Note from the Editor: I thought it’d be fun to get some thoughts out on the most recent Zelda, as I’ve sunk a great deal of time into it, and a lot of the magic of this game is telling stories. None of these stories are spoilers, per sé, but all take place outside the opening area, plus I talk about one of the first towns I visited. If you want to know just my early thoughts on the game, without any spoilers, go and check out my post about it on my blog.
Taming Cain The Horse
One of the early objectives in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is to head out to Kakariko Village. Kakariko serves as a staple of the series; I can’t think of any console Zelda that properly takes place in Hyrule without it. Maybe the first two? A Link to the Past really set the precedent for it, and it’s been beautifully realized in Ocarina and Twilight Princess as well. I honestly wasn’t sure to expect it in this game, but hearing it was there, I found some comfort. This is Hyrule after all.
Along my way to the winding roads that led up to the tucked away village, an open field and a ranch lay in front of me. The Dueling Peaks Stable was the first interaction with widespread animal life and animal husbandry for me in Breath of the Wild. Of course, I was so excited to see some dogs, goats, and… horses?! My god. This was it. It was time to get my trusty steed.
Some questioning of the ranch’s employees informed me that if I wanted a horse I’d have to go into the wilds of the neighboring field and break one in myself. If I was able to do so, I could bring it back to the stable, get it its own room and board, a saddle, and really have a companion on my journey. I was excited.
Something brought to my attention was that spotted horses in the wild are easier to tame, but have less stamina. Full color horses are wilder, harder to tame and befriend, but have more stamina. So of course I was going to befriend a solid-color horse.
I crept up on a flock of all wild, solid-colored horses, cautiously sneaking up to a light-brown mare that seemed like a sturdy animal. I jumped up on his back, with all the horses around going wild, splitting off in all different directions. We tossed around for some time, the new steed frustrated and confused. There is a system in BotW that lets you comfort a horse as it pushes back against your commands. You actually have to do this over time to build up trust with a horse. It’ll disobey you less and less frequently as you slowly grow a relationship with the steed.
We road back to the stable, having bonded over some bokoblins we had to deal with on the trip back, and I checked my new friend in for his own stockade. My trusty steed, now named Cain (because it’s a cool name) was my first real companion in the wilds of Hyrule.
My First Trip To Hateno
My destination was Kakariko, but talking to a passing saleswoman on the road to the mountains, I heard of a smaller village out east. The village was so far on the outskirts of Hyrule that it had avoided much damage from the “Calamity”, so I was intrigued. Kakariko wasn’t going anywhere, and why not step off the beaten path to see a little bit more of the world?
Cain and I saddled up and set off through a large canyon pass, some forests, stopping in on a few fellow travelers, saving a pair of sisters from bokoblins; it was a rawkus trip! Finally we arrived in what would be my first town in this new adventure, Hateno Village. Hateno was a small, farming town, and without much stock in weapons (because they were so far from conflict) it instead held stock in dyes. I could change the color of my clothes to whatever I wanted here!
Upon entering the town, one of its folk greeted me, and offered to give me the full tour. Of course, how could I deny this? Bouncing around the town from shop to shop, checking in on the inn, and of course seeing my tour guide’s own little store for armor and clothing, I was humbly sucked into the gentle and beautiful town of Hateno. There were big windmills, sprawling hills, farms in every which direction; it was a clear place, full of people and life, going about their days.
I was sucked into the town, and I don’t want to give too much away about the sidequests I discovered there, but I was happy to spend over an hour helping the citizens of Hateno out, and can’t wait for my next visit.
Guardians on the Field
To take a step back a bit, the first thing I did when sailing from the Great Plateau, the starting area, was sail straight into the Hyrule fields in front of me.
It ends up, this was a terrible idea.
The first thing I chose to do was dive into a large lake near some ruined buildings. There was a small island at the lake’s center, and it seemed like a cool place to hangout, so why not? Upon arriving on this small island, the giant stones on the landmass came to life, forming a giant rock monster. Suddenly, a boss life-bar spread across the top of the screen, and I was genuinely shocked at how quickly I clearly made a terrible mistake. Suffice to say, I was dead in actually two seconds.
I soar past and over the lake this time, avoiding rock monsters, but still stubbornly insistent on exploring the central Hyrule area. I had marked the closest Shiekah Tower, which serve as your “Ubisoft-Tower-Equivalent”, but aren’t really. They fill in the land of the map, which is actually completely blank until you hit these towers, but don’t fill it up with collectibles, points of interest, or anything really. It’s handy to have the typography of the land on your map though, and it details the names of rivers, ruins, fields; it’s quite glorious actually. It feels like a genuine adventurer’s map.
I was headed for the tower when I got distracted by what would be my first shrine off the Plateau! There are four shrines, or mini-dungeons, on the Great Plateau, but they serve more as tutorial and introduction than anything else. This was the real deal, just a shrine out in the wild. I entered it, and was struck by far more powerful enemies than I could have anticipated, as well as many cool puzzles. One that even used motion controls, but not in a bad way, I promise. I died a few times in there, but I left confident and happy. I beat it, and I was proud of that.
I left the shrine with renewed vigor, ready to hit up that tower, only to be horrified to see a full, real-ass Guardian patrolling the adjacent road to the tower. Guardians are the horrific monsters that we saw when we first saw Zelda advertised, and they for sure one-shot the poor little three-heart me.
I snuck past it, toward the tower, and as I started the climb, I was horrified to realize there were three or four broken down Guardians, which is to say they were completely stationary, but could still shoot the hell out of me, situated around the tower in a way that meant they were gunning for me constantly as I tried the climb the tower. I slowly crept up the many handholds of the tower, cautiously hiding from the death-lasers that shot on from below, and ultimately achieved victory, conquering my first tower off the Plateau.
Upon completion, I immediately headed back to the Plateau. I’d have to come back to face these Guardians when I was considerably stronger. Something I very much planned on doing.
I have a kingdom to save, after all.