The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the most exciting, boundary-breaking games to come from Nintendo in years. By returning to the series' roots as a free-roaming, secret-packed adventure, Nintendo has managed to do the impossible: completely reinvent a franchise that many players had come to feel was staid, predictable, and even boring. Not just that, but they managed to do so while also updating it enough to make it feel modern and competitive with the open-world games that populate consoles. The game turned out to be such a successful reinvention that for a brief moment more people bought Breath of the Wild for the Switch than actually bought the Switch itself - this game is single-handedly powering the success of Nintendo's latest home console.
With a game this big, this involving, and this well-designed, it's no surprise that gamers have dedicated themselves to discovering all the secrets that it has to offer, and it's a game that has quite a few of them. From hidden gameplay mechanics to crazy creatures to ways to break the physics and combat systems, Breath of the Wild has countless weird and fun details to keep you occupied as you journey across Hyrule to save the princess from Calamity Ganon. Here are the 15 INSANE Breath of the Wild secrets that you probably didn't know about.
15 Translate Ancient Hylian Runes
When you access a new shrine, tower, or drop pins on the map, you might notice a sequence of foreign letters scrolling vertically. These letters are ancient Hylian, but far from being made-up gibberish, they can actually be translated into normal human language. Many of these translations are simple instructions, but some have hidden easter eggs: the Hylian on the pins seen through your Shiekah Scope translates to "it’s dangerous to go alone," a reference to the old man’s dialogue from the original Legend of Zelda. Even better, though, is the ancient Hylian in one of the game’s shrines, which translates to "all your base are," a reference to the endlessly memed dialogue from the 1992 Mega Drive game Zero Wing.
14 Hack Your Travel
Breath of the Wild's physics system means that you can find all sorts of ridiculous ways to get around Hyrule more quickly. One kooky method is to stack a metal cube on top of a mine cart, climb on top of that, and then use your Magnesis rune to lift yourself in the air as a DIY flying machine - but be careful, since the contraption can fall apart easily if you go off balance. Similarly, if blasting air at your sail with a Korok leaf is taking too long when you're out at sea, you can use Magnesis to push a metal chest or crate against the sail, which will bizarrely propel your forward. Magnesis isn't the only power that will make hopping around Hyrule faster; if you use Stasis on a boulder, hit it until its arrow glows red, and then hop on just before it launches, you'll be blasted across the landscape with it like it's an express train.
13 Try New Recipes On A Blood Moon Night
One of the best-kept secrets in the game has to do with cooking during that spooky time known as the Blood Moon. Every few nights, the moon turns bright red as it rises in the sky, and at midnight all the enemies that you’ve slain respawn. This can make for some stressful battles and drains your resources, not to mention the fact that seeing a bright red moon rise over the horizon is a bone-chilling sight. But there’s an upside – in the minutes before the Blood Moon takes effect at midnight, seek out a cooking fire and start tossing in ingredients. You'll find that the meals you create have increased stat boosts, maybe to prepare for the coming gauntlet of revived foes.
12 Find Lon Lon Ranch
Hyrule Castle is enveloped by darkness, and the kingdom around it is in ruins, but that doesn't mean that you can't discover some familiar locations. If you look on your map of Hyrule, you'll find that southeast of the castle is an area labeled "Ranch Ruins." Going there reveals the bones of a structure eerily similar to one of the most memorable locations in Ocarina of Time, Lon Lon Ranch. The giveaway is the brick wall at the left of the entrance, which bears a masonry pattern that's too similar to be a coincidence. Maybe one of Epona's descendants is loping around Hyrule, just waiting to be tamed?
11 Control The Guardians’ Fire
The mechanical guardians are some of the most fearsome enemies in Breath of the Wild, with their creepy machine-octopus looks and laser blasts that can kill you in one hit. But with a bit of ingenuity, you can co-opt their weaponry and take advantage of their firepower. First, use the upgraded Stasis rune to freeze a Guardian in its tracks and run around to its backside. Then, smack them with your weapon. This works as a manual fire switch, triggering their laser beam to shoot in whatever direction they’re pointed – you now have a cool Guardian gun to blast other enemies with.
10 Find Hidden Nods To Designers
The shrines throughout the game have some out-there names, but the very first shrine you access in the game has a secret message in its title. The Oman Au shrine on the Great Plateau is a cleverly-disguised anagram on Aonuma, as in Eiji Aonuma, the lead producer on the Legend of Zelda series. The nods to famous figures don’t stop there: observant players have noticed that Botrick, a soldier who patrols around the Outskirt Stable in Hyrule Field, bears a remarkable resemblance to Satoru Iwata, the beloved head of Nintendo who passed away last year. Moreover, Botrick will tell you about a secret spring lying at the top of Satori (!) Mountain nearby. Go there at night, and you’ll find a glowing forest spirit who is said to watch over Hyrule with a benevolent eye, matching developers’ comments that they felt Iwata’s spirit watching over them as they designed Breath of the Wild. Then try not to cry a little.
9 Rain Chicken-Death On Enemies
As any Zelda fan worth their salt knows, you should never attack the Cuccos. The little demons look like harmless chickens but, if you prod them with your sword, they’ll swarm and attack you until you flee to a nearby building - there are few more ignominious deaths than getting pecked into an early grave. Though Breath of the Wild lets you kill most other animals, it keeps this tradition alive. However, unlike the other games in the series, its open-world design lets you get a little creative. If you take a Cucco into battle and toss it into an enemy attack, the Cuccos will swarm onto your adversary, destroying them as they once destroyed you. Maybe these feathered fools aren't so terrible after all.
8 Make Enemies Fight Each Other
Combat in Breath of the Wild can be a difficult, draining affair, especially when you're fighting against powerful sub-bosses like Guardians, Stone Taluses, or Hinoxes. But instead of wasting weapons and shields by throwing yourself against foes, why don't you make your enemies do all the work? If you lure separate enemies together and bait them into attacking each other, you'll get the pure satisfaction of watching them fight each other to the death. It's extremely satisfying to watch that intimidating Stone Talus throw rocks at a panicking Guardian while you sneak away unseen, hidden by the unfolding chaos. It's an extra bit of polish that really shows how detailed the title is.
7 Farm Arrows With Your Shield
Arrows are one of the most precious commodities in Breath of the Wild, and you’ll probably spend a good amount of time scheming how to get more; after all, when enemies can crush you if you get too close, it's useful to pick them off from a distance. One little-known trick makes it even easier to stock up on arrows. If you have a wooden shield, find enemies that will shoot arrows at you and hold up your shield. The arrows will bury themselves in the wood, and when you put your shield away, those arrows will transfer themselves into your inventory. Voila, arrow farming! Again, another small detailed flourish that most games wouldn't bother including.
6 Talk To Merchants When It's Raining
In your travels through Hyrule, you’ll come across a few wandering merchants who will sell you region-specific items and weapons. Their selection during normal days is decent, but if you find one while it rains, you might notice something a little different. Maybe to better attract customers despite the cruddy weather, the merchants will sell rarer and better materials to you while it’s raining – one might be selling regular raw meat, for instance, but upgrade to prime meat during a storm. As in the real world, shops have to deal with weather conditions when they're stocking their shelves (except in the real world most stores have LESS merchandise in harsh conditions).
5 Use Elemental Weapons In Harsh Climates
One of the coolest features of Breath of the Wild is its climate system, which takes you from hot, tropical weather to snowy mountain peaks to burning volcanoes. These temperature and weather shifts can be hard to deal with if you don’t have the right gear or if your cold-resistant armor hasn’t been upgraded to boost its protective qualities. But there’s another way to adapt to temperature changes. If you have elemental weapons in your arsenal, like Frostblades or Flameblades, you can equip those to offset the temperature changes around you. A Flameblade will keep you warm in the snowy Hebra Mountains, while a Frostblade will cool you off when you're traversing the volcanic Death Mountain.
4 Knock Guardians Over Like Dominoes
Another trick to dealing with Guardians is something like playing with giant dominoes. Horses are a boon when dealing with these giant robots, since they let you gallop out of their way much more quickly; but instead of running away, try running toward the lumbering mechanical beasts. If you trigger your horse’s charge as you come close to the guardian, you’ll make it topple over onto its side as you run into it. This has two advantages – it drastically limits their movement and exposes their underside for easy attacking. Also, it's hilarious to see these fearsome enemies waggle around on their backs. Of course, this is assuming you can survive fighting a few of these enemies at once.
3 Fix Rusty Weapons
In the early stages of Breath of the Wild, you’ll come across a lot of rusty weapons; they’re downgraded versions of more powerful arms like broadswords and halberds. While they can have high attack power, they break after a couple of hits, making them pretty useless after you get off the Great Plateau. But keep one or two around as you travel, because the game lets you exploit enemies to fix them. The Rock Octoroks that lurk on Death Mountain have a Kirby-style suction attack that lets them suck up items from the environment and spit them back out; if you toss a rusty weapon at them, they’ll swallow it and spit out a shiny new version of it for your use. Just make sure not to get hit by your shiny new sword when it gets shot back at you.
2 Get Ganon's Horse
Out in the wilds of Hyrule lurks a horse unlike any other. Early in the game, you might come across a side quest asking you to find a horse descended from the lineage of the royal family's steeds. It only makes sense, then, that you can also find an animal who's related to the most evil being Hyrule has ever known. In the Taobob Grasslands to the south, you can seek out a giant horse (literally - he's twice the size of any other steed) who has the same coloring as Ganon, and the link between the two seems doubly confirmed when you complete a sidequest involving the beast. Your reward? The same riding gear that Ganon himself once used.
1 Take Off Your Clothes
Just like in real life, getting naked in Breath of the Wild is a lot more fun than going clothed. For one thing, Link is a cutie. For another, Nintendo loaded the game with easter eggs for the clothesless. Link’s idle animation changes, making him show off his guns. If you open treasure chests without lower body armor, link will hold his foot in pain (after all, he does kick chests open). And if you talk to NPCs without your clothes on, they’ll act scandalized and beg you to cover yourself (unless, of course, you’re talking to Hestu, who’s super into it). Coolest - and most useful - of all, though, is that taking off your clothes actually improves your swimming speed, making you use less stamina.