Posted March 11, 2017 12:36 am - Updated March 11, 2017 12:42 am

10 surprising new features in "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild"

After playing the new Zelda game, "Breath of the Wild," on the Nintendo Switch for several hours now, there are several things that struck me as surprising new additions to the game when compared to its contemporaries. Some have even argued that these breaks from tradition mean the game isn't really a Zelda game at all, but I beg to differ. Overall, I've found them to be great new functions that add to the gameplay experience.

Here are the new features:

1. Bombs are unlimited

Runes are a brilliant new mechanic in "Breath of the Wild" which allow you to manipulate your environment using the iPad-like Sheikah Slate. There are several different runes, including the Magnesis rune that lets you basically become Magneto from the X-Men, the Cryonis rune that lets you freeze water into a giant block of ice and even an amiibo rune to make lots of money for Nintendo (don't even pretend it's not about money).

One of the most useful runes, however, is the bomb rune. This little device grants the player UNLIMITED bombs in two shapes — you can either use a traditional, round bomb or a cube-shaped bomb that won't roll downhill as easily. It takes a few seconds to regenerate a bomb after using one, but you can still basically spam the bombs to take down enemies that are way too powerful for you in the early parts of the game.

Aside from the obvious benefits of being able to blow up your enemies, you also can use the bombs to knock over trees for firewood, blow up large rocks to get minerals or even blow a bunch of fish out of the water for a quick meal (read below).

2. Hunting/spear fishing

One of my favorite additions to this game is the ability to hunt wild game and get meat and other items from them to replenish your health. Being both an avid outdoors enthusiast and also a video game enthusiast, I absolutely love it when they meld my two worlds together. I can remember when I was younger and I would shoot crows with my bow on "Ocarina of Time" because it was the closest thing to a hunting game I could get on the Nintendo 64. Now, survivalism is a major part of the game, and an abundance of wildlife makes hunting as exciting as can be. With game including wild boars, deer, ducks, geese, bears, foxes, wolves, cranes, squirrels and rams, there's no shortage of choices to replenish your hearts with. There is even a timed deer-hunting minigame that can earn you rupees in the name of herd management. 

Alongside hunting, one would also expect a Zelda game to have fishing be a main part of the game. Though I haven't yet found a fishing pole in the game, there are plenty of other ways to skin a catfish. Spear fishing or bow fishing are easy ways to take down a Hyrule bass or other ichthyes from a distance. YouTuber Animised Fox also has a video that shows a unique way of "ice fishing" that involves actually catching a fish on top a giant block of ice using the Cryonis rune. You can also use a mushroom to lure a fish near you so you can grab it or attack it. Or, you know, you could just throw a bomb in the water and fish like Mick Dundee in "Crocodile Dundee II."

3. Electrocution

In previous games, you could easily get electrocuted from electrified enemies, but "Breath of the Wild" adds a whole new level of realism in that you can actually get hit by a bolt of lightning during a rain storm. I mean, that's brilliant!

It's more likely to occur if you're carrying something metallic, like a sword, a shield or iron clothing. You'll see little electric sparks start to fly up off your body as a warning that you are being positively charged — or negatively charged, depending on your attitude. When the ions hit their tipping point, you will be thunderstruck and pretty much instantly die. 

Creatures that are electrically charged also might shoot off sparks at you, as was the case with a dragon I encountered while crossing a bridge (keep reading). The sparks will be drawn to you if you are wearing metal.

4. Paraglider

One of the coolest modes of transportation around, the paraglider lets you safely jump from hills, towers and mountains and glide down effortlessly. It's great for helping you reach areas that would be otherwise unattainable and is a much better way of gliding around than jumping off a ledge with a cucco.

The drawback is that it will eat into your stamina as you soar, so if your stamina (more on that below) runs out while you're above deep water you'll probably end up drowning from exhaustion.

It's so much fun to jump from way atop a mountain and glide through a valley, be sure to try it!

5. Dragons

Dragons have appeared before in other Zelda titles, but mostly as evil bosses. In "Breath of the Wild," however, you can find three majestic dragons — Farosh, Naydra and Dinraal — soaring through the air in the open world, and there are quests with them that can help you on your journey.

These dragons, which draw inspiration from the Chinese dragons, create strong updrafts which can help you soar up into the sky with your paraglider. 

Each of these three special dragons represents a different thing — power, courage and wisdom — that are represented by the shrine quests they lead to.

6. Taming wild horses

In "Ocarina of Time," an entire generation became attached to a horse named Epona after Link rescued her from a power-crazed minion of Ganon named Ingo.

In "Breath of the Wild," the process of getting your own horse is taken to a new level as you literally pick and tame your own wild horses. To do this, you must sneak up on a horse — not at all an easy task — then jump on its back and ride it as it bucks until it gets broken. What makes this even more challenging is how quickly your own stamina drains as you attempt to break the horse in, meaning you'll likely need to replenish it mid-buck to keep from getting thrown off. From there, you will be able to ride the horse like normal, except that each horse has its own characteristics and personalities, meaning the horse could decide to take off running in a direction other than where you want to go. You must tame the horse by calming it and spending time riding it, and then you can register it at a stable to give it a name, change its hair cut and color and give it a different saddle or other equipment. The best part is you can have multiple horses at once, by leaving them at the stable, so if you want to tame a different colored horse, go right ahead. There are other kinds of wild animals you can tame, too, but you can't keep them at the stable.

Single-colored horses also are much easier to tame, with multi-colored horses having better statistics. But horse ownership isn't the only sort of property you'll acquire in the game...

7. Buying a house

You can actually buy your own house in the quaint little village of Hateno, if you've got the rubees to spend.

You'll see several workers trying to tear down an old, abandoned house in the village near several newer-model homes. You can talk to the flambouyant boss, Bolson, and tell him you want to purchase the house though. He'll sell it to you, but you must bring him 30 pieces of lumber and 3,000 rupees. 

Attaining the lumber is quite easy — just throw a few bombs in the middle of a forest and you should have no problem collecting enough wood for the transaction. Just don't let the EPA know about your little deforestation effort.

After you purchase the house, the construction crew will stick around a fire near the house and offer to building several furnishings for you at the low cost of 100 rupees.

8. High-tech gear

Another big surprise to many old-school Zelda gamers was how futuristic many of the weapons and other technologies were in the game, from the opening sequence where you're awakened from a century-long slumber from inside an alien-looking chamber inside a mountain to the robotic Guardians that will chase you and fire frickin' laser beams from their heads to the glowing, blue weapons and shields that look like they belong in the Star Wars universe more than the Zelda universe.

However, as futuristic as this technology appears to be, the real kicker is that it's actually very ancient technology that was re-discovered by the people of Hyrule.

Apparently, the makers of Zelda are also big Ancient Alien theorists?

Not all of the weapons and gear are high tech, though, as many of them are about as basic as you could ask for — a club, a tree branch, a pot lid for a shield. The real beauty of this game is how seamlessly it combines the naturalistic theme of the game with the highly advanced technology of the past.

9. Stamina

Stamina is a new mechanic in this game, limiting you physically but at the same time allowing you do have short bursts of explosive athletic ability. Stamina affects many actions, from climbing to swimming to paragliding, and can be replenished simply by standing still for a few seconds or by using a food or elixer to replinish it.

The main thing to remember with stamina is to be very careful where you are if and when the stamina bar runs out. If you are in the middle of a lake, for instance, you will drown. If you are near the top of a cliff or paragliding high above a valley below, you'll fall. It's a basic yet important part of the game that keeps you from going all out, all the time.

Add to that the effects of temperature and nature, which will drain you of life and cause you to slip when climbing in the rain, and traverse the open country becomes more realistic than in past games. It also makes things like hunting or cooking elixers a much more important function.

10. Crafting/cooking

The final but perhaps one of the most important new wrinkles to the Zelda franchise, the crafting/cooking function takes one of the coolest parts about other open world games like Skyrim and Fallout and fits it into the Zelda universe.

While cooking, you can either use an open flame to sear raw ingredients or cook several ingredients in a pot to create a dish. Different ingredients create different dishes and different effects, such as the ability to walk around in extreme cold without freezing to death or boosts to your stamina or attack damage. You can also use the cooking pots to combine non-edible ingredients such as monster parts or minerals into elixirs that have their own effects. Effects typically have a time limit based on how much of the key ingredient you use.

You can also sell your ingredients and dishes to merchants to bring in a bunch of quick cash.