Traveling Thoughts on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (The Divine Beasts)

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A few disclaimers before we move forward:

  • Traveling Thoughts is a means of putting down my thoughts in a bit-by-bit process that will eventually lead up to a formal review of the overall subject. These posts will be more personal than objective, though one should expect a good amount of both as is my personality of habit.
  • These posts will absolutely contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Two months later (on the nose!), I am back with this hellishly-long series on an incredibly old subject of critique, bereft of the excitement and magic contained in my first post, published 363 days ago (Two days off from a whole year… the coincidences today are scary). Don’t let that bring you down, as I will do my very best to entertain you with my personal experiences with four major challenges that make up the core of the game. Some of them are pretty straightforward and simple while others can GO TO HELL.

To get to these Divine Beasts is a set-up that repeats itself four times during the game’s playtime. Explore a certain important area, meet the catalyst to approaching the Divine Beast, do a little mini-game that will allow Link to get on board the Divine Beast, and then activate the runes inside and defeat a boss at the end of each. It doesn’t deviate from this general chain, only alters the way each is presented dependent on the scenario. For the sake of making it easy to follow, I will split up the specific Divine Beasts and their introductory phases by area. This will likely be one of the longer posts.

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Zora’s Domain

Here we have Link required by the king of the Zoras to climb a mountain and face a Lynel and grab a hundred shock arrows, as these arrows are necessary to weakening the Divine Beast here enough to board. Fun fact: playing this game for the first time, I was under the impression you would have to fight the Divine Beasts head-on in a Shadow of the Colossus-like fashion. Going inside of them was a neat twist. After obtaining the shock arrows, Link rides on the back of one Prince Sidon and climbs up the waterfalls shooting out of holes in the Beast’s sides. After going airborne, the player must unsheathe their bow and arrows and shoot BIG, SHINY BUTTONS on the Beast’s front and back. Speaking honestly, this event really isn’t that exciting save for before being given the chance to ride waterfalls as the Beast shoots random icy projectiles at you. With the speed at which Sidon swims combined with realistic(?) physics applied to arrow-shooting, the timing for deflecting these giant hunks of ice can be a nice challenge. I also enjoy trying to go for two BIG, SHINY BUTTONS at once when the game only expects you to hit one per waterfall ride (a total of four times).

Once inside the beast, the spirit of whoever was once the guardian of the place (in this case, Mipha) contacts Link and shows off the game’s still-atrocious voice acting and sub-par dialogue. A year later and I still can’t get over it. She instructs the player (as they all will) to collect a map of the Beast by using the Sheikah Slate to activate a central terminal. Once that’s been accomplished, the player now has the capacity to alter the state of the Divine Beast (most notably changing the terrain or moving various places) to aid in the new task of activating five other terminals to completely override the Beast’s evil circuits. Once again, no Beast deviates from this plan, they only change the manner in which it is presented. By the third and fourth time this got pretty annoying, so I began skipping basically all of the dialogue, because I trusted none of it would say anything about the character other than their role as spiritual hand-holder.

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For this specific Divine Beast, it’s one of the simpler ones. In fact, I’d argue it’s the easiest one. Luck was on my side when I chose to do this area first. Lots of puzzles concerning water and how Link can manipulate it with his abilities. Again, not very difficult. An all-around enjoyable starting point for what to expect from the Divine Beast segments, most of which consist of solving little puzzles to advance to terminals, climbing and falling, and shooting at black sludge. The issue with it being not very difficult means there’s not much memorability attached to it, so while it’s a rather painless experience, it’s also somewhat forgettable. And then the boss is easy as shit if you spam bomb arrows… as most of them are.

Goron City

Okay, okay. I need to start this with a funny story. I hinted at an embarrassing fact concerning the trek to the Divine Beast in this area in an earlier post, so here it is. Link has to save this cowardly Goron, who is a direct descendant of Daruk, from a camp of Lizalfos and stuff because he’s a useless slop of clichés. After this, Link has to use him to clear a path up Death Mountain where the Divine Beast is. Essentially, this cowardly doof can create an impenetrable force field around himself, so he can be used as a cannonball that is shot out of Goron-esque cannons littered throughout the mountain. Along the spiral of Death Mountain (which is pretty fun), these cannons are placed in front of the Divine Beast as a huge indicator that it wants the player to use the doof to shoot at the Beast. I, being an idiot, never realized this, so I continued to climb up and up and up until I hit a dead end. Confused, I hopped around every which way, both directly on and off the mountain, to try and trigger something. It was the only time in the game I resorted to using a guide, and when I found the answer, my immediate reaction was “Ohhhhhh, I’m so stupid.”

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This introductory phase is my favorite of the four, as it’s the most challenging and unique paths to the Divine Beast. While the other three feature Link in some cinematic fashion of flying or riding things as he shoots at weak spots on the Beast, this one actually has the player control Link, as in full control. Just climbing up the mountain with an annoying dumbo as various obstacles pop up to be dealt with in a myriad of different ways. I also really like the accompanying music track, which reminds me of a particular track from Thousand-Year Door. There’s a nice feeling of freedom that differs from the other introductory phases.

Once inside the beast, the spirit of whoever was once the guardian of the place (in this case, Daruk) contacts Link and shows off the game’s still-atrocious voice acting and sub-par dialogue. A year later and I still can’t get over it. He instructs the player (as they all will) to collect a map of the Beast by using the Sheikah Slate to activate a central terminal. Once that’s been accomplished, the player now has the capacity to alter the state of the Divine Beast (most notably changing the terrain or moving various places) to aid in the new task of activating five other terminals to completely override the Beast’s evil circuits. Once again, no Beast deviates from this plan, they only change the manner in which it is presented. By the third and fourth time this got pretty annoying, so I began skipping basically all of the dialogue, because I trusted none of it would say anything about the character other than their role as spiritual hand-holder.

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But here there’s a twist! The beginning portions feature Link in a dark room almost pitch black. Accompanied (should the player choose) only by a torch with a blue flame, it’s reminiscent of creepy horror tropes that, speaking honestly, unnerved me quite a bit going through it the first time. I figured enemies would shoot out of nowhere and attack me at every step, only to have this not happen. Well played, Breath of the Wild. Once the lights are turned on after achieving the map of the Beast, it turns into the standard fare for Beast puzzles and such. Though this one’s a tad more difficult, so I’d advise any newcomers to be extra observant here. A little tougher and a little bit of area-locked freedom (such as climbing on the outsides of the Beast to advance) makes it slightly more enjoyable than the Zora-specific Beast.

The boss is even a tad different here! Spamming with bomb arrows won’t work for the entirety of the match, as this boss acquires a shield when its health is halfway down. Figuring out how to bypass it shouldn’t be too hard, but it took me a while (and a few healing items) to finally figure it out, so points for effort.

Gerudo Town

Fuck this one.

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You ride on a sand seal and shoot bomb areas at its feet while avoiding its big ol’ lightning strikes that come out of its lovely humps. The Beast’s a camel, by the way. The seal’s a little hard to control, but as long as you don’t go overboard with speed and such, you’ll be fine. The catalyst to this area has a big ol’ lightning shield that makes the Beast’s attacks null. Just be sure to keep within it.

Once inside the beast, the spirit of whoever was once the guardian of the place (in this case, Urbosa) contacts Link and shows off the game’s still-atrocious voice acting and sub-par dialogue. A year later and I still can’t get over it. She instructs the player (as they all will) to collect a map of the Beast by using the Sheikah Slate to activate a central terminal. Once that’s been accomplished, the player now has the capacity to alter the state of the Divine Beast (most notably changing the terrain or moving various places) to aid in the new task of activating five other terminals to completely override the Beast’s evil circuits. Once again, no Beast deviates from this plan, they only change the manner in which it is presented. By the third and fourth time this got pretty annoying, so I began skipping basically all of the dialogue, because I trusted none of it would say anything about the character other than their role as spiritual hand-holder.

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Fuck this Divine Beast. It’s confusing and frustrating and it’s so, so, so, so easy to get lost and side-tracked. I’ve played this Beast twice and both times I struggled to get to all the terminals, even with the experience the second time around. It involves turning the Beast’s torso into four different positions, there being three manipulable parts. At some points, these three parts need to be in a specific order in order to progress. It took me hours to beat this the first time and took me more hours to beat it the second time. You go inside and outside and lift the Beast’s head forward and backward and pray that it will be over soon as the sound of electricity hugs your ears until they become static.

The boss here is also kind of annoying and can’t be spammed with bomb arrows. Cherry on top.

Rito Village

There was nothing super remarkable about this area as an area in general, so it’s only appropriate that its Divine Beast intro phase and Beast itself are (almost) equally uneventful. Its intro phase is kind of cool, though. You get to fly around in the sky and use the paraglider as a means of replenishing stamina while shooting at weak points and avoiding giant lasers. Not at all hard, but it’s a decently exciting experience before going into the Beast.

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Once inside the beast, the spirit of whoever was once the guardian of the place (in this case, Revali) contacts Link and shows off the game’s still-atrocious voice acting and sub-par dialogue. A year later and I still can’t get over it. He instructs the player (as they all will) to collect a map of the Beast by using the Sheikah Slate to activate a central terminal. Once that’s been accomplished, the player now has the capacity to alter the state of the Divine Beast (most notably changing the terrain or moving various places) to aid in the new task of activating five other terminals to completely override the Beast’s evil circuits. Once again, no Beast deviates from this plan, they only change the manner in which it is presented. By the third and fourth time this got pretty annoying, so I began skipping basically all of the dialogue, because I trusted none of it would say anything about the character other than their role as spiritual hand-holder.

There’s a lot of flying around. Lots of manipulating wind and perspective. Going against the wind and using it as a speed boost. I’d say this Beast experience is between the difficulty of Goron City’s and Zora’s Domain’s, while not quite as memorable as either. Of course, I only went through this Divine Beast once seeing as I never made it here during my Wii U playthrough, so that might play some part in it. Not horribly annoying, not horribly innovative, not horribly boring. It’s another all-around experience that doesn’t spur much discussion. It’s “The Air-themed Beast.” I don’t even remember how the boss operates.

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Funny how the longer this post went on the less enthusiastic I became. Almost feels like I’ve felt I’ve been writing too long. Or perhaps the order of Divine Beasts took a toll on my willpower. Indeed, after doing all these back-to-back-to-back-to-back, I was just ready to get the game over with. One of the really nice things about this game is that there’s so much to do outside of the main objective. And believe me now, so I won’t have to repeat myself with the whole review: the main objective is cool and all, but it’s so overdone and simplistic that it’s tiring… especially when all the Divine Beasts feel close to copy-and-paste models of gameplay. They’re nice as a standalone concept; together they feel like a chore by the end. I enjoyed them as I went through them. I only wish there was more they could do to make each experience feel different.

(All gameplay screenshots courtesy of, once again, MKIceAndFire.)

2 thoughts on “Traveling Thoughts on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (The Divine Beasts)

  1. Oh man I couldn’t imagine playing through all the divine beasts in a row. I played the game like 40 hours by the time I got to Zora’s beast, and a few minutes in I was bored to tears. I prefer to experience BOTW by abusing the stamina mechanic to run up a slippery mountain while it’s raining even if it takes an hour – because NOBODY TELLS ME WHAT I CAN’T DO.

    Also, mining gems… because having 25k rupees makes me feel like the gangster of the wild.

    Also pro-tip, you don’t have to use your bow for the ice that the elephant throws at you. You can just use the ice break thing in your sheikah slate. I didn’t know either until my uncle pointed it out to me.

    Nice post though. I don’t think I’d ever know how all the divine beasts play out without this.

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