Sunday, March 5, 2017

Breath of the Wild Adventure Log, Entry 3

First Combat Trials

Looks like I'm already addicted to the game. After writing my previous journal, I couldn't go to sleep without playing at least a little while. All I wanted to do is some more sidequest stuff in Kakariko and Hateno Village, but I ended up chasing after shrines until 3AM. And with not much success I might add...

If you look towards the shore at Hateno Village, you can spot this Sheikah Shrine on a cliff in the far distance. And I thought to myself, "Let's just go there. Why not?". Well, I'll tell you, why not. For once, it's a lot farther away than you might think at first. But I really like the free climbing in this game and trekking through mountains, so I was game, even after it started to rain terribly. But it seems that's just a thing at Hateno Village. The Guardians probably decided not to attack this place during the Great Calamity, because the people there have it bad enough already.

Anyway, I made it through the set of cliffs with my goal in sight, but there was another skull cave with Bokoblins in them, where I was eager to raid it. However, I was greeted by a new type of Bokoblin, which one-hits me with my measly four hearts and which has a lot of health. So, after one day without incidents, I finally got my well deserved Game Over. I got too careless, maybe a little bit too cocky after gearing up in the villages. Well, no big deal, let's just try again and go around to finally reach my goal with a beautiful sight:


That's the Muwo Jeem Shrine and it offers a Combat Trial, where you go 1on1 with a small Guardian that uses sword, shield, lasers and other crazy stuff. And I didn't stand a chance. My weapons didn't do any damage, before they broke, and any attack from the thing was an instant kill.

Luckily opening the shrines already leaves a warp point, which means that this little side trip wasn't a complete waste of time. It's a good system. If you find a shrine, which you can't beat yet, you can at least teleport there quickly later in the game to try again.

But still, I couldn't just go to bed without some bigger success. So, I decided to head back to Faron Woods, where previously I only rode by on my way to the Lake Tower and the Bridge of Hylia. And right there at the crossroads there was Pumaag Nitae Shrine close by, which turned out to be another Combat Trial. What a coincidence!

It was pretty much the same minidungeon, only much, much easier. I could defeat the Guardian quickly. Only the end, where it starts to shoot triple laser blasts at you, gave me some trouble. But this had me worried somewhat, because I couldn't tell any visual difference between the two Combat Trials and their Guardians. It was the same thing with different stats. It's like, how difficulty in Hyrule Warriors works and that's not a good thing, because you never know, what you're getting into, until you actually confront your enemies.

I hope that this is only a thing with shrines, where you never know, what awaits you, until you try. But if I see a Blue Bokoblin, I should know, what awaits me. They might have different weapons and armor, but overall they should stay on the same level of health and damage, so I can correctly assess the situation from a distance. If suddenly these Blue Bokoblins turn out to be tanks, then the game is just messing with you. But so far I this system seems to hold, except for the two Combat Trials that I tried today. (Update: the Guardians were actually of different types, so all good.)

Well, after the shrine I went a little bit more into the forest, which is the part that Nintendo had showcased last December. It's where you meet Kass, the Rito, who plays the accordion, for the first time. It's also a more jungle-like environment, where I didn't get far, because some Electro Wizzrobe (these dancing/jumping ghosts - I think, they are Wizzrobes, but I haven't scanned them yet) fried me for over four hearts of damage per hit... I tried getting to a tower, but with these enemies in my way, I had to retreat and finally go to sleep (for real).


Off to the Gerudo Desert!

When first leaving the Plateau, I went to the west. But other than doing this out of spite, there were other reasons, why I wanted to go there. Mostly I was hoping to meet the Gerudo race, because I'm really excited that they are back in this game. The Gerudo Fortress is one of my absolute favorite parts of Ocarina of Time and I couldn't wait to become the only male member of the all-women tribe again.

Also, at the west border of the Plateau, by the Keh Namut Shrine, I spotted my first shrine outside of the Plateau, which intrigued me. I wanted to go there, but going there seemed a little dangerous, which is why I strayed off to the south and ultimately ended up in the grasslands. But now it was time to try again and to chase after my goals!

But before this I dealt with a nasty Korok near the Ishto Soh Shrine (at the small junkyard, where you meet Moza). It was one of these target minigames, where so far they were easy enough. But this one is actively avoiding you and your shots, where I wasted almost half of my arrow stash. Then i had enough and just tried a more radical method: I bombed that sucker, which worked fine. He was happy to give me his Korok Seed. So, another example of outside-the-box thinking, where it's nice that you can find easier solutions for annoying minigames.

Now, off to the Jee Noh Shrine, which I spotted at the west border of the Plateau. You can just glide there right from the snow covered walls, as long as you have a little stamina boost. The shrine itself features conveyor puzzle with orbs, lasers and even Guardians, where you had to be creative with the Stasis Lock ability.

From the shrine on you enter a long valley that follows the border between two gigantic canyon areas. There are parts, where you can climb up and use some wooden catwalks, but mostly I just walked on the bottom of the impressive path, where it would have been awesome to have a horse. And as if the game wanted to tease me, you arrive at the Gerudo Canyon Stable at the very end of the path! Thanks for nothing, game!

But from there my goal was already in sight. The Gerudo Town:


It was finally at grasp! However, the horses, which you can now get here, don't seem like they are willing to enter the desert and there is too much heat. Well, at the stable Beedle sells some ingredients for cooling food / potions, but you can also just wait for the night, where it gets really cold. Extra points for realism!

I also met Kass there, who seems to be another traveling character that you can meet anywhere at any time. He was playing Epona's Song on the accordion, where I just noticed, how the Horse Stable melody has some of the classic Lon Lon Ranch tunes in it. Nice touch! He also gave me a different version of the ancient legend about Ganon and the Divine Beasts.

The other traveler, which you now seem to meet at all stables, is the painter guy from Kakariko, whose name I forgot. Depending on the area, where you're at, he will tell you about a different location in Zelda's photo album. He also makes a nice painting of the valley there and you have to recognize the attention to detail in this game, when you have a NPC, who travels around and paints the sceneries.

Well, before heading into the desert, I decided to explore the proximity. There you have one of the mines that the Old Man mentioned, where they uncovered some of the ancient Guardians. The Kay Noh Shrine is here (there is probably a shrine next to every stable and village), which had some electricity puzzles and two Guardians, which I quickly disposed of with Bomb Arrows. First time using them. You get a Gerudo Scimitar in this minidungeon, which is a nice thing to have for the journey to a Gerudo settlement, but this shrine also featured a Small Key for the first time. The key looked rusty and completely out of place. It's probably a nod to the classic Zelda dungeons, but I would have preferred something more technological.

The mine looked like fun to climb, so I climbed it, ignoring the threats of electrical enemies. Why is it that deserts in Zelda games now need to zap you? On top I decided to head for the Wasteland Tower first, where on the way I fled from lots of Moblins and Electric Keese. I'm still too weak to deal with the four heart zaps of damage, but I had set my mind and somehow made it to the top in my stubbornness. Luckily the enemies didn't chase me to the very top, because otherwise I would have run right into the bog that surrounds the tower. Also, the balconies on the tower are very high up, so you had to be a little more creative to climb this thing. But the effort was worth it for the view alone:


This is a much higher point than the Great Plateau, giving you an even more impressive view of the entirety of Hyrule. It's amazing that the Wii U is able to pull this off! At this point I wondered, why I couldn't see the flying Divine Beast from here. Come to think of it, I never noticed it so far, while it was quite the eye catcher at the E3.

But if you turn around and look at the Gerudo Desert, you can spot the giant camel wandering through a sandstorm:


Well, I was afraid about getting killed on the way by the Molgera-like creatures that you can see in trailer, so I decided to fly from the cliffs, where I landed near the Kara Kara Bazaar oasis. In that moment I had a vision of the Divine Beast, which really spooked me, because I was afraid at first that it would chase me down, after I landed in the middle of the desert. But luckily, it didn't. At the oasis I also recovered my first memory, where you save Zelda from the spooky Yiga Clan, some Anti-Goddess fraction of the Sheikah, who wear the inverted Sheikah symbol as masks.

Anyway, I finally met my first Gerudo there, among other races. There was also the first Goron that I met in the game at the place, as well as another Rito. And even Beedle would appear later here... It turns out that it's mostly safe to travel between the Gerudo Canyon Stable, the Kara Kara Bazaar and the Gerudo Town, so I would continue my way to the latter.

I expected that there's some twist about men not being allowed inside Gerudo Town, but I didn't expect that cross-dressing would be the solution... I always wanted to play as a Gerudo ever since Majora's Mask, but this is not exactly the way I depicted it. But I suppose this is where Link's androgyny finally comes in handy. I also used the situation to try the dye feature, because Link's Gerudo dress needed to be red. Anyway, I reached my goal. I finally arrived at Gerudo Town!


Gerudo Town


This place is just amazing. I love the music, the visuals, the attention to detail and the Gerudo culture in general. They even got their own quirky language, where there seem to be many variations of "hello"...

Sav'saaba!
Sav'aaq...

Whatever, I'm just a "voe", so I probably won't understand. It's also funny, how they let a Goron into town:


He wonders himself, why that is... Maybe it's because there are no Goron "vais", so Gorons in general get a pass? We'll probably never know.

I also like the diversity of women displayed in this town. Large and muscular female soldiers, beautiful women, ugly women, old women, girls, there is everything, all with completely different attitudes. Some just want to find a male and learn to cook (where feminist alarm bells probably start to ring at Nintendo's doors), others just want to drink and fight. But then there's their queen...


Rija... I just saw her on that throne and instantly fell in love. Who needs a Zelda, right? Well, sadly she turned out to be a little young, but so is Link, so whatever... Now, that little beauty send me on a quest to retrieve her family heirloom helmet that was stolen by the Yiga clan. Her guard also made a good point that I don't have the Master Sword yet, so for a moment I considered heading to the Korok Forest next. But I wasn't sure, if you can really get it yet, so I just continued with the whole main quest here, which really drew me in.

The Daqo Chisay Shrine in front of Gerudo Town has a nice electric circuit puzzle, by the way, where like in Skyward Sword electricity is a big them in the desert. You can also get a Thunderblade in that minidungeon, which has a really cool looking blade.

I was kind of semi-correct about having different mounts in the desert. There really are no horses here and instead you do "seal surfing" by grappling yourself to a sand seal. But they don't work like horses, where you can register them at "seal stables". If you catch a wild one, it will be gone, as soon as you stop surfing. The bought ones stay with you, but only for the time. And you can't give them names. That's a little disappointing, but it still works and it's a lot of fun, because it's very fast.


Yiga Clan Hideout

So, with a seal in front of me, I quickly made my way through the Karusa Valley, where at the end you face some Yuga Footsoldiers for the first time, who can teleport and quickly shoot arrows. I was almost ready to give up, but since there were no warp points in the area, I kept going.

And... to my advantage you enter a big stealth section here. I suppose, ever since Ocarina of Time some sort of stealth segment is obligatory for every new Zelda game and it's nice that this is still somehow got tied to the Gerudo. And it appears that you can even chose to fight, it will just be much more difficult than sneaking around. Since I'm still low on Heart Containers, I decided to go for the stealth route, which had this funny element, where the Yiga Blademasters go all apeshit about bananas. You can just drop bananas somewhere to distract them, which is funny.

You can't make savegames during the stealth segment and it had my heart pumping. One mistake and I would probably be dead. And the end of the stealth maze was really evil. You enter a room with a treasure chest in the center that only holds bananas! Hahaha! Yup, that's the big treasure of the Yiga, figures. There's no way to go back here and for a minute I seriously considered warping back to Gerudo Town, because I didn't know what to do. But luckily I stayed and found out about the "trick" in this room. Well done, Nintendo! I'm eager to hear from people, who fell for this prank.

Afterwards I ran into the first real boss fight in the game. Well, the second boss fight, if you count Steppe Talus. It's Kohga, Master of the Yiga Tribe. Very funny guy, I had a good laugh during the entire fight. At first I was worried that I would be too weak, but the fight is manageable without getting hurt.

The key thing here is that he fights you using the Magnesis ability at the end. All the weapons you get in the game are usable and used by your enemies (except the Master Sword with all certainty) and it's interesting that this also goes for the Runes. There will probably others using the other abilities to fight you, though it wasn't really explained, how he could do it. He didn't seem to have a Sheikah Slate, but the Yiga might have different ways of accessing the Sheikah technology.

Also, I forgot to "snap" him, but I hope that the device in Purah's laboratory can help you out to fill missing slots. It would be nice, if there aren't any missables in this.


Divine Beast Vah Naboris

Dear diary,

today I seal surfed through the desert with a pretty girl at my side, shooting Bomb Arrows at the feet of some gigantic robot camel. And that wasn't even the craziest thing that I've done!



Seriously, bringing down the Divine Beast in the desert was one of the coolest action sequences I've ever seen in a game. It was so good that I'm not even mad that apparently you won't be able to play as the "Four Champions" in this game. They really might just be AI companions, but if you had to switch between two characters all the time like in the Wind Waker, this kind of fast paced action wouldn't be possible. And I liked, how I had to adjust to Rija's movements and how she communicated with me via voice acting. It was really well done and speaks for similar team play later in the game.

(And how I know that Koei Tecmo will make me very happy later on. Those Champions and their successors need to be new fighters in Hyrule Warriors 2, where a playable Rija would be lovely. I can already see her seal surfing over the battlefield and electrocuting enemies, and a victory animation, where her helmet won't fit in an adorable manner. And Urbosa seems to use the classic Gerudo Scimitars, judging from her artwork, where she could be, what I always imagined Nabooru would become in the game.)

Sadly, she doesn't follow you into the Divine Beast, but the thing itself was certainly one of the most mind blowing dungeons in the series. It starts with the "Blood Moon" atmosphere inside, where everything is corrupted with some dark, cursed goo. The gooey slime eyes reminded me of Bellum from Phantom Hourglass, where I wonder, if this is really just some visual reference.

And the whole thing just feels amazing. I was expecting that the Divine Beasts will be the dungeons of this game, but actually experiencing it surpassed my imaginations. You're on this gigantic monster, which walks through the desert, and you can see the environment around you and really feel each movement. This is some breath-taking dungeon design.


And the dungeon itself is ingenious as well. Via the 3D hologram map on your Sheikah Slate you are able to control three cylinders inside the main rooms, which leads to some really well designed puzzles, where some good three-dimensional thinking is required. You can turn things up and down and it's like you're playing the Stone Tower Temple DX.

Also, it also featured some very different and fresh dungeon design without the typical rooms. It was all one giant place. At first I was afraid that it would just be like some larger Sheikah Shrine, where you have one giant room, but it turned out to be more complicated and it had many turns to it, which had me busy for about two hours. You even can climb around on the outside, where I caught another Phantom Hourglass reference:


The big lookouts on the top somehow reminded me of something, but then it struck me: they look like the Golden Ship Cabin from Phantom Hourglass! Not sure, if this was intentional, but it certainly had my attention.

So, overall I was sold. This got to be one of my favorite dungeons in the series already. The only complaint I had was that it felt a little bit too easy. Other than the four heart electroshocks this main quest was entirely doable with only five Heart Containers. And at this moment I was afraid that the difficulty might be watered down like in A Link Between Worlds, just so that you can play everything in any order. However, this didn't match with my previous experience, where I constantly was put in my place by the tougher enemies.

But then came the boss of the dungeon, which took away all complaints. This guy is a pure nightmare, a real fight and one I wasn't able to win at this point. Imagine that! A boss in a Zelda game, where you don't win on first try and where you even have to retreat. It felt like a thing from Dark Souls, just much cooler thanks to the Sheikah tech. Luckily the dungeon lets you retreat and go back to the fight at any time. Instead of there being some boss chamber at the end of a long journey of rooms, like you normally have in a Zelda game, you simply fight the boss in the big main chamber, where you just have to take the stairs from the entrance. This boss monster from hell is like the last resort to keep the Divine Beast at Ganon's hands. And a good one at that. But I will grow stronger and return!

Overall this day delivered a very satisfying experience, where my hype for this game just reached new heights. Great town, lovely characters, fun action, tough fights and one of the most amazing dungeons in the series. Sarqso, Nintendo! SARQSO!

End of Day 3 Progress
  • Shrines: 15
  • Koroks: 25

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