I go on a little excursion down the east coast of Hyrule, going south of Hateno village, sticking close to the shoreline. I spot a shrine off in the distance and head toward it. As I get closer, I notice a circle of plants floating in the water, which I know if I dive into will turn up another Korok seed. I do the deed, collect my seed, and upon turning around I notice that at the base of the cliff I dove off of is a small inlet cave, and at the back wall of the cave I can see it is very rich in mineral deposits. I collect gemstones and rocks, and then scope out my surroundings.
Further to the south, I spot that shrine I’d seen from above on the cliffs, and decide to head there, so I can activate it and make a new travel waypoint. I’m down at sea level now, and the shrine is up a few levels so it’ll be a climb, but it’s not too far away and I’m sure I’ll get there quickly.
It doesn’t take long, but as I get closer I stumble upon a little coastal village called Lurelin. It seems like a Florida beach resort, or maybe Caribbean, very tropical and it rains frequently. I check out the village first, making the rounds, talking to everyone. One of the huts has a gambling game like the original “money making game” in Legend of Zelda. I play, spend 10, win back 1. I don’t have a lot of money and don’t want to waste more of it right now.
The townspeople tell me a few juicy bits of information about the area. There’s a group of monsters who have run off the local fishermen, and they hang out on the beech a ways off and far to the south. I offer to fight them off, of course. The wife of the man who tells me about this is trying to cook a special meal tonight, and needs me to bring her some ingredients, one of which is a rare blue snail. I had just talked to a merchant, and while the weather was a downpour, he was offering a special deal on this very snail, and I turned him down, not wanting to spend 2/3 of my rupees to obtain this item, unsure of what I might do with it. The rain has subsided now, and the merchant took off, and now I’m out of luck and will have to find one somewhere.
Someone else in the village tells me of a sunken treasure rumored to be out in the water somewhere not far offshore.
Lastly, a woman from the Desert lands of Gerudo tells me of an island off in the distance that is difficult to reach, but it sounds like a place I need to go see for myself.
I take all this in, and go to the shrine, activate it, and clear it. There is a series of balances that I need to manipulate with weighted objects, using the balance platforms as elevators to get me through obstacles. The solution is pretty easy, but owing to terrible depth perception and poor camera mechanics, I struggle with it, but there’s no penalty for failure other than time, so I clear it eventually. I get another Knight’s broadsword, and a gem and a spirit orb. It’s a pretty good haul, for a shrine.
I zip back to my house in Hateno to drop off the extra broadsword, but discover that you only can purchase a maximum of 3 display cases for weapons, bows, and shields, and I’m already full up now. Ok then. This game is really anti-hoarding, for sure.
I teleport back to Lurelin, and take the raft on the dock there out into open water. There’s a few octarocks, and occasionally wandering lizalfos swimming in the water. The winds are really variable, and it’s very slow going into a strong headwind, but sometimes I am able to zoom ahead with the wind at my back, and it feels like I’m doing over 60 knots. The raft is very awkward to steer, but if you go in the same direction only, you can built up a huge top speed, and evade enemies easily, or if you’re lucky enough that they’re in your path, you can ram them and take them down.
I notice a very large school of fish in the water, something like 20-30 fish all together, like nothing I’ve seen in the game before, except for the big flocks of kees that I ran into near the gated bridge by the Great Plateau. Normally you don’t see more than 3-4 fish swimming together. I’m flying by and cant’ stop to try to harvest them, though. If you drop a bomb into the water, you can kill a whole bunch of fish all at once, and they float to the top and are easy to collect, since they don’t try to get away anymore.
I head up the cost to the North, toward that island the Gerudo woman told me about. Between Lurelin and the island, there’s a kind of floating platform, like a stone-age oil derrick, where three lizalfos are standing. They look tough, and I’m not looking to tangle with them, but I just sail by and they pay me no mind.
I reach the island at top speed with the wind at my back and plow into the beach, grounding the raft. No sooner do I set foot off the raft when a voice speaks to me, saying it will take away my possessions and give me a challenge to complete. Somewhere on the island are three orbs, and I must find them and place them on three altars. Then I will get my belongings back and be rewarded somehow. It feels a bit like the challenges issued at shrines, but seems a bit more difficult.
The island is crawling with monsters. Almost immediately, I’m being mortared by offshore octoarocks, so I run into the jungle to take cover, only to discover kees, chu chus, fire chu chus, bokoblin skeletons, and more octarocks hiding in the jungle. I’m unarmed, no equipment, and so all I can do is just run. There are numerous large rocks on the ground, which I can lift, and throw and if I get lucky, maybe do a little damage, but they’re slow, awkward, and slow me down. I do manage to take out a chu chu with one, but then the boko skeletons rise up and start chasing me and all I can do is try to run from them. I do manage to get away, and happen to find a stick on the ground, which I pick up and use to kill a boko skeleton, and obtain his arm for a slightly better weapon. I keep finding tree branches on the ground, and they’re all I can use, just barely better than nothing, breaking after 2-3 hits. I fight and manage to defeat everyone nearby, but then it starts raining, it’s night, and it’s a thunderstorm. Lightning crashes all around, and there’s no cover.
I’m somehow very fortunate and manage to avoid getting killed by lightning, and after a bit of exploring, have found various items: some crabs, some fruits of various types, a few mushrooms. More sticks, a boat oar, a traveler’s broadsword, a small, weak, but very useful shield. My whole inventory is gone, even my clothes, but I find that I got to keep my Sheikah slate powers, as well as my paraglider. This means I can use bombs and magnetism to even the odds up a bit. I try to Save my game, but the game won’t let me save here. Uh oh. Shit just got real.
Sticking to the cover of the jungle canopy, I stealthily sneak along the beach line of the south coast of the island, and stumble upon a small beach camp of three bokoblins. Its slightly downhill from me to them, enough so that I can just get a lucky bomb toss close enough to take them out. The camp is small, but there’s a lot for the taking here. Three boko spears, on which are spitted three roasted Hylian bass. Another sword, more crabs, and a few pieces of fruit. I’m suddenly well equipped, albeit with low-end weapons, and lacking a bow, although I manage to find about 5 arrows in a bundle.
I get to the southwest corner of the island, and find the first of the three altars, on a rock just offshore. I puzzle over how I’ll get an orb into it, but figure my Sheikah ice powers can probably come in handy to build a bridge of sorts. But first I need to find an orb somewhere.
I head into the jungle and find some bananas growing, and decide that in order to maximize my chances of surviving this island, I’m going to need to cook as much food as possible so I can use it to heal myself if I get into a fight and get hurt. I take all my forage back to the bokoblin beach camp and use the fire there to cook everything. It takes several minutes, but I now have a decent stockpile of healing, which makes me feel very good about my chances from here out.
I go back to the banana patch area, and continue scouting. I observe a Woodsman’s axe embedded in a tree stump in the middle of a shallow pond, wade into it, and die in what’s apparently quicksand. This is cheap, and annoys me, but OK, they got me. Fortunately, drowning death doesn’t result in a Game Over, but respawns you on shore minus a few hearts. I use magnesis power to pull the axe out of the stump and bring it to me, and now all I need to be in business is a bow.
A little further into the jungle, I emerge from the other side and find a small bokoblin tree stand with a total of three bokoblins. Two red, one of them on a sentry tower, and one blue. The sentry tower is near enough that I can bomb it, and when I do, the tower collapses. The bokoblin is injured, but doesn’t seem to know what hit him, and doesn’t alert his fellows. I manage to take him out easily with another bomb.
The other two bokoblins are sill oblivious, which I’m grateful for, but in all honesty it breaks the suspension of disbelief and makes the encounter feel like a videogame with the same dumb AI that you can snipe and ambush, just like we’ve been doing since GoldenEye 007 on N64, and Metal Gear on NES before then. These creatures lack cunning, and aren’t behaving realistically. They never learn, they never get wise, they never run off, they just reset to idle after being suspicious for a few seconds, and then go back to innocently waiting around for me to manage to murder them from outside their very limited visual range. As much as the rest of the game feels advanced over what I’ve played in previous generations, this part of the game feels underdeveloped, and a disappointing failure to advance the state of the art. Give me some sophisticated AI that learns and adapts and attempts to outthink me, and makes me respect it as an opponent, please.
I manage to take out the second red bokoblin with a lucky bomb, and injure the blue one as well, badly enough that I don’t fear running up and finishing him with the sword. This conquest feels satisfying, despite the sadly pathetic AI. I manage to find a bow, several more arrows bringing my total up to somewhere around 7 or 8, and one of the three orbs.
I carry the orb back to the first altar, and using the cryonis power, create a little pier of ice blocks, set the orb down in the shallow water next to it, and lift it up with my third and final cryonis block, walk over to near the altar, and toss the orb in.
I look at the rest of the island and it looks like there’s probably something interesting up the hill on the southeast corner of the island, so I make my way carefully over there, avoiding encounters and any other dangers as much as possible. There’s a trail that spirals up from the beach along the edge of the hill, and I get about halfway up it when I start hearing monster noises. I decide it will be smarter, as usual, to not run into the trap by going in the front way, and climb up the back. Up here, there’s another camp fire, 3-4 bokoblins, and some kees, and a couple of yellow chu chus, the kind that have an electrified attack. At the back end of the camp I see what appear to be explosive crates, and I think if I am careful I will be able to bomb them, and take a lot of them out, then mop up the rest.
I screw up the first bomb and alert the whole group to my presence. The bomb rolls down near my feet, and I can’t detonate it safely. A yellow chu chu shocks me, knocking me off my feet and causing me to drop my weapon and shield. Now I’m really screwed. I get back up and switch weapons quickly, fight off some enemies, and manage to set off my bomb, which takes out the chu chus and flings bokoblins away from me, enabling me to regain the initiative. I manage to win the combat, and observe what looks like the second altar, with some heavy boxes on top of it, that I should be able to move using magnesis.
Just then, it starts raining, and I start sparking with electricity. I try to run off the hill top, but too slow and no where to run, I’m blasted by the lightning, fly off the mountain into the water below, and die, and it’s a real Game Over death. So unfair! I was doing great!
I respawn all the way back in Lurelin, not even on the shore of the island, and my heart sinks. This really annoys me. The boat trip is long and with the wind it can be especially annoying to fight against the headwinds.
I try three or four more attempts, and get nowhere near as far in any of them as I did with that first run.
Aggravated, I give up and see what else I can do with the boat. I float in to the lizalfos platform, about midway to the island, and fight them, win, and loot their belongings, but there’s not much to write home about, the nicest thing being a 100 rupee chest, and a dragonbone boko shield. I hope that if I save here, if I fail again on the island it will respawn me here, and then I won’t have so far to go. It does, but without the raft, and I can’t get to the island, so I teleport back to Lurelin and try one more time.
This time, instead of going to the island of trials, I decide to see what’s around the rocks I see offshore. I get out a ways, and take out a couple of octorocks, and get out to the rock formations. I observe that there’s three identical rocks jutting out of the water in a triangular pattern. I surmise that there may be something in the center of the triangle, and I’m right — looking down, I can see four treasure chests at the bottom of she shallow water. I’m drifting and it’s windy and the winds are shifting constantly, making it difficult to remain stationary. The raft has no anchor, so I use the Cryonis power to create three pillars of ice, which I place around the raft so it will be locked into place. Then, using magnesis power, I pull the four chests up from the depths, and open each one. I get a few gems, and then a very nice sword, which is imbued with lightning power. Cool!
I decide that this is enough adventure for one day, and decide to pause here.