The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s canine Twilight Princess companion, Wolf Link, available through amiibo, makes postgame Hyrule feel new.
As many secrets as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild‘s Hyrule hides, most players have likely found themselves out of things to do three years after its release. Nintendo’s first modern open world is an engrossing one, though, and many would take any excuse to wander its map again. Wolf Link, a canine companion available through Breath of the Wild‘s amiibo integration, might be just the spark fans need to get back into the game, as he gives exploration a whole new feel.
Originally a player-controlled transformation for Link in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wolf Link takes the form of an NPC companion in Breath of the Wild. He follows Link around, attacking enemies and hunting down wild creatures. Other than feeding him and telling him to stay or follow, there’s no real way to interact with Wolf Link, as Breath of the Wild doesn’t allow dog petting. Still, his mere presence can change the way players experience the game.
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Breath of the Wild‘s world is its strongest element, serving as a playground, an asset, and an enemy throughout Link’s journey to defeat Ganon. The vast landscapes and ruined towns between its few pieces of civilization give it a melancholy, lonely atmosphere, in which Link has only his sheer determination (and the super-powered Sheikah Slate) to battle fend off the Malice encroaching on what remains of post-apocalypse life. That is, unless players summon good old Wolf Link, who – despite seemingly breaking canon – changes but doesn’t hurt Hyrule’s ambiance.
Bringing Wolf Link along for Link’s travels makes Hyrule feel much less daunting. His A.I. behavior is nothing special, but the small comforts of his steady trot beside Link or his reassuring post-battle glances help players feel like they have a better handle on the world’s dangers. Even the simple act of waiting out Breath of the Wild‘s rain in a cave takes on a new feeling with Wolf Link there. He can also help shake up stale combat; he’s not invincible, so players need to keep an eye on him to make sure he’s not downed in battle.
Unfortunately, as a cross-promotion for the Wii U’s Twilight Princess HD, the only way to get Wolf Link more than a measly three hearts in Breath of the Wild is to progress through the former game’s difficult Cave of Shadows dungeon, register that progress to the Wolf Link amiibo, then use that amiibo in Breath of the Wild. This means Wolf Link will be stuck at low health unless players own a Wii U and Twilight Princess HD, on top of already having to buy the amiibo. There are, of course, hacked aftermarket options programmed to have max hearts from the start, but these are not official nor approved by Nintendo.
According to the Creating a Champion behind-the-scenes book, Nintendo originally planned to give The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s Link a “navigator dog” companion, but the concept never made it into the final game, instead being implemented as a supplementary bonus via the Wolf Link amiibo. While a true “navigator dog” Wolf Link would likely have had more advanced features, like in-game upgrades or a Shrine-finding nose, his final version still provides a nice change of pace. If only he’d been integrated in the game itself, rather than a gimmicky peripheral.
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