So I solved the first shrine. Now where the hell am I supposed to?
I wander around a bit on the skyland I’m on until I find a Steward who is hunting, and he teaches me about using bows and gives me a bow and some arrows. I remember this well enough from BOTW, and it doesn’t seem to have changed much. I use an arrow to hunt and kill a large animal and take its meat, and then cook it by a fire later.
I’m just kind of exploring, foraging, and wondering what I’m supposed to do next. Rauru told me that there are three shrines on this piece of land, and that if I want to get into the Temple of Time, where Zelda is, I need to visit them in order to restore power to my new arm. But he didn’t say where the other two shrines were located.
I keep wandering, and end up in an area where there are multiple guardian robots, and two of them are armed with bow and arrow, another two with melee weapons. I end up getting taken out by one of the bow and arrow guys while taking on one of the melee guys.
I respawn, explore another area, and find a small, floating island that I need to build a bridge to get to, and so I do and there’s a ruined stone building in there, and inside the building there’s a chest which I open and find a piece of amber.
I’m not all that excited about finding this stuff now, because at the end of my run through BOTW I had so much forage accumulated in my inventory that it was ridiculous, I didn’t use or need it all, and I’m not expecting to in this game, either. I mean, I’m sure I’ll use some of it and need a little bit of everything at some point, but I’m not worried about scarcity, because that’s what I learned in the previous game: don’t worry about it, there’s stuff everywhere, you’re not going to need all of it, there’s plenty.
Which is a little weird for a shattered world that you need to save. But these games are not survival horror; they’re more like sandbox games with a quest that you can also do, as an afterthought, once you’ve burned all the bushes and bombed all the rocks to find every last secret in the game.
After I respawn I decide to backtrack to the first shrine, and use the Purah Pad’s telescope and marking feature to try to identify the other shrines and then look at the map to figure out how to get to them.
I do this and sure enough after looking around a bit, I do see two shrines off in the distance. I plant a marker on both of them, and then look at the markers location on the map. That’s such a handy feature, and it is so helpful for navigation. I just love it.
I note that one of the shrines is on the other end of what looks like a big empty expanse on the map, which is connected around the edges by some faint lines. This turns out not to be empty space, but a lake, large enough that you couldn’t swim across it.
The other shrine is up in altitude, in a place that is cold and I would need better gear to survive up there. It’s closer, but more dangerous. I did manage to find some hot peppers, and can make some dishes that will give me temporary cold resistance, but it seems like that is early for me to do, so after stepping into the cold zone for a few seconds, I nope out and go back down to warmer territory, and decide to check out the other shrine first.
It’s a long walk, and takes me back to where I died the first time — it turns out that I was wandering in the right direction, and if I hadn’t died I might have stumbled upon that second shrine anyway. This time, I’m mentally prepared for those guardians and take them out with little difficulty, and even manage to farm a few arrows from them while I’m at it.
I continue onward, eventually reaching an area where I meet a little Korok, who is trying to reach his friend, who has gotten separated on the other side of a gap. There’s a rail line connecting the two, and materials that I can use to build a platform with hooks attached, to create a zipline or cable car that we can ride down to the friend.
I do this without much difficulty, having gotten more used to the powers I learned how to use in the first shrine, and we reunite the two koroks. They give me two seeds as a reward, and somewhere earlier I found another korok, in a ruined little building, and so I now have three seeds.
There’s another zipline running down to a lower level, to the area with the large lake that I saw on the map, on the other side of which is my destination, the second shrine.
I re-use the platform I built and zip down there. Once I’m there, I find materials to build a raft, including a mast and sail. There’s a steady wind blowing across the lake, in just the direction I happen to want to go. So I build the raft, attach the sale, put the raft in the water, and board it, and in a few minutes I’m on the other side.
I climb up to where the second shrine is, and enter. Rauru gives me a new power for my arm, the power to fuse objects in my inventory together to create enhanced weapons. I can seemingly attach anything to anything, but only one thing, and then if I want to undo it, it breaks the item. So I have to be a little careful.
The shrine challenge is to use this new power to join a boulder to a weapon and use the combined weapon to smash apart some crumbly looking stone barriers. I also learn that I can combine items with arrows, and use them to create flame arrows, which I need to get the key to unlock a door at the end to complete the shrine.
All that is pretty easy, but I still manage to screw it up. There’s a rusty broadsword in the shrine that you’re supposed to use to attach a boulder to, but I mistakenly attach the sword to the weapon I’m carrying, a wooden stick, creating a long-handled sword that can’t smash the stone obstacles. I reload from my last autosave and re-do it, this time attaching the boulder to the end of the sword like they intended, which creates a crude, ersatz hammer that smashes things apart.
This stuff reminds me of Object Oriented Programming, where you can use multiple inheritance for one object to inherit properties and methods of another. It seems like everything in the game is probably implemented using multiple Interfaces to support combining objects in any way the player can dream of, apparently, affording the player endless opportunity for creativity and game breaking hacks using the objects in the game in ways the designers never intended or tested for.
This game is going to be endlessly replayable for that very reason. People will never get sick of this, I bet, and there will be new things discovered and invented by creative players forever.
The final challenge of the shrine is a combat test, against a guardian who has a compound weapon of their own. I’m still very clumsy with the combat and manage to miss an opportunity to use flammable ground to make the combat very easy, and instead die once again.
I fight it a second time, and it kills me again. I learn that my combo weapon is powerful but too slow, and if I try to use it, the soldier will always get its attack in first. So I switch to a weaker, but faster weapon, and take it down. Then I collect my spirit orb and complete the second shrine.
After I emerge from the second shrine, another steward is there waiting for me. It gives me a battery pack thing, with one battery, and explains that this is for powering the Zonai equipment that I will find throughout the world. I can get more batteries and it looks like there will be 8 when the pack is full, but for now I just have one. The battery is basically a time limit or endurance meter for how long I can run a Zonai device before I have to stop and wait for the battery pack to recharge. So it’s basically like my stamina meter, except it applies to tech. Cool.
The Steward points me in the direction of a hidden cave, just ahead. To get to it, I have to defeat a couple of the soldier robots, which I do pretty easily. I have fire seeds and fire seed arrow headshots take them out in one hit. This is easy enough that I consider I may not want to waste this ammo on such easy foes.
I reach the cave, and hook up a fan to a cart and use it with my new battery pack power to ride a rail system into the cave, which is extremely dark. I can see some glowing things along the walls, but they are out of reach and I’m moving too quickly to grab them.
At the end of the line, I get out of the cart and there’s a steward working in the cave. It explains to me about darkness and how to use brightbulb seeds to light up an area. I can use the seeds to enhance my arrows, and fire them ahead of me to light the way. Cool.
I proceed forward and deeper into the cave, and find some Zonai ore deposits, which I take the time to harvest, breaking my heavy weapon that is useful for this. I don’t have bombs like I did in BOTW, so I can’t easily extract more of this ore. I decide if it’s important I’ll go back later and get more.
There’s more stewards working at refining and constructing the Zonai ore into Zonai equipment. They explain the basic concept to me, but it’s a bit much and it goes over my head a little bit. Basically it’s a currency system, which you can mine stuff to turn into other stuff to buy/trade/refine into more stuff that has useful abilities to help you in your quest.
I’m like OK, great, whatever, can we move on please?
These mechanics are going to be central to the game, I can tell, and they are cool, but I don’t know that they feel like a Zelda game to me. I guess they are now. And it’s fine for the series to do something new. And this is both new and cool. And it’s explained well enough in-game by Link’s new bionic arm. So let’s do this.
I yadda yadda though the conversation with the Zonai stewards about their Zonai tech, and figure I’ll probably regret not paying better attention to this, but right now it’s moving a little slow and I don’t care about it yet because the opportunity to use and need to use the stuff hasn’t presented itself yet.
There’s another mine car and a train track leading out, and I’m supposed to attach a portable fan object (they explained that you can pick up these things that are like little techno pods that are portable, more so than the tech bits and bobs you’ll find strewn about here and there. So whenever you need one you can just fish it out of your pocket and use it. But you need to be sure you really want to because once you pull it out of your pocket, it enlarges and won’t to back in your pocket, so you can’t accidentally pull it out and then put it back. Which, that kinda sucks and makes me want to not use those things as much as possible. “No undo” is a surefire way to make me hoard an ability and never use it.
Well, I said Ima hoard this stuff, didn’t I? So rather than use one of the pods they just gave me to try out, I go all the way back through the cave I just walked through, and use my arm power to grab the cart I came in on, which has a fan already mounted on it, and carry it all the way to this exit track, put it on, get in, and turn on the fan.
There’s always multiple ways to do things in this game, and this is one such alternative.
I ride the mine car out and get back to a part of the Island not far away from the third shrine. Super convenient. I meet a steward here who teaches me about how cold works and how to survive using good, gear, or fire, and it’s just refresher from what we already knew from BOTW, so I’m good to go.
I had already cooked some hot pepper food earlier, and so I take the time to eat it, and get a 12 minute cold resistance boost. I use my sprinting ability to make the most of this, and go forward quickly, mostly ignoring stuff along the way that I could stop and pick up, although if it’s in my immediate area and I don’t have to slow down, I do grab it.
I fight some soldier robots and defeat them, nothing too difficult, and then I hit a dead end where the way forward is up. It looks like I might have to climb? But the walls are too tall for my current endurance meter. I look around a bit and find a cave in the wall, leading upward. And it’s dark.
Good ole Nintendo and their game design philosophy. Give the player an ability, an easy tutorial demo for how to use it, an optional way to use it tied to an optional reward to encourage discovery, then present it in the form of an obstacle that you have to use it in order to move forward, then escalate the challenge making it necessary to use in order to survive.
So this cave is exactly that, like the cave I just went through to learn about the Zonai tech from those friendly steward bots, this time it’s in a deadly cold cave (which imposes a time limit/urgency on me), combined with enemies. A flock of keese flies out of the cave as I approach the entrance, but somehow I escape their notice and don’t have to fight them. I just watch them fly by me out of the cave, and run in after they go.
There’s a frog-like creature, clinging to the ceiling, which spits these bubbles. It doesn’t seem like much of a threat, but it’s a cool new enemy, and I can’t reach it on the ceiling, so I headshot it with the bow and knock it to the floor, then beat it until it dies.
There’s more ore everywhere, but I ain’t got time for dat, and ignore it all. I can come back when I have cold gear and a durable or persistent tool that I can extract with, if I need to, and I probably won’t.
Still further into the cave, I encounter a large creature that reminds me somewhat of the peahat flowers from Ocarina of Time, bit maybe a bit more resemble a Like Like. They’re attached to the walls of the cave, attached like a barnacle. And they can extend, accordion like, to attack. I knock a flame arrow and fire it, doing some damage, and the thing seems to be stunned and takes some damage, but it has a lot of health and I don’t kill it.
BOTW taught me that combat is not important unless it’s a mandatory boss fight, so the best thing to do is to run away and avoid fighting. Fighting just means using up your weapons, or your supplies, or both, and you risk getting killed, so why do it if you don’t have to.
I run past the big creature, and proceed up the cave, where I encounter a second one. This one manages to swallow me, and I switch weapons to my most stabby, sharp, damage dealing weapon, and start slashing away like mad while I’m inside it, hoping that’s what I’m supposed to do. Apparently it is, as I’m spat out, and manage to escape, albeit down to one heart.
I eat some food once I’m safely out of the creature’s reach, and I’m at the exit to the cave. Hooray.
I still have about 6 minutes remaining on my cold resistance boost. The third shrine is right nearby. I check the map, and it’s just a little climb up. I get there, and enter.
Here, Rauru greets me again and gives me a third power for my arm: Ascend. This is a weird ability and doesn’t seem to have anything to do with grabbing things or fusing things together like the first two did. This one gives me the ability to turn any ceiling into an elevator shaft, essentially I can meld into solids and “swim” upward through them, moving vertically only, until I reach an open space, at which point I can extract myself.
What a weird ability.
The shrine puzzle is a series of simple examples demonstrating the use of the new power, at the end of which I think there’s a combat, but if there is it was simple easy enough that I’m not even sure whether it happened, it was that forgettable, if it did exist at all.
I collect another spirit orb and have completed my tests.
Now I’m ready to go back to the main quest to find Zelda, who is waiting for me in the Temple of Time, which I can now open because my arm is powered up enough now.
I walk out of the shrine, and I was so quick at going through it that my cold resistance still has a couple of minutes remaining. Straight out from the shrine entrance, I spot a ruined stone building, and head to it, hoping to find a treasure chest or something worthwhile.
I get to it, and find a cooking pot with an unlit fire and a flint sitting next to it. I light the fire with my one metallic weapon, a rusty broadsword, and now I have a safe spot that is warm from the fire, and can be used to cook more cold resistance food from the supplies I picked up in the region. I can take my time, reconnoiter on the map, figure out a route that is direct and easy from where I am to the Temple of Time, eat a hot pepper meal, and head to Zelda.