14 things I wish I knew before starting The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild offers a world alive with experimentation. I’ve spent hours upon hours tooling around, throwing meat to dogs, wafting mushrooms with giant leaves, and levitating bombs by attaching balloons to them. I've even used Link’s magnesis power to position a metal beam over a log, drop a crate on it, and launch him into the air. And that was only the starting area. Here’s all the useful, rewarding, and just plain cool features I’ve discovered so far.

You don’t need a pot to cook food 

You can gather up to five ingredients from your inventory and chuck them in any available steel pot to cook them. Everybody who’s anybody in Hyrule knows that. But did you know you don't even need the pot? Head to a hot enough climate - Death Mountain or Gerudo Desert, for instance - and you can literally sear a steak on the ground. The reverse is true for cold environments like the Hebra Mountains, which make your meals icy. You can also start a fire anywhere, be it a bush, tree, or patch of grass, then drop a food item into the flame to roast it. Mmm. For much more detailed look at cooking, check out our The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild best cooking recipes guide.

You can use arrows to prep meat

Shoot an animal with an ice arrow and you’ll get instant frozen meat. Conversely, you can use a fire arrow to get cooked meat. Why would you want frozen meat? Cold cuts can cool Link’s internal temperature - useful in some of the more sweltering locations. 

Rain affects surfaces

There’s more to the rain than meets the eye. When the skies open up it actually makes climbing more difficult, since the cascading water coats surfaces and makes them slippery. Resultantly, every few feet you go up, you fall a foot down. Even the usual method of stamina conversion - climbing hand over hand rather than leaping - doesn't help slippages. There’s nothing to do during showers but wait until it passes. It’s not all bad, though. Rain makes the ground slicker, so surf on your shield (you do this by pressing block with ZL, then jumping with X, then A) and you’ll go a lot faster down slopes. Try this on an icy one - Gerudo Highlands has plenty - and you’ll fly down it. 

Lightning storms will kill you if you’re holding metallic weaponry

Sometimes you’ll be running along, minding your own business, and you’ll start to notice sparks. A little at first, then loads. A few second later, you explode in a brilliant flash, and it’s game over. What happened? You got caught in a random lightning storm, which can strike at any moment. Don’t worry, it had us puzzled at first too. What you need to do when you first see sparks is immediately unequip all metallic armour and weaponry - your swords, bows, and apparel - and just wait until it’s over. Until then its wooden stuff all the way. Thankfully, Nintendo have put little icons next to any item that’ll get you fried.

Every horse is different 

Know your nags. In Breath Of The Wild, horses have different qualities. They’re rated out of strength, speed, stamina, and temperament. There’s a way to know what composition to expect before you saddle up, however. Generally, mottled horses with two colours are slower and easier to climb up on. Solid colour horses, such as all-grey ones, tend to have four or more bursts of stamina, but will put up more of a fight when you first creep up and try to mount them. For these, try to have a few elixirs or dishes that can refill your stamina when they start bucking. Also, you can use this bucking to your advantage: guide enemies around the backside of your horse and it’ll punt them directly in the face.

You can use food to bait fish

Food is clearly the quickest route to friendship in Hyrule. In the same way you can leave it for dogs to eat (more on this later), you can also drop food into bodies of water to attract fish. Why? Because a school of salmon gathered together nibbling a single morsel is easier to catch than a bunch of speedy individuals darting off in all directions. Different food pieces work, so experiment with whatever items you have a surplus of. We find most varieties of mushroom give the best results. We use this technique to catch a bunch of Hyrule Bass for the Great Fairy to the south of Tabantha Tower, which resides due west on the map, who uses them to upgrade your armour. Incidentally, you could try stranding fish on dry land. If you swim up behind them and herd them towards the shore, they’ll actually leap onto the earth in sheer panic.

Rewards help you bond with your horse

If you notice your horse isn’t obeying your commands, and keeps veering off course and running into trees and generally giving you cause for concern that your controller is broken, worry not. It just means it doesn’t trust you yet (your horse, that is, and not your controller). For this you must reward your horse. Do it by pressing L while riding and giving it a nice pat when it’s done something you tell it to do. You’ll know it’s worked if you see a pink cloud of love gas. If it turns left when you tell it, for example, pat it. Soon enough the bond rating will rise. If your horse really isn’t paying attention, a quick fix is holding ZL to enter targeting mode. Moving in this mode makes the horse takes smaller, more precise steps.

Octorok guts can make items fly

In what’s surely Nintendo’s ode to the marvellously strange Metal Gear Solid V, Breath Of The Wild lets you attach balloons to objects to make them float in the air. To be more specific, the ‘balloon’ is officially called an Octo Balloon, an “inflatable Octorok organ with a lot of lift,” as its description reads. You loot them from the Octoroks: Zelda’s classic, river-based, rock-throwing enemies. You simply hold it in your hand then attach it to objects to see them float. Object too heavy? Attach multiple balloons. The Korok Leaf comes in handy here, too, because you can tie two balloons onto one bomb then waft it into enemy encampments. 

You can light grass on fire for updraft

Fire is more than a tool of destruction. When you start a blaze in a patch of grass (or anywhere else dry enough), it actually creates an updraft. Use this rapid air swell to your advantage by whipping out your paraglider, jumping by using X, then pressing X again to glide on it and get boosted way up into the air. This is handy if there’s a sheer rock surface you want to climb that Link’s stamina wheel isn’t big enough for, or if you want to get the drop on an enemy camp by approaching from the sky like a terrible eagle of death. Press Y to slash in the air and Link will do a devastating downward plunging attack. And it’s all thanks to fire. Thanks, fire.

You should hold on to your Korok Seeds

Remember those crafty little Koroks? This bizarre race of leaf-masked tree people first appeared in Wind Waker as pals of the Deku Tree. Hundreds of them are hiding throughout Hyrule: they emerge from the ground if you jump and land within any suspicious circle of rocks you see; they appear if you use your magnet to manoeuvre metal cube arrangements; some hide under lone grey stones; and some if you tread on their pressure-sensitive plates then trigger and complete their target shoot-out. Collect the Korok Seeds they drop and definitely DO NOT sell or cook with them - you'll need plenty for the later upgrades they count towards, which we won't spoil.

Strike the ghost bunny to get rich quick

One time, after spawning at the Ta’loh Naeg Shrine nearest Kakariko Village, I headed up the grassy hill to its right and found something very strange: a glowing blue bunny-type animal in the distance. It was a skittish little fellow and scrambled off as soon as it caught wind of me. I did, however, score a few meaty hits with my halberd, at which point it dropped pure money, green and blue rupees spraying out of its backside. I’ve seen this fruitful little guy approximately one time, and it won’t seem to spawn again, but I’m remaining vigilant for the ghost bunny.

Capturing fairies will help you cheat death

Do you want to live forever? Head to a Great Fairy Fountain and pick up some of the smaller, apparently less great fairies hovering around the gigantic flower petals. Having one in your possession is extremely useful, because it instantly revives Link when he dies. Even better, you can carry three of the blighters at any one time, meaning you can essentially cheat death. The fairies are quick, so you’ll need to sprint, paraglide, or shield surf in before they scatter. An early Great Fairy Fountain lies just beyond Ta’loh Naeg Shrine nearest Kakariko Village. Fairy underlings - they’re still pretty great to us.

Found a rusty weapon? Fix it with an Octorok

Found a rusty weapon stuck in the ground? (Or indeed, stuck anywhere.) Here's some good news. If you throw it at an Octorok while it's inhaling, it'll suck it up and spit it back at you in pristine condition. You can also bounce Octorok projectiles back at them using a shield, in classic Zelda style. Tenta-cool. 

You can recruit canine companions

When you see a dog, you’ll immediately want to run up and pet it, because it’s a dog. Sadly, this isn’t Watch Dogs 2, and no such button exists. What you can do, though, is drop a juicy cut of meat for any canine you see and make friends with it. In turn, your new poochy pal will follow you around panting excitedly. This works with other consumable items, from slippery trout to chicken thighs, but only if it’s dead. We dropped a frog once and it just hopped off. And sadly you can only have one furry friend, putting an outright damper on your dreams of a dog army with which to battle Calamity Gannon. Also, don’t try this bonding exercise with wolves, as they’ll just attack you. Will having a dog help you in any way? No. But still: DOG.

As ever with a world this large, there's plenty left to discover - and we’re only at the beginning. So have you pulled off any neat tricks? Have you found something truly mind blowing? Have you somehow assembled a dog army? Let us know in the comments!

More Breath of the Wild guides:

We recommend