Zelda: BOTW Diary (40)

By now, I have over 2000 rupees, and I decide it’s time, finally, to buy the stealth outfit that’s available in Kakariko village.  I transport there, do a fairy fountain run, and pick up four fairies, and then head down to the shop where I buy the full outfit, plus a Hylian hood, just because it looks cool, then go back up to the fairy fountain, and get everything augmented.
Then I transport to the Gerudo Highland tower to pick up where I left off.  I figure the stealth outfit will be helpful for sneaking around and avoiding fights while I’m focusing on exploration.  This outfit was pretty expensive, and having the whole thing, augmented should make me a lot sneakier.  It probably won’t get me into Gerudo town, but I figure  a solution to that problem will present itself at some point.
While in Kakariko, I went to the statue and traded in four spirit orbs for a Heart Container, bringing me up to 7.  I’ve also had 3 Stamina meter boosts, and I’m wondering if maybe that’s enough to tame the Giant Horse in Gerudo.
I also have no idea what I would do with the Giant Horse, but if I can get him, I figure I’ll run out to the Horse Goddess and see what she thinks.
I transport to the shrine nearest the place where the Giant Horse lives, and it’s the one with the conveyor belt challenge, so I decide to give it another try. This time, I get a lucky bomb to blow the ball off of the conveyor belt right into the basin below, and unlock the door, to access the second challenge.  This one is tougher; there are two little guardians on the conveyor belt, and they are weak, but they shoot blasts at me, and I have to take them out with arrows.  Fortunately, they don’t take much to defeat, and then they don’t come back.  But this conveyor is further away from the platform I’m standing on, so my bomb won’t reach when I throw it, and this confirms my suspicion that bombs weren’t really the best answer for this challenge.  I try time stopping the conveyor instead, which works.  But then I still have to figure out how to get the ball to go into the basin.  I try magnesis, but it doesn’t work on the ball.  Then I try using stasis on the ball, rather than the conveyor, and this works just as well to freeze it into place.  I fire an arrow into it, lining my shot up carefully like a billiards shot, and when the time stop unfreezes, the ball shoots right into the basin, unlocking the second challenge.
The third challenge involves two conveyors, running parallel to each other, one carrying boxes, and one empty.  There are several laser blocks firing beams across both conveyors, and an orb.  I can pick up the orb, but not run very fast with it.  At the far end of the room, I can see another basin, and the challenge is to get past the laser beams while carrying the orb.  
I try a run at it without the orb, to see if I can figure it out, and it’s not too difficult.  I just wait for the boxes on the other conveyor to block the beam, and cross in the box’s “shadow”.  The second laser is on my side, so the boxes don’t help me here.  I figure out that if I duck, I can go under the beam.  But probably I could also have just grabbed a box from the far end of the room using magnesis and brought it over to shelter me on my side.  That might have been better, but also required a fast and accurate hand, and quick timing.
At any rate, after finishing my dry run, I go back and grab the orb, and do it for real.  The final door opens, and I spot a shrine chest coming down the conveyor on the far side of the room.  I snag it with magnesis, and open it, it’s a weapon of some kind, I think a spear or a bow, I forget which.  I take it, dropping one of my weaker weapons, and go to the final chamber to claim my spirit orb.
I’m pleased with myself for solving this one.
Exiting the shrine, I check the map to get my bearings, and try to head on a beeline toward the Giant Horse.  There’s a lot of climbing between me and there going as the crow flies, so I end up going down into the canyon below, and trace around the edge of the canyon wall rather than try to climb over it.  I end up going a different route than I’ve taken before, and encounter several lizals, and a few yellow chuchus, and have to fight them.  It doesn’t go badly for me, though, and I continue on.  Eventually I get twisted around and take a wrong turn, and end up going through a whole canyon cul de sac that dead ends.  I do manage to find a few more koroks, though, so it’s not a total waste of time.  I turn around and head in the right direction, and have only a little bit of climbing over a rise, to get down into the valley of the Giant Horse.
I can see him, standing among the rest of his herd, and I try to sneak up.  I figure with my recent stamina meter bosts, I might have a shot, but my first attempt fails.  I decide I’ll burn an elixir that boosts my max stamina, since I seem to have sufficient stamina to do almost anything else.  But now that I’ve tried riding the Giant Horse once, he’s a lot more skittish, and even wearing my stealth suit and having no other gear equipped, he keeps running away from me, and I spend like 20 minutes chasing him.  Eventually, when night falls, he seems to let his guard down more, and I’m able to get close enough to try to ride him again.
The stamina extender elixir does the trick and gives me just barely enough to bring the Giant Horse under control.  I have just a tiny sliver of yellow left on my meter, when he calms down and breaks.  I have done it!
Now I just need to ride him safely to a stable to get registered.  I immediately save the game, because there’s no telling what will happen when I try to sneak past the two lynels between me and the nearest stable. 
On my first attempt, I try to get the Giant Horse to run fast, past the first lynel, but this horse is the biggest, not the fastest, and he doesn’t seem to have a temporary boost beyond his gallop speed.  This takes me by surprise and the lynel knocks me off my horse, and I lose my weapon.  I run to grab it, but now the lynel is on me and I have to fight him. There’s no getting to the Giant Horse and getting away.  I put up a pretty decent right, but the lynel still trashes me.  I’m fighting with a one-handed weapon, and this affords me the use of my other hand for a shield, and I find this makes a tremendous amount of difference, and is way better than trying to fight it with the slow, heavy damage two-handed weapons that I’d always gone in with in previous encounters.  I actually manage to pull off a couple of the parry and dodge moves, but the game’s camera still is a problem, screwing me up and disorienting me when the lynel gets right on me, and I can’t see what I’m doing or even where my enemy is, which is a disaster when he’s right next to me and can kill me in one shot.  I’m not sure how far I got his life meter down, but I did mange to hit him a bunch of times, so maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of his health before I died.  
This is encouraging, and maybe I can get better and take one of these things down soon.
My second attempt, I handle the Giant Horse better, and get past the first lynel before it can make an attack on me, and then I get past the second lynel without it even noticing me.  
The last major obstacle between me and the stable is the mounted bokoblins.  The Giant Horse’s slow top speed means that I can’t outrun them very well, and I end up taking a few arrows in the back as I run through them and away. I’m going to have to go back there at some point and teach them a lesson.
I do end up losing them eventually, outrunning their range of interest.  I come to a road, and follow it a ways, and then come to a fork where there’s a tree, and a couple of Hylian men sort of hanging out under there.  
I talk to them, and they ask me about Giant Horses, which kicks off a new side quest, to find a Giant Horse.  Since I am riding a Giant Horse, it’s the shortest side quest ever, and completes immediately.  But it’s pretty obvious that I did things out of order. I guess that’s always a possibility in an open world game like this, but I think it could have been handled better.  
The men give me a reward of 100 rupees for finding the Giant Horse, and then one of them invites me to do a mounted archery challenge, but I’m in a rush to get the Giant Horse registered at the stables before something happens and I lose him, so I decline, and continue to the stable.  I register him there, and a number of people make remarks about the massive animal. I name this horse Horsiest, replacing my previous Horsiest who I sold to the stranded man back in the canyon, and it’s an apt name.
I decide to take him to the Horse God’s spring, but the Horse God’s only purpose seems to be to resurrect lost horses, and it doesn’t seem to care at all that I have a special horse.  Oh well.  I ride the horse back to the stable and check him in.  
Having accomplished that much, I return to Gerudo town, transporting myself to the shrine there. I talk to the guy who’s looking for the merchant who sneaks in, and I stand with him for several game-hours, thinking he’ll come by and then I’ll see something, but much time passes, and nothing happens.  A few other travelers do come by, and I talk to them all, and none of them really tell me much that can help me move forward in my quest to sneak into Gerudo town.  
One guy is running around the city’s outer wall, and brags about his sand boots, which make it easier for him to travel. I want those boots, but he won’t let me have them, and he’s only interested in talking to women, because he wants to find a woman to woo.  
I also take a lap around the town’s perimeter, and observe that there are gates at the North, East, and West sides of town, but not to the South.  The West gate guard tells me about a secret treasure hidden in the desert, with the statues of ladies holding swords pointing the way.  This opens another side-quest that immediately resolves, because I had found that shrine all on my own.  Again, the out-of-order nature of this sequence feels like it could have been better handled. Like, the story writers should have written an alternative script in the event that you solve that shrine on your own before having this conversation. But I suppose the sheer number of combinations of things that would have forced them to have to account for in the game would have made that  an overwhelming project.
I’ve already pretty much figured out that I’m going to need to find some women’s clothing to disguise myself so I can sneak in, and it’s just a matter of finding them.  There was that woman back at the oasis, who talked about her tailoring skills, but she doesn’t seem to be interested in making me any clothing. But maybe if I go back there she’ll say something different now.
I run back to the oasis and talk to everyone again.  Maybe there’s some different people here, or maybe I missed a few the first time.  I meet a Goron, the first I’ve encountered, and he talks about watching the sandstorm, waiting for it to clear up.  There’s a Hylian man also watching the storm, and he’s interested in going out and finding a treasure when it clears.  This unlocks another side quest for me, and this one I haven’t solved already.  So that’s interesting, apparently there’s two separate treasures/shrines that I need to go into a major sandstorm in order to find.
I talk to several more people and everyone seems to know something about this merchant who sneaks in, or a female Hylian who has been here recently, staying at the inn.  I go and talk to the innkeeper, and they tip me off that they sometimes spend time on the roof of the inn, but not during the day. 
I go to sit by a fire until night, and ten climb to the roof of the inn, and find our merchant-in-drag who has been sneaking into Gerudo town.  He offers to sell me his clothes for 600 rupees, but I don’t have that much, as I’ve spent a fortune on the stealth clothes and arrows.  But I have over 130 amber gems, which is more than enough to bring the needed coin if I sell them, so I do that, and then go get my new outfit.
There’s some attempt at comedy at Link’s expense for dressing in women’s clothing, but it’s not a big deal. It’s not especially funny, and it doesn’t especially offend me, but it seems that Link is slightly embarrassed at first to be dressed as a woman.  But the game doesn’t seem to want to make too big a deal out of it, which is good.
The new clothes are also giving me a slight shift in the temperature range I can safely exist in, making desert travel during the day possible even without my frost wand equipped.
I run back to Gerudo town, and along the way I have to fight 5 or 6 lizals.  I probably should have just teleported to the shrine right by Gerudo, but I wanted to take the road again just to see what might happen, maybe I’d run into some more people, who could help advance the story or tell me useful things.  Taking weird detours and flying and teleporting, you lose a lot of opportunities to meet people on the roads, which come to think of it is probably why I feel like I’ve been missing some big clues about what I’m supposed to be doing, and why the game feels like a korok easter egg hunt rather than a quest to save Hyrule from Ganon.  And it’s probably why I haven’t seen Hestu since the first time I met him.  I have taken roads around a lot of places, but I often veer off them very quickly and end up spending much more time in fields, woods, and climbing cliffs and mountains, which means probably I’m not triggering a lot of storytelling events that happen on roads.
I make a note of this and think I’ll have to go back and travel along the roads more if I don’t figure out where to go next.
The Gerudo guards allow me to come right into the city.  I enter the West gate, and there’s the sand seal rental place. They tell me these seals are easier to manage than the wild ones, so maybe I’ll try them again soon.
I talk to an old lady sleeping in under a tent in the street who says I seem familiar to her, but I don’t think I’ve talked to her before. Maybe she’s someone Link knew 100 years ago?
I go into a building and there’s a Gerudo woman and her young daughter, and I talk to them both.  The woman is studying the nearby circle of seven massive statues, where I found a shrine already, and this open-completes yet another out of sequence side quest.  The daughter tells me that the people who spend their nights in the cantina are so loud, she can hear everything they say when she’s by the window of the cantina.  So I guess that means I’m supposed to do some eavesdropping myself.
I’ve made a ton of progress in this session, so I stop for the time being, and save the game.

Zelda: BOTW Diary (39)

I venture out of the oasis in the evening, and first head out to get a closer look at the Divine Beast Naboris. On the way out, I find a korok seed, and get attacked by lizals. As I get closer to the Divine Beast, I get a better look, and it’s impressive. Wind whips up a sandstorm and visibility is terrible. And it generates lightning, which starts targeting me if I get too close. It doesn’t matter if I have metal equipped, or if I wear my rubber helmet and pants, it hits me and drops me to a half heart of life. I try to find shelter, and hide behind a large rock formation, and am safe there briefly, but eventually it finds me again, targets me, and kills me.
I respawn and head toward Gerudo town. Since it’s night, I don’t need the frost wand. And actually, it gets cold enough that I need to pull out the warm doublet to keep from taking cold damage.
On the road, a Gerudo vai is walking my way, and I talk to her. Just as we’re getting acquainted, three lizalfos burst out of the sand and attack us. I fend them off, handling them rather quickly with a bomb and my lizal boomerang. The vai is grateful and offers me a food item that confers cold resistance.
The rest of the hike out is uneventful. I spot an enclave of monsters off to the left as I approach Gerudo town, but I steer clear of them. As I get closer to Gerudo, I see a shrine sitting right there by the main gate.
I go there, and unlock it, then go in.
The puzzle involves a large ball being bounced between to catapults. I’m not sure what to do, but after observing it for a time, I decide to try to grab it out of the air using magnetism. This doesn’t work, so I next try the time stop power. This does work, as the time stop freezes the object and disrupts its momentum, causing it to fall straight to the ground after the statis wears off. Once it’s on the ground, I’m able to manipulate it with magnesis, but what to do with it?
The orb seems to be generating electricity, so maybe I use it to power something? I drag it around and find a small glass pedestal next to the orb master’s locked chamber. I try touching the pedestal with the big orb, and when I put it right on top, it activates the door to the shrine master’s enclosure.
But there’s a chest in a locked room next to the master’s chamber, and I can’t figure out how to open it. I eventually notice what appears at first to be a second chest inside the chamber, on higher platform, but upon closer inspection, it’s the switch pedestal to open the door.
So I open the door, and it gives me a weapon of some kind, but it’s not as good as the weapons I’m already carrying, so I leave it behind, and claim my orb.
I exit the shrine, and talk to the guards at Gerudo’s main gate. They explain that the town is forbidden to men, as has been explained to me at least 20 times already, and I’m not allowed in.
There’s a stocky man standing off to the side, and I talk to him. He says there’s a man who has been sneaking in, and he wants to see how he does it, because he wants to sell his merchandise in the city.
There’s another Gerudo vai to the left of the gate, and she’s training sand seals. These pudgy walruses have mohawk manes and are really cute. She explains to me how to sneak up and catch one, and if I have a shield equipped, the seal will drag me around the desert at a high speed that makes traversing the wastes easier.
I give it a try, and get the hang of it pretty much immediately. It’s not as easy as riding horses, and there’s no way to stop other than to release the seal, but it is fun and works, definitely better than trudging through the sand.
I explore some ruins to the north of Gerudo that I had skipped over on the way out, and there’s several lizals patrolling. The first one I encounter breathes fire on me, the first time I’ve run into something like that. It does a lot of damage to me, but I kill it. I pull out the ice arrows and find they’re very effective against it, taking them out with a single shot.
I clear out the area, and search around looking for anything interesting. I only managed to find a korok seed or two, though. I’m over 100 koroks at this point, so finding them is pretty routine by now. The lizals drop decent weapons, but I don’t really need any right now.
I continue exploring the desert, heading back north, and I see a building in the distance that looks like another Gerudo structure. I get there and discover this is their ice house. There doesn’t seem to be anything to do here, though. So I check it out and explore. I can climb up on the top and scope around with the Sheikah slate. I see a lot of ruined buildings all over the desert, some rocks, and a lot of sand.
Mostly what I see looks like places I’d find more monsters to fight, or else places I’d likely find a korok. It’s a lot of time to trudge around the desert to check out these things, and it’s not like a sand seal would help a lot, with all the frequent stops and climbs that I’d have to do. So I’m not sure how much I want to invest in exploring for what’s likely to be low reward items.
While I’m at the ice house, I decide to head west and check out the desert in that region. After walking a short way, I find a statue of a woman holding a sword. I grab the sword with magnesis, and it’s a rusty Traveler’s Claymore, not an especially good weapon, and I leave it. I find another statue a little further on, and it’s the same deal. But I notice that both of the statues are pointing their swords in a direction. This makes me think they are pointing to some point of interest.
I backtrack to the first statue, and mark its location on the map, and then look carefully at the direction it’s pointing its sword in, and head in a straight line, not deviating left or right at all to check out anything I see, and head in that direction to see if I’ll run into something along the line it pointed me in.
Eventually I come to another statue, and it’s pointing in a new direction. I do the same thing again, mark the location on the map, and then go off in the new direction, and come to a third statue. After the third statue, the wind kicks up and the resulting sand storm cuts visibility. I notice that my sheikah map cuts out due to some kind of interference, and now I’m in danger of getting lost. The only thing to do is put faith in the statue, and continue.
After a while, I lose count of statues, but they do ultimately lead me somewhere: another shrine. I enter this one, an it’s another electricity themed puzzle. There’s circuits in the floor, and gaps at points, and I have to manipulate metal boxes to bridge the gaps to activate switches. The reward here is a Thunderblade, which I already have one, so I leave this one here, and a spirit orb.
I now have four spirit orbs, but I don’t realize it for a while, and I’m more interested in exploring than anything else right now.
I proceed through the desert, going from place to place, fighting lizals and acquiring a lot of monster parts, and burning through ice arrows and meals, and don’t find much that’s worth the time and consumables. I’m really only interested in korok seeds and shrines so I can increase my heart meter or stamina meter, and so I can expand my inventory if I ever find Hestu again. It’s pointless to kill lizals only to get more of the same weapons I’m already carrying, especially when my inventory is already full. It seems that shrines are few and far between in these wastelands.
I note a region of the Gerudo map that looks like someone gerrymandered the district — there’s a “peninsula” on the map, extending into the territory to the north, like a jigsaw puzzle piece. Clearly, it must be an interesting spot for the map to be drawn this way. I decide to head up that way and check it out.
On the way, I note that the tower in the region immediately to the north where the “peninsula” projects into is nearby. I think about seeing if I can get there on the way. As I get closer, it becomes increasingly apparent to me that this tower is much, much, much taller than any other tower I’ve seen before. I can’t even see the bottom of it; the closer I get, the more I can see down into a very deep recess in the ground, while the tower actually extends high enough to be the tallest feature in the immediate area around it, and only a couple of nearby mountain peaks seem to rival it.
What’s more, there does not seem to be any platforms to rest on for the entire length of the tower, making it an impossible climb for anyone who doesn’t have an infinite stamina, or the means to fly. If I had my entire food inventory filled with stamina restoring elixirs, I’m sure I could do it, but I’m pretty borderline with the two or three stamina potions that I do have, and I doubt I could make it.
So it looks like an alternate approach, flying in from one of the highest and closest mountain peaks must be the way.
This means a detour, and I head into the Gerudo “peninsula”, which does seem to be the way up into the mountains. It’s geographically very interesting, a sort of semi-enclosed cavernous series of shelves, split down the center with a deep crack down the center of it, gradually sloping upward and spiraling to the right.
As I make my way up, I spot a lot of interesting things that I want to check out, but I remain focused on my goal of making it to the top, for now, and don’t take any detours along the way. I would have, but it didn’t look like it’d be easy to cross the giant crack in the middle and get back on course.
I go up, up, up. and eventually I have to start climbing the walls to make further progress. Not much farther than that, and I encounter a Yiga warrior, who attacks me with bow and scimitar, teleporting around like a ninja, disappearing in a cloud of colored smoke and sparkles. I’m able to defeat him, but he’s quick and nimble, not easy to hit. I get his bow, and the bow has the power to shoot two arrows at once. Neat.
I proceed a bit further up, and come to an immense, open cavern where there are many frog statues arranged. I’ve been seeing a lot of these statues along the way, but haven’t checked them out up close. These statues have masks covering their faces, which reminds me of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suddenly, three more Yiga ninjas appear out of nowhere, and begin firing arrows at me and teleporting about the chamber. They make the mistake of getting up close to me, and I make quick work of them with one of my powerful lizal boomerangs.
At the back end of the chamber, there’s a large square rock door. At least, I assume it’s a door. There’s a crack around it, and it doesn’t look natural. I can’t figure out how to open the door, though.
I’m still not at the top of the area, but the cavernous ceiling has wrapped around to enclose the area, making further climbing impossible. So I backtrack to where the cavern ceiling opens up to the sky, and find a way to climb up and out.
On top, it’s snowy, and cold enough to hurt even with the warm doublet equipped. I have a flame spear, so I equip it, and like the ice wand, it confers a localized warming effect that keeps me safe from the elements.
I continue up the mountain, occasionally encountering moblin skeletons or lizals, which I try to avoid, to keep from having to use up my flame spear. I find a couple of baby Taluses, which I blow up with bombs, but a short distance away I awaken a full grown Talus, and this one is icy. I’m not carrying a sledge hammer, so it’s not a fight I can win. I run away, further up the mountain. Fortunately, the Talus doesn’t lob rocks at me, like all the other Stone Taluses I have fought, or I’d be an easy target in the deep snow, unable to run at full speed. It pursues me relentlessly, and not until I climb up and way do I get to safety.
Fortunately up here, I have a good view of the tower I’ve been trying to get to, and I’m actually above it. I take a flying leap, and glide in, landing on the top deck, without any climbing needed.
Kass the bird-man is here, and he sings me a song about a hidden shrine that’s nearby. I don’t make a lot of sense out of the clues, but I’m sure eventually I’ll make some sense of it and find it. I download the map data to unlock the tower, and save.

Zelda: BOTW Diary (38)

I transport back to the shrine near the wasteland stable, and talk to everyone there again.

One of the people was with a group that was attacked by monsters, and he was the only one who made it back. I decide to help him out first, and ride Horsier out to where he said they were when they got attacked. I get out there, and I’m down in a narrow canyon, just wide enough for a road, and not much more. There’s a series of catwalks above me on the right, and they bridge over the canyon to the left. One of the people is being attacked by a couple of bokoblins, and I quickly leap into action and dispatch them. The girl I rescue tells me the rest of her group are up ahead, so I run up the scaffold and fight bokoblins as I come to them. I’m wielding a big spiked bokoblin bat, or was it a moblin club, I forget . It packs a wallop and knocks enemies off the catwalk in two hits, leaving them mostly dead, and the fall to the canyon floor takes care of the rest.

This is weird, but good. When I’ve knocked enemies off of a high place with a bomb, they have survived impossibly long falls somehow, and I had been assuming that enemies do not take falling damage, perhaps by way of compensating for poor pathfinding AI and a tendency for them to fall to their deaths, maybe. But now I am starting to suspect that enemies simply have different falling physics when they are blown into the air by a bomb, and they don’t take extra damage from the fall, perhaps because Nintendo didn’t want to make bombs too powerful, since you get an unlimited supply of them and by themselves they do fairly weak damage. But maybe the enemies do take falling damage if you knock them off with force, such as a weapon. I will have to experiment with this further, and see if knocking enemies off of a height using an object controlled by magnesis also works.

I rescue three of the four people who I’m supposed to find, but don’t find the fourth. I continue climbing the catwalk system up the wall of the canyon, until I reach the top. There, at the top, is a wide, flat, open space, where there’s a large camp, with three lizals and a couple more bokoblins. I attack and wipe them out, but there’s no fourth hostage up here. I loot the camp, and continue forward, and climb and find a few more lizalfos, moblins and bokoblins, and they’re pretty buffed enemies. The lizals have electric powers and I have to be careful with them, but using ice arrows or the ice wand to freeze them, then switching to a powerful melee weapon and hitting them up close hard and quick does them in pretty well.

I also find a few random koroks. I go a pretty far, up and forward, and eventually get to the base of the wasteland tower. Did I miscount and already rescue the four people? I didn’t see a mission update. I think I’d better head back to the stable and see if they’re all accounted for. I return, and talk to the ones who I rescued, but there’s still one more. So I transport back to the tower again, and glide down from it back to the canyon where I started.

In the midst of this, a new Blood Moon happens, resurrecting all the enemies I had just killed, much to my annoyance. I’d broken the boko bat, and in the meantime had picked up a bunch of lizal boomerangs, which are fine weapons, but they don’t have the knockback power of the big club I had before, which makes the fights a little bit harder this second time through.

I make it to a point where I had a fork in the path on the catwalk, and go the way I didn’t go the first time, and find the fourth hostage, being menaced by two last bokoblins. I take them down and complete the mission.

I find Horsier and mount up and ride to where the man I had met on the road way earlier was stranded, and looking for a new horse. He offers to buy Horsier, but I’m not selling him. But I decide to sell one of my other horses, so I ride Horsier back to the stable, and take out another horse I had, who I had named Horst, and ride him out to sell to the stranded man. He gives me 300 rupees, which ain’t bad.

I transport back to the shrine near the stable, and glide down to the stable area, and talk to the old painter man, who tells me again about the oasis nearby, and I decide that’s where I’ll go next, because that’s where one of my 12 memory photos was taken.

I start out that way, and it’s hot in the wasteland, and in the midday heat, the temperature is too much to endure, and I start taking damage. I retreat back to the shadow of the canyon wall, and hang out for a bit to consider my options. I use the Sheikah scope to scout out a bit and see what’s up ahead.

The road becomes fainter as it extends into the desert, but I can see it runs alongside a slight rise where there are some boulders, and it looks like there may be a few monsters lurking there. I scope a bit more and, yeah, there’s a lizal or two, and a couple of bokoblins, and a couple of yellow chuchus. They’re sitting out in the middle of the sun, and it’s a problem. If I go out there, I’ll take damage from the heat, and I’m slow in the sand, so I won’t be effective at keeping my distance and engaging the enemies on my terms. This means they’ll have an easy time surrounding me and ganging up on me.

I think about lobbing a bomb arrow into the camp and seeing if it will even the odds by softening up multiple targets with my opening shot. A good hit on one of the monsters would kill them, and the splash damage and ensuing fire would likely destroy the chuchus, setting off their lightning burst death throes, and that could in turn fry more of them, leaving them with only a couple of hits worth of life bar left for me to take down with a Sheikah bomb or up close with the boomerang sword.

The shadow of the canyon is long in the morning, and extends nearly to where I would be able to optimally attack from, but I screw it up. I can’t get a good angle to fire the bow with any accuracy, and so instead I try lobbing a Sheikah bomb into the camp. It goes off and does do some damage, but not nearly as much as a bomb arrow would have. Worse, the blast radius isn’t as big, so mostly it has no effect, and only serves to alert the enemies to my presence, and there’s no secondary fires. One of the chuchus does get caught in the blast, and its death explosion may have caught someone in its radius and fried them for me.

The rest of them come streaming out of the little depression they had been hunkering down in, and they come to engage me. I fight pretty well, using my shield, which is something I haven’t done much because for the most part my weapons inventory has been all two-handed weapons, and using the shield, it gives me a number of advantages. I can protect myself against melee attacks and arrows, naturally, but also it seems to confer upon me some additional opportunities to attack quickly when I am engaged with them up close and they attempt to strike me.

I remember this happening in one of the training shrines, but I’m not sure how I’m doing it here. I’m not deliberately trying, but it is apparently fairly easy to trigger the condition that allows you to get extra attacks in. Which is good, because otherwise I’d probably be screwed in this fight.

I prevail, and clean out their camp and then continue down the road to the oasis. I talk to everyone there, and it’s mostly Gerudo. Gerudo are all women, like amazons of the desert, and they have a different language then Hylian, so they throw in some foreign sounding words for flavor. They all make a big deal out of explaining this to me, over and over.

I talk to a Gerudo standing guard as I approach the oasis, and she tells me about Gerudo town and the Divine Beast nearby, which is creating a sandstorm with lightning and is making it dangerous to travel, and no one can approach it. Also, as I am a voe (male) I’m not allowed to go to Gerudo village.

I talk to another Gerudo woman who is looking for a husband, and she tells me she is a skilled tailor. This gives me the idea that I could buy clothes from her, and perhaps pass as female, and get in to Gerudo town. But she doesn’t seem to be interested in selling me clothes. I wonder what she needs from me.

I find a bird-man, a different one from Kass, and he tells me it is too hot for him to go on, and he needs an elixir to cool him down. It so happens that I had whipped up a couple of elixirs before I went into the desert, and offer one to him. This completes a mini-quest without me having to actually do anything, but the reward is a paltry 50 rupees. I sure hope this guy does me a big favor later on, because those elixirs are worth a lot more than that. And now I only have one.

I don’t need it, though, because as I discover, when I equip the frost wand that I won in battle against the ice wizzorobe, it radiates a cooling effect that reduces the temperature around me. This is awesome and makes me feel immersed in a realistic world. I’m very impressed that Nintendo’s designers put so much thought into these details.

The downside is that the wand is very fragile, and it’s not a great weapon by itself. Switching to a different weapon immediately removes the chill effect, but if I actually use the want to create a frost blast, it does cool the immediate area for a bit, which is useful to keep me cool while I switch weapons. So if I get into a fight, I can freeze enemies, switch to a powerful weapon, and finish them, and then switch back to the wand.

In theory, at least. My wand is unfortunately near the end of its life, and will break if I actually use it for anything at this point. So it’s a very fragile lifeline that’s keeping me cool indefinitely, at least until I use it up, and then I’m down to one cool elixir that will give me about 11:30 to figure out what to do before I have to transport out of the desert using the Sheikah slate.

I can also stick to the oasis, which is cooler, and I can travel at night, and stay in shady parts of the desert.

It’s so cool that the game gives you multiple tools that you can potentially use to make your way and survive in these extreme climates. Now that I know aobut this, I’m going to have to make sure I pick up a flame wand when I want to go back to some of the colder parts of Hyrule, so I can explore thoroughly and without time pressure.

I’m not sure what to do next, but it seems like the thing to do is rest up at the oasis, make a few more elixirs so I have something to fall back on when I break my ice wand, and try to plan out the next leg of this journey, and figure out how I’m supposed to get into Gerudo town.  I think about maybe going back into the Gerudo highlands to do some more wzzorobe hunting, but I dread facing their frosty might again.  I need to get lucky and hit them with my fire arrows before they can freeze me and thaw-kill-thaw-kill me.

I should also try to restock on fairies so I can endure a few combats.  I seem to go through them pretty quickly when I’m in a close quarters fight, and in the desert it’s a lot less likely that I can use stand-off tactics with arrows and bombs to avoid having to risk my heart meter.

Zelda: BOTW Diary (37)

Starting at Wasteland Tower, I notice on the map that the tower is standing on Spectacle Rock. It doesn’t feel like Death Mountain to me, but what do I know. To me, Death Mountain is in the upper northwest corner of Hyrule, and this is not the north.  The tower is standing on the northwest “spectacle” so I decide to check out the other end of it before I take off. It is just a desolate, flat mesa, from what I can tell, and I don’t even find so much as a korok seed on it. Although, I do find one on a smaller hill nearby.

I continue following the East Gerudo Mesa, and start climbing another mountain, called Mount Garajh on the map, and find another korok on the top. This mountain is tall enough to have snow on the top, and it’s cold enough that I take damage even wearing the warm doublet, unless I eat a cold-resistant food, so I can’t spare a lot of time up here.

Nearby, there’s what’s left of an old shack, and here I find a journal left behind by whoever lived here. There’s some clues about how to find a shrine that is nearby. It mentions a pedestal on the top of the mountain, which glows faintly at night, and to reveal the hidden shrine, I have to “cast a cold shadow on it”. I don’t know what that means. What casts a cold shadow?

The tall mountain nearby where I found the korok has a couple of stone pillars topping it that seem like they’re the only thing around that could be a “pedestal”, and I can’t quite tell if they glow or not. I’m not sure, but I think I can see it, maybe, but it may just be the reflected moonlight. It’s hard to tell. They certainly aren’t illuminated like towers and shrines are.  But the book does say that it glows “faintly”.

I stand around overnight watching to see if there’s any clue revealed overnight, but there’s nothing to speak of.

I give up and continue south, descending altitude until it’s no longer cold enough to hurt.

I find a few more korok seeds, and a couple of Guardian hulks, and a couple of live ones, which I fight and defeat, earning a bunch of busted ancient technology parts.

Nearby, I find an Ice Wizzorobe, and try to fight it, but I miss with my first arrow, and he’s alerted, and completely destroys me. He freezes me with his ice wand, it one-shots my healthbar, I resurrect with a fairy, and as soon as I thaw out his attack timer has counted down and he freezes me again. I have no chance, and it’s shameful. It wastes all my fairies, and then I die-die.  It feels a little unfair.

I restore from my last save, and go at him again, this time using a fire arrow, and it does the trick, he is destroyed with a headshot, well placed and very effective. He drops his ice wand, and I pick it up.

Later on, I use it to take a couple of coyotes that attack me, and discover that it changes their meat drop to “icy prime meat” which has heat resistive power. So that’s very interesting. Not only does it matter what you kill, but how you kill it, and it can drop something different if you destroy it through an elemental attack. This game is full of thoughtful touches like this, it makes me wonder how much I’ll never find because there’s simply too many possible combinations of things.  After getting the frozen meat, I die stupidly, and decide to restore from my last save point, and lose the meat. But I make it a point to pick up some if I can get another opportunity.

Continuing down hill back into the Gerudo desert canyon, I find an interesting circular emblem on the canyon wall, and puzzle over it, wondering what it could be, and what it means. There are no answers forthcoming, but I take a snapshot of it for later, in case I see anything similar.

I’m very annoyed with the limitations they programmed into the Sheikah slate camera. I can only take a limited number of photos, and if I add a discovery to my Hyrule Compendium, but later delete the image off of my camera roll, it also deletes it from the Compendium as well. There are way, way more things to take pictures of for the Compendium than there are slots on the camera memory. This is really unfortunate, I would have liked to get a 100% Hyrule Encyclopedia, or at least try to.

I reach the southern border of Hyrule’s west end, an unclimbable cliff face, and can’t continue in this direction. The game explicitly tells me you cannot go further in this direction, so that’s that. I reverse direction and head back north, this time at a lower altitude, the mountains I’d just come over to the east of me.

My Sheikah sensor starts picking up a nearby shrine, and I head in the direction of it, and come to a huge rectangular building with very tall walls. I’d seen it from above, so it’s not a surprise, but it’s still impressive how big this thing is in person.

It is a labyrinth. I glide down to it and land on top, and walk around the outer perimeter first, trying to see if I can make out anything of the layout of the place, but it’s not possible. I run into two bokoblins, both fairly tough ones, and decently well-armed, but I’m fighting with my Soldier’s Claymore, and it hits hard, knocking both of them right off the wall, out of my way to where I can’t fight them. I don’t want to jump down and finish them off, and when I end up down there later I don’t want them to surprise me, so I lob bombs down on them until they die. This takes a while but is the only way to do it that doesn’t involve wasting a lot of arrows for no good reason.

I glide down into the labyrinth, and it’s revealed that it is a shrine challenge. The shrine is in the exact center of the maze, and I just have to find the way to it.

This is easier said than done. I explore the twisty maze of passageways, all alike, and find three treasure chests in the middle of the three quadrants of the rectangle, but have a hard time finding a way to the center.

I get wise and climb the walls to get back on top of the labyrinth, and using a stamina elixir am able to do it. This lets me cheat a bit, I take a random guess and drop down a shaft into the unexplored fourth quadrant, and it leads me to the shrine at the center. I get there, and am rewarded with a suit of armor that buffs my attack power. It’s not great armor, but perhaps it can be enhanced at the fairy pond.

I don’t bother searching for the fourth treasure chest that I infer must be somewhere in the last quadrant of the labyrinth. The others had 50, 100, and 300 rupees, or perhaps an opal, and it’s not worth the time and effort to find it when there are so many easier ways to get those items.

I move on, checking out the corner of the valley, to the northeast of the Labyrinth’s main entrance, and find a couple more korok seeds.

Next, I proceed west, through a narrow pass called the Champion’s Gate, and run into a few lizals, who I kill without much fuss, and pick up a few nice boomerang weapons.

Further up, I reach the barren wastes of the Gerudo desert, where it is too hot during the day to survive in my current outfit, and I do not have any cooked dishes that confer heat resistance.

I find that if I stay in the shadow of the canyon wall, I am just under the heat limit to take damage, so I continue along, following the canyon wall, and hope that the sun doesn’t kill me if it comes around to cast shadows on the other side of the world. It doesn’t, and I eventually make it to an area where I’m close enough to the Divine Camel Beast that I can hear it’s thundering hoofsteps crashing in the distance. It sounds awe inspiring.

I’m at a position just south of the ring of giant statues, and all I need to get to them is to climb over the canyon wall. The first time I attempt this, I run into a live Guardian, who immediately activates and starts advancing towards me. I’m climbing and don’t have any fighting gear equipped, so I jump down to what I think is safety, arm myself, and climb back up, only to find myself nose to nose with the Guardian, who is already targeting me and ready to fire. I miss with my arrow, and it blasts me off the canyon wall, and I die.

I respawn and return to same general area, but climb up a bit further down the wall, and don’t see the guardian anywhere. I cross the mesa and drop down into the ring of giant statues.

At this low altitude, the heat of the day is again damaging, but I can stay in the statue’s shadows and survive as long as I am patient.

Toward the evening, the temperature dips, around 4:30pm I am able to move about freely. I find a ladder going up to a scaffolding around one of the giant statues, and use it to climb up, then look at it up close, find nothing interesting, and move on to the next statue, and the next. I find a korok seed, and then I find a large metal orb, too heavy to lift. I try pushing it and it is too heavy to push. I try placing a bomb next to it, and it shoots off the statue’s arm and crashes into the ground below.

I glide down and, using bombs, nudge it toward a basin with a hole that looks like it was meant to receive the orb. This takes many bombs, but I eventually succeed in bomb-golfing it into place. Nothing happens. I look around and see many more orbs. At this point, I realize that I should try ot use the magnet power, and sure enough this works, and it is much easier to manipulate the orbs this way.

I spent so long with the first orb because of how awkward it was to bomb it into position that the rest of the orbs takes me until the heat of the day has returned, and I have one orb left to go, and I don’t see it anywhere.

Eventually, I discover that I had accidentally put two orbs into one basin, and correct my error. Then, nothing happens. I’m puzzled, but eventually I figure out that the badges that I noticed on the statues match with glyphs on the orbs, and they have to be placed in the correct basin. I use the map to mark the basins that I have correct, and check each on in turn until I have the solution.

A shrine erupts out of the ground, and I’m awarded a spirit orb and a flaming spear.

I now have 6 spirit orbs, so I go to Kakariko village and upgrade my stamina meter again, visit the fairy pond to upgrade my   clothing and get my rubber pants enhanced, and then I go to the arrow shop but they are out of normal arrows, so I transport to Hateno village instead, visit Purah, and get my Sheikah slate upgraded to improved bombs. I try to upgrade the Stasis power as well, but I don’t have the right materials for it still.

I visit the shop in town and replenish my bomb arrows and normal arrows, both.

I also talk to a few townspeople, and uncover two new side quests. One has to do with finding a shrine that I already found, it’s in line with the three trees on the mountain tops to the north of the village. I found the korok up there, but didn’t realize that the shrine was in line with them until the lady from the village pointed this out to me.

Then I meet a young boy who asks me about weapons, and he wants me to bring him back some weapons to show him. Specifically, he wants to see a traveler’s sword. OK, fine, I’ll use an inventory slot to store a shitty traveler’s sword so you can see it. I’ll even give it to you. I guess I’ll probably have to show him a few other weapons, and then he’ll give me something. Probably it’ll be shitty, but maybe it’ll be something that belonged to his grandfather and is moderately not-shitty.

In general, the vast majority of rewards in this game are not that great, relative to what I expect to find. Like, in the original Legend of Zelda, I liked finding sword upgrades, the magic wand, the book of spells, the red candle, the red ring, and the magic boomerang. But in BOTW, everything you find is only temporary, and thus can’t be so powerful that it is essential to completing your quest, and so isn’t all that memorable or essential, so it seems like a letdown when you complete a challenge and all you get is some weapon that’s maybe not even better than what you’re already carrying, or like 50 rupees, which is what ONE bomb arrow costs at Hateno market.

Another sidequest I can’t seem to figure out is the guy in Hateno who has a crush on the girl who runs the inn. I’m supposed to talk to her to find out what she loves most, so I can tell him, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to talk to her other than to rent a night in the inn, and this doesn’t advance the quest any. Maybe I need to arrive at a different time of day, but I don’t know. I don’t go to the inn much, and I haven’t gotten anywhere with this sidequest.

Zelda: BOTW Diary (36)

I return to the region where the Dragon’s Mouth is, and explore the jungle a bit more, but don’t find much. A couple of korok seeds and a few hidden chests with some gems and weapons. Then a Blood Moon happens and all the enemies resurrect, which makes the area dangerous again. I go through the eastern portion of the jungle, running along a rock wall that serves as a border, and explore a couple of lakes, where I find fish and weapons. Eventually I come to a road, and follow it down to the jungle stables. I still haven’t found Farush’s golden scale or whatever, and have no clue where to look for it. The Goddess Hylia hasn’t seen fit to lead me anywhere.
I decide it’s time to explore an uncharted region and try to unlock a tower somewhere. I teleport to the tower on the map called Lake Tower, in the region just south of the Great Plateau, and look around to the West, there’s a lot of area I haven’t been to yet, and then I spot a far off plume of black smoke, so I move in that direction. I cross over a ridge by the horse goddess spring, and the terrain becomes arid and dusty, and I am in Gerudo.
I find my self in the bottom of a wide canyon. I start to explore and before too long I start picking up a signal of a nearby shrine. I find it without too much difficulty, and enter it.
This one is clever. There’s a platform that moves horizontally, on a track, back and forth, with no apparent purpose. Below, I see a treasure chest, the access to which is blocked by what looks like a trip wire laser. On the far wall, there’s another chest up on a high ledge. And in the center of the floor at the bottom of the room is a glowing orange pillar.
I puzzle over what I’m supposed to do here. First I go to the lower chest, and jump over the laser beam easily, and obtain the treasure. I wonder why they had such an easy problem to solve, but don’t think much of it.
Then I inspect the pillar in the center of the room, and try hitting it with a weapon. It switches blue, and a number of platforms in the room shift, changing elevation. I can see that I could now glide to a point that would allow me to gain access to the second chest, but only if there’s a way for me to trip the switch again to move the platforms back.
I try using a bomb to activate the pillar switch, and it works. OK. So I hit the pillar, to set the platforms low, then glide from the entrance platform to the far wall to the lower platform, then trip a bomb to switch back, which raises me to the level of the second chest. Done. The final challenge is a series of platforms that I have to activate a total of 3 times in order to get to the top on the other side, where I will collect my spirit orb.
I can’t figure out what to do, I try setting the round and square bombs, but it only gets me as far as the second last lift, and then I’m stuck. I try using arrows on the pillar switch, and that works, but it doesn’t help because when I’m in the penultimate position I can’t hit it with an arrow.  This is the first time I learn that if you have two bombs active, and blow one up, it will detonate the other if it is in the blast radius.  So to make this work I have to space the bombs apart enough so that the switch is overlapped by both blast radii, but each bomb is far enough away from the other bomb that they won’t destroy the other.
I also discover that by holding the B button while running, Link can sprint, which uses his stamina meter.  All this time I thought of B as “the cancel/put away/say no” button, and never realized it had this feature.  I’m over a month into this game, and well over 100 hours logged, and am just now discovering this.
I try and try for about a half hour to figure out the solution to the shrine, get frustrated, and walk over to the laser tripwire, and put a bomb behind it, and then blow it up. I expect nothing to happen, but to my surprise, the block flies across the room. This gives me the idea to try picking it up, and I can! Now I aim it at the pedestal switch, and it activates. Suddenly, I understand the purpose of the horizontal moving platform. I place the laser on the moving platform and each time it sweeps by, it activates the pillar switch, which enables me to get past the final obstacle and clear the shrine.
Not bad.
Exiting the shrine, I resume looking for the pillar of smoke that I had seen from Lake Tower, and find it actually very close to the shrine. There’s a lot of what looks like burned decaying animal or monster remains surrounding the shrine, and then only a short distance away, there’s a woman tending a fire, trying to cook something. She tells me about different recipes that she recommends making, but they all sound awful, and they would result in “questionable meat”. She won’t let me sit at her fire to pass time, either. I’m puzzled as to what her purpose could be in the game.
In the general vicinity of the shrine and the cooking lady, I find a couple more korok seeds, one of which is a very difficult archery challenge with a single balloon target that is extremely close, fast moving, and erratic. I scout around a bit more, looking for anything interesting nearby, and see a stand of what look like baobab trees below, so I fly down to investigate them. When I land, I hear the roar of a lynel, and get scared. He’s nearby and I don’t see him.
Eventually I do spot him, up ahead of my position, and he’s patrolling a wide open plain at the entrance of the canyon that I had to cross in order to get to this side where the shrine is. I try taking him on, but no, he’s got me outclassed, just like the others. I give up, teleport back to the shrine at the top of the canyon, and, just to mess with him, I tried firing bomb arrows down into the valley to see if I can nail the lynel at extreme long range. 
He’s a tiny dot down below, and the distance has got to be over a thousand yards, but I find that I am able to make adjustments to my aim by seeing where the explosions land, like you do with artillery, and mange to actually nail the lynel a few times.  I note that the bombs cause him to fly back a lot, which is interesting because when I’ve hit a lynel with a bomb arrow more up close, they don’t seem to budge.  I also note that the explosions trigger lasting grass fires, which burn for a minute or two before going out, and that they attract the lynel’s interest, who slowly approaches them. 
I also note that if I actually hit the lynel with the arrow, rather than with splash damage from the explosion, he is immediately aware of the direction the attack came from, and sharp-eyed enough to actually see me high up on the canyon rim, and he starts attacking me with lightning arrows.  He can not only fire three lightning arrows at a time, in a spread, and he can not only lob them up hill back to my position, where they nearly reach me and land just short, hitting the lip of the canyon rim, but he also has some ability to bring down a lightning bolt from above, which can target me pretty much anywhere I happen to be, and will kill me unless I constantly move.  After I run away and get out of sight and wait several minutes, they stop, but he’s a lot more persistent than I would have thought. 
While I don’t defeat the lynel this way, I do gain some additional knowledge of its powers and behavior.
I decide to try exploring further to the north.
There’s a lot of coyotes, mineral deposits, and more baobab trees, and some new mushrooms and various insects for forage. I encounter a herd of horses, more than I’ve seen in one place before. I count seven or eight, and one looks a bit different from the rest. I notice he doesn’t seem to move much, just stands still, and he looks bigger. As I get closer I realize that he really is bigger. I try to get him, but he runs off. I sneak up again more carefully, and take a photo, and the Compendium identifies it as a Giant Horse, and says he is the last of his kind and very selective about who can ride him. I sneak more carefully, and down an elixir that grants a temporary extra stamina bar, but it doesn’t help enough to tame him, and he throws me.
Instead, I grab a different horse, one that looks like it’ll be a good one, and after I get one, I have to ride it all the way back to the stable near the horse goddess pond. To get there, I have to ride past TWO lynels, and then I encounter a mounted party of about 6 or 7 bokoblins, who give me a chase for a long way. I’m not in any shape to take on that many at once, with a semi-tamed horse, but I eventually outrun them, get to the stable, and when I go to register the horse I learn he’s nothing special at all actually. So I let him go.
I transport back to the shrine at the canyon, and explore the western lip of it, and eventually come back to the area where all the horses were. I explore that area a bit more. It’s pretty desolate, but there’s a lot of rocks that you can pick up and sometimes there’s something good under them, like a rupee. I get to the end of the canyon, which is one of the walls of the Great Plateau.
The walls of the canyon are a bit too tall, sheer, and difficult to climb so I make it a point to upgrade my stamina bar again next time I can. Which, since I just cleared a shrine, I can. I transport to Kakariko village and pray at the statue to receive the stamina upgrade, then buy out all the arrows at the arrow shop, and do a fairy fountain run, and catch 3 fairies.
I have yet to actually get into any uncharted territory, although I have not been through Gerudo before today. I want to try to find a tower so I can get the map info for the next territory over. So rather than return to explore southwest Gerudo, I transport to the shrine on the Great Plateau that was up on the top of the icy mountain, since that was the highest and western-most point of Hyrule that I’ve been to so far, and from there I look to the west. I can see a couple of nearby towers, and then a bit closer, I see a shrine sitting out in the open, and I decide it’s close enough that I can make it there, so I fly down to it,
I reach it without much difficulty. It’s on the top rim of another canyon. This one appears to have some scaffolding and bridges along its walls, and I’m not sure who built them but they do look rather rough. I expect to see some monsters, but no one seems to be around. The shrine is on the far wall of the canyon from where I landed, but it’s an easy secondary glide across, and then a little climb, and then I’m in.
I unlock it but can’t solve it. There’s a conveyor belt running left to right carrying an orange ball that needs to go into a hole behind and below the conveyor. If I had a korok leaf in my inventory, I bet I could use it to blow the ball off the conveyor and into the hole, but I have too many good weapons to spare a slot for a korok leaf, so I’m not carrying one. I try to improvise and use bombs to blow the ball off the conveyor and into the hole, but give up after a long time. I almost get it once or twice, but it’s very difficult to get the timing just right, and I will just have to come back later with the right equipment, and hope that the korok leaf does indeed work.
Leaving this shrine, I continue following along the bottom of the canyon, and hike a very long way, and eventually run into a guy sitting by a camp fire, who says he lost his horse, and would like to get another horse if I can help him. Side quest activated. If I find some more horses, I’ll go find one and bring it here. But the place where I got my last horse, I don’t know how to get here from there on a horse.
I continue onward, and eventually my shrine sensor starts pinging again. I head in the direction of the shrine I’ve picked up, and find it, and another stable. It’s good to find a stable here. Maybe I can give the guy who lost his horse one of my registered horses. Or if not there’s got to be some more horses nearby.
There’s a bunch of familiar faces at this location. Kass, the bird-man, is here and he sings me another song, about the heroes from 10,000 years ago. The lyrics for this song are written in an awkward meter that reminds me of when Rudy Ray Moore would recite one of his rhymes in the Dolemite movies. So I read the lyrics and hear Dolemite in my head, and it’s unintentionally funny. Nintendo should hire better poets.  Unlike Kass’s other songs, this one has an animation to go with it, which makes it seem more significant.
Another person at the stable tells me about a legendary sword that can be found in a woods, I think he said in Hyrule Forest, and I think he said it’s near Gerudo, which is to the Southwest. So that’s an important clue, I bet that will be the Master Sword. And the painter man who appears in other villages is here too, and he tells me about one of my 12 memory photos, and where I can find it. Maybe this was the spot to the southwest. I’ll have to go back and double check to refresh my memory.
Finally, I talk to a guy who says he got separated from four of his friends when they were attacked by monsters and he ran away. He would like me to find them for him if I can.
OK, so I still haven’t opened a tower. I look on the map and see a couple of stamps for towers that are near here, and I pick the nearest one of the two, and head there.
It’s a pretty straight shot, but I have to do a lot of climbing to get there. I head straight for it, and don’t take any time to look at things or pick up anything that isn’t immediately in front of me, and this allows me to get there pretty quick.
I get to the tower, and find that it’s standing in a lake of boiling mud that will kill me if I fall in it. I’m up high enough that I should be able to glide to the tower, no problem. But when I try, the wind picks up and blows so hard I can’t make any headway. I land on the ground by the lake of mud, and observe a quantity of metal boxes strewn about. So I use the magnet power to put the boxes in the mud to stack them up to create islands that I can hop onto.
There’s some stone pillars standing upright in the lake of mud, and it looks like I just need to make it to the first one, and then I should be able to climb it and jump to the next one, climb it, jump to the next one, and so forth until I get to the tower. But while I’m moving the boxes, I accidentally nudge the first block and it falls, domino-like, into the next, and triggers them all to fall into the tower, making for a much less difficult climb, with no risky jumps.
I ascend the tower, download my map data, and have a look around to see what I can see.
Off to the north, I can see what I think must be Hyrule Castle, and I can also see a volcano which I’m guessing is either Death Mountain, or where the Gorons live.  I’ve seen the volcano from a bunch of spots around the map, and it always seems far away.  To the north, I see a mountain that appears to be split in two, like the Dueling Peaks near the very first horse stable I encountered on the road to Kakariko, but I don’t think this mountain I’m looking at is that one.  I pin it with the Sheikah scope, and double check the map, and I’m right — it’s not the same mountain.  This gives me some hope, as one of the memory photos in the album looks like it is of the Dueling Peaks, and about a week ago I traveled to where I thought the spot that photo had been taken from was, and when I got there I did unlock a new memory, but it wasn’t the one for the picture showing the Dueling Peaks in the background.  So maybe that photo is of this mountain instead?  How weird that there should be two mountains so similar to each other in one world. 
There’s also a ton of interesting sites nearby. There’s a circle of massive statues, below me and to the south, an easy glide away, and a ruins a bit further out that looks fairly large, and then I see the Divine Beast that looks like a camel. It’s huge, like mountain sized, and enshrouded in a massive cloud of dust.
This seems like a good place to stop and rest.

Zelda: BOTW Diary (35)

Alright, here’s a thing about the enemy AI.

I don’t really care for the way game developers use the term “AI” to mean “enemy behavior”.  Most enemy behavior is not remotely close to anything resembling what academics and researchers mean when they talk about Artificial Intelligence.  Much “AI” in games is super simple, deterministic, and basically linear.  More sophisticated “AI” combines several behavior states into a finite state machine system, where the enemy will shift from one to another depending on context.  These can be fairly sophisticated and make the enemies feel almost alive and maybe a little, tiny bit intelligent, but not really.  Most of them are super easy to fool, and once you figure out how they are triggered, what their vision radius is, they’re generally pretty easy to kill.

Bokoblins and Lizalfos for example, they seem to have a “home” point on the map, and they will not chase after you beyond a certain distance from this point.  It’s like in The Dukes of Hazzard, when the the Duke boys would be on the run, and to get away they would cross the county line, and Sheriff Roscoe couldn’t go after them across the county line… for some reason.  Once you’re out of their territory, it’s like they can’t see you anymore, and they don’t care, and they’ll turn around and walk back home.

To some extent that’s reasonable behavior.  I wouldn’t chase kids off my lawn for blocks and blocks.  Once they’re outside my property line, if they keep running away, I’ll let them.  But if they just stand there, and shoot arrows at me, I’m not going to start walking back to my house, take an arrow in the back, act surprised and look around, and then not see them because they’re across the street in plain sight but I can’t see them for some reason, and then give up and head back toward the house, only to get nailed again with another arrow.

But these bokoblin boys sure do!

That’s sad.  That an “AI” in such a beautiful game that in many ways is more an attempt to create a realistic model of a fantasy world than any game I’ve played before, still has such poorly developed AI.  This can’t be a limit of the hardware, and even the programming, I’m sure, could be done if someone had the notion to develop it.  

I think if the bokoblin should be able to still see you, he ought to react to you, as though you’re a threat. He should either attack, or seek cover, or run away, or call for help.  They do a lot of these things if you run into their camp area, but if you go outside, they lose interest in you a bit too quickly.

It makes the game easier, and there are times when I’m grateful for it, but I feel like when I run away, and succeed at getting away, I should have to have earned that, by really doing a good job of hiding and not by simply traveling beyond their give-a-damn radius for patrolling their home turf.

I also find it unenjoyable that it’s possible to use lame tactics like firing arrows from extreme range, where you can  hit the enemy and do damage to it, but they will never see you or react to you in any way.  They do react to the injury, sort of — they get knocked down, get angry, go over and pick the weapon they dropped back up, look around for a few seconds, and then if you don’t show yourself by charging in to finish up the attack, they… forget all about the arrow they just took to the head, and go back to standing around like an idiot waiting for you to finish murdering them.

Better AI would respond to these situations more realistically.  Getting hit with an arrow should be a major, life-altering event for an enemy AI, not something you forget about in five minutes, and you go back to standing where you were, only now bleeding.  

An enemy that takes a hit should not go back to standing where it was.  They should go off and seek healing.  They should run over to their friends and tell them what happen, and then the friends should bandage them up a bit, while one or two of the others grab some weapons and armor and head off into the general direction where they think the attack came from, and hunt you.  And if you get spotted, sometimes they will come over to attack you, but if you can hit them from way, way far away, well outside their visual range, they never will.  It’s like the world doesn’t exist for them outside of the bubble they live in.  And there’s plenty of ways to dish damage from a quarter mile off and never be seen.  They never seem to look up.  If you’re high enough, up a tree or on a tall hill, they’ll never know what’s been raining death on them patiently for minutes.

If you miss with the arrow, and it hits nearby, they’ll be alerted for a few seconds, but again, they’ll decide after a short time “it was nothing” and go back to their idle state, and completely forget about anything that just happened.  Well, every time you trigger an enemy from its idle state to an alert state, it should never go quite back to idle again.  It should go into a “heightened idle” where it remembers that something funny just happened, and if something funny ever happens again, at least in the next few hours, that should trigger them to go into a higher alert state than the first alert state they went to.  

Say something lands by your feet, startling you.  You look around to see where it came from. You’re maybe not sure what it even was, you just heard a whoosh and a thud by your feet, but you didn’t actually see it.  Maybe you can’t see the arrow, you don’t know exactly where it landed, and they’re hard to spot unless you know where to look, or happen to be looking right at the spot where it hit.  So after a second or two, you think to yourself “I don’t know what that was, but that was weird.  Huh, oh well.” and you go back to what you were doing.  But then it happens a second time.  Ok, now you know something is up.  Something is out there.  You don’t know what.  You don’t see it  yet.  But now your hair is standing on end.  You feel as though you’re being watched.  You feel vulnerable.  You move, and get out of sight, and start eyeing the treeline near the outskirts of your vision, straining to see any glint or motion, or something that wasn’t there before, something that isn’t right.  

If something happens again, well, you call your friend over and get them to help you, or you go find your friend.  Maybe they sneak out around the back way, out of sight, and start sweeping the general area, looking for you.  If you’re not up a tree, motionless and silent, or  using some significant stealth buffs, they’re likely to find you, unless you carefully use cover to stay out of sight.  

And that’s if you miss.  If you hit them, or if you lob a freakin’ bomb into their camp and it goes off with a huge, loud explosion, they ought to damn well behave as though that just happened.  A general alarm should go off and everyone should be on alert and they should hunt for whoever did that until they find them, and not give up for a day or two of wide-ranging perimeter patrols.  And after that, things should not go back to normal.  They should set up an ambush point on the approach to their village, or beef it up if there already was one.  They should set some traps or trip-wires or additional fortifications.  They should go to high alert much more readily after the first alert, and respond in an escalating fashion where they do more each time something sets them off, until they perceive that the threat has been dealt with, or the unknown has been identified and determined to be harmless.

That’s what it should be like, and that’s what’s missing with from the game, with the “stupid” AI behavior of these enemy creatures.

As well, there should be more variability into what the AIs decide to do next when they change behavior states.  The typical AI finite state machine is a series of interconnected behaviors where one behavior state connects to one or more others in the state machine.  But most of the time the state changes are too predictable, because they are connected by a rigid, deterministic logic.  

For example, if an enemy is on its “high alert” behavior, it will either transition back to “idle” if the enemy isn’t able to detect the player, or elevate to “attack” mode if it is.  This is too simple, and leads to the AI agent always behaving in the same way, repeatable and predictable, manipulatable and exploitable.  

Instead of that, it would be better if AI agents had behavioral drivers, which model the agent’s decision making.  Then the AI’s state machine transitions could be influenced by a complex, less deterministic seeming process.  Various factors could enter into an agent’s decision-making:  are there other friendly agents near it?  Is it injured?  How badly?  How long has it been since it last was in its sleeping behavior state (ie, is it sleepy?)  Is it exhausted?  Is it frustrated (has the player been screwing with it a lot?)  Has it seen the player?  Is it able to tell whether it’s stronger or weaker than the player?  Is there a nearby object that it wants, such as a weapon, or food, or some treasure that it guards jealously?  Various behavior drivers could influence the agent to make better, more realistic seeming choices to move through its behavior-states, and avoid looping through the same “dumb” behaviors repeatedly, as though the AI has no memory or ability to reason, or to choose between a few roughly equally reasonable behaviors.  

I think some day we’ll see this, and it will probably be fairly soon.  It might even be in other games that I haven’t played or heard of for all I know.  But I think when that level of sophistication becomes normal and expected in video games, they’ll have advanced the state of the art to a new level. 

We get a few glimpses of this in BOTW.  If an enemy has dropped its weapon when it gets knocked down, it will go and pick it up first before running back to fight the player.  So it has a certain priority order in which it decides to do things.  But this priority system is as yet too simple and agents always decide the same thing given the same collection of factors. An enemy never gets knocked down, drops its weapon and decide it’s too injured and should run away, or surrender.  It always gets back up and grabs its weapon and tries to fight.  And when it goes to fight, there are a couple of different tactics that it might use, but mostly it’s charge the player, or stand at a distance and use a ranged attack.  A few enemies do have multiple tactics that they can switch from, but for the most part it seems like they make the “decision” randomly, rather than with cunning.

Breath of the Wild does have some amazing stuff in it.  The atmosphere created by the Day-Night cycle and the weather system is impressive.  The climbing animation and kinematics is very well done.  The horse riding is pretty good.  The fact that pretty much anything in the game can interact with anything else through the physics system or through elemental effects is amazing.  But I’m not impressed with the enemy behavior — it still feels about the same or not much more advanced than what I was seeing in games like Half-Life 20 years ago.

And that’s kindof a shame.

Zelda: BOTW Diary (34)

I double check the dragon’s mouth, and re-read the clue the statue gives me. It says I need to get a golden scale from Farosh, which is the name of that dragon I’ve been seeing in the night sky near the Great Plateau and on into the jungle region.

Great, so how do I get a scale from him? The statue says he gives it to me? Huh. OK. The Goddess Hylia will show me the way. Right then.

I leave the dragon’s mouth temple and head back to where I left Horsier. On the way I get ambushed by a couple more lizalfos, and they’re in water deep enough that I have to swim to get close to them, which means I can’t fight, so I can only take them out with bombs and arrows. They’re not particularly strong, but I’m pretty low on normal arrows again, and I’m trying to conserve them. On the way back, I blunder into another bokoblin camp, and wipe them out. My faster weapons have all broken, and all I’m left with right now is high-damage two-handed weapons that are slow and awkward to use against weaker enemies, and it leads to me taking hits from them that I could ordinarily dodge or use my shield or pre-empt with a speedier attack.

I don’t much care for the two-handed heavy weapons. But maybe I just need to use them on the right type of enemy.

I get back, and find Kass the bird-man still sitting there, too, playing his accordion. I talk to him more, but he just tells me the same thing about the “shrine” at the dragon’s mouth, which makes me think I didn’t find something I was meant to, because Kass always tells me something congratulatory after I solve the puzzle in his songs. The place I found isn’t a “shrine” in the sense of the Sheikah Shrine puzzle dungeons that are all over Hyrule, so maybe there’s still one in that general area, waiting to be discovered? Only, my scanner never went off… So, I dunno.

I mount Horsier and we ride down the road, racing past any enemies we come across, until we get to the Highland Stable. I board Horsier there, and then transport to a shrine a little closer to the dragon’s mouth area. It’s still a hike to get there from the shrine, but I save about half the distance. I take a wandering path, checking out anything that looks like a korok seed, and I find several more, getting my total up to about 90.

I encounter a few more of those floaty teleporty guys with the wands, including ones that use fire.  I get a picture with my Sheikah camera, and they are indeed Wizzorobes.  The fire ones are a little different to fight, as the fire can set blazes nearby you when you dodge them, and you end up taking damage from the secondary burn anyway.  I find they are hard to hit with arrows when they dance around, but once in a while they kindof stand still and you can take a shot at them, then run up and hit them a few times, and this is the best way I’ve found to handle them so far.  If you don’t have arrows, they’re tough to fight.  Arrows knock them down to your level (they seem to float above and a bit out of your normal reach, otherwise) and stun them long enough that you can nail them pretty solidly if you’re quick about it. When you defeat them, they always drop a wand for you, which is a fairly weak weapon, and delicate, but it does elemental damage and has a range effect, which makes it worth having while they last.  The fire wands are almost as dangerous to myself as they are to my enemies, though.

I climb a small rocky hill and find a little lake at the top where I see three fairies and a bunch of fireflies. The fairies are high over the water, and it’s hard to get at these ones. I manage to screw up and make noise that scatters them and they disappear. Drat.

I continue northward and encounter a chain of shallow marshy wading ponds, with lots of forage, snails and frogs and plants. I find a couple of korok seeds there, and continuing a bit further, end up in an area I recall from my first trip off of the Great Plateau, down the main road to Kakariko village. I am near the big river with the bridge where I met Brigo the Bridge Guard. There’s the giant fallen hollow tree, where I found one of my first korok seeds, and a swampy low-lying area with a lot of ruins that I haven’t explored. I decide to search the area, and encounter a couple of weaker lizalfos, who I kill without too much difficulty. I get to the far end of the swamp, and there’s a large rock, which wakes up and it’s a big Stone Talus. I don’t have a iron sledge hammer to fight it with, so I mark the spot on the map, and transport back to the Highland Stable again, where there’s a free hammer that I can pick up, and then I transport back to a shrine that is very nearby the site where I found the Stone Talus.

This Talus fight is tougher, because his vulnerable ore-spot is not on top of him, but on his back, high enough that I can’t reach it with the hammer easily. He’s pretty hard to get behind, and when I do he has to be bent backward to make the vulnerable spot low enough that I can hit it, or else I need to be standing on a raised part of the ground. This is very difficult to arrange. I try jump attacking at the spot, but this isn’t really any easier.

I find if I climb up his back, and roll a my round and square Sheikah Slate bombs down his back, and detonate them, they do enough damage that it’s a worthwhile little bit extra. Then I can jump off his back and do a falling attack, which is tough to connect with, but works maybe half of the time or less. When I do manage to hit with the hammer, it does a big chunk of the Stone Talus’s life bar, about 1/5th or so. I also equip bomb arrows and when I can, I get a shot off at him, hitting twice, and the combination of all that manages to defeat him, but only after he hits me 3 different times, forcing me to eat two foods to keep my health up. The reward for victory is the usual massive gemstone drop, which to be honest isn’t such a great reward at this point, as I’ve found dozens of amber and other minerals, and don’t have much use for them still. Despite that, the Stone Talus fight is pretty enjoyable, about “just right” as far as the challenge level I can handle, and I like the battle music.

Having vanquished the Talus, I complete exploration of this swamp ruins area, and find a couple of hidden chests, and some animal and plant forage, and then I head back over the hills intending to make my way back toward the wooded river area that leads to the Dragon’s mouth and see if there’s more stuff I missed there, which I’m sure there is, but if it’s just forage and minor enemies, I don’t care about it. I only want to find a shrine or some clues that can tell me how to proceed on the main quest.

On my way back, I come to that fairy pond that I found earlier, and the fairies are back. I manage to capture two of them, but spook the third one away. Still, not bad, and it’s very good to have two fairies again.

I make my way own into the wooded area and find another small bokoblin camp. This makes the third or fourth one that I’ve cleared out in the area, and I wonder how many more there must be. You can’t see far at all from the ground here, which makes finding things much harder. I could walk right past something and have it be on the wrong side of a tree or a river bank, and never know it was there.

Champ Games ports Robotron 2084 to Atari 2600. OMG.

Champ Games revealed their latest project last night: an Atari 2600 port of Robotron 2084. One of the best videogames of all time.

The announcement, released through ZeroPageHomebrew’s twitch.tv stream, comes a year after Champ announced their homage to Galaga, later renamed Galagon.  Champ is also working on an Atari 2600 port of early 80s arcade classics Zookeeper and Lunar Lander, both of which look fantastic even in pre-release work-in-progress states.

The video stream doesn’t start to show the actual Robotron gameplay until about an hour in.

Champ have been consistently delivering amazing port of classic games on the Atari 2600 platform that far exceed the system’s original capabilities, and play very close to arcade-perfect. This version looks a tad bit slower and not as smooth, but is incredible considering it is running on an Atari 2600.  There’s an ARM processor inside the cartridge helping out, too.

This is a must-own port of a classic game if you own an Atari 2600, and it’s on my very short list of eagerly awaited Atari 2600 games that I want but don’t have. 

Even if 2020 is a complete dystopian hellscape, at least we’ll have Robotron and Zookeeper to play during our indefinite social distancing and sheltering at home. That makes it almost OK, right?

Zelda: BOTW Diary (33)

It turns out there’s a few areas I had yet to explore in the jungle region.

I get on my horse and take a ride out on the road, and let him take me where he wants to go, and I end up in a part of the map I hadn’t wandered to on my own. Somehow or other I had just missed this entire branch of the road, and it takes me through some low-lying jungle floor part of Faran.

I don’t get to explore much, for one because I’m on horseback, but more because it’s raining like hell again, and I am dodging thunderbolts. I forget that I’m equipped with a metal weapon until I start sparking, and just in the nick of time do I put it away, and thanks to Horsier’s speed, I just barely evade a humongous thunder blast that crashes behind me. Wow.

I continue on the road a ways, until I notice a bridge up ahead, and I almost stumble right into a bokoblin treehouse. This one is up an embankment to the right of the road I’m following, and there’s a ramp leading up to it, but it’s destroyed, and I have to climb up a tall tree right next to their platform, and jump over. Fortunately the bokoblins are pretty weak, and I take them down quickly. I find an opal, and a few arrows, which is good, because I’m all out of normal arrows.

I’m also hearing Kass’s accordion song again, and after crossing the bridge I find him at the road side, and here he’s singing a song about a dragon and a secret shrine that’s located in its jaws.

I puzzle over what this could mean, and continue down the road a ways, and run into an ambush of lizalfos, which I just ride through, speeding up a bit, but then not much past them I run into another ambush of bokoblins. These guys have arrows, and I want them, so I dismount and run them down, killing them all pretty quickly, without taking too much damage. I manage to get up to 19 arrows, pretty good replenishment up from 0 without having to spend a rupee.

A little further down the road, I run into a girl who I’ve encountered a few times, who is always talking about dragons. Something she says clues me in to check the map for a river that looks like a dragon, and sure enough, there’s a river that looks to me like a dragon. But it’s clear on the other end of the jungle area. I look again at the map, and there’s another river nearby that looks like a dragon too, and I decide this looks more like a dragon than the other one (I mean, who knows, really, and is it really a contest?) but this one has a much more pronounced delta that looks like jaws, so I go to check it out.

It seems the most direct way is to follow the river, which means leaving Horsier behind. I dismount near the bridge, and right by the bridge, there’s three rocks in the river. Two of the rocks have smaller rocks on top of them, and the third rock is bare. I scan the water with magnet-vision, and spot a third rock. This seems like a novel korok puzzle, but I can’t figure it out. The rock in the water was chained to one of the other rocks, and the slightest movement causes the first rock to fall off the rock. It’s extremely touchy, even with plenty of slack on the chain, so I feel like it’s an unfairly difficult puzzle due to poor physics simulation of the chain.

After several minutes of frustrating attempts, I finally try arranging ice blocks to hold the rock in place, but it doesn’t work. I give up and move on down the river.

Further in, I find a circle of water plants in the river, which I know from other ones is another korok spot. I jump in and find my guy.

I’m up to 78-79 korok seeds, and have yet to find Hestu again to give him more of them. Where the hell could he be? I first encountered him on the road, maybe I should try traveling down more roads, instead of veering off all the time to check out the local forage or hunt for more korok seeds. But the road has a lot more encounters, and if you want to get anywhere, you need to avoid them. But if I want to find a guy who’s known to hang out on the side of the road, I can’t avoid them!

Well, I continue down the river, and check the map to note my progress and correct course every so often.

Eventually, I get up to the area near the mouth of the river. I encounter two lizalfos ahead of the mouth, and then I enter into an open area. There are a couple of small, primitive foot bridges crossing some water into the center of the delta, and I can see stone ruins, pillars, and statues that have an ancient look to them.

Upon entering into the area, I’m immediately attacked. Horn blasts, and then lightning arrows. The lizalfos here are well equipped, and there’s a good 8 of them, I think. I’m quickly incapacitated by a shock arrow, and drop my weapon, and then am killed quickly thereafter.

I try again, with another frontal assault, feeling I’m ready this time, but I’m really not, and I quickly go down again. The lizalfos are so fast afoot, jumping and dashing, and they are hard to close to fight hand to hand. And at range, I can’t move much while I try to aim, and the arrows don’t do enough damage to take them down quickly. So I don’t have much good options to take them on this way, and my execution is even worse than my non-existent tactics.

Determined, I take a sneakier approach on my third attempt, and skirt around the outside of the kill zone. I stalk the lizalfos, one at a time, and kill them quietly, a single shock arrow to the head in most cases, and in some cases at extreme range, angling my shot to arc high into the air in order to get the range I need to connect. This works much better, and I clear the area methodically, probing ahead cautiously and backing off when I find the next target, assessing, and then taking it out with cruel, merciless stealth.

At the far end of the kill zone there’s an ancient stone construction built to look like a dragon’s head.

The mouth of the dragon is guarded by two more powerful lizalfos, but I spot them from far off, and take them down the same as I did the first 8, the only difference being that these two take several arrows to bring down.

The final enemy is a moblin, even more powerful than the two elite lizalfos. This one I could probably take on hand to hand, but I’m in bow mode, and I just lob bomb arrows in from probably the maximum possible range I can hit from using the bow, and drop him. In all, I’ve expended a small fortune on special arrows, but it was worth it, I had an easy time and got through it by using my abilities effectively and planning.

Inside, I’m expecting the usual shrine, but instead of that, I found a different sort of… I guess temple? Altar? Whatever you want to call it, it’s a statue, similar to those where I’ve prayed at to trade spirit orbs for heart containers or stamina meter upgrades. This one tells me about a quest, that I need to find a scale from this dragon, and then do something with it? I’m kinda vague on what I remember from this. I’ll go back and read it again.

Also, on top of the dragon head temple, there’s what looks like another korok puzzle, a rock block arrangement that I have to match to the one next to it. This one appears to be missing perhaps two blocks, so I go looking for blocks. Much later, it dawns on me that maybe the first one has the extra block that needs to complete the other one, so rather than one needing two blocks, one needs to give one to the other. Sure enough, that’s the solution, and I feel so smart that I figured it out on my own by just intuition and reading the obscure visual language of the puzzle correctly. This one was more difficult than most, but not as frustrating as the river stones that were chained together.

Hmm, I wonder if I hit the chain with a strong weapon if it might break, and then I could… Hmmmm.

I’m sure there must be a lot more in the area, but it’s night and not a good time to be foraging in a place that’s likely hostile and I’m not confident I’ve completely cleaned out the entire area, although for the immediate moment I appear to be alone and safe.

I wish there was a fire nearby that I could sit next to until morning, but you know how that goes.

Zelda: BOTW Diary (32)

I continued exploring the jungle region. Climbing again up the bluffs behind the Lakeside Stable, I find large statue with what might have once been an altar in front of it. I don’t know if there’s anything here to do or not, but I try various things and nothing does anything.

I take advantage of my altitude to look around a bit, but I don’t see much of anything that I haven’t seen, although I’m getting a bit different perspective. Down below, there’s another bokoblin camp, and I drop bombs on it for a while until the two blue bokoblins are taken out, then drop down and take care of the sentry on the tower. I loot whatever drops, and move on.

Continuing West, I run once again into the two sisters, Nat and Meghyn, who hunt truffles outside of Hateno village. They’re under attack again, and this time they get knocked senseless by their attackers, who I drive off a bit slowly. They’re just stunned, though, and are revived after I rescue them.

I have found several truffles, so I try to offer them one, but the game doesn’t allow it. I hold it and stand next to them, I try to talk to them, I tried even putting the truffle down on the ground in front of both of them, but they ignore it. They say they’re out here risking their safety to find a truffle, and here I am giving them what I have so they can return home and be safe, but there’s nothing.

This is a broken moment, I wish that the programmers had thought of this situation and accounted for it.

I move on, and come to the boundary that separates the jungle zone from the next area, and it looks like I’m coming into the area where the Horse God dwells. There’s a road that goes along the border, and I follow it a bit, and find a few more korok seeds.

I’m now up to nearly 80 korok seeds, and since first encountered Hestu, and gave him all the seeds I had at the time, that puts me over 80 and probably close to 90. I feel like I’ve been playing a game that should have been titled, Korok Quest: And Incidentally Link.

I’m not figuring anything out, I’m just on a mission to explore the world, lift every rock, climb every tree and mountain, and look at everything, but so far there’s been next to nothing about the main mission of the game, defeating Ganon. The Shrine tests don’t do anything other than give me a puzzle to solve. But they don’t tie into the story. They purport to prove my worth as a hero, and that’s fine, and the challenges themselves are mostly OK, though not amazing, but I really wish that they had designed them in such a fashion that they would reveal clues and story. Like, a clue to where the next shrine is. Or tell me who this Monk was, and let him tell me about Hyrule, Ganon, Zelda, or anything, really. My only real driver for finding shrines is that they put me 1/4 closer to a heart container or stamina meter upgrade, and a waypoint that I can teleport back to if I decide that I haven’t found enough korok seeds out in that part of the world yet.

But there’s jack shit out in the world telling me about how to find the Four Legendary Beasts, What to do when I find them, How to defeat Ganon, more about what Happened 100 years ago, or any of that stuff. I know that it must be out there. I haven’t found 10 of the 12 photographic memory spots yet. But there’s TWELVE of those, and there’s got to be a good 200+ korok seeds in the world, and I believe north of 100 shrines, although I have not found that many myself — not that I’ve been counting, but I think I’ve probably cleared maybe 16 to 20 altogether thus far. Most of the time, my sensor doesn’t detect anything when I’m exploring, so I must have cleaned out the parts of the world that I’ve been to. But I keep finding ridiculous amounts of korok seeds and forage and hidden weapons everywhere I go.

I continue following the road until it is clear that if I go further, I’ll be leaving the jungle area, so I turn off and head back into it. I find yet another korok, and then I encounter a sleeping red Hinox, who I defeat pretty easily. He manages to hit me one time, but with my armor equipped it doesn’t one-shot me, I take a mid-combat meal and recover, and take him down. He’s got some decent item drops, including some Knight’s-level arms.

Moving on, I find more hidden treasures in the water, and by this river, encounter that same odd hovering, teleporting, lightning shooting creature. It looks like maybe a Wizzorobe? But it’s wearing white.  I get excited and forget to photograph it to get an ID for sure, and I don’t notice it displaying a name on-screen when I target it. This time I manage to take it down with a couple of good arrow shots. I’m running low on arrows again, down to just 4. Hitting it with the bow stuns it, and gives me ample time to hit it again, which I do, and it only takes two arrows to take it down.  I happen to have a pretty nice bow equipped, which has an attack rating of 36, so other bows probably take a few more shot than that.  I don’t think I headshot it, but maybe that happened, and made it a relatively easy encounter.  The creature, whatever it is, drops its lightning rod, when I kill it, which fills my last weapon slot. This is a cool weapon, a bit inexact, and not great damage, but it gives me a range alternative for weak enemies, and can be used effectively to fight meta-users and aquatic creatures.

Crossing the river and going up another level, I find a large, flat, open area, and spot my second Lynel. This one is red. He’s also equipped with lightning weapons, and has very good vision. He sees me a long way off, and I try to run, but he comes up and even though I think I’ve gotten far enough away that he should have reset back to his idle AI behavior, he’s still tracking me, and hits me at long range with a thunderbolt, taking me out in one shot.

I experiment a few times, going up against him with different equipment, but nothing makes a bit of difference, he simply outclasses me, and by a large margin.Looking at my photo album of clues to the story, it looks like one of the photos was taken somewhere in this area, but I haven’t been able to find it. I see palm trees and ferns and square-shaped red rock formations, and what looks like some kind of building near a lake, but I have yet to encounter it. It feels like I’ve been all over this part of the map, pretty thoroughly by now, but of course it’s very possible that I’ve missed a huge swath of land somewhere. And of course, I have not really been anywhere near where that Lynel is patrolling. Although, I have come up adjacent two its area from two different directions, now.

I wonder how I’ll ever become powerful enough to stand toe to toe against one of those things.