Is Breath of the Wild Too Hard?

If you’ve been a long-time fan of the Zelda series, you were incredibly excited when Breath of the Wild was announced for Nintendo Switch. The response after the fact has been stunningly interesting to watch as there are incredibly differing options about this game. Is it too hard? Is it actually too easy after the half way point? Is it the best game in years? A failure to the Zelda franchise?

Strangely you can find large groups in all these camps, and they are very passionate about their opinion on this entry into the Zelda franchise. So what is the truth? How can one game cause so many different reactions?

Personally I’m a huge fan of what breath of the Wild brings to the table.

While Breath of the Wild is not too hard, it’s easy to understand how casual and even some long-time gamers could believe that it is. The balance of this unique game is very different from your average video game, meaning you have to focus on the in-game mechanics and NOT rely on video game logic – or you’ll get wrecked.

If you’re with the group saying Breath of the Wild is just too hard, read on to see what issues are most likely causing your problems and how a few small adjustments can put you on the path to crushing this game…instead of being curb stomped by it.

Zelda Breath of the Wild opening screen
Time to begin a new game – cracks knuckles.

Is Zelda: Breath of the Wild Too Hard?

The simple answer is that no, Breath of the Wild is not too hard. However, for the casual gamer or casual Zelda fan, the game is different enough to cause some major issues if you don’t adapt.

Especially if you play by old Legend of Zelda rules, which many players of this game did.

There are three main schools of thought on this, and we’ll briefly go over each.

Yes It’s Too Hard

Die from falling off a mountain. Die from virtually every fight you charge into. Die because your weapon broke mid-combat. Die because you froze to death.

There are a LOT of ways to die that you frankly don’t expect out of a Legend of Zelda game. The introduction of weapons that break just makes that even more frustrating for a player who isn’t ready for it.

If you’re looking for a simple style Zelda game you’re not getting that here. Breath of the Wild is ambitious and it brings into the game common sense survival issues that are often ignored via video game logic. That isn’t going to fly in this world or in this game.

Especially early on, this is not a casual play game that you can make progress in, put down, then just pick right back up at a leisurely place. There aren’t hordes of scrub enemies for easy leveling up.

There is plenty of challenge in BOTW and there is no easy mode and this game takes a very “Adjust to THIS game or keep on dying” attitude so the player has to adapt accordingly.

No It’s Too Easy

There actually is an argument for Zelda: BOTW being too easy of a game. While that can feel counter-intuitive if you’ve found this article, just stick with me.

You can run into many situations, especially early game, where you are woefully under-leveled or unprepared for picking a fight or tackling the next obstacle. The game ALWAYS gives you plenty of hints that this actually is the case going into an area.

And unlike many games that force you into at least a challenging fight, BOTW almost never does this. The game is designed to explore the world and figure things out. So if you see a giant who looks ready to wreck your day, just walk away. Go somewhere else. Get experience exploring a different part of the map.

As you get good at cooking, acquire a ton of food, and collect an array of weapons, there’s a point where the game actually gets very easy. Many players talk about feeling god-like by mid-game and just breezing through the rest.

And there are some legitimate arguments to be made that this is true and the late game is just a waltz for many experienced gamers.

It’s Just Weirdly Balanced

This often hits the core of what’s happening. If you play enough video games you tend to internalize gamer logic. You expect games to work a certain way and when they don’t you die a lot.

Especially when a video game intentionally users gamer logic against the gamer, which Zelda: Breath of the Wild absolutely does, as we’ll talk about more below.

Late game fighting is easy because you have so much food and good ranged weapons that you have to really screw up to die. But you can fall off the mountain because you try climbing in the rain.

You can rush through a challenge eating enough food for 100 men to keep your health up. But you can freeze to death because you forgot to put your shirt on.

The balance is not what you’re expecting, and that’s where a lot of the difficulty comes from.

Why Are You Struggling at Breath of the Wild?

If you’ve been seeing this screen a bit too much, we’re here to help!

game over zelda botw
There isn’t a Breath of the Wild player who hasn’t seen this screen once or twice or….you know, let’s not talk about that, what is this a math quiz?

Most players struggling with BOTW run into the same few issues over and over again. By learning how a few basic mechanics work and getting a few tips from BOTW pros, you’ll find that BOTW isn’t nearly as impossible as it might seem at first run.

Casual Gamer Vs. Dedicated Gamer

Breath of the Wild is an ambitious game that has put a very different feel and spin to the open world game. Not only when looking at how to handle an open world but also how that type of system is handled within Zelda games.

A casual gamer makes a lot of assumptions that will get them into trouble here. And let’s not argue otherwise: eye hand coordination and skilled use of the controller absolutely matters here.

In other words, this is a game built for dedicated gamers and that can make Breath of the Wild seem unreasonably difficult for a gamer who is casual or mostly just dabbles.

Turning Gamer Logic Back Against Itself

There are so many games where you can just use video game logic. Is it raining/sunny/snowing? Doesn’t matter, just keep the same shirt on. Doesn’t work here – your character can and will die.

It’s raining? Oh neat. Keep climbing the side of a mountain. Doesn’t work here.

Also you’d better take off your metal gear because in this game, YES, you can get hit by lightning.

See a huge enemy? Who cares, you have endless food and healing items! Who cares if it’s 10 levels stronger than you? Rush forward and get wrecked.

This is the type of gamer logic that works on 98% of video games out there. In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild it will absolutely get you murdered.

This can make the game seem extremely difficult and in some ways it is. To do well in BOTW you need to play by the very specific rules and settings that are laid out in BOTW. Relying on gamer logic is not a winning strategy here.

In fact, it’s a great way to see this screen more often:

game over botw screen
Leroy Jenkins is NOT a viable strategy!

BOTW actually seems to delight in not only going against the grain with these general gaming rules of thumb, but they punish players who rely too heavily on them.

You Didn’t Pay Attention to the In-Game Tutorials

Look, we’ve all skipped tutorials before. We’ve all hit that A button over and over to skip through really unnecessary text explaining how to cook meat on a fire or how it’s important to equip your gear. Gee, thanks. Memories of a really annoying glowing pixie with a high pitched voice still haunt many N64 Zelda players.

However in Zelda BOTW you actually need to pay serious attention to those tutorials. If they don’t directly tell you useful information you won’t want to forget, they at least give you clues to things you will need to remember.

Look, I get it, I am the veteran of hundreds of stupid, drawn out, and unnecessary in game tutorials. But this is NOT the time to skip that crucial information.

And BOTW rewards exploration. You will pick up a book off a cottage bookshelf and find helpful information on another part of the game. You will find that experimenting with cooking opens up more benefits from cooking.

Or you can play with a guide an on open computer screen. But if you’re like me and try to save that for last ditch effort, then BOTW offers a seriously rewarding experience from trial and error and learning as a result.

The World Doesn’t Care

You will not only be allowed access to areas you’re ready for. In other Zelda games to open a temple or get to Death Mountain you often needed a certain item which you could only get from completing low level dungeons or quests that built you up so you’re ready for what’s next.

The world in BOTW doesn’t care.

Want to charge into a place where there is no other possible result than getting violently murdered? Go for it!

Breath of the Wild isn’t here to hold your hand. It will teach you, guide you, give you the hints you need but this is a game that believes in getting good through trial and error, through failure and learning from failure.

The Inverse Difficulty Curve: AKA You Quit Too Soon, Almost Super Saiyan

There is a point where the difficulty flips. It’s hard in the beginning but by mid to late game once you have the mechanics and systems down and can quickly make a good decision based on the game’s rules, and not gamer logic in general, then the game gets easy.

So maybe you just gave up a little bit too early, picking one last bad idea fight before you almost hit that Super Saiyan moment where you could breeze through most of what the game has to offer.

When you have legendary crafted items and explosive arrows and endless food, you should not be struggling with much of anything that this world can throw at you at that point.

Quick Tips to Get Good (“Git Gud”) Fast

Still struggling? Even players who feel the game is too easy will agree that the beginning can be a struggle. Especially if you are having a hard time figuring out the exact mechanics of the game.

Here are some quick fire tips to get better at Breath of the Wild quickly.

  • Cook Everything! – Food not only heals health but there’s food that makes you resistant to cold, resistant to heat, increased strength, able to hit harder, there are food that buffs about everything imaginable. Cooking is not a side thing like in most open world RPGs, it’s a necessity! Cook away and get ALL the benefits!
  • Sneak Attack! – This is not a hack and slash RPG. Look for cover, consider using bows or bombs, and see if there’s something in the environment that can help.
  • Practice Your Skills! – Especially jump, jump dodge, and blocking with your shield. These aren’t optional skills in this Zelda game.
  • Use Your Brain! – This goes back to ignoring conventional video game logic where you can hack and slash away and heal afterwards. Is there a big enemy on a mountain trail? Knock him off the mountain with a bomb. See a slow moving enemy in the distance? Grab your bow. Can you climb rocks to get out of an enemy’s reach? That’s your new home until the end of the fight! Fire, water, hot, cold, stealth – use the terrain and use your brain!
  • Sneak & Scout – You can avoid most fights in this game. And in the beginning before you have more stamina and hearts you really should. Need to charge a camp? Scout it out and see if you can pick off anyone first. Go the way of the invisible ninja and go around a threat instead of charging into the middle of the fray like an enraged barbarian. If you do need to fight, do it at night.
  • Get Creative – Encourage enemies with bows to shoot at you from a distance. Dodge, then collect their arrows for your own and run away!
  • Scavenger, Not Looter – At low levels think of yourself as a scavenger versus a looter. You don’t upgrade by fighting everything in sight – that’s how you die. You collect bugs, collect plants, sneak into sleeping camp and steal gear, you ONLY pick fights you know you can win
  • Take the High Ground – Attack from high ground when you can. This gives you huge advantages in any fight.
  • Throw Almost Broken Weapons – If they’re going to break anyway, double the damage.
  • Seriously, Use Your Shield! – Defense is not, I repeat NOT, optional in this game!
  • Evaluate Your Decision Making – Use the “real life test.” Yeah, video game logic says charge into the camp to hack and slash the armed bandits. If you found yourself awake and your weak (by RPG standards) self and had to live or die take on a camp, would you rush in? No. You’d sneak by, steal at night, attack from a distance, whatever. Use that “Real World” logic whenever making a decision in this game and you will come to really appreciate how Breath of the Wild is put together.

The early game for Breath of the Wild is challenging, as it should be, but it’s not too hard. Not if you play BOTW the way it teaches you to play. If you hack and slash it, yeah, it’s not going to work.

Is There an Easy Mode for Breath of the Wild?

No.

That’s it. Learn it at this level or don’t, but there’s no easy mode and no plan to add one.

In Conclusion

There is no question that Breath of the Wild can be a very challenging game early on. There are things it does that are brilliant and there are some legitimate complaints relating to this game. It is divisive. Some gamers absolutely love it. Some hate it. Depending on what types of games you love I can actually see both points of view.

But after reading this article you have no excuse for believing the game is too hard. Get creative, appreciate being able to think creatively and differently, and enjoy the good parts of what this game’s amazing world has to offer!

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