Thursday, January 19, 2017

Breath of the Wild: Scary Guardians

Bad bots, bad bots
Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do
When they come for you...

Last Friday Nintendo showcased briefly, how it feels to leave the Great Plateau in Breath of the Wild during their Treehouse Livestream. Additionally there is some GameXplain footage, which is very similar. Both leave the Great Plateau in the same spot and grab a horse there. They took slightly different routes, but ultimately both ended up near the next Sheikah tower and found their demise by the hands (or tentacles) of a Guardian, who was roaming the area.

One hit of the beam kills you early on and they seem impenetrable, even Bomb Arrows just do little damage. And I have to give it to Nintendo that they managed to create quite the scary thing here. It feels different from the Phantoms in the Nintendo DS Zelda games, because those were more or less an evolution of the stealth segments that first came to be with Hyrule Castle in Ocarina of Time. The Guardians in Breath of the Wild seem more free-roaming, where it's harder to avoid them, and much more deadly. Early on you really have to wonder, how you will deal with them... And this makes them quite scary, because you're not used to the words "Game Over" in Zelda games anymore (unless you played Tri Force Heroes).

It's also something, where you learn to have respect for your enemies. When in played Ocarina of Time as a child, I was terrified of the Peahats in Hyrule Field, which were quite strong, as well as the Redeads. These became enemies that I wanted to avoid at all costs, where the Guardians might now bring this feeling back to Zelda.

However, we already know that they can be destroyed by these "Tek Arrows" that we got to see in the very first footage of the game during E3 2014:

In fact these arrows can kill a Guardian with only one shot, as seen during the Treehouse stream at E3 2016 (see here). And this pretty much flips the coin. Now it seems easy enough to take them out and it's only a matter of resources. You just need enough of these special EMP arrows, if you want to progress through the game without fear. And this makes you wonder, how many of these arrows there will be, whether they will be a finite resource and whether the Guardians do respawn or not.

Ideally these arrows are super rare early in the game, but become available in higher and infinite supplies later in the game. Otherwise you might not be able to destroy enough Guardians, if you're a bad shot. For the Guardians it would make sense, if they do not respawn, since the Sheikah technology seems to be a relic and destroying them should feel rewarding, especially if the EMP arrows are rare. But there might be machines that are still building them and it also might become boring, if you destroy them all. So, it will be interesting to see, how Nintendo will handle the whole Guardian mechanic in the game.

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