It’s been a little over a month since the launch of Nintendo’s latest console and the new Zelda journey which accompanied it, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Because the development team took a much more open-ended approach to Link’s latest adventure, players have been creatively working their way through the game to deal with Calamity Ganon, whether it be with hours of preparation or a well-designed airship to take them straight to Hyrule castle. Either way, Breath of the Wild is ending for many players who are now seeking out new ways to experience the game a second time around; that’s where challenge runs come into play.
If you’re not familiar with challenge runs, they are essentially a custom set of rules instilled by a player to make the game in question more difficult the second time around. Depending on what you’re looking to accomplish, these runs can range from anything as simple as not using a horse to borderline insane like completing the game without upgrading your character’s health bar once, but regardless of how much you challenge yourself, they always offer a refreshing second take on a game you’ve completed at least once.
Here’s a look at some of the best challenge runs we’ve found for Breath of the Wild, provided you’re up to the task:
Inn to Win
Food is basically your main tool for restoring hearts in Breath of the Wild, allowing you to create dozens of good-looking meals for Link to eat that will boost his stats, damage output, and defense capabilities provided you mix the proper ingredients. Since it’s relatively easy to stockpile a hefty stack of food, however, you’ll often find yourself over-reliant on the dishes you create. That’s where the Inn to Win challenge run comes into play, which doesn’t allow you to consume food to recover hearts. Instead, you must pay to sleep at an inn located on the map, making boss encounters and dangerous enemies much more intimidating throughout the game.
If you’ve ever played Bloodborne or a game from the Dark Souls series, this is a challenge run you should be somewhat familiar with depending on what sort of equipment you used on your character. Simply, the No Shield run requires you to never touch a shield, preventing you from blocking, parrying, or snowboarding. This puts a huge weakness on your defenses, making Link extremely weak in direct combat unless you dodge enemy attacks perfectly to avoid damage. Make sure to upgrade your armor early with this run if your dodging skills need a little work, otherwise you’ll have a tough time against the Guardians roaming Hyrule.
Even though Link starts atop the Great Plateau without many friends, allies, and resources to help you along your journey through Breath of the Wild, you’ll begin to encounter tons of NPCs that will offer their assistance scattered across Hyrule. Usually, you would be taking them up on their offer, but during the Survivalist challenge run, you’ll have to stick it out alone. For this run, you’re unable to buy or sell anything from or to any NPC in the game, or utilize any help they provide in any way. You’re on your own to defeat Ganon using only things you can scavenge from the wilds, which amounts to one of the most difficult ways to complete Breath of the Wild.
One of the more interesting challenge runs we’ve seen floating around for Breath of the Wild, the Eventide run, revolves entirely around the light survival mechanics at the core of the game — that’s equipment collection, weapon durability, and cooking your own food. Instead of being able to stockpile everything you find, create, or cook, the Eventide challenge has one rule: Whenever you swap tower zones on the in-game map, you must strip naked, drop all your weapons, materials, and food to start from nothing with each passing zone. This makes certain zones incredibility tough to navigate due to their hot or cold temperatures but keeps your experience thrilling as you try to find more resources to protect yourself with.
Standardized Hearts and Stamina
Throughout Breath of the Wild, you’re able to upgrade your maximum heart and stamina capacity, which allows you to take more damage without dying and climb the many obstacles which dot Hyrule’s landscape without worrying about falling off. But if that’s too easy for you, you’ll want to opt for a Standardized Hearts and Stamina run, which requires you to completely avoid spending your Spirit Orbs to upgrade your maximum heart and stamina capacity through the entire game. Instead, you’ll have to equip yourself with excellent weapons and armor and cook wonderful meals filled with benefits to survive the trials Breath of the Wild throws at you.Photos via Nicholas Bashore, Nintendo