In Zelda Breath of the Wild, ever wonder what order people usually complete the Divine Beast Dungeons? What about which boss was hardest? Well, I made a survey on Reddit /r/zelda. While I’m still analyzing things and wanting more data, I wanted to show you some quick results right now.
The following results are based on 428 responses from the Zelda subreddit.
Divine Beast Completion Order
As you can see, Zora was the section people gravitated to first (84%). This matches what I expected for a variety of reasons:
- You are already moving east for the story.
- They make it hard for you to explore the west. The cliffs in the west are hard to early in the game with low stamina. There is a deep canyon blocking you from going west. There are guardians in central keeping you wanting to stay in the east rather than find the bridge to Rito.
- Zora is the closest dot north from Kakariko.
- Players will probably set out from Kakariko since it’s the furthest north they’ve gotten. From Kakariko, if you go north and try to go to Death Mountain you will probably notice Zora scouts along the way pointing you toward the Zora domain because they need your help. (This is what got me. I wanted to go to Death Mt first, but I ran into one of the scouts and felt sympathy)
- There is a memory at Lanayru mountain which players may notice as they walk north from Kakariko (Lanayru Mt is hard to miss in that pic). If they were heading to Death Mountain from Kakariko, going out of their way for the memory will inch them closer towards the Zora from the last bullet point. (This got me as well. Without going a bit east for this memory, I might have been too far west to see a scout)
- If they reach Death Mt, they’ll find it is hard to travel through. Dealing with the heat will make players want to turn back if they aren’t prepared.
The rest are in various orders. Goron leans slightly towards being the last because of how hard it is to climb Death Mountain.
Here you can see the full order that the surveyed players completed the game in:
Rito is the easiest boss. Gerudo’s is by far the hardest. Here are the averages:
We can drill into this data based on the order players complete the bosses.
Here’s the raw data (values in “average perceived difficulty”):
For the most part, the difficulty of the boss isn’t affected by the order you face it. The Gerudo boss is still by far the hardest, and the Rito boss tends to be the easiest. The Gerudo boss does tend to get easier as you go through the game, but it’s the only one that shows even a slight pattern like this.
Why do bosses seem to be the nearly the same difficulty no matter when you face them? Here’s what I think:
- For most bosses in the game, you have a few different strategies for dealing with them. This is an example of the game giving you multiple solutions as my post about flow control mentioned. For example, when Waterblight Ganon throws ice at you, you can: use Cryosis to destroy them, Cryosis to build ice blocks to stop them, shoot arrows at the ice blocks, dodge them, hide from them, etc.
- Because there are so many choices, you only have to be skilled enough at one type of gameplay mechanic to win.
- Progression is somewhat limited in this game. The only things that permanently progress is stamina, health, armor, and obtaining the master sword. These forms of progression don’t help you that much. Stamina isn’t very useful in boss battles. Hearts drain very quickly, so the difference between 3 and 7 isn’t that much. Thus the battles tend to be more skill based.
- Non-permanent progression allows you to save it for bosses. Weapons have durability. As I mentioned in my post on durability, this impacts how players will use weapons. They will conserve better weapons for harder challenges. When players explore, they will probably find a great weapon and save it for a boss. There is enough time between dungeons to get a new best weapon. Likewise, eating meals provides another form of non-permanent progression players can stock up and use on a boss.
- By the time you reach your first boss, you’ve probably played enough to be decent at the game. You’ve finished your largest learning curve. I’d love to see data on how many hours people have played vs. how well they’ve done on these bosses.
Why is the Gerudo boss so hard?
- Near the end, he gets insanely quick. There aren’t many ways to react to this compared to other bosses.
- In the middle, he throws iron objects at you to hit you with lightning. This is one of the only places in the game where there is only one way to get past this section: use Magnesis to pull the iron object out of the ground and throw it at him. Update: Apparently, I was wrong. You can also throw metal weapons at him. Awesome!
- The arena is awkwardly shaped.
- He has a shield so it’s harder to hit him with arrows, limiting the number of ways you can defeat him.
It’s also possible this data isn’t reliable:
- Small sample size, especially for uncommon paths (not many people do Gerudo first or Zora last)
- Other factors are influencing this such as hours played, shrines completed, weapons and food gathered, etc.
- Survey Bias. The survey is far from perfect.
The order of the dungeons impacts the game considerably, but not much through difficulty. In future posts, I want to continue exploring these influences. I now have a post analyzing the results about how the Master Sword effects difficulty and a post about what players’ favorite quests are.