Saturday, March 4, 2017

Breath of the Wild Adventure Log, Entry 2

When I was half my age, in the era of the Nintendo 64 and the GameBoy Color, I dreamed big. I dreamed of a Zelda game with a massive world. A Zelda game, where you have lots of different weapons like spears, halberds and axes. A Zelda game with interesting towns, where people have real day cycles. Even a Zelda game, where you can get your own house. I dreamed big at the time, but after titles like The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, these dreams seemed like unrealistic expectations...

From this little intro you might be able to tell that my excitement for Breath of the Wild has grown. Yesterday I was quite underwhelmed and didn't have the most enjoyable experience. At the end of the day I was faced with the decision to either go on with the main quest or to keep struggling. So, I decided to finally aim for Kakariko and it quickly turned out that it was a mistake to leave the Great Plateau in some random direction.

Like in the first Zelda game you're free to go anywhere right from the start, but also like in the first Zelda game the boundaries aren't set by items that you don't have yet, they are set by difficulty. Good luck trying to get past these Lynels at Death Mountain with only three hearts and a Wooden Sword. And it's similar in Breath of the Wild, where without the right gear you end up as an easy prey. That's really exciting, but it can also be frustrating for a novice player like me, who just wanted to embrace the freedom early.

But from the well guarded Lake Tower I set my course back to the north over what really turned out to be the "Bridge of Hylia". I speculated during E3 that this bridge is the "same" as the one from Twilight Princess leading over Lake Hylia and it's nice that at least some little things turn out to be true.

It was there, where I got a nice Zora Spear and in general I'm a big fan of the spear weapons, where you can attack enemies with rapid succession from a distance. Boomerangs are also a thing, but they don't seem to be as useful as in past games. But overall I'm a big fan of the new weapon system. I just wished that some of the "better" weapons would stay a little longer with me. I ran out of weapons a couple of times today. But on the other hand I also never died a single time today, which speaks for the fact that the proposed path to Kakariko is more beginner-friendly.

Behind the bridge I reached a hill at night with a ruin on top and a large Keese cloud coming at me. Nice atmosphere there! The path to the east of the Plateau had some Moblins on patrol, but it turned out that they are rather easy to defeat. I then made my way to the Bosh Kala Shrine and the Dueling Peaks Tower.

There are lots of Bokoblin camps in the area, but I took the time to scavenge them all for good profit. If you smash all the boxes, you usually find lots of apples and arrows. I was very low on arrows, when I left the Plateau to the west, which was a grave mistake. But now I'm in good supply. It was also here, where I made good use of the Magnesis ability to smash the iron crates and to find some sunken treasure chests for more goods. Also, you can destroy mineral rocks with Bombs. It's easy to forget about the Runes at first, but they offer quite some nice possibilities.

Well, afterwards I made my way through the Dueling Peaks to the stable an the Ha Dahamar Shrine, where the puzzle surprised me with the fact that you can create Cryonis Blocks on waterfalls... I didn't even think you could do it on flowing water.

Behind the Dueling Peaks Stable I caught my second horse for the "taming contest", where I gave her the highly original name "Contesta". Here it's suddenly a lot easier to tame horses, but from what the kids at the stable tell you, spotted horses are easier to tame, but also have worse stats. The horses in the savanna, where I started my expedition, were all of one color and they all probably had quite good stats, because it was not possible for me to tame them.

Behind the stable there's this massive Guardian graveyard, which is a nice place to loot lots of Ancient Screws and Gears. And I was so intrigued by the tale of Hateno Village, which was unaffected by the Great Calamity, that I decided to take another detour to this village first.

On the way there I experienced my second "Blood Moon", right after I took out an entire camp of Bokoblins and Moblins with my last weapons. Talk about bad timing. However, at least I was able to score some "Shock Arrows" from the lake behind the camp. Afterwards it was finally time to enter my first village...

Hateno Village

Hateno turned out to be the windmill village from the last trailer and I have to say that I'm not disappointed about the village quality. It all feels so much more real than the villages in all previous 3D Zelda games. It starts with the fact that the inner of houses is actually there and not some separate "underworld" section that gets loaded, whenever you enter a house. It's fully interconnected and opening doors like this in a Zelda games almost feels surreal. But it's nice that we finally are not having the Ocarina of Time "House" music for a change (though you can briefly hear it in the village's music track).

And the people also lead their lives there, instead of standing or sitting in the same spot all day long. They will seek shelter, when it starts to rain or storm. You can watch them go to bed and do their chores. It's not fully realistic (for example I couldn't spot any toilets), but it's a big step forward. Ever since Clocktown villages and towns in Zelda don't really have evolved, where it's nice to finally see some efforts.

This town also has several points of interest. Right at the beginning a small child leads you to a scary statue, where some demon was banned by the Goddess. And this statue can switch Heart Containers and Stamina Vessels, which basically answers my big question from yesterday. So, whatever you chose as a reward from the Goddess, you can always change it later on at this statue.

The "potion shop" that you could spot in the trailer also turned out to be a dying shop, where you can dye your clothes. I haven't made use of this yet, but it's certainly a nice feature. I suppose, somewhere in Hyrule a hairdresser also awaits Link... But in Hateno there is another nice feature, where you can buy a house. Since Aonuma took inspiration from Skyrim, I wouldn't be surprised, if there's some Hearthfire in this, where you can decorate the house to your liking. But right now I don't have nearly enough Rupees to try this out.

Anyway, since Shrines are your main teleportation point, it shouldn't be surprising that there's one right in town: the Myahm Agana Shrine. And this one came with a nasty surprise:

Rollgoal!!! It's back... With fully blown motion controls!

However, after some struggling, I found a simple, but ingenious way to cheat this puzzle:

You can just turn the whole thing around and skip the maze. Nice and easy. And this level of creative puzzle solving is just my thing. You can think out of the box in this game and I like it.

Another example of outside-the-box-thinking came up on the way to the "Hateno Thorn Tower", where there were some Bokoblin towers right next to each other. The other one had a Blue Bokoblin on it and since I still was low on melee weapons (too bad that there's no weapon shop in Hateno) and didn't want to waste too many arrows, I used Stasis on the explosive barrels and hit them in the direction of the Bokoblin for some explosive surprise.

Well, the scientist on top of Hateno just directs you right back to your original goal: Kakariko... So, I supposedly couldn't avoid it any longer. I still solved the Ree Dahee Shrine at Dueling Peaks in the meantime, where it was awesome to get the stylish Climber's Bandanna from the extra chest here. I always go for these chests, but usually they just contain weapons or materials. And it was nice to get something permanent for a change.

What's also permanent are the Adventure Pouch upgrades that you get for the Korok Seeds on your way to Kakariko. This was quite the relief, because I really had issues with not having enough weapons lately, so it's good to have more slots available...

Kakariko Village

After many detours and delays I finally made it to Kakariko, which is the other village that we saw in the trailers... It's easy to get distracted in the game with all the Bokoblin camps and Sheikah Shrines and other things on the way. But you really want to get to Kakariko as soon as possible, because here you finally unleash some more basics to make the most out of everything.

It's even funny, how the Ta'loh Naeg Shrine above the village is essentially a sword fighting tutorial... After all this time I finally learn, how to dodge and how to do a spin attack, yay... But the Shrine gives some really shiny Sheikah gear and you can buy some nice armor in Kakariko as well.

Overall the town surprised me that it really was a Sheikah village with actual Sheikah living there for a change, though I'm somewhat disappointed that the red eyes don't seem to be a thing anymore. They all just have white hair... And it all has this Ancient China/Japan vibe to it with the visuals, the clothing and the music, which feels quite unusual for a Zelda game.

But at least the village has the classic Cucco collecting quest, which is somewhat easier than it was in Ocarina of Time, but also not really rewarding. You only get 50 Rupees. The town also gave me lots of frame drops all the time. Overall I don't mind the frame drops as much, because Nintendo really pushed all limits of the Wii U with this game, but it was quite bad in Kakariko and took away some of the enjoyment. Hopefully the Switch version runs a little better here.

Anyway, above the village, behind the Shrine you find one of the Great Fairies. And if Aonuma really wanted to surpass Ocarina of Time in all aspects, he certainly did with the Great Fairies. Wow, just, wow...

But this is also another nice spot in the game, where you receive permanent upgrades. She enhances your clothes by taking various materials like the many, many Bokoblin Horns that I got on my way here.

Near the Great Fairy also seems to be a Sheikah Shrine, which you have to activate by carrying an orb there. At first I laughed at Impa's "prized possession", because it seemed to be just one of the ordinary Rollgoal puzzle balls that get mass produced in the Shrines, but it seems like the orb will have an actual purpose later.

Sheikah Cam

Anyway, Impa tells you about your past and you finally get to upgrade your Sheikah Slate with the Camera Rune by the scientist at Hateno Village, Purah. And I really like her character, she's a lot of fun, even though she's probably the main source of Loli hentai in this game. Snap!

I'm kind of disappointed that there don't seem to be any additional Rune abilities, but it's nice that we actually get the full Wind Waker Pictobox functionality here, including selfies and the a scanning logbook like in Metroid Prime, called Hyrule Compendium. Except for persons, you can scan anything in the game to get an entry and let the Sheikah Slate search for more.

And this seems like quite the overwhelming work. I was excited about scanning all the monsters, but scanning every single inventory item will be quite the task. I could already place all hundred items in my inventory somewhere on the ground to take pictures of it all... Sigh. (Update: this only goes for specific items like weapons or mushrooms!)

It also turned out that the "off camera selfies" are really a thing. Basically you can take a photo of the Sheikah Slate with the Sheikah Slate. So, there wasn't a 2nd person doing the shots and there only seems to be the one Sheikah Slate, because Zelda was using it before you and left photos of places on it. As a side task you can now visit these places to regain some lost memories...

Also, Purah lets you upgrade Sheikah Runes for quite the cheap prices, only 3 of the various ancient things for one upgrade. And I already had plenty, so bigger Bombs ahoi...

Now, at this point it seems like the game really starts. You have all the options to upgrade your stuff and you're tasked with seeking out the Four Champions of the Divine Beasts in any order. Now the game is basically telling you to "explore it all" and it would have been a good idea to listen from the start, because going for Kakariko and Hateno first seems to be a good idea in any case.

But now I'm really spoilt for choice. Where do I go next? To the Zora? To the Gorons? To the Koroks? To the Rito? To the Gerudo? Or even to Hyrule Castle? Where will I go? Find out in the next entry!

End of Day 2 Progress
  • Shrines: 11
  • Koroks: 18

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