I’m not sure if you noticed this, but Andre’s Zelda: Breath of the Wild Analysis is long. Like really long. So long that it’s probably hard for some of you to even sit down and watch it all in one sitting! But we’re here to help by making it all just a bit more manageable and breaking up the analysis into multiple parts. In this except, we look at riding horses, climbing, cooking, combat, the runes, and more! Take it away Andre. Okay, so by now, it should be pretty clear that Breath of the WIld isn’t your typical Zelda game–even the game’s name strays from convention. Instead of being named after a major item or character, it instead evokes an experience: one that’s rooted in nature and survival.
Even the game’s logo represents this idea, having a simpler, more rustic appearance, with flat colors and is visibly aged, with imperfections throughout. Even the Master Sword–which has historically been portrayed as flawless–is rusted and worn down–clearly symbolic of the ruined state of the world. And at the end of the trailer, we can see a flower sprout from the logo–perhaps a hint as to how the world’s slowly being reclaimed by nature. And the entire game seems to be built around this “wild” idea, featuring a giant world that Link can explore almost entirely seamlessly.
And Nintendo really seems to be taking that that “seamless” angle to heart, such as how when Link exits the Shrine where he awakens for the first time, the game transitions from gameplay to a cutscene and back again, without any hard cuts. It’s a subtle effect, but one that further lends to the immersion that the developers are aiming for–a world–and experience–without seams or boundaries. Now that cutscene shows Link looking out upon a vast landscape–which as Nintendo themselves pointed out during the Treehouse stream, is reminiscent of this artwork for the original Legend of Zelda, including how the pair of mountains here are the same shape as those in the original artwork–neat! And that’s clearly by design as this world is meant to evoke the feelings similar to those people experienced when playing the original Legend of Zelda for the first time, which is to say throwing you right into the world with little direction, where exploring and figuring things out for yourself is paramount And that’s pretty much the case here too…mostly.
Because although you are entirely free to explore and tackle things in most any order, the game actually does provide some light guidance. In fact, our analysis up to this point has mostly been built around that exact series of events. So to recap: Link wakes up, follow directions to the tower, where after raising it, the Old Man will point you toward the first of four Shrines–and after you visit all 4, he promises to give you that Paraglider, which then allows you to escape the confines of the Plateau and explore the rest of the world, at which point the game presumably truly opens up. And as part of this wild, open-ended adventure is the fact that Link has more options than ever before when it comes to getting around. Of course, he can run, swim, and jump at will for the first time in a 3D Zelda game, climb just about anything, ride a horse, ride a raft, go shield-surfing, glide with the Paraglider, and even quick-travel to any Shrine or Tower he’s visited before.
Yep that’s a lot of options–and while most of them are self-explanatory–I mean, do you really need me to explain jumping? A few of them do warrant a closer look. Such as riding a horse…or more specifically, how you acquire a horse–in that Link may have to actually work for it this time around, instead of just being given one like in past Zelda games. Because in the trailer, we can Link carefully sneak up on a wild horse to avoid spooking it before hopping on and going for a ride. And it seems Link will have his pick of the litter, as there are at least three horses to be found here–which is a neat detail in and of itself, because wild horses tend to travel only as packs in real-life, and that seems to be the case in Breath of the Wild too. Because between this scene and the footage from the 2014 Game Awards, every wild horse we’ve seen so far has been part of a pack–which means sneaking up one probably isn’t going to be easy, as alarming any of them will likely alert the others too–in fact, we can see that demonstrated here as soon as Link mounts the horse, because when it rears back, it spooks another horse just ahead.
And in another realistic detail, the horses don’t all look the same. The horse Link mounts is dark with black hair, while the one in front is lighter with white hair. And yet a third distinct horse can be seen in in the Guardian scene from Treehouse Live–this one being brown with a dark colored-snout, and a distinctive white patch that runs down the middle of its face. And as it turns out, this is the exact same horse we’ve seen in every one of the game’s trailers–including the latest from E3, where we see it crossing this bridge. Yep, even though this scene comes immediately after the one where Link acquires the horse–they’re not the same horse. How do we know? Because look at its legs–this one has the same colored hair as the rest of the body, while this one has white–which matches the Treehouse footage as well as the past trailers.
Furthermore, the horse here is also equipped with gear–we can see saddlebags and a tail bag–which also matches up with its appearance in all the other footage…so taken altogether, is there something special about this horse in particular, as opposed to the others? Or is it just a coincidence that it’s the only one Nintendo’s has shown as being fully decked out with gear? It’s impossible to say–but we can’t help but wonder if this might actually be Link’s main horse–with the wild ones only serving as temporary rides until he acquires the permanent one. In fact, could this horse perhaps be Epona? Sure, it may not have Epona’s white hair, but it does share a similar distinctive similar mark on its face. And then there’s the fact that Nintendo referred to this same horse as Epona in the Game Awards footage, although since then, they’ve been a lot more coy on the matter. But regardless of whether it’s Epona or not, Nintendo did confirm in a video with Katie Wilson that you will be able to name the horse–which also doesn’t exclude the possibility of it being Epona, as you could change her name in Twilight Princess as well.
Regardless of whether that specific horse is Link’s main one or not, the fact that its outfitted with gear suggests there is indeed some way to obtain a “main horse,” perhaps by taming one of the wild ones you find? After all, it would kind of suck if a wild horse took off with all your gear, right? On top of that, could that gear serve an actual purpose beyond just looking cool? After all, we already know Link carry can carry a lot by himself, but could the horse’s bags expand Link’s inventory even further? As for for how riding itself works–well, it seems pretty similar to past games, in that you’re able to temporarily switch from a standard gallop into a full-out run, as we can see Link crouch down at various points and speed-lines appear around him. Similarly, Link can still aim his bow and arrow while on horseback independent of the horse’s movement–but check this out–we can see the horse turning slightly even while Link’s aiming, suggesting he can still control the horse’s with the control stick while aiming with the motion control.
We then see Link jump off the horse, before briefly using his glider, then pulling out the bow and arrow again to aim in slow motion. Now we saw something similar back in the Game Awards footage, with Link dismounting then aiming in slow-motion, suggesting this effect takes places as soon as you disengage from either the horse or the paraglider while pulling out your bow. In fact, we can see a Nintendo rep making expert use of this technique in this scene, by jumping off a cliff, pulling out the glider for just a fraction of a second before putting it away and immediately pulling out the bow, activating the slow-motion feature. And we can also see here that the amount of time is limited by the Stamina gauge. But let’s get back to the horse, that old Game Awards footage might reveal a couple of features that weren’t touched on during E3, such as how we know Link will be able to swing his sword while riding too.
And the developers also commented back then that the horse will actually be able to steer itself to some degree in order to automatically avoid hazards, like trees. Okay I think that covers it pretty well for the horse! So let’s move on to another major method in which Link will be getting around: climbing. Or more specifically, how Link can now pretty much climb anything, whether it’s a building, tower, or mountain.
And being such a major feature, the game elegantly teaches you at the very start, as the Shrine of Resurrection features a short wall that Link has to climb before he can escape. And climbing really is a game-changer–in that almost nothing is off-limits. Consider this: most games use mountains, buildings, and other structures as obstacles to form paths and direct your movement, but in this case, they can actually aid them, since Link can go right over or around them. Which makes the world here even more expansive than most “open world” games–and that’s nuts. Now that doesn’t mean the sky’s the limit, as there are some limitations in place to prevent Link from getting around too easily–which is why the stamina meter introduced in Skyward Sword is back, which only allows Link to climb, and perform other special actions, like swimming, for as long as it holds out. And this can turn climbing into a bit of a puzzle all itself, as you may have to chart your path before starting a major climb to ensure you can find places to rest and regain your energy along the way.
Alternatively, you can also eat certain foods that you’ve found or cooked to regain energy, such as the Stella Shroom. But even still, given Link’s stamina limitations and inventory-size, it seems some areas may be too tall for Link to climb–at least initially–forcing him to find another way around. And not only is climbing useful for getting around, but finding secrets too, such as climbing a random column or clambering along a mountain wall down to a hidden ledge for some chests. Oh and in a neat touch, did you notice how little bits of the mountain break off while Link’s climbing, and bounces realistically as they fall? Ultimately, climbing might partly be why Nintendo has taken to referring to the game as “open air” instead of the usual “open world”–in that Link isn’t just confined to the ground, especially once he obtains the paraglider from the Old Man. And not only is this baby Link’s ticket off the Plateau, but it’ll allow him to reach far off areas much faster than he could ordinarily.
Like in this scene where he effortlessly glides through a valley. Of course, being a glider, it doesn’t so much fly, as it does fall…with style. However, there is a way to gain some lift–namely by catching upward drafts created by fires,, as demonstrated here in the Guardian battle. And according to Nintendo, the bigger the fire, the bigger the lift! But what goes up must come down, and that might be why Nintendo gave Link a new ability where he can ride his shield like a snowboard–and he doesn’t even have to be on snow to use it! Heck, he can even combine it with the parasail for some truly stylish gliding. Now there’s a lot more to Breath of the Wild besides just getting around–after all, the journey’s half the adventure, right? And seeing as this game’s all about the “wild” side, it’s perhaps fitting that Link will have to forage for all kinds of things in order to survive, including food, materials, weapons, among other items.
And we can’t overstae how big of a focus this is, as Link will find all kinds of things all over the place. Now going off the inventory screen, we can see the game categorizes collectible into 7 different types. And we can even see how many of each type Link can hold going by the amount of slots on the inventory screen. And those 7 differents categories are: Weapons, of which Link can hold 8 different types Bows & Arrows, which which he can hold 6 Different types Shields of which which he can hold 4 Different types Armor and Materials of which which he can hold 20 Different types each Food of which which he can hold 20 Different types And finally Important Items, of which he can also hold 20 Taken altogether, Link can hold 98 different types of items at a time. And not only that, he can actually hold onto multiples of any single item without eating up additional slots.
So yeah, that’s quite a few things–and that’s for a good reason–he needs all thing things he can get! Because with the exception of Important Items and possibly Armor, everything else isn’t exactly built to last. Food and materials, for instance, are generally one-use only–whereas weapons, bows, and shields can be used multiple times, but degrade with use–eventually breaking apart in a spectacular fashion. Interestingly, arrows are a bit unique in that they’re technically one-use, if you can find where it landed, you can pick it up to reuse again–yep, Link knows how to recycle. So all of this ties back into the game’s “wild” nature, where Link’s in a constant state of survival, and needs to be on the lookout for new things to replace the stuff he’s currently using. Especially because, for the first time ever, Link won’t find hearts to refill his health out in the environment. Instead, he can only regain health by consuming food. But luckily, he has quite a few options–at least in the plateau where food can be found everywhere–whether it’s a mushroom growing on a cave wall, or an Apple you steal from the old man– or even a heart-shaped Radish you find growing along a wall–okay, I guess you can find hearts out in the wild.
I’ll spare you listing them all, because there’s a ton–and that’s just in the Plateau! We can only imagine what other delectables else might lie in the great beyond. But Link isn’t just a forager–he’s a hunter too. And it seems all of the wildlife is fair game for Link’s stomach, such as boars, deer, or birds which instantly turns into a pile of collectible meat when killed–it’s convenient and mess free! Now while eating raw meat generally isn’t a great idea in real-life, Link has no such hang-ups.
However, if you do take the time to cook it, by dropping it onto a fire and letting it simmer, it’ll actually increase the meat’s restorative properties. And get this–Nintendo even explained that if you kill an enemy with fire, the meat will automatically be cooked. Now that’s efficient! But cooking can do far more than just heat meat, because Link can use a pot to mix and match up to 5 different ingredients to create dishes with enhanced properties. For example, if you cook a Steak with 3 Hearty Truffles, you’ll get the Hearty Meat & Mushroom Skewer, which not only fully restores Link’s health, but also temporarily increases Link’s maximum heart-count by 3, as represented here in yellow. Cooking really opens up a range of possibilities, allowing you to even mix in things that otherwise have no regenerative benefits on their own. For instance, cooking a Bokoblin Horn with a Restless Cricket–both of which are worthless by themselves–will yield an Energizing Elixir which restores your stamina. Another example is the Spuicy Sautéed Peppers, created by mixing together 5 Spicey Peppers. Individually, they only restore a half-heart, but when combined, it restores 5 hearts, or double what they would have otherwise, plus makes Link cold-resistant for 10 minutes.
Buuut not everything goes well together, which can result in a couple in couple of less than desirable dishes. One potential result is the Failed Experiment, which only restores a quarter heart of health, and another is the Dubious Food, which the game described as being too gross to even look at–which is probably why even the picture is censored. But hey, it’ll still restore a single heart. Now in order to go hunting, it might help if Link had some kind of weapon, right? And thankfully, these too are in abundance in the Plateau, with at least 15 different types to find that range from Tree Branches, to a farmer’s Pitchfork, to Clubs, and even…Skeleton arms? Each weapon has a numerical rating denoting its attack Power, and whenever you collect one, it shows how it compares to your currently selected weapon. But not only can the weapon’s strength differ, but also its range, use, and durability. Heck, even Link’s animations will change, such as when swinging a heavy ax which takes a lot more effort.
Otherwise, weapons, such as swords, work pretty similar to past games, except there are a couple of new abilities. Such as how Link can now throw them his weapon for a long-range attack–and this will inflict double the damage as usual. But then again, it also leaves you unarmed–so it’s generally best to use this just before a weapon breaks as a final attack. Another new ability is that Link can counterattack in slow-motion if he performs a well-timed dodge, which should come in useful Now even though almost all of the Weapons are for close-range attacks, there is at least one exception, being the Fire Rod, which shoots out bouncing balls of fire, igniting anything they touch. Now the Fire Rod is nothing new for Zelda, but historically, it’s been a major item found in dungeons, whereas here, it’s a throwaway item found inside a typical chest–which makes sense, since it is breakable. In fact, this item in so fragile, that it’ll break upon impact with anything–meaning it’s exclusively for long-range use. And like the other weapons, you can charge this one up too for a spin–attack, although in this case, it’ll shoot out 5 fireballs at once, which as you can see, is a pretty fast way to start a massive wildfire.
Now since the Fire Rod returns from past games, we wouldn’t be surprised if some other Zelda rods back too–or at the least, the Ice Rod, since that’s another element already represented in this game with Ice arrows, and Ice-based enemies.. Now as we mentioned before, the game actually treats Bows separately from Weapons–despite also being a weapon. And they too are assigned a strength which not only affects the Bow’s power, but also its range. Yep, range is now a factor, as arrows can now fall short of your target. Now not only do you have the choice of bows, but arrows too. And we know of four that you can find in the Plateau, including normal arrows, ice arrows which can freeze enemies in place, fire arrows–which are especially effective against cold-enemies, and bomb arrows.
And though it may not be in the Plateau, we know there’s a 5th arrow type, being the energy-based one we discussed earlier. And speaking of arrows, the amount of arrows in his quiver visibly drops as he starts to run out, which is a neat detail Next, we have armor. Of course, Link comes equipped with a Birthday Suit by default, but it won’t do much to protect him against the enemies…or even the elements. Hell, he can barely even open chests naked–as he’ll quickly discover how painful it can be to kick one open without shoes. Now armor comes in two forms: Shirts and Pants, which includes shoes, and Link can mix and match different sets together. And like weapons, each item comes with its own Strength rating that makes Link increasingly resistant to taking damage. But some clothing comes with other perks too. In the case of the Quilted Shirt, it also makes Link more resistant to the cold. And then we have Shields–and like most everything else, they can be destroyed too–yes, even while using it as a snowboard…it’s almost like shields weren’t meant for riding or something.
Now there’s not too much to say about shields, except that if you block an attack right before it lands, it’ll result in a Perfect Guard, temporarily throwing the enemy off-balance Okay, so clearly there’s quite a lot of things to collect, but you may have noticed one Zelda staple that seems to be missing besides hearts…Rupees. I mean, during Nintendo’s nearly 10-hour long demonstration, not even a single one appeared.
What is this madness?! Is Hyrule experiencing a own financial crisis?! BUT despite this, Rupees will actually appear in the game. After all, there is a counter on the inventory screen, plus some materials, like the Sapphire, even state in their description that they can be Sold for a High Price. Which also essentially confirms that Merchants will appear in the game–after all, you’ll need someone to sell to. But as it turns out, there actually is at least one Rupee to be found in the E3 demo! If you search by this Guardian just outside the Temple of Time, check out what shows up: A Purple Rupee worth 50 smackers. So it seems you still will be able to find money lying around–it’ll just be a looot rarer than before. Which is a little more realistic, considering lawnkeepers could live like kings in past Zelda games.
So clearly there’s quite a few things for Link to find in the world–and as with most Zelda games, Link can bring up the inventory screen to choose which ones he wants to equip. But the game also features a quick-select option that allows to easily equip Shields, Swords, and Runes by holding Left, Right, or Up respectively on the D-pad while using the Right-Control stick to scroll through them. But what about bows and arrows? Actually, you can quick-select those too–you just have to pull out your bow first to change the Quick Select options to those instead–and putting it away will change them back And speaking of which, some people have theorized this quick-select option might hint at one of the NX’s rumored features, because of this patent discovered last year, which revealed Nintendo’s possible plans for scrollwheel Shoulder Buttons.
So instead of holding using the D-Pad and Control Sticks, you would just have to spin the wheel to choose your Sword or Shield, for example. So we’ve covered all the different types of things Link can find…except for one. Runes. As we’ve already mentioned, there are four of them in the E3 demo, one for each of the Shrines. And they are: Stasis, Magnesis, Cryonis, and Remote Bomb. So let’s break these down real quick. And let’s start with Magnesis which gives Link control of a giant magnet. Once activated, the game will highlight any metallic objects within range–even if’s underwater, which also allows you to quickly see the depth of the lake. And once you latch on to something, you can move the object around by tilting the Gamepad OR bring it closer or push it away by using the D-Pad–you can really put quite some distance on it! But since it can be tricky to gauge where exactly it is at those distances, there’s a Blue Marker directly beneath that shows exactly where the object will land once you let go.
And along those lines, Magnesis can be a powerful weapon too–not only can you use it to drop heavy objects right onto enemies, but you can even swing it into them too. Hell, you can even drop your weapon, pick it up with Magnesis, and then swing it several meters away from Link. How awesome is that?! Next up is the Stasis Rune, which allows you to freeze a selected object in place for a limited amount of time–you can even see chains appear as you do so, locking it in place. So if you want to stop a giant machine, just freeze one of the gears, allowing Link to safely cross over. But the catch is that you can only freeze a single object at a time–and even then, there’s a delay after the Stasis wears off before you can do it again, preventing you from freezing the same object in place over and over again.
But wait, there’s more! Because you can actually use this ability to move things too–which doesn’t seem to make much sense at first. But you see, while the object itself may be frozen, you can attack it to build up Kinetic energy that’ll be unleashed the moment that Stasis runs out. So the more you attack it the farther it’ll fly, as indicated by the arrow that appears which not only points in the direction the energy will be unleashed, but also signifies how far both by growing longer, while also turning red. Doing this, you can launch massive boulders around the world like they’re nothing.
Then we have the Remote Bomb Rune–which technically is two Runes. One’s round and will roll along the terrain, while the other’s a cube bomb and will tend to stay where you place it. But regardless of which one you use, you get to decide when it detonates with a tap of the L-Button. And once you have, you’ll have a brief wait while the meter refills before you can use it again. Which is a pretty big change from how bombs have worked before, which were inventory based, because now, you can’t run out of them! Finally, we have Cryonis. Man, Link’s Sheikah Slate must be pretty powerful if it can run Cryonis! Anyways, this one lets you create pillars of ice from any body of water. Yay? Okay, even though it might not sound that exciting, it actually can do some cool things. Now the most obvious use is that it can help Link reach otherwise inaccessible areas, which is especially useful in the Shrines where Link can’t climb the walls.
Or he can use them as stepping stones to cross over an ice-cold lake that can deal damage. But what’s even cooler is how you can use it for Physics-based puzzles, such as creating a Pillar to lift a closed gate, or tilting a platform on one side like a seesaw to create a ramp. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg–literally–when it comes to physics in Breath of the Wild…but we’ll have more on that in a sec. Now although we never see all 4 Runes collected at once in the E3 demo, we know they occupy 5 slots on the Rune screen–remember, the Remote Bombs takes up 2. But there are actually 6 slots on the Rune screen–not counting the amiibo one, meaning there’s room for one more. And if we assume all Runes are only found within Shrines, that means the final one has to be found in a Shrine outside of the Plateau, making it the odd one out. Weird, right? Of course, it’s also possible the 5th Rune isn’t attached to a Shrine at all, and instead has some other requirement.
Regardless, it’s also surprising that Link found what appears to be the majority of his powers so early into the game. So we also can’t help but wonder if there may be more to them–such as being able to upgrade them in some way? Maybe that’s what the Spirit Orbs are for. It would make sense if Link could eventually freeze objects for longer, or make bigger explosions. But we’re just just speculating. Alright, and that covers everything that we could find in that section of the analysis.
Of course, there’s more where that came from so be sure to check out the full analysis to see everything we could find about Breath of the Wild..
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