Breath of the Wild features a vast open world for Link to explore. Most of Hyrule’s scenery is accessible by walking, paragliding or climbing. While the game still includes barriers (such as weather effects, inhospitable environments or strong enemies), many of these can be overcome by using Food, effective weapons and armor or finding alternate routes. The world also includes an elaborate physics system which allows for creative interactions (e.g., cutting down a tree and using its trunk as a raft on a river, or setting grass ablaze and spreading the fire with wind gusts).
Unlike many previous Zelda games, Breath of the Wild does not enforce a specific order in which quests or dungeons have to be solved, with the exception of completing the starting tasks on the Great Plateau. It is possible to challenge Ganon right after leaving the starting area, though the game does encourage exploration in order to solve Ancient Shrines (and thus gaining additional Hearts or Stamina), find useful and powerful equipment, and defeat the game’s own version of dungeons, the Divine Beasts. Additionally, many of the game’s puzzles can also be solved in various different ways, often rewarding Link for creative solutions.
Controls Link’s controls in Breath of the Wild are reminiscent of previous 3D Zelda games. However, the game is the first to require manual jumps as opposed to auto-jumping over small gaps which was introduced with Ocarina of Time and a long-time staple of The Legend of Zelda series.
Cooking A new feature introduced with Breath of the Wild is Cooking, which enables the creation of Food that recovers Hearts and bestows various effects on Link. Meals are cooked by broiling up to five edible Materials at cooking pots, such as meat, berries, fruits or herbs. Elixirs can be mixed by including monster parts in various recipes. Depending on chosen ingredients, Link’s health will be replenished and/or he will receive effects such as Elemental Resistance, additional Stamina or Hearts, or buffs to his Defense or Attack.
Equipment & Durability Link can equip a vast variety of different Equipment in Breath of the Wild, including Weapons, Bows and Arrows, Shields, and Armor, allowing for adaptation to the ever-changing environment of Hyrule and tactics used by different enemies. Notably, almost all Weapons, Bows, and Shields found in the game will break after a certain amount of hits. This new Durability system often forces Link to use Equipment salvaged from enemies, even weak ones, instead of just wielding the best Sword available in the game. Equipment that has not been used at all, and thus has sustained no damage, is indicated by a sparkle on the top-right corner of its icon in the Inventory screen. An Equipment that is close to breaking will have a flashing red icon, and a brief notification will appear whenever it is taken out.
Rune Abilities Main article: Rune Completing the initial four Ancient Shrines on the Great Plateau bestows Link with four Rune abilities: Magnesis, Stasis, Cryonis and Remote Bombs. These abilities allow Link to manipulate the environment by lifting magnetic objects, freezing objects (and later enemies) in time, creating blocks of ice on water surfaces, and summoning bombs. Other Runes, such as the Camera Rune, can also be found. Together with climbing and paragliding, these abilities are used throughout the rest of the game and (for the very most part) sufficient to solve puzzles and access most of Hyrule. As a consequence, the game does not feature traditional dungeon items that grant abilities to Link.