Day 65 of Breath of the Wild (9/23/17)
After finishing up in the Akkala region (found Kilton, went to the tech lab, took down a lynel) I headed southwest toward Gerudo Town and my third divine beast. That trip basically crosses the entire map from top right to bottom left, and if you’r not fast traveling, you’ve got to have enough inventory (be prepared) to meet what’s out there. Prepared in this context is relative term. For some players it means having plenty of hearts to accommodate your hacking and slashing style you which runs through hearts quickly. Or if you have developed combat skills you are probably only worried about having enough weapons for the journey. I’ve tried to stay away from the comparisons to Skyrim, but I need one right here. In Skyrim the game’s story existed mostly out in the wilderness, but you couldn’t exist out there forever. You couldn’t unload your wares or create new consumables outside of a populated area which forced me to always “gear up” before I left a town/village to go wander in the wilderness. Zelda inverts this somewhat this by putting random outposts and NPCs out in the wild, having multiple ways to create fires with scavenged materials, putting cooking/crafting bowls in enemy camps, and having weapons/shields really only acquired by defeating enemies. You can acquire some very useful clothing in different towns, but you also find armor through random side quests and in shrines. This means you don’t need to always be on your way to a town to replenish your kit, but you do need to be willing to get stuck in with enemies and adventures. My predicament traveling towards Gerudo Town was that I had run my weapons cache down to a few underpowered wooden ones, some weaker swords, the master sword, and my bows and arrows (I’m pretty good about maintaining my bow and arrow stock). I needed to get my weapon cache back up, and decided on a visit to Hyrule castle is where you find some of the best weapons in the game. (I mentioned this visit in my last post but didn’t go into detail).
As the center of “Gannon’s power” there are guardians everywhere but, with a newly acquired ancient bow and arrows from the tech lab, one arrow to the eye makes fast work of them if you can get in close. The guardians are flying around the upper walkways and patrolling the courtyard inside the outer wall, but once inside the castle proper it’s not too heavily populated with monsters. They are located in a few large rooms, both wielding and guarding quality weapons. When you enter the castle you get a local map of the castle (same way you do when you enter a divine beast) which makes you appreciate how huge an area it is (there’s a reason you can see it from most places in Hyrule). I stayed on the ground and first levels of the castle, which offered plenty of challenges. There are a series of gate house on the ground level that you sort of naturally wander into, and then when your inside the gates close and a lyne appears in front of you. This happened to me twice and by this point I had picked up some more weapons so I took both of them on, but they were a real grind. Fighting a lyne out in the wild, you have a bit of space to get away from it and fire some arrows or try and get behind it and hack at it from there. Fighting in a small space means that you always have to be moving and make each opening count. Each lyne probably took me at least five goes or so (I’ve still got to work on my combat) but I managed to beat both and pick up powerful swords, shields, and bows from each. I wasn’t to keen to run around the castle more than I felt I needed to as I want to preserve that challenge for the last fight when I fight my way towards Gannon and the end of the game.
I got out of the castle and continued heading southwest. I made a few minor deviations from the road to try and find some shrines, but they really are getting harder and harder to find. I’ve cleared 60 or so of a possible 120, but there are 42 shrine quests I have to complete which expose hidden shrines, meaning that there are only 20-ish shrines left to stumble across in the wild. Anyway, Gerudo town is a city where only women are allowed inside the walls, so you have to find a guy on top of a building in the nearby Gerudo bazaar who sells you a women’s outfit so you can sneak inside. There’s been a lot of internet discussion about the messed up gender dynamics of this mini quest, and I don’t have anything to add other than it’s weird and maybe it would have been more interesting to examine/utilize Link’s naturally androgynous appearance in some way (just a thought). Because you are a Voe/Man (the clothing requirement is even odder because all the NPCs seem to know your a Voe anyway) you have to prove yourself to the queen by retrieving a stolen artifact for the queen. This artifact just happens to have been stolen by the Yiga clan, whose members have been harassing me since I first used the paraglider to float off of the great plateau, so its time for a bit of Revenge.
The Queen sends you to their hideout outside Gerudo and you have to fight your way through two rooms of foot soldiers to get to the boss. This mission is possibly the most enjoyable thing I have done in the game yet. There are two levels of Yiga soldier (a heavy and an archer) and on my first two attempts the heavy Yiga soldiers killed me in one blow. So rather than die a bunch of times attempting direct contact, suddenly Zelda turned into a cover based shooter. The rooms had terrible line of sight, a lot of corners, and guards walking repeating paths whom you could attract to a specific point by dropping bananas. The heavy soldiers took about five arrows to bring down so you have to be quick to avoid attracting more attention. The quick shot Rito bow came in very handy here as I dispatched guards and snuck around corners to move through each room. The final boss fight was against a very fat Yiga master and the whole confrontation had a bit of a Wizard of Oz feel. He was loud and boisterous but you ultimately defeat him by using his own stupidity again him. It was a very enjoyable turn of pace after the difficulty of the previous rooms, and the fight had this quirky jangling music playing throughout the whole thing. I’m sure other people had a more straight forward time with this challange, but I love the fact even in a prohibitively difficult part the game makes space to come at it in multiple ways. I don’t know if I will have to do something like that again, but man it was fun.
You defeat the boss and collect the artifact to return to the Gerudo Queen. The Divine beast quest then commences, but it was not up to the level of the previous two beasts and after the Yiga hideout a bit of a letdown. Agains, I don’t know how other people cleared the hideout (I imagine it’s quite easy if your more skilled at combat) but the stealth challenge, being limited to a bow, and the ridiculousness of the final boss was challenging, fun, and totally unexpected.