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My favorite part of playing RPGs is breaking them wide open. While casual Pokémon players forgo things like X items, I’m happy to pump my strongest ‘mon full of steroids in order to wipe out the opposition. If you struggled against Cynthia’s level 66 Garchomp in Brilliant Diamond or Shining Pearl, then know that I swept her entire team with a level 42 Roselia and it wasn’t even hard.

When I do this, more often than not, it increases my enjoyment of the game. Not only by making things easier, but also because it makes me feel like a genius for working it out. I have never felt more powerful in video games than when I realized that Tifa’s Deathblows in Final Fantasy 7 always hit if the opponent is Stopped, and that Chocobo casts Stop, and that Added Cut makes this 3x damage added to the 2x multiplier from the Powersoul and Cursed Ring combo. There’s a lot of strategy going on here, and many RPGs have this woven into the fabric of their design.

However, when I booted up Breath of the Wild, this strategizing became my downfall. It wasn’t very long into my adventure when I realized that I was invincible. Not many players know that Link has something called ‘One Hit Protection’. This means that if our Hylian champion is at full health, he cannot die. Not from the strongest Lynel slash, or even Calamity Ganon’s laser. I’m not even talking about Fairies and Mipha’s Grace, those are just icing on the unkillable cake. If Link is at full health, any single hit will bring him down to just a quarter heart.

As soon as I knew that Link is invincible, I started looking for ways to keep him at full health. I always took stamina from the Goddess Statues, and looked for ways to keep my max health low. Before I learned about cooking, I chowed down on raw meat and apples, but after I came across my first fire, the game might as well have auto-completed. I’m not even talking about all of the ingredients that give you buffs – though I did use things like the mountain of bananas in the Yiga Clan Hideout – literally anything consumable will do.

‘One Hit Protection’ means Link can't die from one hit if at full health.

‘One Hit Protection’ means Link can't die from one hit if at full health.

Every single battle and encounter went exactly the same. Run in and whack away, get hit, eat food, and repeat. There are a few situations where this doesn’t work, like if an enemy does two attacks in quick succession, but for the most part, it’s flawless. Time even stops when you’re in the menu, allowing you to chow down as much as you want. Even Thunderblight Ganon, known for his frustrating barrage of attacks, only took about five attempts before he was felled.

Going in full offense naturally had its downsides. While I didn’t spend much time gathering resources – ingredients are all over the map – I did spend a lot of time cooking. Choosing all of the ingredients to hold, the cooking animation (even when skipped), and the dish appearing before you all take time. When you then cook in batches of 20 or more, you can spend up to 15 minutes slaving over a hot pot.

Stocking up on cooked food to keep your health full makes every monster much easier to beat.

Stocking up on cooked food to keep your health full makes every monster much easier to beat.

The difference between this and the FF7 or Pokémon strats is that it doesn’t make me feel big or clever. One Hit Protection was obviously exploitable to me right from the start, and the method to exploit it is also fairly tedious. Of course I could have just played the game like a normal person, but once you know the ‘easy way,’ it’s hard to go back. Why do you think everyone rolls around Ocarina of Time?

I definitely enjoyed Breath of the Wild less than most people thanks to this discovery, and I’ve likely ruined it for you too. I honestly don’t know how to improve it for Tears of the Kingdom. Take out One Hit Protection, and you’ll get unfairly punished for straying too far into a high-level area. Make cooking faster, and no one will ever die again. Make time continue during the menu, and you end up with a lot of flustering and frustration. This last one is my preference if only because we’ll then see a thousand articles calling it “The Dark Souls of Breath of the Wild”.

I’m not saying that cooking is a flaw – who am I to shit on one of the greatest games of all time? – but my competitive little caveman brain wouldn’t let me let it go. Perhaps the best way to improve on it is to create an even harder more strategic thing to exploit, so that I’m always chasing the next high. On that point, have you ever tried exploding a bomb next to another one?