Day 91 of Breath of the Wild (10/19/2017)
I’m here, and I swear I didn’t forget about this project. It feels no good to have to say that after saying a very similar thing in my last post. That was at the end of September, and then I was “caught up” and needed to go back into Hyrule and get some stuff done. And I did, I totally did. But that was three weeks ago. So I think this might be a real long one because I spent about 12-15 hours during the last weekend of September really enjoying playing BOTW. The goal is (maybe I’ll actually do it if I keep writing it) to update this diary for every five or so hours of game play with short two or three paragraph posts a couple times a week. But enough about my procrastination and lets talk about this (insert whatever adjective you like best here) game.
At the end of my last post I was headed back to the Gerudo desert because I knew/wasn’t convinced that I had sufficiently explored the area. And I was right. It kicked off pretty great straight away because I came from the North where its drops off very quickly from snowy mountains to empty desert. I paraglided off the mountains into a persistent raging sand/electrical storm where the mountains meet the desert floor. Surprise, the storm is connected to a shrine hidden within it. Totally by accident I glided from the mountains to within meters of the shrine and went inside to collect a spirit orb. Upon exiting the storm was gone, and I made my way towards Gerudo Town. I headed past the town to the Southwest just to see what’s out there. I found three shrines scattered around the desert which required some puzzling, sand seal racing, and fetching. Its important to say this here, but it also comes up again in something that happened to me later, that this a full Hyrule. Even in a desert which they could have justifiably left empty, they hide shrines and weird quest and runes and statues and animal bones and even these empty places are full. Each of the four shrines felt appropriate to the place/context of the game. Even the fetch quest was kind of intestines it made you go to the secret underground Gerudo ice mine and retrieve ice for a special Gerudo beverage to revive someone who collapsed in front of a shrine. Its dumb (maybe) but you don’t care because its fun and challenging and part of a realized world. I took a total of four spirt orbs away from this trip to the desert, but I have to go back at least once more to get down to the very southwestern corner (I think there may be more down there).
I wanted to stay close to the southern coast as I headed east, and would head north once I was directly south of Death Mountain. If I had written this two or even one week ago I might have remembered some more details about what I found here. On the southern Coast, about equidistant between the eastern and western edges, you can see a shrine on an island some ways off the coast. I had actually visited this shrine before, but was forced to retreat as it contained an expert level guardian to battle and my efforts would have been futile. Coming back now it was dispatched without much trouble (mostly just a lot of arrows). On the shrine island I finally figured out the use of korok leaves. In a lot of places you find little rafts, and I never knew what they were for as I couldn’t figure out how to move them. Obviously though (after 80 hours of playing) you use a korok leaf to blow wind into the raft’s sail and move it across the water (idea came from a recent shrine quest). It’s kind of embarrassing that it took me that long to figure that mechanic out, but it did happen at an opportune time as I needed to get to a distant island. Beyond the island containing the shrine another much larger island was visible so I took the raft out to Eventide Island. As soon as you walk onto the beach the same text that appears when you enter a shrine came onto the screen and explained that this whole island was a shrine challenge and that you would be stripped of all your gear until you completed it. This is the same idea as the master sword trials you can enter in the korok forest. Stripped of all gear except the paraglider what can you accomplish. So I am not proud to say that it took me three tries to beat this shrine as I really have become reliant on having a lot of arrows to use at all times. The hardest enemy on the island is a hinox who has the artifact you need around his neck and hinox are easily beat if you have a lot of arrows. Something I keep coming back to with this game is how is requires you to constantly combine the learned mechanics in different ways to accomplish a new task. Link’s speed/climbing ability came in useful here to get above/away from enemies and use jump attacks or drop bombs. Each attempt at Eventide Island took me probably about 45 minutes, but never was it boring or unengaging.
That thought, about being bored inside of this game, leads directly into what happened after Eventide. I made it back to the mainland, and then headed east along the shore for a while until I was almost directly south of death mountain before heading north. It changes pretty quickly from coast into huge snowy mountains. And there was a moment there, where I was going up and along the side of these mountains, that I though this may be the most uninteresting stretch of Hyrule that I’ve come across in the 80 hours of gameplay. So for any of you who may also at moments doubt the ability of this game to blow you away, DON’T. As soon as I had that thought I came out from the side of the mountain I had been running/climbing across onto a flat plain in front of a mountain peak that sort of curled over the top of where I was standing. At the point where the peak rose out the flat plain was a prayer shrine, and wrapped around the peak was a corrupted glowing dragon, So yeah, I was totally wrong. This was one of the glowing dragons that I have seen flying around Hyrule at night, except this one was controlled by Gannon so as I approached it took off and I had to paraglide after it and shoot the glowing eyes that covered its body. Now I love a bit of the old paraglide and bow and arrow work, but regardless of that, this game, at a moment of uncertainty presented one of the most beautiful/ visually interesting elements I have seen yet. I haven’t yet and don’t think I will ever get used to being surprised by this game, and that really makes me smile because I can’t wait to find out what awe inducing thing I will discover next.
After helping release the dragon from Gannon’s clutch, I paraglided off the mountains trying to fly as straight north as I could, heading for death mountain. By luck or happy coincidence I dropped out of the sky right by a stable where an enterprising NPC happened to be selling fire resistance potions. This was the necessary step before heading to death mountain as these potions prevent you from catching on fire as head to the volcano. From that stable it’s pretty straightforward to find Goron City. The path was well marked and aside from a bunch of rock octorocks it was easy going. Before you hit the city you come across an active mine where a Hylean in a weird suit is working. He has the fire resistant gear that you need to move freely around this area and he gives you the helmet after you catch ten fireproof lizards for him. When you get to the Goron Village you have to talk to the chief, then go find the Goron that has the chief’s back medicine, and then you and this other person head up the mountain to take on the divine beast. I don’t want to talk a bunch about the divine beast as it wasn’t the most interesting challenge or extremely dynamic. You head up the mountain were enemies come at you intermittently and you also have to fire the Goron you are with from these cannons you come across at the divine beast. The Zora and the Rito divine beast challenges were absolutely fantastic. They were challenging and dynamic and had great boss fights to finish, the Gerudo and the Goron beast’s do not rise to the same level. That is not to say they are bad, but I just enjoyed doing other things in this game more, and right now I don’t think any of the beasts top the Yiga clan dungeon I talked about previously. One thing I haven’t talked about yet, and that really impressed itself on me in Goron City was the character/personality design that went into the Zora, Rito, Gerudo, and Goron. When you’re in Goron Village this absolutely delightful and weird and jangly tune plays on repeat and, oh I just really loved it (listen here). The music also perfectly complimented the Goron, who are this odd mix of bro-ey muscle heads, mixed with a small child. They get very excited and are very polite and accommodating, while maintaining this tough exterior. It’s very weird, but I loved it. I did not comment on the other groups as I did those divine beasts, and I should have, but maybe they are not as weird or idiosyncratic as the Goron. The Rito and Gerudo are both extremely proud groups, nice but proud. The Zora are unique I suppose. They were very flashy but also insular. Perhaps the least willing to accept Link’s help as an outsider before coming around. I don’t know, if anyone has thoughts about there favorite NPC groups or characters, but you do let me know in the comments.
Mentioning the Zora, that brings me to about the last thing I did the last time I played the game. After beating the divine beast and a couple of shrines that were located near Goron City, I needed/desperately wanted to find Kilton. Beating the four beasts unlocks the dark link armor so he was my next stop. I waited around Goron City till night fell, but I couldn’t find him. Thinking that maybe he doesn’t come up here (because of the heat) I headed for Zora’s Domain and reached it in the middle of the day and waited for night when he appears on a cliff over the Domain. Long story short, I found Kilton, got the Dark Link armor, and it is great. Link has weird white hair and red eyes, and whenever you come across and NPC they initially are scared of you (it’s cute or something). It’s not quite the Majora’s mask armor, but it’s pretty good.
When I go back into the game I will be heading out of Zora’s domain There are about forty shrines left to find, three fairy fountains, and a couple memories to rekindle. Recalling the checklist I included in a previous post, those are the three things I need to accomplish before facing Gannon. The Shrines will be tough because they are you don’t stumble across them so much and they often now involve soling a riddle to uncover. But whatever happens, I will be posting about it here more frequently than I have done so far, I PROMISE.