I transport back out to the eastern edge of Gerudo and collect 30 more Swift Violets over the course of an hour or two. The time passes pretty quickly, and I have what I need sooner than I expect. Along the way, I find three or four more korok seeds, around the north end of the valley at the border of the canyon and the Great Plateau. It’s an area I really only passed through once, and it’s not surprising that I overlooked these things, but as I’m spending time foraging here, and I’ve gained experience spotting the hidden puzzles and natural features where koroks are often found, I find them easier to spot. A lone tree or rock, a tall spot, anything really that seems out of the ordinary, if it stands out to you, and you go to check it out, most likely it will reward you, in one way or another. I also find a hidden cave behind a bomb-able wall, inside which I discover a treasure chest buried under boulders. One of the boulders is magnetic, and I use it to push the rest of them out of the way. The chest contains a Great Thunderblade, so I discard the ordinary Thunderblade I just picked up from the last shrine I cleared, still unused. Such a waste.
Now all I need is rare and ultra-rare stuff: ancient cores, star fragments, Lynel horn and hoofs, and Dinraal and Naydra horn.
I still have a couple of quests to complete, one around Zora’s Domain, Eventide Island, one memory photo location to find at Hyrule Castle, and two more shrines beside Eventide, somewhere on the map, where I have no idea.
Returning to Zora’s Domain, I decide to spend the rest of my session working on the Ancient Stone Tablets sidequest. I only have four tablets left to find, but I’m not sure which ones they are, as I haven’t marked any of the ones I found on the map as I went around. I return where the quest started, and talk to Jiahto, who tells me their locations. Or at least a clue enough to find them pretty easy. I take my time going about it, using the walking as an excuse to gather any available forage, check out likely korok seed spots, and so forth. I fight the Hinox again, and the Lynel, and get the Hinox Guts and Lynel hoof that I need, but I think I still may need more Lynel horn. While I’m looking for one of the stone tablet locations, I find a ruined stone building that collapsed semi-submerged in a small lake. I scan it with magnesis-vision, and see a chest in the water. I bring it up and find the Zora armor helmet, completing my Zora suit. Yes! I’d been wondering whether I’d get the helmet as a reward for completing this quest, but I guess I kindof did.
There are a lot of lizals and a few moblins up on this part of the mountains to the north of Zora’s Domain, and they drop lots of arrows, so I bring my normal arrow stash up to over 120, which is great.
I also find a Stone Talus to the east of the dam, along J’Abu’s Ridge, who I fight, resulting in my boulder breaker breaking. The fight is awkward, due to the placement of this Talus’s vulnerable spot being low and on the talus’s back, rather than on his top, meaning I can’t really climb up on this back to hit it, and when I’m on the ground it’s too high up to reach easily. I manage to hit it a few times from high elevation, with bombs, and with jump strikes, but take a lot of damage during the fight, and basically get the crap kicked out of me by the Talus. I eat a meal and recover my hearts, press on, and eventually manage to connect with a blow and take it down. It drops mostly amber.
While I’m looking for the 2nd to the last of the Stone Tablet locations, it gets dark and I spot a shooting star! I am in the middle of a fight with some lizals, but manage to kill the three of them very quickly, and spot the star fragment’s beacon and get a pretty good mark for it on my sheikah scope. There’s a shrine near it, so I transport out that way, then climb a bit to reconnoiter and re-establish a heading to the fragment. I manage to pick it up, and it’s not far from the spot I marked on the map, only a little bit further. I run up to grab it, and a moblin stalfos pops out of the ground just behind it. I run up quickly and grab the fragment before anything can happen to it, and then take down the moblin stalfos.
I return back to the Ancient Tablet quest, transporting to Vah Ruto and find the two remaining tablets. Jiahto gives me a diamond as a reward. Along the way, I’ve managed to find a total of 8 new korok seeds. When I find 10, I can add a shield slot to my inventory.
I return to the Great Fairy by Kakariko to see what else I can get upgraded. I take the Barbarian armor leg wraps up to the next level. Now the Barbarian helmet and pants are both one level short of maxed. I max out the Zora armor helmet, all with stuff I have in inventory already, so no new material quests for it, yay. And I upgrade the Diamond Circlet to max, using the star fragment.
Now the only things I need are Dinraal (3) and Naydra horn (2), and 4 Ancient Cores, and I think I’m all done.
I never did buy the cold weather armor from Rito village, but I don’t actually need to; I always did fine with the Warm Doublet, Snow Shoes, and Ruby Circlet in the cold regions, and just didn’t get into very many fights where I needed to rely on armor. I guess if I had an extra 3-4,000 rupees I’d buy it just for the sake of having it, and then I’d have to max it out as well.
The only other thing I can think of that I could spend rupees on is sheikah slate album images, and there’s probably a good 20-30k worth of those yet for me to buy, which will probably take a while, but maybe once I finish with my equipment upgrades, I will be able to cash out most of the forage materials and turn it into close to that much money.
I guess once I get done doing all that, I’ll take on Ganon and finish the game. It’s been several months, and I’ve enjoyed it.
I check my user account profile on the Switch, and see that I’ve logged 280 hours of game play by now. I’ve definitely taken my time with beating this game, I have not been trying to get through it quickly, and have been trying to find as much as I can, experiment with the game, and see everything that it has to offer. If I had wanted to complete it quickly, I probably could have, although I probably would have had to focus on learning how to fight more effectively, as I would have needed to take a lot less heart containers and a lot less powerful armor and weapons into the final battle with Ganon.
Then again, I’m not sure if I would have been able to run through the game much faster than I did, unless I resorted to following a walkthrough. The game really did not lead me in any one direction or tell me what I should be doing, and just let me do whatever I felt like doing with no urgency or push to complete anything in particular, which meant that in order to make progress in the game I really had to explore each region that I went through pretty thoroughly, just looking for clues about what I could/should be doing there.
Doing that would have really spoiled the game for me, and I’m glad I didn’t. Figuring out how to do everything myself was much more rewarding. The game is not hard-core difficult, in terms of hand-eye coordination, so most of the enjoyment that I get out of the game is from exploring and figuring out puzzles. The combat system, while honestly pretty good, isn’t the main draw for me — although, I do imagine that if/when I go back and try playing any of the 3-D Zelda titles that came out after Ocarina of Time, I’ll really appreciate how good the BOTW combat engine is compared to previous installations in the franchise.
I did have times where I felt challenged in combat, rather than completely outclassed, but mainly it was due to not knowing how to fight a boss effectively, or not knowing the controls well enough to know what to do/how to do it. I’m still not terribly great at exploiting the combat engine with special moves and combos, but with everything powered up to near max, I’ve had a rather easy time with most fights, lately. My weapons and armor are just so powerful compared to the challenge level of the lizals, moblins, and bokoblins I run into. Yiga Bowmen and Swordsmen are more a nuisance than a challenge, since they always need to be dealt with. The skeleton versions of these enemies are much less challenging, due to having far less hitpoints. The “special” monsters like the Stone Talus, Hinox, and Muldoga are easy to defeat once you know their behavior and what works on them. The piddly enemies like the chuchus, kees, baby stone talus, and wolves are so low-challenge they barely rate mention, and mostly feel like filler, intended to get me to press buttons a bit more. I don’t mind that they start out easy to fight, beginning players need something after all to learn on. But I wish that they got more interesting the deeper into the game I got. But they have a very shallow set of tactics and never vary in how they behave.
Lynels still give me a challenge, but that’s really about it. And with them it’s all a matter of having a good fight. If I can hit my headshots with the bow, it’s a good fight, and if I can’t, they kick my ass and I spam my way through the encounter by leaning heavily on my healing meals.
Everything other than Lynels, I can lazily brute-force my way through, if I want to, although I generally at least try to pull off a fancy move and use my shield and target focus. But I don’t use most of the other moves — the parrying, the quick dodge are things that I just can’t seem to figure out the timing/positioning for, and never get them to happen accidentally.