I whistle for my horse, who is near enough to hear the call, and we meet each other a short distance from the shrine I just cleared.
I ride along the road, ignoring everything, until I come to a bridge, where there is a Hinox sleeping. There’s some construction materials nearby, and I decide that it would be fun to try to build something to help me deal with this Hinox.
I take a couple of thick poles, and attach them to a platform, so that the platform stands upright. I attach a second platform on top of the first, to give it height, creating a movable wall that I can hide behind, and control using Ultrahand.
I try to sneak the wall up to as close as I can, and apparently using Ultrahand or moving things nearby a sleeping Hinox will wake it up, I discover. Fortunately, though, the wall blocks its view of me, and it looks around, confused, for a bit, and then goes back to sleep. So far I don’t think this is really doing me any real help, but it is sort of working, and I’m happy enough with that for the moment.
I try sneaking from around the wall, to get into the Hinox’s hand, so he’ll put me on his chest, and then I can do a sneak attack on him.
I successfully make it to his hand, and wait patiently for what seems like a long time. He eventually moves me to his chest, but then I just sort of clip through the Hinox’s body, and end up standing upright automatically after I slide off, disrupting my stealth bonus from crouching, completely fucking up my entire plan.
This fucking happens about 2 out of every 3 times I try to slay a Hinox, and I don’t understand why I have such a hard time with them, or why their 3D mesh is so easy to slide off of. When they grab you, they should put you right on their chest right in the fucking middle, so you don’t fucking roll the fuck off so much of the time that it is just not fucking worth it to try this stunt with them. Bad, Nintendo.
I’m sure I’m the one who sucks at this, but after having played 300+ hours of BOTW and dealing with countless Hinoxes, I ought to be able to be better than this by now, and I don’t accept responsibility for my own sucking. The game should be more fair in this regard. It’s bullshit.
So the other thing that annoys me with Hinox battles is the camera’s glitchy unhelpful behavior when you’re standing right near the Hinox’s feet. The camera zooms way in for a closeup, and the Hinox blocks its view, so the game quits drawing the Hinox, resulting in you standing next to a fucking invisible Hinox, with a camera right up in Link’s face, completely making it impossible for you to accurately see the action, or know what’s in your immediate vicinity, or which way to fucking run to avoid getting stomped or sat on by the Hinox.
Despite all this poor response from the game engine, I do manage to defeat the Hinox. I use a spinning attack to deal a bunch of damage to it, then score a lucky eye hit, dropping it on its back, stunned, enabling me to run up and unleash another spin attack on it. It starts to get up again, and I have it down nearly to defeated, but it hits me, nearly killing me. I manage to get around the barrier, while the Hinox decides to uproot a nearby tree to use as an improvised club to continue its attack. This gives me a moment to eat a food to regain health, and then put some distance so I can try to nail it with an arrow in the eye again, to safely finish it off. I miss my critical hit with 4 or 5 arrows, before finally blundering into a tight spot where I get stuck behind a sign. The Hinox is right on me, about to kill me, when I make a lucky hit with the bow, and it’s stunned again, but I’m still stuck in the fucking geography, unable to get out from behind a signpost and some construction materials, and I lose the opportunity for the free shot to coup de grace him. Just as he’s getting back up, I manage to get free, and fortunately I’m able to run up and hit him one last time, and it’s enough, the Hinox is toast and I pick up a bunch of loot, most of which I can’t carry.
I’m plenty frustrated by the poor combat. I know I’m rusty from having not played BOTW recently before picking up TOTK, but I still had way harder of a time than I should have due to all the glitchy camera control and poor hitbox and 3D mesh nonsense. This ruined what should have been a fun, exciting, challenging fight, turning it into a rough experience where the engine let me down repeatedly, making things happen that I wasn’t trying to do, and making everything feel unfair.
Still, at least I survived. And my horse survived, as well.
I proceed past the bridge, and a short distance past it there’s a man standing next to a cave. He says he is looking for bubbulfrogs, asking me if I know about them. I’ve encountered them, they’re the cave creatures that look a bit like giant frogs, which don’t have eyes and crawl on the ceiling, but aren’t Horriblins, which also inhabit caves and can crawl on the ceiling, and we talk about them a little bit. I assume the cave he’s standing next to has bubbulfrogs in them. They’re not hard to kill, so I decide to go in and try to clear out the cave.
The cave actually has two of those big flower-looking barnacles. This time instead of running past them, I engage them, and it turns out that they are Like Likes. I know enough to keep my distance from these things, they look like they could swallow me whole. I try hitting one with an arrow tipped with muddlebud, which creates a confusion effect that turns it into an enemy of the other Like Like. They hit each other for a while, but do hardly any damage at all. I try several other types of arrows, trying to figure out what they’re vulnerable to, but nothing is doing much damage at all. In the end, I run in and try smashing them with my heavy hammer weapons. It seems they only take significant damage when their mouths are open, just before they attack with a swallow move. I get swallowed by one, and it does damage to me, but I don’t think it eats any of my shields. I wonder if there’s a more subtle effect to being swallowed that I’m not noticing.
After I clear out the cave, the man says something to me but it’s not particularly memorable, and we part ways. I continue heading to the northwest until just outside the boundary of the map that I have unlocked through the sky towers, I find another stable. There’s a shrine nearby, as there always seems to be with every stable. I stop to board Radish, and talk to everyone there. The girl who runs these stables is trying to assemble a horse cart, but needs some wheels attached. I make a note to do this for her later.
One of the people I talk to tells me that Impa is here, and that I need to speak with her right away.
I don’t, of course. I need to visit the Shrine, so I can activate it in order to be able to fast travel here in the event that I screw up somehow and can’t easily return from where I start out.
The shrine is a balloon tutorial. There’s these hot air balloons you can use to generate lift, if you have a heat source, such as an open flame. You can glue the balloon to a platform, and glue a flame source to the platform near the balloon, and if you get the balance right, you can stand on the platform and ride it up.
There’s a few exercises of this, where the solution is fairly obvious, but the execution takes a few tries. It’s tricky to get the flame near the balloon without setting fire to the wooden platform you’re trying to stand on, or to put the flame to the balloon and then jump on to the platform before it takes off and leaves you.
Fortunately, you can use Ultrahand to hold the entire thing down, if you grab it before it flies out of range.
It’s still kind of awkward, but I manage to do it.
The final challenge before me to graduate this shrine is to use the balloon to lift a heavy steel ball up to the top of a high room where I then need to place the ball into a basin. There’s actually two balls — a small one and a large one. The large one unlocks a chest room, the small one unlocks the shrine’s inner chamber. There’s these flame emitting pots that I can turn off by hitting them, which makes everything so much easier.
I assemble a platform, glue the flame emitters to the corners, turned off, glue the ball to the center of the platform, glue the balloon to the ball, hit the flame jets, and let it rise up until it gets stuck on the ceiling, then climb up a long ladder to get to the top level of the room, and use Ultrahand to grab the balls and put them where they need to go.
After I collect my rewards, I am out and ready to talk to Impa. It’s sometime late at night when I come out of the Shrine, and the very first thing I see as I exit is a shooting star, falling not far from here. I run at full speed in the direction of its beacon, and jump off a high rock formation, to glide down into a forested area below. While gliding, I pull out the telescope and mark the point where the Shooting Star landed, which is quite a feat to pull off while in the air. I land, and some bokoblin skeletons spring up from the ground to attack me, but I just ignore them, continuing to run to the spot where the star fragment is laying. I get there, and pick it up. Then immediately fast travel back to the Shrine I just completed so I can go talk to Impa, since that seems to be the most important thing to do at the moment.
Impa is trying to study the Geoglyphs that have appeared all over the landscape — the giant lines that look like writing or or drawings, that I’ve seen about the land. Unfortunately her own balloon vehicle got broken, and she needs help fixing it. Since I just did this, it’s pretty easy. I re-attach the balloon to her platform, and we get in. She asks me to light the fire, and there’s a fire and a torch on the ground conveniently nearby. I don’t want to lose a weapon because everything I’m holding now does good damage, so I just use Ultrahand to grab the torch, pass it through the flame, and quickly light the fire under the balloon, and then try to drop the torch before it sets fire to something important.
I manage to do this, and we get up to altitude, and have a perfect view of the Geoglyph. Impa still says it says something about Dragon’s Tears, but doesn’t know what it means. She suggests I skydive out and get a better look from my glider, which I do. I glide down to what appears to be the head of the creature depicted in the Geoglyph, which I don’t think looks all that much like a dragon, but looks more like Rauru. There are shapes like water droplets falling from the head, which are obviously meant to be Tears… (of the Kingdom?)
Near one of these spots, there’s a circular pool on the ground, and I recognize it as one of those Story cutscene spots that I’ve stumbled upon once or twice before.
This time my vision is of Princess Zelda; she wakens up on the ground and is approached by two gentle beings who turn out to be Rauru and another character named Sonia. They talk to the Princess and introduce themselves as the King and Queen of Hyrule, the founders of the kingdom. Somehow, Zelda must have traveled back to the past, so it would seem. Zelda seems alarmed and distraught at the realization.
Impa has landed her balloon craft by the time the vision is over, and Link relates this to her. This completes another mission of the main quest.
I guess somehow, despite taking completely random distractions and going in different directions, I’m more or less on the right path. Since I don’t really know how I could have known to do these things, to lead me to this place, by myself, I’ll chalk it up to genius design on Nintendo’s part, to lead me in a seemingly random meander that somehow came back to the important business of saving Hyrule without ever making me once feel like I was being forced back into that plot line, and without really making me feel lost.
Impa says I should go to a location called the Hidden Temple, which is located in Hebra, in a canyon. I think I may remember this location from BOTW, if it’s the place I am thinking of, it was full of Guardians and very dangerous. I wonder what it’s like now. All the old Guardians from BOTW seem to be gone from the landscape, as if they never existed.