate and I’m tasked with visiting the location of at least one of them. None of them look familiar. Guess I’m just going to explore.
The old Battle Axe+
The problem with making non-linear games is sometimes it’s easy to wander somewhere out of your league. From the laboratory, I see a shrine in the distance on a hilltop. Some paragliding, fighting, and avoiding a menacing mob of Bokoblins, I arrive at Muwo Jeem Shrine. ‘A Modest Test of Strength.’ In a room full of obviously destructible pillars, I encounter a guardian wielding an energy ax, energy shield, and shooting laser beams comes up from the floor. One hit from it is enough to kill me! I’m out of my league but determined to keep fighting, so I dip into my fine foods reserves. Using patience, my best foods to heal and buff my defense, most of my melee weapons, all of my trick arrows, and a lot of pattern recognition, I kill him on the fifth try and take the Ancient Battle Axe+ (and parts). Their stats are twice as strong as anything I found before. He also has an ancient core that looks like it should fit inside one of those odd red slots in the overworld. Great bow in the next room too, but only one spirit orb. Maybe I should go find an idol to worship and buff my health or stamina. Maybe I should have done that first.
I know enough about this game that I shouldn’t be seeing weapons with a ‘+’ in their name when I’m on four out of 30 heart tanks, but thanks to some resilience, sacrifice, and a willingness to hit the reload button, I’ve got some advanced gear to guide me as I search for those landscapes and my lost memories.
This game is truly amazing. It is frustrating and satisfying. It is open, yet linear. You can be strong and still face real threats at any moment. When you think you’ve settled in, a twist knocks you off your feet. I feel like I could play it for longer than I’ve logged in any Zelda game before it, and as long as many MMOs.
I feel like I could play it for longer than I’ve logged in any Zelda game before it, and as long as many MMOs.
It’s a pity it has minor issues that keep it from true perfection, but it is leaps and bounds above other ‘open world’ games I’ve played before in terms of polish, detail, character abilities, and an overall lack of major bugs. Thanks for reading, now seriously, drop what you’re doing and play this game.
- Miyazaki-esque art design
- Unpresidented level of polish for an open world game
- Often deafening lack of music
- No real gamepad functionality while playing on TV
- Occational drop in frame rate or draw distance