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Zelda Breath of the Wild guide: Learning Master Mode on the Great Plateau

It’s like New Game Plus, if Plus means that all of the enemies can kill you with one hit

Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

Master Mode, the new difficulty in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s The Master Trials DLC, isn’t for the faint of heart. Even after all of the hours you’ve put into the game, you’re going to struggle. But the challenge ahead of you isn’t insurmountable — especially if you know what you expect.

In this guide, we’ll explain what’s different and new in Master Mode — from enemies to items to devilish new mechanics — and how you can make a very difficult journey easier.

How to use this guide

Our guide flows through Master Mode’s changes in a deliberate order from learning about your enemies to retraining yourself to finding hidden items and, finally, a path around The Great Plateau that gets you the best armor and weapons first.

Understanding Master Mode

An overview of what makes Master Mode so difficult.

  • What’s different in Master Mode
  • Enemies

    Prepare yourself for Master Mode’s enemies.

  • How enemies are different in Master Mode
  • Enemies are leveled up
  • Enemy health regenerates
  • There are new enemies
  • Learning how to fight, again.

  • How you need to be different in Master Mode
  • You’re severely, absurdly, ridiculously, stupidly underpowered
  • How to be a stealthy pacifist
  • How to fight smarter
  • How to find hidden and new items

    Where to find the best armor, items and weapons on The Great Plateau.

  • Where to find the best armor, items and weapons on The Great Plateau
  • Find and destroy crates and barrels
  • Sky octorok platforms
  • Surviving The Great Plateau in Master Mode

    Taking what you know about enemies, Link and items and forging the best path toward victory.

  • Get the warm doublet
  • Get the weapons in highlands around the River of the Dead
  • Destroy everyone else with your good weapons
  • What next?

  • What’s different in Master Mode

    Master Mode is a lot like Normal Mode, with a few notable exceptions: Enemies are tougher, and there are some new enemies and items to find. Yes, it’s also a lot harder. But it’s also the still the same game you know and love.

    The trick to mastering Master Mode lies in changing the way you play. The Great Plateau will throw you up against all of these changes in a hurry. But we’re here to relearn everything with you — and show you the path that will make your new journey through Hyrule easier.

    In Normal Mode, The Great Plateau teases what’s to come in Breath of the Wild. In Master Mode, it’s also a microcosm displaying what’s new and different. Your first hint will be all the blue bokoblins. Your second hint will be white-maned lynel hanging out to the southeast of the Eastern Abbey and Ja Baij shrine.

    How enemies are different in Master Mode

    Master Mode’s enemies are tougher, healthier and sometimes new. In this section, we’ll explain the repercussions of each.

    Enemies are leveled up

    The most obvious thing you’ll notice in Master Mode is that there are no more red baddies. Every enemy is in the same place, but they’re leveled up — red enemies become blue, blue become black, etc. (This is similar to what happens during a Blood Moon.) The very first bokoblin you run into when you start a new game is blue. You’ll even bump into a couple black bokoblins on the Great Plateau — which is far, far earlier than you’d normally encounter one.

    This means that your approach to fighting anything early in the game has to change. When you first start out, armed only with a tree branch or two, you’re going to be hard-pressed to defeat a single blue bokoblin, let alone two or three.

    So, until you’re better equipped, you should be focusing on avoiding fights. Keep your distance and use stealth as much as you can.

    Enemy health regenerates

    After a couple of seconds of not taking damage, all of your enemies will start regenerating their health. This undoes all the hard work you’ve put in while fighting them and, especially early on, means you’re wasting a ton of valuable durability on those low-level weapons.

    This means that you have to press an attack when you start one. If you wait too long between hits, all your work is undone. And when you’re just starting out, you can’t afford to waste that durability on your pitiful weapons.

    Just like above, this means you should really think about avoiding fights until you’ve got some worthwhile weapons.

    There are new enemies

    No, seriously. There’s a white-maned lynel on the Great Plateau. There are also some new sky octoroks floating around, but they’re way easier to handle.

    How you need to be different in Master Mode

    The main steps of the Great Plateau walkthrough for Normal Mode still hold true (and for the rest of the game, for that matter). You just have to change how you play a little bit and look for a few new things. You’re still meeting the Old Man, finding the Great Plateau Tower and visiting shrines, but, while Master Mode makes taking the normal steps harder, it also rewards you with some new chests and weapons.

    You’re starting over

    Chances are you’ve put a lot of hours into the game already on Normal Mode. This means you have to adjust (or reset) some of the habits you’ve picked up. You don’t have good armor, you don’t have good weapons, you only have three hearts and one wheel of stamina.

    Cooking healing (or any other effect, really) meals for yourself goes back to basics. You no longer have to — or even want to — cook with five ingredients. You’re only looking to heal two or three hearts at a time now. Two apples (or two hylian shrooms) cooked together will do this. You don’t even have to add anything.

    Environmental damage is a real concern again. You don’t have any good armor and if you go somewhere cold — like the highest point on the Great Plateau — you’re not going to last long at all.

    You also don’t have some of the tools you’re used to having. You don’t have your paraglider yet. None of your rune powers are upgraded — and you won’t even have those runes until you do all four shrines.

    Sure, all of this sounds obvious, but it takes a while to break the habits you’ve developed.

    Stealthy and pacifist

    The enemies have a lot more health and, like we keep harping on, you’re starting over. You’ll have to go through two tree branches trying to a blue bokoblin. You’ll also come across a couple woodcutter’s axes early on, but when they break, you’re back to tree branches.

    Until you pick up better weapons — ones that deal good damage and have better durability than, you know, a stick — it’s better to avoid fights than pick them. But luckily, you can avoid all of the enemies except for a couple.

    Fight smarter

    If and when you have to (or just really want to) take on enemies, look around first. Look for boulders you can roll onto baddies and explosive barrels you can, well, explode. In Normal Mode, you’re usually safe to just run in and pick a fight. In Master Mode, you need all the help you can get.

    Use perfect dodges and guards. In Normal Mode, you had a lot of time to practice your fighting techniques. You don’t have that luxury this time around. The Flurry Rushes these allow let you deal a lot of damage quickly — which is great for offsetting the health regeneration we talked about earlier.

    How to find hidden and new items

    You’ll get most of your weapons from the bokoblins you manage to kill, but there are other important items to pick up along the way.

    Find the best weapons

    Watch for the extra chests as you make your way through the four Great Plateau shrines:

    There are also useful chests scattered around the plateau that you’re going to want to hit up. Some of them are just valuable stones that you won’t be able to cash in until later — but you’re obviously going to want those for later. Others, though, hold weapons. And you want weapons.

    • West of the Old Man’s cabin, after you chop down trees to cross the chasm, keep left and blow up a stone wall — five fire arrows
    • Under the boulder just outside of Owa Daim shrinetraveler’s bow
    • Behind the waterfall near Keh Namut shrine — soldier’s broadsword, five arrows, five fire arrows and a spiked boko bow
    • Forest of Spirits — find the Old Man in the Forest of Spirits (north side of the plateau) for a traveler’s bow and five arrows
    • To the right of the entrance to the Temple of Time — soldier’s bow

    Find and destroy crates and barrels

    While you’re nowhere near as resource-starved as you were during the Trials of the Sword, you’re outmatched right from the start in Master Mode. This means you shouldn’t leave anything behind. Crates can hold food and, more importantly, arrows.

    Sky octorok platforms

    A new addition to your game that will show up with the Master Trials DLC are sky octorok platforms. There are several of these around the Great Plateau that will help you out a lot.

    • Just east of the crumbling bridge on the way to Keh Namut shrine — soldier’s bow
    • Lake just north of the Great Plateau Tower — soldier’s broadsword
    • Next to waterfall in southeast corner of the River of the Dead — soldier’s claymore

    Surviving The Great Plateau in Master Mode

    The Great Plateau walkthrough is (basically) the same in Master Mode as it was in Normal Mode, but the enemies are tougher and they brought some new friends. Use our walkthrough here (or just your memory of playing on Normal Mode) for a refresher.

    The Great Plateau is still your tutorial and introduction to the game (most of which you already know). But this is Master Mode. It’s time to bring everything we covered above together. Most importantly, until you’ve found a few chests with good weapons, you should avoid fights.

    In short, focusing on collecting the warm doublet and then finding the best weapons will make your journey through The Great Plateau easier.

    Get the warm doublet

    After you activate the tower and visit Oman Au shrine, head toward the Old Man’s cabin. You’ll pass Ja Baij shrine on the way, so knock that one out as well.

    When you get there, grab the spicy peppers and read his diary. Instead of spending all the time and energy climbing to the highest point on the Great Plateau, it’s easier to just cook him dinner. You’ll need to find a piece of meat first.

    There’s a way to collect it that also gets you a nice bow: Head to the Forest of Spirits to the northeast of the Shrine of Resurrection. Watch for smoke from a campfire to find the Old Man. There’s a traveler’s bow and a few arrows next to him. And there’s a bunch of boars nearby. Kill one and collect the meat.

    Use the cooking fire to make a spicy meat and seafood fry with one spicy pepper, one piece of meat and one hyrule bass (which you can collect from the water next to Oman Au shrine). Talk to the Old Man, and give you the warm doublet when you show him (and you’ve got the added benefit of some meat to cook with).

    Once you get the warm doublet, it’s time to head to the last two shrines in the cold part of The Great Plateau.

    Get the weapons in highlands around the River of the Dead

    More importantly, wearing the warm doublet means you don’t have to worry about how long your cold resistance meal is going to last, and it frees you up to explore as much as you want. And there are a few weapons in the cold areas that are going to make facing all those bokoblins a lot less scary.

    Cross the bridge at the west end of the River of the Dead to find a sky octorok platform. Shoot one of the octoroks to drop the bokoblin and chest into the water. Use cryonis to save the chest, then open it for a soldier’s bow.

    Head to the far eastern end of the River of the Dead along the southern shore and get behind the waterfall. You’ll find three treasure chests with a soldier’s broadsword, a pretty good bow and a few arrows.

    Right back outside, you can look up and to the right to find two sky octorok platforms. You can shoot one of the octoroks to make the platform unstable. One has a bokoblin you can just dump in the water. The other has a soldier’s claymore.

    You finally stand a chance in a fight. Head to any of the remaining shrines.

    Destroy everyone else with your good weapons

    Now that you’ve finished all four shrines, you can get the paraglider from the Old Man. Most of the tools you’ve come to rely on will be back in your possession, so you can clean up the Great Plateau with a little more confidence. Use the sections above to figure out where to go to collect everything the plateau has to offer.

    And now that you’re better armed, you can go clear out a few of those bokoblin camps. You’re not going to find any amazing weapons, but you’ll find arrows and plenty of good-enough weapons to round out your arsenal.

    What next?

    When you’re ready to leave the Great Plateau, do so from the Eastern Abbey near Ja Baij shrine. As you paraglide away, you’ll find two more sky octorok platforms. The farthest one has five arrows for you.

    You next stop should be due east in the Outpost Ruins to pick up your hints for the DLC armor items, the Phantom set, the Tingle set, Majora’s Mask, Midna’s Helmet and the Korok Mask.

    After that, you’re free to make your own way through the rest of the game. Good luck. You’re gonna need it.