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27 essential Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild tips to know before you play

There's so much to learn in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild that without some Breath of the Wild tips it can be a daunting thing to approach. Sure, it starts easy enough with a nice gentle tutorial area to introduce Hyrule. But before long there are laser firing guardians, the Yiga Clan, dangerous Lynels and far, far more. 

It all kicks off quickly, and in a game easily capable of touching a 60-80 hour mark without even trying, Breath of the Wild tips are essential to ease you through the experience. These tips collect and pass on our wisdom, gleaned from hours of playing, and pass them on to you, so you can learn faster. 

1. Complete shrines to get hearts and stamina 

Given that you only start the game with three hearts and what quickly becomes not enough stamina you need to up those stats and fast. It’s time to hit those shrines ASAP. Each of the 120 shrines scattered across Hyrule offers up a Spirit Orb upon completion. Earn 4 Spirit Orbs and you can exchange them for either another heart container or an addition to your green stamina bar. It’s not instant though - once you’ve got your four orbs, you’ll need to find one of the many statues of Hylia scattered across the world and pray to her. Your first statue is inside the Temple of Time but probably the easiest one to fast travel to is the one above in Kakariko Village. She’s standing peacefully in the middle of the pond surrounded by torches, and you can probably land right in front of her if you paraglide just right from the closest shrine. For more shrine info, check out our Breath of the Wild shrine guide.

2. Cooking is easy 

It might seem like stating the obvious, but cooking pots are exceptionally useful for crafting recipes and you’ll find them scattered across the world. To get your Masterchef on, all you need to do is head into your inventory and ‘hold’ all the items that you’d like to combine. The limit is five items but you can even cook individual apples etc if that’s all you’ve got. Once you’ve decided on your ingredients, press B to return to the game while holding everything, approach a cooking pot and then follow the cook prompt. You’ll then watch everything dance in the pot before finding out exactly what you’ve made, complete with satisfying jingle. For more in-depth culinary tips, head to our BOTW cooking recipes guide.

3. Keep an eye out for Hearty food and useful Shrooms 

There’s food in abundance scattered across the world, as long as you’re willing to go looking for it. Keep an eye out for mushrooms around the bottoms of trees - Stamella Shrooms are exceptionally useful for mixing into recipes to give you a much needed stamina boost, and there are plenty of extra abilities that come with various types of fungi. It’s also useful to keep your eyes peeled for anything with ‘hearty’ in the name. The Hearty Truffle, for instance, will temporarily increase your maximum hearts, making you seriously ready to take on your first dungeon or even a shrine combat trial against a particularly tricky Guardian. 

4. Elixirs come in seriously handy 

It’s fun to cook in Breath of the Wild but don’t ignore another big main source of extra abilities - namely, Elixirs. These don’t need any of those pesky ingredients like other recipes, they just need critters like butterflies, lizards and bits of monster. Combo up a Bokoblin Horn and a Restless Cricket, for instance, and you’ll get an Energizing Elixir that’ll completely restore your stamina. If it looks like it would probably taste vile while cooked together, then you can probably make an Elixir with it. The monster part you use will dictate how long the ability lasts, while the critter represents the ability itself. For more info on Elixirs, their ingredients and where to find them, check out our Breath of the Wild Elixir guide

5. You can change your mind on hearts and stamina

If you feel like you made a bad choice at the last Hylia statue, worry not as you haven't wasted your Spirit Orbs. For a price, you can switch out your stamina and heart containers if you head to a statue in Hateno Village. Hand over 100 rupees and this smart talking statue will steal your heart and give you back some stamina. The first time you meet it, it'll steal your heart but don't worry - just go and ask for it back and it'll hand it over then tell you how to do it in future. It's near the entrance to Hateno Village, down by Firly Pond. Here it is on the map in case you get stuck:

6. 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.

7. 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, which is very useful in some of the more sweltering locations. 

8. Rain affects surfaces but you can shield surf faster

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 avoid 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 hitting 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. 

9. 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 has put little icons next to any item that’ll get you fried, and there's rubber armour available to keep you nice and grounded against electrical attacks. 

10. Every horse is different 

Know your nags. In Breath Of The Wild, horses have different qualities. Once you've managed to sneak up on one, and calm in down, you can take it to the stable to have it assessed then get a saddle and bridle etc. Horses are rated out of strength, speed, stamina, and temperament, however there’s a way to know what composition to expect before you saddle up. 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, stock up with 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. For more equine advice, visit our Breath of the Wild horses tips.

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Ben Griffin
In 2012 Ben began his perilous journey in the games industry as a mostly competent writer, later backflipping into the hallowed halls of GamesRadar+ where his purple prose and beige prose combine to form a new type of prose he likes to call ‘brown prose’.