Given the various features we underlined in our review, and of course the scale of the game world and the amount of things you can experiment with, here at Gamereactor we're approaching our Zelda game guides from a slightly different perspective. On the one hand, this essential, all-purpose, spoiler-free tips guide is for every type of player (beginner, pro, fan, and even those of you who've played for a few hours already). On the other hand there's our more specific Secrets Guide, for those of you looking for that hidden item that has eluded you on your journey thus far.
This guide could very well have been an epic; every time we play (and we're now 85+ hours in) we come up with new tips and pointers that you could use to enhance your experience, be it to perform better, reach further, survive longer or just try out new stuff and have fun. With that in mind we tried to limit this guide to the 15 bullet points we thought were most essential to your overall enjoyment of the game, although we could expand it based on your comments and requests at the end.
1. Be Yourself: Breath of the Wild is a breath of fresh air, inviting you to express yourself in its natural, open world. This means that our very first tip will always be to let yourself go, follow your instincts, and try out new ideas as you go. Do that and you'll not only find fun as you explore, but also interesting solutions to the problems you encounter. Don't try to play just like you did in the earlier Zelda games, nor like you would in another open-world adventure. You're better off going in thinking that there's no strict rules to adhere to, just a playground and a bunch of toys to play with as explore.
2. Outside the Box: Ok, this might sound just like the first point, but in this case we specifically talking about you're stuck, whether that be a brain melting puzzle, or a tricky boss fight. As the rules aren't as clear and the physics change the game so much, most of the time it's best to attempt a new approach instead of trying the same tactics again and again. Look for a fresh angle, walk around and explore your surroundings, examine the environment and the features that have been placed there, consider all the elements and how you might utilise them. There's combat, puzzles and exploration-driven challenges that have multiple solutions, and if you open your mind and try different things, you'll keep expanding your repertoire of tricks and find solutions that may well prove elsewhere.
3. Stamp the Map: It sounds obvious, doesn't it? But it's a very good habit to get into, and it's always surprising how many people don't bother using these tools. Perhaps don't mark every single thing you find, but if you get into the habit of marking stuff on the map you'll move much faster and you'll work much more efficiently when you revisit certain areas. Place a skull on the spawn points for the bigger enemies such as Hinox, Lynel, Igneo Talus or Moldora; stamp a star at important landmarks such as the Shrines you're not ready to solve just yet, or those intriguing areas where you know something's going to happen; drop a leaf on the Kolog points that you want to deal with later; a crystal at the mining hotspots that hold significant deposits of valuable gem stones; take note of where wild horses tend to gather; stamp that out-of-reach chest that you're planning to try and reach later. And if you like cooking (see the next point), place a pan on those locations that let you explore your culinary side. This is all part of the game, and if you're careful with your marker placement it won't be long before you navigate Hyrule better than your home town.
4. Master Chef: Any time you have the chance and you see a pot nearby, you should invest a little time into cooking, even if you don't enjoy doing it very much at first. With all the ingredients and materials you're carrying around in your inventory bag, you can create a couple of meals and elixirs that you'll definitely need later. Prepare a recipe to recover health, but don't just focus on refilling your hearts, you should also think about the beneficial effects that you could make use of, in your current region and elsewhere in the game. Is the weather too hot or too cold? Is it a volcanic or an electric area? Too hard to defend/attack enemies? Need more stamina to climb or soar? If you ask yourself these questions, in a couple of minutes you'll come up with 4-5 recipes that, believe us, you'll be glad you cooked up later on. And because you can be inventive and it's easy to see how the system works and how to get the best effects, you'll make a Michelin-starred chef out of Link in no time at all.
5. Snap Some Shots: Like the map-stamping tip, this is just good practice. If you use your Sheikah Slate's Camera Rune and take pictures of creatures, weapons or materials, you not only create yourself a visual reference point, but you also get the chance to look them up in the Hylian Encyclopedia and find out about their respective features, effects and even whereabouts (with the option of detecting those nearby). Think of this as a way to learn the weak points of enemies, or perhaps discover how to make the most out of an ingredient or weapon. You should also get used to taking screenshots by pressing the dedicated Capture button with your left thumb. This is great way to remember places, or to take note of clues that drop during dialogue with NPCs. And yeah, we don't mind admitting that we've already reached the Switch's 1,000 screenshots limit.
6. Plan for the Journey: Heh, what a thing to ask for with all the stuff that's going to happen along the way! Ok, ok, you'll get distracted, entertained, and take more than a few detours due to random and dynamic events, or you'll wander off simply because you fancy it, but if you want to cover one area properly, following a plan is advisable: check out the map, deciding more or less how you want to go from A to B, and consider what you might need along the way based on what you know about the terrain. The idea is of course to have fun along the way, but at the same time you don't want to miss any cool stuff, or leave some of those less pressing quests incomplete, if you don't have to. If, for instance, you go from Lanayru's Stable to Gerudo Desert (without teleporting), decide if you want to go by horse, think about what you might need to prepare in terms of supplies, and consider how you might use the map to get the most out of your journey.