Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition - Exclusive My Fairy Items Confirmed

The latest Famitsu magazine shows off some of the exclusive My Fairy items, which were only available via promo gift codes in certain regions for Hyrule Warriors: Legends.

For starters, there's the Red Royal Set:

And if you look closely, you can even spot the black Ghirahim outfit, as well as the white Midna dress in the list of trousers / skirts to the left. All of these were previously exclusive items. The Classic Set, as well as the Classic Costume for Link should probably be in the game as well.

This shouldn't be much of a surprise, but it's nice to finally have the confirmation. But I still think that it would have been a good idea to offer all items for Hyrule Warriors: Legends via My Nintendo. And I still think that the fairies look atrocious in 3D...

Anyway, so far it seems like everything is in the "Definitive Edition", except for the 8-Bit weapons. But if this version wants to stay true to its name, it should have them as well.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Breath of the Wild: Hyrule Warriors Collaboration Concept

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition will be released for Nintendo Switch soon and what better way to promote this title than with another free Collaboration Side Quest in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Nintendo did this already for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but in this case the collaboration would stay within the same franchise.

The reward for a "Hyrule Warriors Collaboration" should be obvious enough, it would be Link's outfit from the game:

  • Cap of the Warrior
  • Tunic of the Warrior
  • Trousers of the Warrior

The Cap of the Warrior would come with the signature blue scarf, while the Tunic of the Warriors would have the shoulder plates.

A Test of Endurance

Now, the reward in itself probably won't feel that special, since there are many similar outfits in the game already thanks to all the amiibo. But the way of acquiring this "new" set of armor could take a note from Hyrule Warriors and at the same time aim at some shortcomings of Breath of the Wild itself.

In Hyrule Warriors you fight entire hordes of monsters all the time and while that's also possible in Breath of the Wild, it rarely ever happens. For the most part you have camps of Bokoblins, Moblins and Lizalfos, but there won't be any Lynels there. Guardians are also rarely ever fought in the presence of other enemies.

But the game never features a scenario like in Memory #8, "A Premonition", where Link supposedly fought an entire horde of monsters, including various Lynels, all at once:

Now, this new Side Quest will allow for that, without the need of creating any major new assets (Nintendo sure doesn't like to create new things for this game's DLC, except for more armor). It would introduce a new type of Sheikah Shrine, which houses a "Test of Endurance". Similar to the Tests of Strength, they would come in three difficulties: Minor, Modest and Major.

The trials themselves put you in a room, where more and more enemies will enter the combat after a while. Think of the Secret Cave on Shark Island in the Wind Waker. THAT's how this would work, just with a wild mix of the enemies from Breath of the Wild, where it starts with some Keese and Bokoblins, but at the end puts you in a situation with multiple Lynels and Guardians. It should be fights, where you will become desperate enough to use some Ancient Arrows to prevail.

And that's something the game doesn't currently offer. The most difficult combat challenges either remove your gear or cripple you in some other way, like reducing you to a quarter heart. But there's no challenge in the game, where you'd want to bring a collection of the best gear, lots of boosting food and maybe even many Ancient Arrows as safety net.

Dual Lynel Duels

That just leaves the question of how you would make those new combat shrines appear... Similar to The Champions' Ballad, there could be monument somewhere (in a location pointed out by the Side Quest description), which shows pictures of three different spots on the overworld. There are many empty places left in the game, so it should be easy enough to find something appropriate.

In those spots you will now find a pair of Lynels, where you have to fight them both at once to prove yourself worthy. That's something that never really happens during the game, because the Lynels stay to their own territories (unless you lure one to the next and prevent him from teleporting). Depending on the actual trials difficulty, the Lynels will have different tiers:

  • Minor Test of Endurance: Red Lynels
  • Modest Test of Endurance: Blue Lynels
  • Major Test of Endurance: Silver Lynels

They all should be equipped with the different tiers of Lynel Spears and Crushers. This would solve another issue, where a part of the lower tier Lynel equipment isn't available anymore during the endgame. You can still get a Lynel Sword, Shield and Bow from the Red Lynel on top of Mount Ploymus. And there's a Blue Lynel in Hyrule Castle, who has a Mighty Lynel Sword, Shield and Bow. The latter normally doesn't drop his equipment, but you can prevent this issue by saving and reloading in the same spot. And Nintendo also could fix / change this behavior in an update.

The Spears and Crushers, however, will go extinct during the course of the game, much like Blue Lynels in Master Mode. And adding these pairs of Lynels will bring all this content back and even prevent some further Hyrule Compendium omissions, so you can still get some nice pictures of all things Lynel at the end of the game, if you want.

Well, for each of the Test of Endurance you would earn a part of the Warrior's armor set. They could probably also add a fourth test and give you Spirit Orbs as rewards for another Heart Container or Stamina Vessel. But the armor and the crazy fights themselves should be reward enough already.

PS: With adding another set of armor there would be 110 armor pieces in the game, while there's only room for 100 pieces. And it can't be said often enough that Nintendo should increase the limit of armor inventory in any future update. So, if Nintendo really were to do another collaboration like the one for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, it would be nice to receive more armor space to store all the new things without selling any other existing pieces.

Breath of the Wild: Horse Bridle and Saddle Ability Ideas

In Breath of the Wild you can obtain up to six saddles and six bridles to customize your horses, which originally was only something to change the looks. However, the Ancient Bridle and the Ancient Saddle that were added in the second DLC Pack, The Champions' Ballad, changed things. The new horse gear introduced abilities, where all of the previous sets basically became obsolete.

The Ancient Saddle lets you call your horse from any location, where it gets teleported to you. And the Ancient Bridle adds two spurs of stamina to your horse:

This leaves all the previous sets of horse gear in a bad spot. Why wouldn't you want to use these features? It's functionality over aesthetics. A solution would have been tying these abilities to other key items, but what's done is done...

However, if the Ancient Bridle and Saddle have special features, then so should the other sets of horse gear. There are certainly other benefits that could be offered by the different saddles and bridles to create real alternatives to the Ancient set, while also keeping horses more relevant overall in the sight of the Master Cycle Zero.

And here's a list of ideas what each item could have provided:

  • Traveler's Bridle: Sharp Turns
  • Traveler's Saddle: Weapon, Shield and Bow Stash
  • Knight's Bridle: Strength Up
  • Knight's Saddle: Strength Up
  • Royal Bridle: Max Bond
  • Royal Bridle: Mild Temperament
  • Extravagant Bridle: Speed Up
  • Extravagant Saddle: Speed Up
  • Monster Bridle: Disguise and Blinders
  • Monster Saddle: Night Speed Up x2

Well... of course it's probably impossible to beat the usefulness of the Ancient Saddle, but at least the bridles could offer some interesting alternatives, where you might even want to mix different sets with each other. Still, this is nothing spectacular and most of it just tampers with the remaining horse stats: Strength, Speed, Temperament and Bond.

So, the Knight's set simply increases the horse's strength with both parts, so the horse has more health points. And the Extravagant's set increases the horse's speed. The Royal set changes any horse's behavior to that of a mild temperament with a full bond. It's probably not that useful, but it fits the picture of how Zelda told you to treat your horses nicely.

The Monster Bridle and Saddle then take a page from some of the Set Bonuses from Link's armor collection. The Monster Saddle would increase your speed by two units, but only during the night. With the bridle on your horse, certain monsters like Bokoblins or Lynels would be confused on first sight and mistake you for one of their own.

In addition, with the blinders of Monster Bridle the horse won't shy away from monsters. This also works with obstacles, which would allow for more classic horse controls and would probably be useful for the Horse Obstacle Course. So, use this set during the night for some crazy speed records.

The most interesting ideas here are tied to the Traveler's Bridle and Saddle, which is probably a bad thing, because those are amiibo items and therefore are locked behind a pay wall much like all the quality of life improvements that came with the DLC. But it's the set that was shown in the first trailer of the game at E3 2014. There you could see, how Link had his bow, a shield and sword attached to his Traveler's Saddle:

You can even still see his shield on the saddle of the amiibo figure, but this didn't make it into the final game. Instead Link always carries his equipped items on himself at all times.

Now, with a stash feature on the Traveler's Saddle you would have to ability to place your current sword, shield or bow on your horse. It would work similar to the gear displays in Link's house, where in this case you wouldn't be able to mount your horse from behind anymore, only from the side. If you interact with your horse from behind, it would access the saddle gear. So, there's a slight disadvantage to this system.

If your horse dies, it drops the equipment. And you won't be able to change the saddle again, as long as the Traveler's Saddle still has equipment attached to it. This seems needlessly complicated, however, which is probably why something like this didn't make it into the final game. But it's still an idea for what this saddle could do.

Last, but not least, the Traveler's Bridle would allow for sharper turns with your horse. (Yeah, I was running out of ideas here. But feel free to give any ideas in the comments!)

Dragon Bridles and Saddles

Why stop at adding abilities to the existing bridles and saddles? We could also think of some additional ones, where horse gear based on the game's three dragons comes to mind: Farosh, Naydra and Dinraal.

Those could be obtained by offering the horn of a dragon for its bridle and the claw of a dragon for its saddle at the respective Spring. So, if you put Dinraal's Horn into the Spring of Power, the Goddess Statue will reward you with Dinraal's Bridle and so on.

Here's what they would do:

  • Farosh's Bridle: Thunder Breath
  • Farosh's Saddle: Unshockable
  • Naydra's Bridle: Ice Breath
  • Naydra's Saddle: Unfreezable
  • Dinraal's Bridle: Fire Breath
  • Dinraal's Saddle: Fireproof

The Dragon Bridles would activate a new elemental "breath" attack, which could be activated by pulling the horse back. These shock, freeze or burn your enemies respectively. The Ice Breath could work similar to the Blizzard Rod for example.

The Dragon Saddles on the other hand defend your horse from such attacks, so that they can't be shocked, frozen or burnt. Dinraal's Saddle theoretically could even let you take your horse to Death Mountain, which finally would be a big advantage over the Ancient Saddle and even the Master Cycle Zero. You just have to be careful not to run it into lava.

PS: With so many saddles it really would be a good idea to keep them in their own tab inside the inventory, instead of stuffing them all into the Key Items tab.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Breath of the Wild Master Log, Entry 3

Before taking on Vah Medoh, I decided to go back to clear the areas from my early adventures, which included the Great Plateau and the Necluda region. I also cleared certain areas around the center with the focus on acquiring horses. Overall I'm following more of an area-by-area approach for completion this time by using, something that I still miss in the base game.

Ideally, you could see for every tower by selecting it on the map, where the outlines of its region are and what you've achieved in that area so far. Icons could indicate that you got all Shrines, Koroks, Treasure Chests and overworld bosses in that area... After beating the game it could even display counters.

This would be a good addition and make my life as a Zelda completionist much easier, but for my Master Mode run I'm just helping myself out. So, before heading to the next tower(s), I try to complete as much as possible in the current area(s), as long as I can still see the outlines. It's "divide and conquer" and such an approach usually works best for such a massive task.

With the Master Sword in hand, I'm also good with entering central Hyrule, but I'm not planning on completing everything in and around Hyrule Castle just yet. At first my focus was on the stuff left to do around the areas of the beginning...

But I did go for the Central Tower early on, so I have a map for the areas around the Great Plateau. On the way I finished one of my favorite shrines, the Kaam Ya'Tak Shrine with the "Trial of Power". This one makes good use of both Magnesis and Stasis and has a series of several smaller rooms with obstacles and Guardian Scouts. It almost like a real minidungeon and is certainly one of the best shrines in the game.

Blue Lynel Boogalo

So, why not take on Vah Medoh already? Revali's Gale is certainly the most useful ability in the game, when it comes to clearing the environment, followed by Urbosa's Fury. And this Divine Beast is finished quickly. Well, other than my focus on clearing certain areas at first, this decision has something to do with the topic of enemy scaling and weapon scaling.

There's an internal point system, which controls the growth of enemies and weapons, including their modifiers. These points are mostly earned by defeating certain types of enemies, but there's a cap of ten kills. So, if you have defeated 10 Black Bokoblins, the 11th Black Bokoblin and all that come after won't count for the point system. You don't really need to max out your points and you also never see your total, so it isn't really something to be concerned about.

However, other than the Guardian Sentries, which only appear during the Vah Rudania chase sequence, there's another enemy in Master Mode that will grow extinct after a certain time: Blue Lynels. They earn you 12 points for a total of 120, but you won't be able to find any of them later in the game. Normal Mode has a fixed Blue Lynel in Hyrule Castle, but that one was replaced with a White-Maned Lynel in Master Mode. (Both modes have a fixed Red Lynel on top of Ploymus Mountain, by the way.)

So, just to make sure that I got my 120 points out of them, before they go extinct, I decided to hunt down 10 Blue Lynels now. There was still one at the gate to Mount Lanayru, near the Purifier Lake. And there were still two left in the Oseira Plains, the place where I encountered my first Lynel in the game without knowing, when I left the Great Plateau in Normal Mode.

However, they upgraded into White-Maned Lynels right at the time, when I went into the Ishto Soh Shrine in the area. This was bad news and I will have to keep this in mind, whenever I replay the game on Switch. Because then I also would like to complete Hyrule Compendium with pretty custom pictures, where in this case I would already lack the Lynel Spear.

Luckily, for this run there's still a spot, where you can encounter a Blue Lynel, as long as you haven't completed two Divine Beasts yet. The Coliseum Ruins:

The enemies in there are special and scale dependent on how many Divine Beasts you've freed, but it doesn't start until you've done two of them. So, as long as I don't touch Vah Medoh, I can take on as many Blue Lynels as I want in this arena. It's also a sword wielder, which are probably the easiest type of Lynels, because they offer many easy opportunities for Flurry Rushes. It's probably the best way to farm Lynel materials early in the game.

Apropos Lynel materials, the "Riddles of Hyrule" Side Quest was a nice example of how much faster things are going down on my second playthrough. In Normal Mode it took me a while to collect all the necessary materials, but here I just climbed on top the Deku Tree, presented Walton the four items and then I was done. Of course this is only natural when replaying a game. If you know what to do and where all the things are, you can prepare accordingly and you don't need to search. And even the strongest enemies like Lynels don't feel like an obstacle anymore.

(In this case it was also helpful to use the amiibo for all the fish. This was getting me a Voltfin Trout, before I found them in the wild.)

Getting the Good Gear

Well, after clearing Death Mountain and most of Akkala, I had a couple of flame weapons in my possession, which I could use to take on Mount Lanayru. Freeing Naydra is the most interesting part there, but I mainly did it to get the Climbing Boots, which you can find in these mountains in a hidden shrine, following "The Secret of the Cedars".

The Climbing Gear wasn't far from there, in the Shrine in the middle of the Necludian Sea. It was another Major Test of Strength, but it felt easy enough after the first one. So, I finally had my favorite armor set back.

I also purchased the stealth set and the Ancient set, which are both quite useful as well. In addition I focused on enhancing everything to two stars. So, as soon as I move to Vah Medoh and find a third Great Fairy there, I can focus on the ★★★ upgrades. The most "difficult" to upgrade pieces right now are the Fierce Deity set and the Champion's Tunic, where I need dragon parts on every step.

I also farmed some Star Fragments from the top of the Dueling Peaks already, but I don't really use any amiibo armor parts other than the Fierce Deity set, so this doesn't really have a priority right now. It's more something for the endgame grinding.

Horse Hunt

In addition to the Central Tower, I also conquered the Lake and Ridgeland Towers, because I wanted to focus on various things around horses: getting the special horses, getting good horses, getting all saddles and so on. I already registered Epona, when I first arrived the Dueling Peaks Stable, but I hadn't really bothered with horses so far in Master Mode. Since I'm basically running from Korok to Korok they didn't seem practical yet, while you can't use them at Death Mountain at all, which was the first major goal of my run.

First I was going for the White Royal Stallion and afterwards I went for the Giant Horse in the Taobab Grasslands. This brings back memories, because this was the spot, where I first left the Great Plateau on my Normal Mode run. And you can indeed tame the Giant Horse right away, as long as you have enough stamina. I named the special horses "Zelda" and "Ganon" again, which might be boring, but it still felt fitting to name them this way.

Before getting the Giant Horse, I cleared the path to the Highland Stable from all Lynels and riding Bokoblins just to be safe. And then I took various horses home, because this is one of two spots, where you can find horses with best stats...

In the end I settled for a black horse with the following stats:

  • Strength: ★★★★
  • Speed: ★★★★
  • Stamina: ★★★★★

This is the best possible stats a horse can have in the game. You'd want more than three stars of Speed, so it's faster than the Master Cycle Zero. But the horses with five Speed only can have two points of Strength and three Stamina at best, which is a major downside. So, I'd sacrifice the full speed for having an overall good and balanced horse. According to HylianAngel's Horse Guide, these best balanced horses are usually the leader of a group of horses, so they are easy to identify.

Well, I named her "Hilda", like the lost black horse from my Normal Mode run, and equipped her with the Ancient Bridle and the Ancient Saddle, where she basically became my Master Cycle Zero replacement for now. The way I play Master Mode on an area-by-area basis, I won't be able to get the Master Cycle Zero until the end, so it won't be of much use to me this time. But calling a horse from anywhere is certainly helpful and helps to bridge some larger walking distances from time to time.

And with the Ancient Bridle she can have all the stamina in the world:

The only problem with the Ancient Saddle is that I sometimes I accidentally call the horse, while using Magnesis. I press "down" on the D-Pad to pull treasure chests towards me and sometimes release Magnesis while still pressing "down", which calls the horse to my location, even in the most ridiculous places at the most inconvenient times, like on a small island in Lake Hylia during a thunderstorm. Poor horsie.

Apropos thunder storms, since I also went for the Ridgeland Tower for my horse efforts, I cleared its area including all the shrines there. And here I thought that the Toh Yahsa Shrine inside the thunder cloud and the hidden Maag No'rah Shrine should have been swapped. Maag No'ran offers a Blessing and all you have to do here is find a shrine hidden inside a rock wall. For Toh Yahsa you have to solve this quite lengthy overworld puzzle with the orbs inside the thunder cloud on the Thundra Plateau, where a Blessing would have been appropriate. But instead you still get the "Buried Secrets" trial on top, which would have been a perfect fit for the Maag No'rah Shrine, which is basically a buried secret in itself.

Anyway, other than Mount Satori and the White Royal Stallion, there's also the Upland Lindor as a good horse-based reason to go for the Hyrule Ridge area, because that's the second spot in the game, where you can find top stat horses. And the road to the next stable, the Serenne Stable, is a lot shorter and much safer here. So much that I had to ask myself, why I made the Taobab Grassland tour multiple times earlier...

I placed my Travel Medallion at the hill, so I could try different horses in quick succession, where I was looking for a speed horse with the following stats:

  • Strength: ★★
  • Speed: ★★★★★
  • Stamina: ★★★

Originally I wanted a pink one, because I wanted to name her "Styla", following my princess-based naming convention. However, it turns out that pink horses, even in a solid color, can't have the best possible stats. The same goes for light brown horses. So, in the end I had to settle for a purple horse:

I gave her the Extravagant Bridle and Saddle, because it seemed fitting and I've never really used it on a horse before. It's also the reward for the hurdle minigame.

Apropos, the Horse Obstacle Course and the Horseback Archery are the only mandatory minigames in Breath of the Wild, if you want to complete everything. Or at least I don't remember any of the other minigames giving you unique rewards or even Side Quest Adventure Log entries. And this is certainly nice, because I'm usually not a big fan of minigames, when it comes to replaying Zelda games. Some of them can be very annoying, to put it mildly. And that Breath of the Wild made it mostly an optional experience, is a good thing. If you like minigames, then they are still there to be enjoyed. But you don't have to force yourself through them to get every item in the game.

That being said, the Horse Obstacle Course can still be quite annoying, before you get it right. Especially the one hurdle near the rock wall seems to give trouble, because the horse likes to dodge to the right here. In general you don't want to speed up too much and keep the horse more to the left on that specific hurdle.

Towards Completion

If you know where everything is located in the game and use a map on top of that, progress feels so much more rapid. I've only done one Divine Beast so far and I've already maximized my inventory space from all the Korok Seeds that I've found - precisely half of them, to be exact.

This adds up quite nicely, since I've been focusing on clearing about half of the world's areas. Here's my current Hero's Path, following this entry:

Master Mode Progress:

  • Divine Beasts Freed: 1
  • Main Quests: 7/20
  • Shrine Quests: 19/42
  • Side Quests: 39/90
  • Memories: 9/23
  • Shrines: 64/136
  • Koroks: 450/900

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Breath of the Wild Master Log, Entry 2

Since the last time I followed my goal of beating Vah Rudania and clearing enough Shrines around Death Mountain to claim the Master Sword.

And I have to say that Vah Rudania is certainly the most impressive Divine Beast when it comes to moving around the environment. It's not the most dangerous in the environment, however. Other than the scripted sequence, when you enter Goron City, it only shot at me one more time, when I was moving down the way to the Abandoned North Mine for a second time. With Vah Ruta and Vah Naboris you get a clear feeling that those things are causing natural disasters. Vah Rudania has the potential to be on the same level, but it doesn't really use it. Of course it would probably be annoying, if it constantly hailed molten rocks at you, but it could have been more threatening. Well, still better than Vah Medoh.

But I just love watching this thing climb around Death Mountain, it's always an amazing sight. And that's why I decided to go for all Shrines, Koroks, treasure chests and quests around Death Mountain before entering the "dungeon". This way I always had the moving titan in the background:

It was also a good idea to go to Akkala first, because I could make good use of the free Ancient Arrows that you get from Robbie, because there are two Guardian Stalkers roaming the grounds below Eldin Tower. Of course you can also get some free Ancient Arrows from Beedle around Hyrule Field, but I didn't go there yet.

The Eldin Tower is also one of the few places around Death Mountain, where you have the new floating platforms in Master Mode. It's probably because they are made of wood and would burn in the inner perimeters of Death Mountain, but so far they seem quite rare in general.

In general I also have to say that I enjoy doing the Sheikah Shrines again. I wandered around all of the landscapes many, many times and for hundreds of hours, when I was searching for all the Koroks, but I visited the insides of nearly all of the shrines only once. So, it's nice to refresh my memories here and there with the puzzles. Sometimes I'm even finding easier or at least different solutions to some of the puzzles, which is nice.

However, it also seems like they upgraded some of the Guardian Scouts in Master Mode as well. I would have to check, but I don't remember fighting three Guardian Scouts III at the end of the Shora Hah Shrine, which was near impossible for me at this time. I had to run past them carrying the torch with the blue flame. I've heard that the basic Guardian Scouts will even be completely gone after some point. Oh, joy.

Overall it seems like you can do almost all of the Shrine and Side Quests around Goron City before dealing with Vah Rudania. That's quite different from the Zora and Gerudo, but I don't mind much in this case, because it allowed me to engage in all Goron activities with the Divine Beast crawling through the background.

On a side note, I got the "Death Mountain's Secret" Side Quest this time by talking to the Goron kid named Dugby at the Hot Spring. It did appear in the Adventure Log, which during my Normal Mode run wasn't the case. There I found the stash with the Drillshaft before ever talking to Dugby, which caused a glitched behavior, where I couldn't figure out what to do. See Entry 35 of my Adventure Log.

Majora's Mountain

Again Majora's Mask has proven to be a very useful tool in my Master Mode run. For example, there were two Koroks around Death Mountain, where you have to take a stone from enemy camps to bring them to a stone circle. Normally you would cause an alarm and have a horde of monsters on your back, but not with Majora's Mask.

It was also a little helpful with the "A Brother's Roast" Shrine Quest, where you have to carry up a Rock Roast up a slope full of monsters. It doesn't help with the Keese and the Chuchus, and the Moblins will start shooting at you at some point, but it gives you a head start.

Also, with a good majority of the enemy camps you can just glide in, be safe thanks to Majora's Mask, steal the treasure and go. This only works, if the camps don't have a "Skull Chest", where you have to defeat all enemies to unlock it. But if it's any other chest you can just take it without much risk.

At least with the Kilton masks you still would have trouble in camps, where there are mixed types of enemies, like Bokoblins and Moblins. But Majora's Mask tricks all of them likewise.

Akkala Aufräumen

So, I wanted the Heart Container from Vah Rudania to be the one that completes the 13 hearts for the Master Sword. But even with all the shrines around Death Mountain done, I was still short five Spirit Orbs. And as it so happened, there were exactly five Sheikah Shrines left in the Akkala region, right in the neighborhood. Of course I could have went back to some easier areas and do some shrines there, but it felt right to complete these two areas next to each other in one swoop.

However, I was up for a little challenge with all of the remaining Akkala shrines. For starters, I needed to conquer the Lomei Labyrinth Island. It's quite rewarding, so it was certainly worth the trouble. You get the Barbarian Helmet, a Diamond Circlet and the Travel Medallion, all in one swoop. I also noticed, how you mostly run around the west half of the labyrinth to find everything, including all the treasure chests. You don't have to touch the southeast corner at all.

The basement room of the Lomei Labyrinth Island was probably the most interesting part, but I managed to grab the chests there without any real confrontation. The Travel Medallion is right below the southern exit of the labyrinth, but you can go there without awakening any Guardians. Do this first and open the chest with the Diamond Circlet afterwards, where you can just quickly escape from this hell. I used my last of the three Ancient Arrows from Robbie on the Guardian Stalker above, however, so I could get all the treasure chests in peace.

Well, the next shrine was at the Spring of Power and I thought that this was going to be the easiest, because I only needed a scale of Dinraal, who happens to fly around the north of Death Mountain. Perfect. But I forgot that the shrine wasn't a Blessing like the others, but a Major Test of Strength. Well, I can't let me stop this now, so I took on that Guardian Scout IV...

Luckily, this was one of those rooms with a water floor, where you can use Cryonis at any time to defend yourself. But the regeneration puts quite a lot of pressure at you at the end. You can't just wait too long for the right opportunity. And I had trouble parrying the consecutive laser shots at the end. I need to practice this... But it's good to know that I can take those guys on already. This step took me certainly a lot longer on my first playthrough. But this also means that I can get the full Climber's set next.

Next shrine was the hidden Ke'nai Shakah Shrine in the mining area northeast of Ploymus Mountain. When I first found this shrine, I could easily use some Bomb Arrows to open the cave. But this time I still had Vah Ruta giving me a constant shower, so Bomb Arrows were not an option and I actually had to shoot one of the many rocks with stasis in the right angle and speed. Still a lot easier than getting the second part of the Mirro Shaz right... Well, this had a Modest Test of Strength, but this was child's play after the Major Test of Strength before.

From there I made my way over the Tingle Islands to the Kah Mael Shrine. And I wonder, if it was a conscious choice to fill "Tingel Island" with the most annoying enemies in the game... Octoroks!

The last step was carrying the orb over the spiral shore. Again, this is a scenario, where Majora's Mask shines. You can just keep carrying the orb without being hassled by the Bokoblins, Moblins or the Lizalfos. The Octoroks, however, are still happy to annoy you even here. They might even draw attention to you for the other enemies... Well, for once I was happy about receiving a Blessing. Ritaag Zumo's, to be exact.

Vah Rudania Revisited

Similar to re-experiencing the shrines, it was also nice to be back in one of the Divine Beasts again. The "dungeons" are certainly underrated for what they are. Yes, they are all very similar and they are all quite short, but I still find the idea of having giant mechanical beasts as dungeons, where you can alter their state at any time, quite amazing.

And Vah Rudania is quite nice in this regard, because you can flip the entire dungeon around in 90°. It requires some good three dimensional thinking.

Naturally, I got through this dungeon a lot faster this time. Only the chest behind bars got me confused for a little while, but the spawning enemies on the outside gave it away. The boss was also much easier than expected, even with the regeneration on. It's funny, when mini-boss-like enemies like Guardian Scouts IV or Lynels give you A LOT more trouble than the regular bosses. But I suppose, this isn't the first Zelda game with this "issue".

13 Hearts to Claim it All

After completing Vah Rudania, I bought my house in Hateno, put the Boulder Breaker on its wall, finally got the Fierce Deity's Mask from the Majora's Mask Link amiibo (I usually use all the daily amiibo next to the house in Hateno) and then I claimed the Master Sword in style:

It's on, now! But I won't visit Vah Medoh anytime soon. My plan is to focus on some areas without Divine Beasts, like Faron or Mount Lanayru to collect all the things there. I also want to battle at least 10 Blue Lynels, before they grow extinct in Master Mode.

So, here's my Hero's Path for the majority of this entry:

As you can see, it's a much more defined route. I'm actually done with everything around Death Mountain except one enemy camp or so. But for the entire east half of Death Mountain one single tour was enough to cover all Koroks, locations and chests. There is little to nothing to find there. To think that on my first playthrough I climbed every single rock around the mountain... I also left my Travel Medallion back at the Deplian Badlands again. This should come in handy later on.

I'm not completely done with Akkala yet, however. There are still some Koroks left to find and some Hinox to crush. And of course there is the Tarrey Town quest, which I just have started.

Master Mode Progress:

  • Divine Beasts Freed: 1
  • Main Quests: 6/20
  • Shrine Quests: 12/42
  • Side Quests: 25/90
  • Memories: 4/23
  • Shrines: 36/136
  • Koroks: 162/900

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Breath of the Wild Master Log, Entry 1

Welcome back!

Last weekend I finally decided to start the "Master Mode" of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on my Wii U. Originally I thought about waiting until I bought a Nintendo Switch, but I got in the mood for the game and didn't have anything really left to do in Normal Mode. This way I will also have the Wii U version fully completed on both modes, after I'm finished. And if Breath of the Wild is getting a sequel, I most likely will want to replay the game shortly before, which means that I will play it on Switch in the next years eventually.

So, this will continue my Adventure Log series, but with focus on replaying the game through Master Mode. It won't be as detailed as my previous logs, so I will mostly talk about the ups and downs of Master Mode, my general progress and anything that I haven't noticed during my first playthrough.

My motivation is to complete Master Mode this Spring and generally I will be playing a lot faster than before, because I know where everything is located this time and all the things I have to do. So, I won't run around aimlessly looking for Koroks for months. It will be more about planning a different route through the game to alter the experience as much as possible.

Master Mode? More like Majora's Mask Mode!

To be honest, my impression of Master Mode so far isn't really a good one. I wasn't a fan of the enemy scaling in this game to begin with, because for the longest time it feels like you aren't making any progress. You get stronger, but so do the enemies all the time. And since the enemies scale with you, it doesn't really matter where you go. Ultimately, the tiers of enemies should have grown regional, instead temporal. Much like in the first Zelda game. There should be Red and Blue Bokoblins on the Great Plateau, while Silver and Gold Bokoblins wait in Hebra. As simple as that.

With the incremented tiers in Master Mode, all it does is make me shy from conflicts, instead of embracing the fights. They put a White-Maned Lynel on the Great Plateau, so what? It makes absolutely no difference, because you just will go around it, much like with most of the enemy camps in the beginning, because fighting Black Bokoblins with a Tree Branch is suicide.

What would have made a difference, are Guardians. They actively hunt you down. But it doesn't seem like Master Mode added any of those, which is a shame, because this would have been an actual challenge. You can still beat them right in the beginning of the game, if you're good at Shield Parrying. A Pot Lid would be enough, if you have the godlike reflexes. But adding a Lynel in early territories, where you have little to no chance of beating him and where you will only run around him, isn't really that interesting.

To add to the whole avoidance of enemies, you even receive the new Majora's Mask item super early. In fact, I landed right on top of the chest, after I left the Great Plateau:

And it's quite helpful, because it keeps the more conscious enemies guessing for a while. You can wander around without becoming a target around every corner. It partially even helps with Octoroks, but not all the time. And of course the Guardians will ignore it. But it still helps quite a lot, which is why I keep wearing it most of the time. Still, it sucks that it made Kilton's shop items absolutely obsolete. In the least it should have been part of his assortment and much more expansive than the other masks. This would be more balanced and you would have to visit Akkala at first.

In addition I'm using amiibo to boost my gear. Getting good weapons and lots of food items helps, as well as some of the armor pieces, especially the Fierce Deity armor, which works the same as the Barbarian set, but is available instantly. I know that the Phantom Armor is also available early on around Hyrule Field, but I didn't want to go there yet.

Crossing off all the Things

Overall my goal is to play much more efficient, because I don't want to spend 600 hours on this game again. So, I'm using to cross off all the Shrines, Korok Seeds and Treasure Chests on my way.

And to be fair, if you take away the awe of exploration, playing this game feels more like a chore. You cross off things on a map and move on to the next things. Korok here, Shrine there. These things act as nice and interesting rewards for exploring everything the first time, but I don't really see the replay value, at least not for completion, because then it's just all about the completion.

I'm still not clearing all at once thanks to Master Mode. The rewards for fighting enemy camps aren't really worth the trouble, often you will loose more resources than you would gain. I will do those later for the sake of completion, but it's probably a lot more fun and resource-saving to clear them, if you have Urbosa's Fury ready, ideally the upgraded version.

Anyway, after leaving the Great Plateau I actually listened to the King this time and followed the way to Kakariko. Boring, really, but it's best to get all the basic stuff ready as early as possible, like the upgraded Sheikah Slate runes or expanding your inventory. Apropos, I completely forgot that you can actually have Hestu's Maracas as a key item in your inventory:

In Kakariko I also did all the Side Quests right away and even cleared the "Sheikah Heirloom" quest already. This one had me baffled the longest time on my first playthrough, because I was missing the "Journal of Various Worries" and with that the Side Quests that triggered the stolen heirloom sequence. But overall Side Quests are just another thing to cross off from a list, because they are completely unrewarding in this game. 50 Rupees for gathering all Cuccos in Kakariko? Come on!

Oh, Snap! No Snap!

After dealing with Kakariko I arrived Hateno and directly made the torch relay to the Ancient Tech Laboratory, where I got my Sheikah Slate upgraded save for Stasis+, because this one needs three Ancient Cores. But I got those soon after, since they aren't exactly hard to come by.

Anyway, one "quirk" for my playthrough will be NOT taking any pictures for Hyrule Compendium. With the way, how Nintendo implemented things, personal pictures are shared between Normal and Master Mode files and overwritten without any warning. So, the new Sunshroom shot that you have to take for Symin will now be displayed in my Normal Mode savegame as well... But because I put quite some effort into taking nice pictures for my original Hyrule Compendium, I don't want those to be lost.

So, I decided to completely buy all stock pictures for the entire playthrough. This would be interesting to have, anyway, but of course you can't get the stock image for the Sunshroom. I was missing Master Kohga and some Lynel weapons in my first game file, where I thought about taking the shots now, but I decided to go for the "all stock" choice now. Whenever I replay the game on Nintendo Switch, I can focus on doing "all custom" shots.

This will be quite expansive, however, it costs 36900 Rupees to buy all the current pictures from Symin... And this doesn't include the boss images yet. But since I had over 90,000 Rupees left on my Normal Mode file, it should be doable. It's just a problem early on, when you need certain pictures in your Compendium right away.

I mostly use the Sheikah Sensor+ on Treasure Chests, where luckily it's in the smallest category with only four pictures. I still had to buy all four to get the entry, but that's alright. Later on I will also need pictures of certain enemies and creatures, where you have to take photos for Side Quests, like a Red Lynel, a Blupee or the different Guardian types. I will need to buy the corresponding pictures before that... But luckily those Side Quests can wait.

(Ideally, Hyrule Compendium between Normal and Master Mode would have been shared, like in a New Game+. But this would probably have been difficult to implement, since you can restart both modes at any time.)

Following the Forest

After Kakariko and Hateno my next big goal was the Great Hyrule Forest, simply because I wanted the access to Hestu's stash expansions right away. I met him again at the Wetland Stable, where the Kaya Wan Shrine has an Ancient Core, which was helpful for getting Stasis+ on the way.

In general it's also good to pick up the Korok Mask as soon as possible, but since I'm using a map this time, it's not really needed. I think, Majora's Mask will probably replace the Korok Mask on this run. Apropos, with Majora's Mask on your face some of the dialogues in the game seem rather funny, especially in the Korok Forest:

I did the three trials of the wannabe Sheikah Monks right away, where the Test of Wood felt surprisingly easy. I just managed to use the updrafts created by the Fire Keese to fly over everything. I had more trouble with the "Lost Pilgrimage" trial this time, where you have to follow the scared, little Korok Oaki, because a Wolf spawned right at the end and attacked me, which revealed my presence to Oaki. Buttons. Apparently the wolf is part of the script, but it doesn't respawn on your second try.

Hearts and Goals

I want to do things differently in my Master Mode playthrough and in that sense I decided to do the four Divine Beasts in the opposite order of how I beat them on my first playthrough. So, the Master Mode order will look like this:

  • Vah Rudania
  • Vah Medoh
  • Vah Ruta
  • Vah Naboris

Also, I want to provoke different reactions from the NPCs as often as possible, where in my original playthrough I only brought the Master Sword to the Gorons. The other races noted that it was missing. This time I want to do it the other way around, so I will go to the Gorons before claiming the Master Sword and do the rest afterwards.

Right now I'm spending all my Spirit Orbs on Heart Containers, until I have reached the 13 hearts for the Master Sword, because I want to get it as soon as possible. Afterwards I will complete both additional Stamina Wheels, because having low stamina isn't much fun. And then I will get the rest of the Heart Containers from the Spirit Orbs.

But my next big goal for now is clearing Vah Rudania. Luckily, Death Mountain is just next to the Great Hyrule Forest, so there is no big detour from where I've already been. Exploring Death Mountain also has the advantage that you will get lots and lots of minerals, which you can sell. And I will need the Rupees.

Around to Akkala

Did I just say that there's no big detour from the Great Hyrule Forest to Death Mountain? Well, I lied. I did make my way to the Foothill Stable, where you can buy Fireproof Elixirs (something that I completely missed on my first playthrough). But from there I decided to head over to Akkala first, because it was "just around the corner" and there are some key places here, including a Great Fairy Fountain and the Akkala Tech Lab.

I also climbed the Akkala Tower, which is kind of funny, because it was my last tower the first time. I completely shied away from it then, but when you know, where to climb to avoid the Guardian Skywatchers, it's not an issue. Together with the Woodland Tower I cleared two of the most hazardous towers right away. I even found that you can climb a broken archway on top of the ruins to jump over the black goo surrounding the base of the tower. So, you don't need to bring any large metallic objects to build a bridge.

What give me more trouble was the Korok hiding under a slab in a ruined pillar of the bridge of Akkala Span. You have to remove the slab with Stasis, but it would always bounce back from the borders and hide the rock again... Kind of annoying, because it broke all of my heavy hitters at the time.

Game Plan

I'm really off to the Gorons and Vah Rudania, now. I'm kind of excited, because it's been a while that I played through one of the four Divine Beasts. This will score me an additional Heart Container, so I will only need to clear 12 more Shrines for the Master Sword. Half of those can be covered by clearing all Shrines around Death Mountain, so this should be easy enough without engaging another Divine Beast.

The only thing that I'm worried about now is the Trial of the Sword, specifically the Beginning Trials, where you have to face two Silver Lizalfos with insufficient equipment. That room seems totally unbalanced and I only hear horror stories about it and how you have to trick the AI into consecutive sneak strikes. Oh, joy... But I'm not going to do the Trial of the Sword until the very end.

Here's my current Hero's Path:

Yes, I actually died early on, after getting the Paraglider. I ran off the infamous edge at the beginning of the game in full excitement, forgetting about my limited Stamina, and then crash landed... I could have started over at this point to avoid any death marks on my map, but chances are that I might score some cheap deaths in the "One-Hit Obliterator" trial anyway. And this one might possibly get erased, though I don't plan to play over 200 hours...

By the way, I arrived at the 20 hour mark at this point. In the same time frame I could fully complete one of the Nintendo 64 Zelda games. Here I barely even got started.

Master Mode Progress:

  • Main Quests: 5/20
  • Shrine Quests: 6/42
  • Side Quests: 18/90
  • Memories: 1/23
  • Shrines: 24/136
  • Koroks: 108/900

PS: That black and red loading screen in Master Mode is absolutely atrocious and hurts the eyes. Who thought that this was a good idea...?

Friday, February 9, 2018

Breath of the Wild: Trial / Shrine Maker Concept

In my latest Future of Zelda article I mentioned the idea of a "Trial Maker" based on Breath of the Wild, which was supposed to be an alternative to a "Zelda Maker". You would slip into the role of a Sheikah Monk and build your own trials, where it's worth it to wait 10,000 years for a chosen hero to arrive and make it through your creation.

Breath of the Wild meets Super Mario Maker meets the Puzzle Creator of Portal 2 - this is probably the best way to describe it. Players will be able to create their own Sheikah Shrines, share them online and play the creations of others as Link. Let's put some more thoughts into the concept!

The Basics: Goal, Rewards & Inventory

Similar to Super Mario Maker you would need to complete your own level, before you can upload it. Here the "flag pole" would be represented by the shrine that houses the Sheikah Monk, who would give you a Spirit Orb. So, that's really it. You create trials and play trials, where you can rate the Sheikah Shrines made by others.

The Spirit Orbs earned by playing other trials could be used for some sort of progress in the game. Like in Breath of the Wild, you would be able to trade Spirit Orbs for either Heart Containers or Stamina Vessels. There would be a maximum, of course, but even if we keep it on the same level as in Breath of the Wild with 30 Heart Containers and three Stamina Wheels, you could still go for a total of 148 player created shrines (not your own), before you would have maximized everything. And Spirit Orbs as a reward would be a good incentive for you to actually try as many trials as possible.

At default the player only always has the Paraglider and the Sheikah Slate available, where a series of tutorial shrines could be used to introduce and activate the four basic runes - Bombs, Cryonis, Magnesis and Stasis - much like on the Great Plateau. Upgrades for Stasis and Bombs could be unlocked via Spirit Orbs or other means later on.

The rest of the inventory is predefined by the trial itself. So, the trial creator can hand the player a number of (already equipped) armor, weapon, bow and shield items from the start, as well as some food, similar to how it was done in the "Realm of Memories" in The Champions' Ballad. Alternatively all available items can be put into treasure chests somewhere in the trial as well.

To simplify things, the game would probably go without the materials. There's no need to collect them and the things you can do with them are rather limited, where using materials was never required to beat shrines of the main game. Armor would probably be reduced to one page, so the inventory here always only has five pages, where the need of a key item page is questionable as well.

Spirit Orbs could even be used to upgrade your weapon, bow and shield stashes in the inventory as a replacement for Korok Seeds. This probably shouldn't be exponential, where four Orbs for one slot seems fine, but the usefulness would depend heavily on trials, where you get and need many weapons. Otherwise the basic stashes should probably be enough for everything...

The Editor

Portal 2 has an excellent Puzzle Creator built into the game, which stands out with its simplicity. And since the test chambers of Portal are very similar to the Sheikah Shrines in Breath of the Wild, Nintendo could learn a lot from this tool, if they ever wanted to offer a 3D level editor of their own.

In the Puzzle Creator of Portal 2 everything is organized in a cube grid. Like with most 3D level editors you carve out a room in a space, but here you do it via cubes only, which would fit the Sheikah Shrines well enough, because often they use giant cuboid rooms as a basis. Anyway, on the grid you can then place elements like buttons, jump pads, laser emitters, turrets, stairs and more:

Some of this is even similar to what we would have in a Breath of the Wild trial creator. There would be droppers for orbs, bowls for orbs, crystal switches, bottom switches, gust emitters, Guardian enemies and even laser beams. Add treasure chests and torches on top of that and you get yourself a nice Zelda editor already.

You can connect elements, e.g. a bottom switch with a locked door, where the editor takes care of the mechanics for you. All you have to do is selecting the two elements that should be connected. Some connections might even be made automatically, e.g. while placing electric conduits.

Some features of the Sheikah Shrines from Breath of the Wild might be too complicated to be realized in such an editor, mainly the various versions of motion-controlled "Apparatus". But those were a nuisance anyway. Overall things should be kept as simple as possible.

The editor itself would be controlled with a mix of touchscreen controls and button inputs. Analog sticks could be used to turn the camera. However, this raises the question, how the game ultimately would work on a Nintendo Switch. For an editor like this, the touchscreen is a necessity, but this way the game would only be playable in handheld mode. To try a level on your TV, you would need to place the Switch back in its dock. It seems a little inconvenient. But we can also wait and see, how Nintendo will handle Super Mario Maker, if that game ever makes it to the Switch.

Survival Trials?

Technically, the "Trial of the Sword" was also just a larger shrine with many floors, where on each floor you have to defeat all enemies in order to proceed. On the one hand it could be interesting to offer something similar in a Trial Editor, but it certainly would make things already more complicated on the other hand, because you would create a series of rooms connected via travel gates, instead of one single room.

It's also questionable, whether such an editor would provide the same level of detail. This starts with creating terrains for the environments, where you don't want to have just flat surfaces. There are simple terrain editors out there, so it's still a possibility, but again it makes things more complex and would go beyond the scope of a cube grid.

At least the editor could offer certain elements from the environments like enemy towers or skull caves, which you could place according to the grid. And of course it could offer the option to add enemies other than the various types of Guardian Scouts, like Bokoblins, Moblins, Lizalfos and even Lynels.


Nintendo could release this as an add-on DLC to Breath of the Wild, but it's more likely that they would release this as a separate game similar to Super Mario Maker. It could still have "Breath of the Wild" in the title, like "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Trial Creator". Or they could go with something simpler to emphasize the spin-off nature.

Anyway, if they were to release this as DLC, then Nintendo would need to update the Wii U version of Breath of the Wild as well. But they most likely would like to put the Wii U behind them as soon as possible and therefore be done with updating Breath of the Wild at some point.

A Wii U version would also bring the advantage of using a touchscreen for the editor while playing the game on TV. That's something the Switch currently can't offer, but Nintendo wouldn't want to put a superior version on the Wii U in any case.

So, ultimately this would probably turn out to be Switch only.