It was a looooooooooooong wait, but The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is out on the new Nintendo Switch and the Wii U. Read our The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild review to see we loved it enough to give it Fandom’s first ever 5 out of 5 score. It’s definitely worth your time, but it can also be a very daunting game at the outset. What do you do first?
Now that I've played a good deal of the game and gotten to know Hyrule, there are five starter notes I'd love to pass along to you. The game is great on its own, but all these The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild tips will make your opening hours in the game go much smoother. Let's start with the most important one.
Don't Rush Yourself - Soak It In
When you take your first steps in Breath of the Wild, it's very clear where your first objective is, and that's the case for much of the game. It's easy just to fulfill all the campaign missions. But, please, don't play the game like that. You'll be depriving yourself of so much beauty and some of Zelda's best moments.
To see the best Hyrule has to offer, take your time looking around the vast map you have in front of you. Just walk in a direction and discover things. The sense of mystery and discovery are Breath of the Wild's best assets. Maybe you'll find a challenging enemy encampment. Perhaps you'll meet a weird NPC with a special mission. Or maybe you'll find a hidden shrine, essential to completing the game.
Shrines Are Your New Best Friends
Shrines are mini-dungeons you'll find peppered throughout Hyrule. At first, exploring them are critical to getting your first items and abilities. After that, they're seemingly more optional to the main quest jobs you're given. But if you want to easily explore Hyrule, shrines should be a priority every time you find one.
First off, completing shrine challenges get you Spirit Orbs, which are necessary to increase your stamina and health stats (more on that later). Even if you can't complete the tougher shrines, at least stepping foot on them will activate each shrine as a fast travel point. It can't be overstated just how big the map is in Breath of the Wild, so you need all the fast travel locations you can get.
Stamina or Health: What's More Important?
You'll come to depend on Link's new stamina gauge throughout the game because you'll need it to climb, swim, run, and glide while exploring the map. Also, forget the old Zelda cycle of defeating bosses to get an extra heart in your health. Now you'll be upgrading both of those using the Spirit Orbs collected in shrines. Only, you'll have to choose which to level up when, because it's one or the other.
In the opening hours, four Spirit Orbs can be spent to level up stamina or health, and it's a difficult choice for your limited upgrades. While being able to withstand more damage is helpful, I went with stamina upgrades in the early going. Having the extra room for longer climbs or lengthier hang glides makes the exploration much easier, and since that's the core of the gameplay, it's a smart investment.
Don't Get Too Attached To Weapons
For longtime Zelda fans, you have much to unlearn in Breath of the Wild. All these assumptions of how Link is "supposed" to play. The top habit to break early on is that no weapon lasts forever. Don't get too attached to that ax or sword, because it'll be shattering sooner than you think.
It can hurt at first to lose a weapon you're just beginning to master, but it also makes them more valuable and part of your combat strategy. When you're fighting some unimportant enemies, do you use your strongest weapon to end them quickly, or use something weaker to protect your best stuff? You'll do best if you stop being precious about your favorite items, and just tell yourself you'll find something better soon enough.
There's Often More Than One Solution
Lastly, at the start of the game, never forget how much Breath of the Wild depends on physics. What I mean is that the game runs on the Havok physics engine, and all the items in the world respond to force and weight as you'd expect. That means that some simple puzzle solutions are staring you in the face, but you aren't used to using them in a Zelda game.
You may think you need to cross a bridge or swim across some dangerous water -- but what about chopping down a nearby tree and riding that log down the river instead? Why fight a bunch of baddies when you could just drop a boulder on them? And did you know that a grass fire can create an updraft that sends your glider high up in the air? There are all these little things to experiment with instead of playing Zelda the straightforward way, and it pays off every time.