BoWlog #7: Replaying Breath of the Wild

If there’s one thing 100+ hours with Breath of the Wild has taught me, it’s that this game rewards curiosity and experimentation. I’d just beaten Ganon for the first time and seen the credits when I felt a curious urge: the urge to start Breath of the Wild over again and make a bee-line for Ganon. No Divine Beasts, no exploration… just the bare necessities. Why? To see if I could do it, of course!

A screenshot taken near the end of my first playthrough. Link is barely recognisable underneath that armoured plantpot.

This is not an experience I’m used to in gaming – in fact it’s almost unprecedented. I’m not generally big on replaying games unless it’s an especially short arcade-type game. To stick with a game after reaching the credits is highly unusual for me, with the original Xenoblade Chronicles and Chrono Trigger being two rare exceptions.

It wasn’t only pure curiosity, I’ll admit. As anyone who has beaten Breath of the Wild will know, completing the four Divine Beasts makes the final boss a relatively simple affair. The more exploration you’ve done out in Hyrule, the stronger you are and the less daunting the boss is. It’s a nifty bit of “choose your own difficulty” design, and my choice to thoroughly rinse Breath of the Wild’s overworld resulted in a satisfying but easy final battle.

My first playthrough of Breath of the Wild was downright decadent at times.

As much as I enjoyed destroying Ganon, I couldn’t ignore the masochistic part of me that loves unreasonably challenging games. Even while making my assault on Hyrule Castle for the first time, I was taking mental notes for a possible speed run-like replay. “If Link entered the castle this way, he’d only have to fight this one big enemy… and maybe that could even be skipped with enough wood and flint…”. Those thoughts stretched backwards too: “What food would Link need to beat the game with only three hearts? What items would be essential? Which areas would he need to visit?”. You get the idea; a plan gradually formed, and I was becoming excited to put it into effect.

After starting a new profile and rushing through Breath of the Wild’s mandatory training area, the Great Plateau, I went south to the Faron region. Why? Bananas, that’s why. Bananas raise your attack considerably, and I figured I would need bunches of them to make any headway in Hyrule Castle. At the same time, I grabbed and registered a good horse. A horse isn’t essential to beat the game, but it helps with Ganon’s final phase and with approaching Hyrule Castle.

I then fought my way to the castle… with hardly any fighting. Having explored the castle fairly extensively with the powered up, armour-clad Link in my first playthrough, I knew some tricks for avoiding the combat-heavy areas. The castle has a relatively unguarded back entrance which took me deep into the castle’s interior. The interior is fertile ground for high quality weapons, and, from there, Ganon’s lair was just a nifty climb away.

Hyrule Castle holds many secrets…

It’s safe to say I was caught completely off-guard by what occurred in Ganon’s lair on my second visit. In my first save file, I walked in and fought Ganon; in my second, Ganon failed to materialise. Instead, I was confronted by the first of the four Divine Beast bosses. And then the second. And then the third. And then- you get the idea. What had been a relatively straightforward single final boss fight in my original save file became a taxing boss rush followed by the final boss in my “beeline” save file.

It was at this point that I started to doubt my mission’s viability. I never found the Divine Beast bosses too challenging individually, but collectively was another matter. Not to mention I only had a limited number of weapons, with limited durability and no Master Sword for backup. After several failed attempts, I decided to leave the castle and upgrade in a couple of ways. I visited Hestu for two new weapon slots (not necessary, as it turned out); I went to the Fairy Fountain and grabbed a few red fairies (necessary); and lastly, I sought out additional food to heal me in battle (necessary).

You’re heading for a world of pain, my friend.

And so I went back to the castle, and to Ganon. It took many attempts before I made it to Ganon proper, and even then I carelessly died on more than one occasion from sheer excitement at getting so far! Several goes later, I hit another brick wall. The issue was equipment: my weapons weren’t durable enough to last the entire fight against Ganon. I started altering my strategies for the Divine Beast bosses, relying more on arrows and conserving my more powerful melee weapons for the Ganon fight. With time and practice, I was gradually whittling away more of Ganon’s health. It must have taken at least 30 attempts in total, but finally, with no red fairies remaining, just a few pieces of food, and my heart in my throat… victory was mine.

I cheered, I pumped my fist, I bragged on Miiverse – and not just for a few minutes afterwards either! It felt like a big deal, and a real accomplishment. Certainly it was an extremely memorable experience and a great way to cap off my time with this game. They always say it’s best to go out on a high, don’t they?

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6 comments

  1. Athena | AmbiGaming

    Woo! That sounds absolutely amazing!! Congratulations! That’s boss rush sounds really tough, and not like something I’ll do my first time around. But you’ve inspired me to try something different!!

    • veryverygaming

      Glad you enjoyed reading! I tried to keep spoilers to a minimum while still getting across what happened, so I hope that it hasn’t spoiled anything for when/if you eventually play Breath of the Wild. The boss rush was really tough, and also a complete and utter surprise – I had no idea it was coming! It turned out to be a much harder challenge than I was expecting, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Even so, it was a lot of fun (for me anyway) and I like that the contrast between my first and second playthrough is so extreme: 127 hours on my first file, and just 10 on the second!

      • Athena | AmbiGaming

        Wow! That’s a big hour difference! I wonder if you hadn’t known what you did about the game if it works have taken longer. Oh now I’m tempted to try but it seems like such a bad idea haha

        Not spoiled at all! Just more intrigued than before!

  2. moresleepneeded

    Congratulations on completing the game, despite making it so difficult. The description of the battle against Ganon with the inexperienced Link reminds me of when I first played Majora’s Mask. I decided to speak to the kid with Majora’s Mask, rather than talk to the other kids, which led to Link fighting a very durable and difficult boss because I could only use weak swords and limited range weapons. I was also relieved to win after three hours of fighting. When I next played the game, I was equipped with the Fierce Deity Mask, which made the boss much easier.
    A lot of the description of this game seems very different to other Legend of Zelda games. What does food do? What do you mean by your melee weapons wearing out? Why does one picture of the game seem so futuristic?

    • veryverygaming

      Thanks! Three hours of fighting Majora?! That’s brutal. I didn’t realise it was possible to fight Majora straight away – I thought you had to complete those mini-dungeon challenges first. The Fierce Deity Mask makes that fight very easy, but wow if it isn’t satisfying to shoot those beams out of your sword. It’s a great reward too I think for collecting all the masks, although I do wish it were possible to use the mask outside of the final battle.

      In Breath of the Wild you have to cook food to heal and give yourself extra attack/defence, and all of your weapons have limited durability and will break after some use, so it’s pretty different to previous Zelda games. As for the futuristic look, I’m guessing you mean the screenshot of the map. It’s a curious choice, definitely. Reminds me of the Metroid Prime games.

      • moresleepneeded

        When I first played Majora’s Mask, I did not really bother talking to the other kids, so I went straight to the one wearing Majora’s Mask. I remember the Fierce Deity Mask can be used on the other Bosses, it was interesting to fight the Woodfall Temple Boss as a much larger character.

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