20 tips and tricks for conquering the fantastic and surprisingly challenging new 'Zelda' game

“Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” is a rare treat that comes along every decade or so — a game that moves the entire medium forward.

It’s receiving near-universal praise from critics — reviews aggregation site Metacritic lists the game with a 98/100 average score, based on 67 reviews. It’s being hailed as a “new classic,” and rightfully so: It’s a tremendously good game.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WildNintendo‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ launched on March 3, 2017 for the Nintendo Switch and Wii U.

Beyond just being really good, “Breath of the Wild” is a truly difficult game. It’s also wide open — you can go virtually anywhere in the massive open-world of Hyrule. And that combination of difficulty and openness means that you’re likely to want some guidance as you venture into the wild.

We’ve got just that guidance below, based on my own experience and that of many other reviewers across the world. Let’s begin.


Ben Gilbert / Business Insider
I made this using the Nintendo Switch screenshot tool and the console's editing software, then I copied the image to a microSD card and put it on the internet from my laptop. Pretty neat!

You've set up your Switch -- or maybe you just bought this game for the Wii U. Now what?

Presumably you picked up the pants and shirt in the area where you start, and then equipped them? You should do that. This is not a tip.

There's a lot to see in Hyrule, and you're more or less unequipped to go anywhere. You've got no weapons, no shields, no armour, and no food to help you survive. Figuring that stuff out on your own is the easy part. It's the little stuff that you'll need help with.


Let's start with the stamina meter -- that little yellow circle above Link's head that appears while climbing, running, gliding, or using special attacks. It runs out pretty fast!


1. While climbing, the stamina meter is especially crucial -- running out of stamina could mean a fall to your death. So here's a tip: try to avoid jumping while climbing, however much faster it is.

This is especially problematic early in the game, when you don't have much stamina to speak of.

The jump saves you some time, but is a risky move if you're climbing something tall. You might think that the distance covered in the jump is equal to the amount of stamina it would have taken to climb there. That isn't the case -- the jump actually uses more stamina than the amount it would take to climb the same distance.

The jump-while-climbing manoeuvre becomes more useful as you play the game, when you're scaling stuff constantly and know you have more than enough stamina to get where you're going. It's a nuanced move that requires experience with climbing in the game to know whether or not you're gonna fall to your death. Lay off it at the start!

Interested in extending your stamina meter? There's a way to do that, of course.

You'll need Spirit Orbs by the fistful to extend your stamina meter. You can also temporarily re-fill your stamina meter by eating foods that re-fill stamina. This works in a pinch on a tall climb, but you probably shouldn't depend on it.

2. To extend your stamina meter, you'll need to visit the many, many shrines all over Hyrule -- like this one:


And solve their (amazing, smart) puzzles:


You'll be rewarded with a Spirit Orb, which can be traded for an increase to your stamina:


Spirit Orbs can also be traded for heart containers -- an overall increase to your maximum health:


You must acquire four Spirit Orbs to increase health or stamina. They can be traded at various religious altars throughout Hyrule:

You can visit shrines as many times as you like to trade in Spirit Orbs. I tend to visit this one on The Great Plateau, in the ruins of the Temple of Time. It's an easy fast-travel spot, and there's a place nearby to cook food.

3. While we're talking about stamina, let's look at climbing -- you'll be doing a lot of this. And, often, what you're trying to climb will seem unclimbable with your level of stamina. Here's a tip: Look for diagonal edges, or intentionally placed footholds, for a place to regain stamina mid-climb.

Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

4. One last note: If you think you're not going to make the climb, let go as early as you can and glide safely down. The last thing you want is to fall to your death, forcing you to re-do a bunch of stuff.


Survival is hard in the wilds of Hyrule. Even if the monsters aren't trying to kill you, the elements are persistent. Simply put: You're going to die a lot. Like, a lot.

Get used to seeing this screen regularly. The colour of the 'Game Over' text changes based on how you died.

5. The first, simplest way to aid in your survival is by cooking. Cook often!


There are dozens of recipes to cook from the food you hunt, forage, and pick in Hyrule. But how to cook them? Simple:

- Find a fire with a stone hearth above it (seen above).

- Go to your inventory, select a food item, then choose 'Hold.' You can add more items, up to five, into your hands while in the inventory.

- Exit the inventory while standing next to the fire, and the game will offer and option to 'cook.' Select that!

6. You can use cooked meals to replenish health, increase certain attributes (defence, strength, resistance against elements, etc.), and to make money (sell meals to merchants!). They're crucial as you explore various environments and fight your way through the brutal world of 'Breath of the Wild.'


There's a whole mess of different recipes in 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' that you'll want to use. The long and short is this: You can combine proteins (meat) with most vegetables for a nutritious, healing meal. There's a solid list of recipes right here.

7. Another tip: If you're going to sell your meals, make sure to use five ingredients for maximum ROI (return on investment -- we are a business publication, y'know).


8. While we're talking survival, let's talk about fighting. Weapons degrade over time, and arrows are limited. But you know what's unlimited? Bombs!

You should use lots of bombs. They're free! And unlimited!

9. Bombs aren't the most powerful weapon, but there is a way to upgrade them. You'll want to head over the Hateno Village with some ancient machine parts, and speak with the folks at the Hateno Ancient Tech Lab. They will hook you up!


You can get ancient machine parts by killing guardians, or finding treasure chests inside of shrines. As often as you possible can, seek out treasure chests in shrines -- it's almost always worth it!

9. You can upgrade each of your runes at the Hateno Ancient Tech Shop in this way, using ancient machine parts. It's unlikely you'll find a lot of ancient cores (or giant ancient cores) early on, but I've mostly found them in shrine treasure chests.

I mostly found ancient springs early on, which can be used to upgrade runes.

10. Part of the magic of 'Breath of the Wild' is how alive its world feels. Hyrule's many characters are surprisingly developed, and many offer major clues to secrets -- some outright offer side quests.


This is an especially important tip to follow after defeating each 'Divine Beast.' Re-visit the town you just left -- in the case of the Gerudo Desert, re-visit the Gerudo Town, for instance -- and talk to everyone. You may find new rewards, new side quests, or simply an end to a story arc or two.

This concept is nothing new to video games -- of in-game characters reacting to story developments -- but 'Breath of the Wild' makes it especially rewarding.

11. Use amiibo for bonuses:

Link has a posse.

In the image above, I'm riding Epona from 'The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,' and by my side is Wolf Link from 'The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess' -- all within 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.' But how?!

By using amiibo -- this works for both the Switch or Wii U versions of the game -- you can unlock Epona and Wolf Link in 'Breath of the Wild.'

In the case of Epona, you'll need the Link amiibo that comes from 'Super Smash Bros. for Wii U' -- the one in the green tunic. For Wolf Link, there's a new amiibo of Wolf Link himself that you'll need. He only has three hearts, so he can be taken down by enemies pretty quickly. You can re-spawn him once every 24 hours.

There are other bonuses and unlocks associated with other amiibo. Give them a shot and see what happens!

12. Prioritise climbing towers, and use them as a means of travel!

There are towers located in each area of Hyrule, and when you climb them an area of map unlocks. It's an aggressively video-gamey touch -- something pioneered (and overused) by Ubisoft's 'Assassin's Creed' franchise -- but one that Nintendo offers a unique spin on.

The game's tower system is useful for two reasons that might not seem immediately apparent:

1. Towers offer a means of seeing a massive area of the game's world at once. You can use your Shiekah Slate to zoom in on potentially interesting places, and then tag them directly on your map from there. And you should be doing this: It's the primary means of discovering cool stuff in 'Breath of the Wild' (at least in my experience). It's also a great way to spot shrines in the distance.

2. Towers are fast-travel spots, and gliding down from them is an easy way to get from place to place. Often I find myself fast-travelling to a tower nearest to where my mission objective is, then floating as far in that direction as possible.

13. That said, take the road instead of the woods or mountains. You'll find vendors, side missions, and lots of other stuff.

And, with any luck, you won't accidentally run into this giant ogre.

14. Stay under a roof of some type in lightning storms! You will die if you are struck by lightning!

During one storm, I took refuge in this destroyed wagon. It saved my hide.

15. If something looks 'off' or strange, you should probably go explore that. It could be a one-off secret, of which there are many. It could also be a Korok!


And Koroks are important, because they give you Korok seeds. These little guys are everywhere. If there's a circle of rocks, perhaps there's a reason it's there. If there's a lone rock on top of a mountain peak, there's almost certainly a Korok underneath (old Hyrule saying).

Oh, and why do Korok seeds matter? Because you can upgrade your inventory slots by trading in Korok seeds to the Korok Man on the road to Kakariko Village. Boom!

16. Turn on the game's 'Pro' HUD (heads up display) mode! Notice how the screen below only has hearts in the upper left corner, and none of the UI stuff that's normally in the lower right? That's the 'Pro' HUD. It makes a pretty game look even prettier!


You turn on the 'Pro' version of the HUD by going to the game's options menu and selecting 'Pro' from the 'HUD mode' toggle.

17. Save early, save often. Save before missions, save after missions, save after particularly tough fights. Truly, seriously: Save constantly.


18. Don't be afraid of running. You're almost certainly going to encounter an enemy that's far more powerful than you at some point. Play it smart, and run for your life.

Nah chill.

19. Fast-travel is your friend. When in doubt -- before a big mission, for instance -- don't hesitate to fast-travel back to, say, Kakariko Village to stock up or prepare yourself.

It never hurts to be over-prepared in the wilds of Hyrule.

20. Get you a horse! If you don't happen to have the Link amiibo, there are wild horses all over Hyrule. Sneak up on one and mount it!

The more time you spend with a horse, the more likely they are to obey your commands. Horses can be parked at the stables all over Hyrule, and then picked up at any location. It's like a cloud system for horses -- HyCloud, if you will.

Finally, this isn't a tip so much as it is reassurance: Stick with it! The further you get, the less you'll die.

Adventure awaits the bold-hearted.

'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' feels punishing -- punitive to the point of 'Dark Souls,' almost -- at the start. You die a lot, and it's not always clear what happened. Maybe you just ran into an enemy who was strong enough to kill you in one hit. Maybe you don't have any armour yet. Maybe you tried getting to the shrine in the mountains without any cold resistance food (it's made with red peppers).

I assure you, it's worth it to persist. You'll soon have plenty of health, stamina, and strong weapons. 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' rewards discovery. It is a game that encourages exploration and determination with delightful treasure. Telling you what those treasures are could ruin the surprise, but rest assured: You should stick with it.

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