The Legend of Zelda: Breathe of the Wild has a massive, open world. In fact, the game’s vast landscape is one of its best features. There’s plenty of ways to journey around Hyrule, be it by paraglider, riding a ridiculously large horse or running and climbing everywhere you go.
The latter is my favorite way to get around (and using this map really helps). So let’s talk about:
- Why building for stamina is the most entertaining way to play the game
- Why it’s actually wasteful to spend Spirit Orbs on Heart Containers
There are no wrong ways to play, but maxing out your stamina as early as possible is a better way to play.
Health is secondary
There are 120 Shrines for you to locate in Breath of the Wild. Each one rewards you with a Spirit Orb. Four orbs allow you to either gain a Heart Container, which adds one heart to your permanent health, or a Stamina Vessel, which gives you 1/5 of a new Stamina Wheel.
Since these upgrades are so costly and permanent (to a point), this decision can be tricky. But getting more Stamina Vessels not only makes the game feel better, it gives you a completely different experience. And don’t worry, you can actually change how your upgrades are allocated at any time at a special shrine.
At the time of writing, I’ve completed 40 Shrines and have placed every single upgrade opportunity into Stamina Vessels. That means I’ve upgraded my stamina ten times, giving me almost three Stamina Wheels. Nearly every rock face and some Towers can be scaled quickly, without the use of stamina boosting food or elixirs. I can run through towns and around bosses without needing to slow down. My virtual lungs are made of iron.
These abilities make Hyrule your playground. You never need to hold back when you have so much stamina.
More Stamina allows you to see Hyrule differently
A huge stamina pool allows you to change the trajectory of how you explore Hyrule. Most players travel through Hyrule horizontally, riding their horses down beaten paths, seeing the few roadside stables, the sparse amount of Shrines visible by roads and NPCs walking around.
All this stamina allows you to explore Hyrule vertically, instead of horizontally
Beefing up your stamina allows you to explore Hyrule vertically.
With enough stamina you can quickly scale any peak, survey the land and then paraglide to your destination, often above other landmarks. Many of the things I find exploring this way have revealed ruins, Shrines, important destinations and other notable features that I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
Seeing Hyrule from the skies gives you a better perspective on the land, both figuratively and literally. Hyrule also has many interesting things hidden atop nearly every mountain range, some of which would be a great challenge to discover without a large amount of stamina. Forget the hearts, upgrade your stamina. You’ll see more of the land with fewer issues.
But can’t you just eat food for stamina when you need it?
You absolutely can! On the other hand, few battles outside of boss fights are mandatory. However, you must traverse Hyrule to get through the game.
Fighting and needing health isn’t mandatory. But you need to explore and that’s where stamina helps.
Since you can cook meals/elixirs to max out both your health and stamina, it would make sense to cut one of those out of the equation to save time. And if I had to choose which to cut, it would be cooking for stamina.
Since few fights are required and you spend more time traveling Hyrule than engaging in combat, you can easily spend a couple minutes prepping meals in advance of boss fights. It’s easier to plan ahead for battle, but you’re always on the move.
Knowing that you can have more health than you’d ever need at any given time, it seems wasteful to spend Spirit Orbs on Heart Containers.
You won’t always have a horse, you won’t always know where the nearest stable is and you might not always have access to items that boost stamina. But Link always has his body at the ready, and increasing your stamina is an investment in improving the moment-to-moment play in Breath of the Wild.
Given enough stamina, you can push Link to the limit and find some of the most beautiful and difficult to find areas of Hyrule. You will literally see more of the game using this approach.
Breath of the Wild drops you into an unknown, yet familiar land begging to be explored. Once you uncover the entire map, you’ll be amazed at how many unique places there are to investigate. Each one is littered with treasures, wonders and new sights to behold.
You can take the safe path and follow the roads, or you can stand at the face of a mountain, take your first leap upwards and explore the unknown wherever you find it. If you want to have a real adventure, forgo the health and max out your stamina. You’ll thank me later.
More From Polygon
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild review
- Breath of the Wild guide: The Great Plateau’s secrets, hidden items and treasures
- Nier: Automata review
- The $70 Nintendo Switch Pro controller has a special message for those who bought it
- Zelda fans translate Breath of the Wild’s fantasy language and discover a hidden message
- Horizon Zero Dawn designer responds to appropriation criticisms
Learn all about shrines, quests, towers, cooking and so much more
It was the horse’s fault!
The company finally speaks up
Hylian grandhorse royalty, at your service
What does it all mean?