After all this time, you finally decide to pick up a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to see what all the fuss is about. You boot up your Nintendo Switch, get your favourite controller, and awaken Link for yet another epic adventure to save Princess Zelda. However, you find yourself strangely overwhelmed and feeling unprepared for what lies ahead.
Fear not, fellow adventurer! You’re not alone in how you feel. Although BOTW was released for the Nintendo Wii U way back in 2017, game walkthroughs are still popular and brand new players – probably like yourself – frequently pose the same question on LOZ fan forums and groups: “What are some tips for playing BOTW for the first time?”
That, my friend, is exactly the question I’m addressing within this article. After several playthroughs in both Normal and Master Modes as well as completing the two DLCs, here are my 5 must-know tips for any player beginning their better-late-than-never first Breath of the Wild playthrough!
Tip #1: Consider buying the Expansion Pass DLC sooner vs later.
This choice affects your game more than you think! The Master Trials (Pack 1) and The Champions’ Ballad (Pack 2) contain a lot of worthwhile additional content. Some of which, unfortunately, will become rather obsolete if you’ve played for a while.
The Master Trials DLC offers a few key features, including Hero’s Path Mode, that may benefit new players the most. Hero’s Path Mode tracks everywhere you’ve been on the map so you know exactly what you’ve seen vs not seen. For newbies getting accustomed to the enormous map, this might be particularly helpful.
Between both DLCs, there are also 17 powerful pieces of armor hidden throughout Hyrule. The majority of these items are most advantageous early on and cannot be upgraded. Once you start upgrading Link’s other armor, though, many of these DLC items become pretty useless. Be sure to find them early in your Breath of the Wild playthrough to get any use out of them!
Are you a a longtime, experienced LOZ fan and ready to commit to BOTW in full? Then I recommend buying the DLCs before starting. My #2 tip will come into play there! Otherwise, play the game for a wee while but don’t go too far before making a decision regarding the DLC pass. You might regret it!
Tip #2: Consider playing in Master Mode first.
This may seem a bit backwards. But hear me out… especially if you’re a veteran gamer late to the BOTW party.
There is no difficulty level in Breath of the Wild. It is a one-size-fits-many challenge that is meant to be played by a very wide age range. HyperX’s parent gaming guide website SuperParent says BOTW is playable for kids as young as 7-years-old. Take that to heart. If a 7-year-old kid can beat the game on their own, that says a lot about its overall complexity and level of challenge.
While BOTW is certainly a good game regardless of difficulty, some experienced gamers may find it dull and too easy to fully enjoy.
However, purchasing the Expansion Pass DLC will give you access to Master Mode. Whether or not Master Mode is genuinely more difficult overall is highly debated but it does change or remove some of the easier mechanics.
Master Mode removes one-shot protection, starts all enemies at one level up, and regenerates enemy health, among other things. However, perceived difficulty will still vary per person and fluctuate through the game. Regardless, if you are at all inclined towards a bit of bite in your gaming experience, Master Mode is the way to go. Play Normal Mode as a casual, relaxing exploration experience later on.
Tip #3: Eat your way to victory!
Cooking and temporary buffs gained by eating food are two somewhat new mechanics found in BOTW. Potions (elixirs) still exist, but you can’t beat a freshly cooked meal for health and skill boosts!
From upping your stealth, to power gains, elemental defense, and more, cooked dishes can be the difference between success or failure in a fight. There are a whopping 118 different dishes and 12 basic elixirs (with variants) you can whip up at any cooking pot.
Quality/quantity of ingredients and even time of day will alter the final product greatly. Some buffs last for around a minute while others can last as long as half an hour. You’ll have fun experimenting with recipes, for sure!
There are cooking guides a plenty online for info on the best recipes to suit your needs. You can also use the amazing Guide of the Wild online BOTW cooking pot to simulate recipes before you try!
Tip #4: Don’t worry about the money, Greg!
If you’ve played LOZ titles in the past, you might be a little too obsessed with Rupee collecting and find the lack of cash in BOTW nerve-wracking. Worry not! You’ll be swimming in Rupees before you know it with nothing to spend them on besides arrows. Money isn’t that crucial in BOTW, so don’t stress.
Most key items like armor pieces necessary in specific areas can be obtained for free. Buying things outright is reserved for players who want to do so but the game won’t force you to pay up for things you need. Upgrades to your armor also don’t cost Rupees but instead require ingredients found in the wild like monster drops.
Similarly, you don’t have to worry about the size of your wallet anymore. Gone are the days of putting Rupees back into a chest because your wallet is full!
Tip #5: Try not to hoard… too much.
Hoarding is a common phenomenon among many gamers, including myself. We are afraid of scarcity, loss, and being unprepared for unexpected hardship. We like to be one step ahead of the game and have a well-stocked inventory at all times. Does that sound like you at all?
If it does, hoarding items – particularly decent weapons and shields – might become a habit for you during your Breath of the Wild playthrough. I’d encourage you to resist, though, and use what you find instead of saving it for a rainy day! The items are there to help you, so let them.
High-level weapons and shields are found more frequently than you might realise. Gems can be sourced if you know where to look. Cooking pots are everywhere, so eat eat eat! Don’t save all the Lynel weapons for the Ganon fight… you’ll never get through them all. If you hoard too much, you’ll end up over-prepared and overpowered and possibly having less fun than you should.
BONUS Tip: Don’t compare it to other Legend of Zelda titles.
This is more of a caution than a true playthrough tip, but still important to state. Regardless of your experience playing BOTW and how much you love (or hate) it in the end, look at it as its own game first. If you’ve played all the other Zelda titles, you’re going to want to compare and contrast. Try not to. You will be swept up in the [extreme] differences right away and miss what BOTW has to offer.
Breath of the Wild is a very different title in the Legend of Zelda franchise. Many things we’ve come to know and love about Zelda games are gone. But many new things have been introduced. It may take time to get used to. Help yourself by focusing on what makes BOTW standout on its own instead of comparing to other games in the past. You’ll have a better playthrough experience if you do, I guarantee it!
Go forth into the wild!
Do you feel a bit more prepared for your very first Breath of the Wild playthrough? Hopefully you do! If you have any additional advice for other new players, feel free to share in the comments!