The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is potentially the most important game of the 2010s. Arriving as a launch title for the Nintendo Switch and immediately becoming the system’s killer app, Breath of the Wild is a radical reinvention of what fans had come to expect from a game in the Zelda franchise. For the first time since the original Legend of Zelda on NES, players drop into a non-linear open-world and are given total freedom. Breath of the Wild doesn’t just call to mind the series’ origins, it boldly breaks away from 20 years of franchise tradition that Ocarina of Time established.
Thanks to this new direction and the potential for hundreds of hours of play, Breath of the Wild quickly became the best-selling single game in the franchise by a large margin. As of June 2023, the title holds sales figures of just under 31 million units, outselling all previous 3D Zelda titles combined. The runaway popularity of the new open-world format led to a direct sequel in the form of this year’s Tears of the Kingdom, which has also broken records as both the fastest-selling Zelda title as well as the fastest-selling Nintendo Switch game.
Although Breath of the Wild abandons many of the staples of the Zelda series, it remains true to the original vision held by creator Shigeru Miyamoto. Series producer Eiji Aonuma has now confirmed that players can expect to see more open-world Zelda titles in the future, indicating that the gameplay style of BotW and TotK is here to stay, at least for now. Thankfully, anyone who has played BotW can attest to this being a great thing. Breath of the Wild establishes a winning framework that gives the Zelda franchise a much-needed shot in the arm.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild Premise
Unlike the previous 3D Zelda titles before it, Breath of the Wild is a non-linear adventure set in an open-world. Rather than progress through a series of predetermined curated dungeons spread out on a contained map of Hyrule, players drop into a massive open-world version of the iconic Legend of Zelda setting and given very little direction beyond “Stop Ganon”. The game does shuttle players toward a series of mini-objectives that build toward the ultimate goal of stopping Calamity Ganon, but the order and speed at which players do this is completely self-directed.
Outside this change in the structure of the game’s pacing, BotW features several important changes to the general gameplay. Instead of acquiring permanent weapons and upgrades, players’ equipment is only temporary useful and subject to durability. All weapons (save the Master Sword) are breakable, and every armament in the game has limited use. That said, players now have several new outfits and sets of armor, each coming with its own bonus to both Link’s defense and occasionally featuring a set bonus ability.
Although the entire map is open to Link, there are certain areas that feature stronger foes or elemental hazards that require preparation. The dungeons of past Zelda titles are gone, replaced with 120 Shrines for Link to visit. Each Shrine is typically a mix of puzzle, traversal, and combat challenges. Successful completion of these Shrines rewards Link with resources to upgrade his heart and stamina containers.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild Main Characters
Despite being a radical departure from previous 3D Zelda titles, Breath of the Wild is still very much a Legend of Zelda game. One of the key touchstones connecting the title to the series’ past is its recurring characters. In addition to our Hero of Time Link and the Princess Zelda, eternal adversary Ganon makes an expected appearance. Main characters in Breath of the Wild include:
- Link: The Hero of Time, Link returns in BotW as Princess Zelda’s guard and a knight of Hyrule. Following the Great Calamity that saw Ganon successfully defeat the 4 Divine Beasts, Link is sealed away in a tomb and slumbers for a century. At the beginning of BotW, he awakens to find Princess Zelda and defeat Calamity Ganon.
- Zelda: The princess of Hyrule and chosen defender of the Triforce, Princess Zelda is both the series’ namesake and the reincarnation of the goddess. Her sworn protector is Link, and the two of them are reborn age after age to defend the world against evil.
- Ganon: Ganon, sometimes Ganondorf, is the eternal adversary of both Link and Princess Zelda. Breath of the Wild begins 100 years after Ganon is victorious in plunging Hyrule into darkness.
- Impa: Impa is an eldery lady who often reappears in the series as an aid to both Link and Zelda. In BotW she can be found in Kakariko Village, where she offers Link guidance on his journey.
- The Great Deku Tree: The Great Deku Tree is a source of infinite wisdom and the protector of the Master Sword. He stands guard over the Master Sword in its resting place, awaiting the return of Link as its rightful wielder.
Games in The Legend of Zelda Series:
Breath of the Wild marks the 18th mainline entry in the series, cementing its place as one of the most long-running and impactful franchises in gaming. While the series itself has some impressive sales figures and critical reception across all entries, Breath of the Wild is both one of the highest-rated and best-selling games in the entire Legend of Zelda franchise. Main games in the series include:
- The Legend of Zelda (1986)
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1987)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991)
- The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (1993)
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000)
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Oracle of Ages (2001)
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2003)
- The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (2004)
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004)
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006)
- The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (2007)
- The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (2009)
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (2013)
- The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (2015)
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
- The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (2019)
- The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (2023)
Zelda: Breath of the Wild Cheats and Secrets
There are no supported cheats or cheat codes for Breath of the Wild. Still, the game does feature plenty of secrets and exploits for players to take advantage of. Each of the following secrets simply requires making creative use of BotW‘s in-game systems and mechanics.
Using Magnesis to Make Flying Machines, Go-Karts, and Powered Rafts
Players can exploit the Magnesis rune by placing metallic objects inside of other objects, creating makeshift vehicles in the process.
To make a flying machine, you’ll need to place another mine cart inside of an existing mine cart, since Magnesis does not work when standing on an object. Before placing the second mine cart on top of the existing mine cart, make sure a metallic object is in the bottom mine cart. With the second mine cart placed on top, stand in the second mine cart and use Magnesis to lift the whole apparatus. The controls can be very finnicky, but with some finesse players can get it stablized enough to fly.
Making a go-kart is even easier, as all players need to do is find an available mine cart and place a metallic chest inside of it. Push the chest to the front of the cart and use Magnesis to propel the cart forward. You can now steer using the d-pad and press “up” to move forward. The controls can again be finnicky, and note that dying or losing the cart over a cliff causes it to respawn in its original location.
Similar to the other two makeshift machines, players can easily propel a raft by bringing a metallic object on board and using Magnesis to lift it against the sail. With the object pressed against the sails, press “up” on the d-pad to power the raft and jet across the water.
Snowball Bowling for Easy Rupees
Head northeast of Hebra Tower and speak to Pondo at his lodge. Talking with Pondo will allow you to start the snowball bowling mini-game. The goal is to knock over all the pins, with knocking over 10 pins rewarding 300 Rupees. Each entry to the game costs 20 Rupees but a helpful trick makes netting 280 Rupees of profit an easy task. When the game begins, use ZL to lock-on to Pondo. His position indicates the best place to throw the snowball. Once you have the correct position nailed down, simply repeat to easily earn 280 Rupees in a matter of seconds.
Blood Moon Cooking
Blood Moons occur in BotW randomly, causing enemies to become more aggressive and recently-felled enemies to return from the dead. As soon as the telltale red moon appears, head to the nearest cooking pot and craft recipes using all available food items in your inventory. Cooking during a Blood Moon carries a 100% chance for critical success, meaning food is more potent and has better effects.
To run infinitely, spam the B button as you normally would while holding the left analog stick in the direction you want to go but also hold “down” on the d-pad. This button is typically used for whistling but can be held while already running to allow Link to run forever.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild Cheat FAQs
Are there cheats in Breath of the Wild?
While there aren’t any literal cheats, there are plenty of secrets and exploits for players to use. All of these secrets naturally occur as part of the game’s programming and simply require the knowledge of how to use them.
Can you cheat to get the Master Sword early?
While there’s no cheat to get the Master Sword early, players can take advantage of an old Legend of Zelda trick to get the sword as soon as possible. The only requirement to get the Master Sword in BotW is to have 13 full heart containers. By focusing on completing Shrines and only leveling up hearts, players can enter the Lost Woods and get the sword from the Great Deku Tree relatively early.