Going Outside the Boundaries in The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild
As you know, we’re a big fan of a YouTube series called Boundary Break. This series (hosted by a YouTuber called Shesez) goes into detail about what goes on outside of boundaries of various game worlds, by messing around with the camera to take it out of bounds. It’s a great series, and one you should definitely check out if you’re interested.
However, one game Shesez won’t be covering yet is the Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. There’s interest in it sure.
But no one’s hacked the camera yet, let alone provided a way to setup zoom outs or see what’s outside of the world’s boundaries.
Yet just because that doesn’t exist means we can’t study it! Because while we don’t have a nice convenient magic camera mod, we do have glitches to go out of bounds!
So here’s our take on the game, complete with answers to all your questions about what happens outside of the game world and how it’s been set up on a technical level.
Starting with the Akkala Citadel, the giant fortress underneath the Akkala Sheikah Tower. As you may know, there’s a door you can’t ever open there, part of which seems blocked off by dirt.
So… what’s behind it here? Does it lead to a super-secret dungeon or something?
Hah no. Just empty space I’m afraid. Like so many other unusable doors in video games, it’s merely painted on the wall with no real effect on the game itself.
And the same also goes for the shed behind Link’s House. It’s never opened in game, so the developers never really rendered a room inside it. Why bother with something the player never has access to (legitimately) anyway?
That said, there are a surprising amount of areas where the game does work exactly as you’d expect with no trickery. Take Hyrule Castle for instance. It’s all too easy to assume the inside and outside are separate maps that don’t match up to one another. Or that the final boss arena is on a separate one entirely.
But no, that’s not the case. As anything who’s clipped inside the building walls knows, the entirety of Hyrule Castle exists in game exactly as it appears to the player, with all rooms and passages being connected into a logical way. Heck, even the final boss arena genuinely is underneath the Sanctum, and will load in as you make your way down to it.
That’s impressive given how easy it’d be to do everything the ‘cheap’ way.
Same with the final boss battle. As people who’ve used the final boss escape glitch have found out, the whole world exists in the final battle. Albeit, minus static NPCs, Guardians and enemies that aren’t randomly generated:
And this level of effort continues with the world outside of the boundaries. Why?
Because in a lot of games, the levels or worlds don’t really continue much past their visible edges. Instead, you’ve got a few trees, a bit of land or a few decorations (sort of like a hedgerow on a motorway). It’s very clear in Shesez’s videos.
This is not the case in Breath of the Wild. Instead, the world continues for miles past the boundaries, with what appears to be everything from rivers to mountains and whole mazes lying outside of the world’s end. Really, it’s insane.
So why is this the case?
Well let me explain. Basically, a lot of game developers like to store objects they’re using to build a world or level off to the side. By doing this, they can then copy and paste them to insert level geometry instead of having to go piece by piece.
And that seems to be the case in Breath of the Wild. Everything from Divine Beast placements to bits of the landscape is kept outside of the world so the game’s creators can add them to Hyrule at their leisure. It’s pretty neat really.
Talking of Divine Beasts, you may wonder what’s outside those as well. In that case, I have some bad news for you.
Basically, the Divine Beasts you encounter on the overworld are not the same as the dungeons you explore. The former are mostly static objects (albeit ones with a surprising level of detail), whereas the latter are maps located entirely outside of Hyrule itself. You can see this by looking at MrCheeze’s object map, where the likes of the Vah Nabooris boss is ‘RemainsElectric’, the mostly decorative version is ‘RemainsElectric_Far’ and the actual Divine Beast dungeon is nowhere to be seen.
Which means you can’t leave one except via the map. The land around them isn’t solid.
So we haven’t found a way to go outside the Divine Beast dungeon boundaries yet. The game voids you out the minute you fall off rather than just dumping you back on the overworld.
Additionally, it also means you can’t reach the Divine Beasts early, since at best they’re not accessible from the outside (no working load points to the interior) and at worst they’re not solid at all, like the version of Vah Medoh seen flying above Rito Village:
Vah Ruta also has a shield, but that’s because it’s easy to reach. The others are just impossible to get close to.
The separate map thing also explains what’s outside of shrines and the Trial of the Sword. For the former you’ve got an endless blue void, and for the latter you’ve got a giant alternate world with all the floors located in different parts of it. Hence in theory you could literally walk from floor 1 of the Trial of the Sword right to the last one, assuming you had a way to go through the walls.
This was presumably done to save space. Why have 45 different ‘maps’ when one can do?
Still, there is one interesting detail outside of the shrine boundaries in the game. Namely, the tests of strength have giant empty rooms underneath them:
Yeah, I don’t know what they’re for either. They’re not where the Guardian Scout is stored, since people have made it into the pit before the battle:
And they’re never accessed in normal gameplay either. Maybe they’re where the Monk goes between watching people get killed by the Guardian Scout? Or the tea room for the machine itself?
There’s really no answer here. Nothing in the battle uses this giant empty space.
Additionally, you’ll also notice above that the Guardian Scout doesn’t actually appear in the pit until the cutscene plays.
Not sure why that’s the case. Still, it does let you land in an empty pit and reappear next to a boss, so that’s something.
Moving on from shrines now, one thing a few people may be wondering is what happens in the springs or other areas where shrines are not currently accessible. Are the shrines always behind the doors? Do they exist underground before you activate them?
Well, the answer to those problems is ‘sometimes’ and ‘usually not’.
For the former, it really depends on exactly what doors you’re talking about. In the springs, the shrines actually don’t appear until the doors open, so clipping through with merely mark the non-existent shrine on your map and display its name in an empty room:
Whereas going through one of the snowball opened doors in the Hebra region will always lead you to a working shrine. Because those ones are always loaded, regardless of whether the door is open:
So why is like this? Why the disparities here?
The answer is because of the Sheikah Sensor. Put simply, the game doesn’t want the Sheikah Sensor to go off when you reach a spring, since it spoils the surprise of what’s behind the door (even if everyone’s probably figured out the obvious answer here).
As a result, the shrines aren’t loaded. To stop the sensor spoiling the surprise.
At the same time however, the snow doors in Hebra are NOT meant to be a surprise. So, it does load it early, as to tell you there’s a shrine nearby without spoiling where exactly said shrine can be found. Same goes with the one behind a cracked wall in the Hebra plunge area. Or the ones behind bombable walls elsewhere in the world.
If the challenge is finding a shrine, it’ll be loaded in early. If the challenge is uncovering a mystery, it won’t be.
As for underground ones?
They don’t load in early. Well, at least as far as I can tell. Again, it’s so the Sheikah Sensor doesn’t go off when you’re standing above where the shrine loads in, which would spoil the ‘surprise’ and clue people into the shrine quest inevitably found nearby.
However, there’s one weird exception here. Namely, the shrine you need to open with lightning. For whatever reason, that one always does load in. To the point the reset glitch would bring back the mound around it…
No idea why it’s an exception, but it is.
Either way, the tactic of not loading in things you’re not supposed to know about yet continues through much of the game. Yunobo doesn’t appear in the Northern Mine until you activate the Divine Beast Rudania quest. The Yiga guards don’t appear in the hideout until you speak to Riju (the door is also locked before then as well). Teba doesn’t appear at the Flight Range until you speak to both the elder and his wife.
In other words, almost every attempt at ‘skipping ahead’ will fail miserably here. The game is incredibly well prepared for almost every ‘trick’ the player may throw at it.
Still, back to the Yiga Clan thing now. Remember when you fought Master Kohga? Did you ever wonder where exactly that pit went?
Well if so, wonder no more! Because thanks to the good old out of bounds glitch, we’ve traced the pit all the way to the bottom, finding that it ends with what appears to be a spiky floor floating above water:
It’s… a pretty long fall, and you’ll void out instantly if you get too close to it from out of bounds, but it’s interesting to see quite how far beneath the floor it goes on for.
And that’s also true of a fair few other objects in the game. Those Sheikah Towers go down a long way for example:
Whereas things like trees and poles stick into the floor a fair bit too:
Presumably this is for convenience sake, since it means the developers can stick the objects on a slope without them appearing to be cut off along the bottom.
Speaking of stuff going below the floor, you might be wondering where the Stal enemies come from at night. Do they really come up through the floor as it appears in game?
Well to cut a short story even shorter… yes. They appear (as a complete model) about 4-6 feet below the floor, then burst through the ground with the usual animation. The opposite happens when they dig back into the ground, like when it’s nearing sunset or they can’t find Link:
Similarly, while we’re on that subject, you may be wondering what’s underneath Hyrule in general. What would you see if you fell through the floor while exploring?
Water. Or a bottomless pit depending on where you are in the world.
That’s because the entirety of the game world is either above water or a pit depending on how far north you are. Are you close to the north or west edges?
If so, it’s a bottomless pit that’s down there, which acts exactly like falling off the edge of the world would.
Elsewhere though (like even beneath the desert), you’ve basically got an endless ocean instead. Why is this?
Well, I think it’s because a lot of games use ‘water’ as a fall back for when the player ends up outside the world map.
And they do this because water limits how far a player can go or fall, depending on the game and its mechanics. For example, in the Mario Kart series it acts as a trigger for Lakitu to put you back in bounds near where you fell off, whereas falling into a non-descript pit may instead cause the game to freak out and plonk you back on the start line
In Zelda on the other hand, it basically acts as a way to force you to get back in bounds sooner rather than later. What do I mean by this?
I mean that because you run out of stamina if you swim too far, the game has a quick way to respawn you back on dry land later. This provides the player with a get out clause if they fall beneath the world (like the bottomless pit does up north), and prevents a softlock situation if the player ends up falling out of bounds while still on the Great Plateau without a Sheikah Slate.
That said, it’s not completely deserted down there. Occasionally you’ll find half a mountain underneath the floor, with certain areas having land you can walk on. Other times you’ll see weird ‘waterfalls’ with screwed up physics, invisible floors or even invisible combinations of slopes and ledges that seem like they were meant to be an earlier version of the world geometry.
It’s also got a few things you can’t normally see. Like these flowers mysteriously placed underneath the floor of the Yiga Clan Hideout:
Or the bottom to the lake the Gerudo Tower happens to rest in:
So yeah, that’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this look at what’s going on outside of the game’s boundaries in The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, and I hope Shesez takes some of this into consideration for his video when it finally goes online.
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