It’s been a, ahem, rather wild month, but I’ve finally completed Breath of the Wild. I feel like a strange emptiness has suddenly opened up in my life after all the many hours I have devoted to this game, but at the same time, I’m also relieved because, honestly, I’m a bit burned out at this point. No more staying up late at night because of my obsessive need to explore every inch of the most massive version of Hyrule yet. Seriously…I need to start sleeping again. I’m so tired. While this post shall recount my final experiences with the game, it is not the last post I will be writing on the subject. More on that later. And as always, beware of spoilers, though I will try to reveal no more than I need to.
My tale of camping and heroism picks up at the desert. I had just scaled the southwestern-most mountain range of Hyrule, which I believe are dubbed the Gerudo Highlands, with the hopes of investigating strange markings high up on the cliff face. And by investigate, I mean: look at it, shrug, mark it on the map, then leave. After exploring these mountains a while longer (did you know Bokoblins can ride bears?), I found myself looking down at the magnificent Gerudo Desert, the final area I had yet to explore. Seeing a shrine in the distance, I began paragliding down, only for all visibility to be cut off as I entered a sandstorm. Having no idea how much longer it would be before Link landed on solid ground again and not wanting to run out of stamina, I started dropping short distances to lose altitude, only to catch myself at the last second when the ground suddenly appeared right below me.
My time in the desert was spent largely exploring at night when the air was cooler, plus I also managed to activate the final tower and complete my map. It wasn’t much later that I discovered a strange passage winding its way into the mountains, the walls sculpted by the wind in a spectacular fashion. As I delved deeper and deeper, I began seeing an increasing amount of frog-like statues, which were all facing me in an unfriendly sort of manner, as if they were placed there to intimidate any unwelcome travelers. It was then that I realized this must lead to the hideout of the Yiga Clan, my suspicions confirmed when a few of them appeared out of thin air. Unable to enter their base quite yet, however, I decided to expend my efforts trying to get into the all-female city of the Gerudo. Getting in is actually not all that difficult. You just need to ask yourself: what would Cloud Strife do in a situation like this?
Apparently I was not allowed to enter the Yiga Clan until I had started the main quest with the Gerudo, and I learned once and for all why the Yiga always drop bananas. Because they like them. End of story. And perhaps they appreciate the nutritious value of potassium. This particular part of the game is all about being stealthy and ensuring that you aren’t caught by any of the guards, which kind of reminded me of sneaking around Hyrule Castle in Ocarina of Time and the Deku Palace in Majora’s Mask. And the Forsaken Fortress in Wind Waker. I mean, there’s nothing all that unique in the idea of avoiding guards. I’m just noticing that it’s a common practice in Zelda games. Except this time, you get to distract guards with bananas, which is rather amusing.
But I don’t want to get too caught up in the details. Suffice it to say, I completed all the necessary objectives and managed to reach the massive mechanical camel, Naboris. While the boss here was pretty brutal due to his insane speed, I was pleased to discover that not all boss fights in this game can be won through excessive bomb-throwing (as was the case for every Hinox I encountered and the boss of Ruta). From there, I went on to complete Medoh above Rito Village and Rudania in Death Mountain. The quest to reach Rudania calls for special attention, as this is the most unique of the main quests, as it requires you to work with a Goron whose name I totally forgot in order to scale the mountain and avoid flying Guardians, all for the purposes of launching said Goron at the Divine Beast like a cannonball.
From there, I feel this is a good time to summarize the four Divine Beast main quests of the game. As I mentioned in the past, I think these Divine Beast dungeons are super clever thanks to your ability to control one aspect of the creature in order to solve puzzles, such as Ruta’s trunk or the angle at which Medoh is tilted. Nevertheless, having completed all four, I remain rather disappointed by how short they were. Likewise, the objectives you must complete in order to reach each Divine Beast are not only pretty easy, but repetitive, as well. On the most part, it involves finding a certain character and talking to them, then you are tasked with striking four sections on the Divine Beast, like Naboris’ feet or Ruta’s shoulders (wait, do elephants have four shoulders?). That’s why Rudania was the most unique for me, as subduing the Divine Beast didn’t follow the same pattern as all those that came before. I just hope that in future Zelda games, a bit more attention is given to the main quests, the dungeons in particular. I would love to see dungeons with similar mechanics in future games. I’d simply like them to be longer.
Fortunately, these aspects of the game are less of an issue than they might have been in other games of the franchise because this game’s focus is clearly on exploring the massive, open word, and that is exactly how I devoted the rest of my time. With my entire map complete, I could freely roam the entirety of Hyrule, from the east coast to the mountains on the west that flat-out tell me I can proceed no further if I try to climb them. From here, things began to wind down pretty quickly, but I did have some final adventures before the end came.
Remember That Time When…: With the game nearing its inevitable conclusion, I decided now was as good a time as any to find the rest of Link’s memories. Most were not too bad, as I could usually spot enough clues in the photo to find the location without an undue amount of trouble. I worked diligently at this until two remained. One shows a bridge leading to some kind of large castle-like structure and the other was merely a photo of a random spot in the woods. I could tell that the former would be found outside Hyrule Castle, so I went about infiltrating the Guardian-infested fortress of terror with all due haste! It wasn’t too tough getting in, as the castle isn’t too heavily guarded on its west side. Of course, once I reached the castle itself, a lot of running and screaming ensued as I was targeted by one Guardian after another. What I had originally believed would be a quick affair of locating a bridge and retrieving my memory turned into at least an hour of scouring the castle grounds until I was finally victorious.
The next memory was even more baffling, if not a far more peaceful affair. This one, as I mentioned before, had clearly been taken in a forest. And as you might imagine, most forests look roughly the same. All I had to go on was this: it was just a typical forest (no pine trees, palm trees, or the like) with short grass, ferns, and an apple tree, and I should be able to see open land just beyond the trees. And so I set out on my most daring quest yet…teleporting from one forest to another…in search of the most mundane of details. This forest looks similar, but no ferns. This forest has long grass. These trees are too fat. I’m too deep into this forest. It was simply maddening, but after a great deal of searching, I finally found my match. Making for Kakariko Village for what I believed would be a truly magnificent reward after all my hard work, Impa simply gave me one final memory to find. Luckily, this one was pretty easy, but I was still hoping for something more. Some rupees would be nice. Or a cool sword. I don’t know. I’ll even take a plain crepe at this point. Just give me something.
The Horse to End All Horses: I had spoken before about this game’s ability to surprise me time and time again. Skeletal horses. Horses that are supposed to be really big, but aren’t. The terrifying horse god. Um…I’m sure there are some surprises that aren’t horse-related. But this isn’t one of them. Even so, this might be the single most jaw-dropping thing I’ve seen during my many, many hours playing this game. As I was seeking out Link’s memories one night, on a grassy field to the west of the castle, I looked off in the distance and saw a glowing green light atop a mountain. My first thought was the aurora borealis, but that is only seen in the snowy Hebra mountains. My second guess was that this phenomenon was merely the moon peeking up over the mountaintop. No, this mysterious light was clearly not the moon, either.
Realizing this was a truly unique situation, I began running towards the glowing light, all the while wondering if it might be a particularly special shooting star or something else equally as mysterious from the heavens. A very real part of me expecting aliens (how badly I wanted to see the aliens from Majora’s Mask appear in another Zelda game), I continued towards it, finally scaling the awaiting mountain as quickly as I could. As I get nearer, I spot a Blupee, which runs off at the first sight of me. But I cared naught for this Blupee, rare though they may be, as I knew something far more exciting waited up ahead.
I come up the side of the hill and am stopped in my tracks by the sight of a whole bunch of glowing creatures surrounding a clear, shallow pond beneath the boughs of a cherry blossom tree. A whole bunch of Blupees were gathered here, that much was clear, but it was only once I had gotten a chance to further examine my situation that I spotted something in the middle of the group that was no Blupee. Why, it appeared to be a glowing blue horse whose head was adorned with a pair of laurel leaves (not horns, as was my first inclination). My camera said I had found the fabled Lord of the Mountain, otherwise known as Satori, a possible tribute to the great Satoru Iwata.
Thrilled to have found such an amazing, celestial creature, I snuck closer and jumped upon its back, only to run out of stamina and get knocked to the ground. It was not until my second visit to this tranquil pond that I managed to ride the Lord of the Mountain, as this time I had come prepared with a whole bunch of food for restoring my stamina. My first task was taking the creature to a stable to be registered, but lo and behold, our meeting was meant only to be a brief one. The man at the stable said we’d be cursed if we kept the Lord of the Mountain, so I was forced to let it go after I had gotten my fill of riding it across the vast plains of Hyrule. It was truly a magnificent experience indeed.
The Final Stretch: The time eventually came to return to Hyrule Castle and defeat Calamity Ganon once and for all. As I explored the castle, I had the pleasure of obtaining the Hylian Shield from a Stalnox, who threw its ribs and one arm at me before the battle was up. Possibly its lower jaw, as well, but I forget. (I also struggled long and hard to defeat the Lynels in the two gatehouses. Only to get…nothing worthwhile. Hmm…) Long story short, I reached the final boss with 26 hearts and the Master Sword (yes, I had obtained the Master Sword at some point in my quest, too…) and the Hylian Shield equipped. I won’t go into much detail from here on out because I don’t want to spoil anything for those who have yet to complete the game.
What I will say is, though the Divine Beast main quests are optional, they are totally worth completing. Not only are the Champions’ powers quite handy during this final battle, but the Divine Beasts themselves play a role in making the fight just a bit easier. It was especially satisfying because in most games, main quests must be completed in order to proceed further into the game. You get no reward other than simple progression. This time around, since everything in the game is technically optional, you get a big pay-off for restoring the Divine Beasts that is immediately apparent when the battle begins.
Lastly, after saving the Master Sword for this very moment (not to mention spending the rest of the game fighting with less-than-iconic weapons), it was all the more satisfying getting to finally use it to defeat the hideous creature who had brought such destruction to Hyrule. Rarely before have I truly relished dealing damage to a final boss. But this time, after all Link had gone through to get to this point, it was personal. Prepare to face a Duck’s wrath, Ganon.
This game was a truly unforgettable experience and well worth the wait. Frankly, I’m exhausted and happy to be done, even as I greatly miss the game now that all those countless hours have come to an end. After defeating Calamity Ganon, I managed to locate 115/120 shrines and 240 Korok. (Impressed? Well, I was, until I learned that there are 900 Korok total. It’s almost as if I haven’t been trying at all.) I will admit that I cheated to find the remaining five shrines, as I really wanted the reward that came at the end. Link’s classic green tunic and hat! And some shorts. I don’t remember Link ever wearing shorts, but it matters not. I’m just so happy to see Link adorned once more in the traditional clothes we have all become accustomed to. Forget the defeat of Ganon. Now that Link is wearing his pointy green hat again, peace can finally be restored to the world.
While my many varied experiences have now been recounted, there are still certain aspects of the game I have yet to touch upon, which shall be covered in an upcoming review. For now, please share your own experiences in the comments below, dear readers. I’d love to hear what you and Link have been up to.
Duck, Weary Adventurer
Image from Flickr User: Jeux Video