Fifteen spectacular regions. One amazing overworld. Breath of the Wild‘s stunning and diverse region design should come as no surprise, but some fall short to others. Here’s a complete ranking of every BOTW region from worst to best!
15. Gerudo Highlands
From a distance, Gerudo Highlands will lure explorers in with its beautiful shelf-stacking design. But sadly, when they arrive, they’ll be very underwhelmed, as there’s not much to do in this new region. Besides, there are, like, three other snowy areas in Hyrule already – another one just makes the Highlands a bore. Other than the Lynel, the Eighth Heroine statue, and the cliffside etchings, Gerudo Highlands is a lame use of leftover map space.
14. Gerudo Wasteland (Gerudo Desert)
The Gerudo Wasteland is barely better than Gerudo Highlands. It’s only bumped up because there are things to do, rather than the entire place being a vast, purposeless expanse of land. Gerudo Town is located in its center, with Vah Naboris standing atop Spectacle Rock and the perilous Yiga Clan Hideout concealed within Karusa Valley. Not to mention one of Hyrule’s three labyrinths is located in the bottom right corner of the Wasteland, the Southern Lomei Labyrinth.
However, much of the wasteland is literally wasted land; there’s not much point to the endless sand with nothing to do, other than making the desert look vast. I wonder how things would’ve changed if there were buried chests scattered under the sand.
The Ridgeland region could have been better. While there is nothing special you can do in this region, the unique mushroom trees do make it stand out from the rest of Hyrule in a good way. It gives it the realistic fantasy kind of vibe, embracing the eccentric beauty of nature. No wonder Kass has his very own temporary hut atop one of the mushrooms. Especially for a height-loving Rito, who doesn’t want to take in the sights from a giant fungus? With all of this wildlife, I don’t understand why it wasn’t made into more of an important place.
Of course, the Lake region with the gorgeous Bridge of Hylia and Lake Hylia. These two landmarks have spanned generations of Zelda games as locations key to the storyline. While they have not lost a bit of their grandeur, Breath of the Wild fails to make this memorable spot even more important in its storyline. Other than being one of the land’s longest bridges and having a shrine in the middle of the lake, the area feels like Nintendo could have used it for something more special. And outside of the lake and bridge, the region as a whole isn’t that great, either.
The Eldin region beholds three important places in Breath of the Wild: Goron City, Divine Beast Vah Rudania, and last but not least, the tallest peak in Hyrule, Death Mountain. It brings an amazing new feel to the region that’s been passed down since Skyward Sword, emphasizing the Goron vibe more than ever: rickety old metal shacks, lava pools, crudely made bridges, loud trumpet music, etc. The region’s also prime for ore farming. Oh, and don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the glittering hot springs scattered around Eldin – they refill your hearts for free by simply standing in them!
The only problem is Goron City. It lowers Eldin to #11 since it’s more atmosphere-communicating than exciting. In general, there’s nothing much to do in the place other than chat with your favorite rock people.
10. Necluda (Hateno)
The Necluda looks normal. There’s nothing in it that makes it visually stunning or unique. If it wasn’t for Hateno Village, a fully-developed cozy town, it would be grass, rocks, mountains, and more grass.
Hateno is by far one of the most diverse and interesting towns in BOTW. It has the widest variety of shops, with a clothing boutique, dye shop, inn, and general store, on top of the Hateno Ancient Tech Lab overlooking the city central.
9. Woodland (Great Hyrule Forest)
The Lost Woods, being such an important place in the past Zelda games, were quite a disappointment. The maze feeling was cool, but there was nothing else significant, like hidden treasure chests or Stalfos who got lost in the woods. The only two things making the Woodland region stand out are the Korok Forest, the home of the Master Sword and the adorable Koroks, and the Thyphlo Ruins. However, even the ruins are disappointing. Even though it brought a creepy aura not found anywhere else in BOTW that would pave the way for BOTW 2, and it was filled with Zonai evidence and easter eggs, it could’ve been a tad more mystical.
8. Great Plateau
For a starting area, the Great Plateau is incredibly impressive. It is a great display of how large BOTW’s map really is: when you check your Sheikah Slate’s overworld map for the first time, you’ll realize the already huge plateau is tiny compared to the full-on Hyrule. There are also lots of things to explore and do other than the questline. You can harvest Hylian Shrooms, experience a first taste of Hyrule’s snowy terrain, get the Warm Doublet, cook, and more, all while completely avoiding the shrines until you feel like completing them. The plateau is even worthy of housing the famous Temple of Time, where you will finally receive the coveted paraglider from the Old Man.
Snow is generally beautiful, and Hebra makes the best use of that by covering every mountain peak in sight with it. Fortunately, Nintendo stopped themselves from overdoing it. They balanced it out with game difficulty, found in the Lynels (plural, you guys), the labyrinth, the bitter cold, and numerous ice-infused enemies. It’s a Venus fly trap: beautiful, yet dangerous at the same time. Even trekking up Hebra Peak needs some serious endurance and determination.
The shrines in this area are also particularly hidden: one is only accessible when you roll a snowball into stone gates, and you have to swim through a pond of frozen water and under an archway to reach another. They pose satisfying challenges for those who have the grit to visit Hebra, while also harboring a surprising three minigames: Shield Surfing, Snowball Bowling, and the Flight Range Trial.
The Akkala region is visually attractive because of the autumn aesthetic, waterfalls, and cliffs. There’s also the Akkala Ancient Tech Lab, the home of everyone’s favorite eccentric genius, the rock star Robbie! While there’s not much to do, the entire beauty of the region mostly makes up for it. It’s an enchanting example of how beautiful the world of Breath of the Wild can be at its peak. And Tarrey Town is here? Even better!
5. Dueling Peaks
The twin peaks harken back to older Zelda titles while being still breathtaking in itself. BOTW is everything but shy to open you up to Hyrule even towards the beginning of the game. There’s lots to do in this area, including your first stable, four shrines, and Kakariko Village. The entire place is a work of art.
Luckily, Dueling Peaks doesn’t fall victim to the common mistake of making a region just there for show. Even the quaint Japanese-styled Kakariko Village is well-designed, resembling The Minish Cap‘s Minish Village. Impa, the dungeon quest giver, also lives here, marking Kakariko as a whole as a significant location. There’s also a Great Fairy Fountain close to the village’s edge, probably the first you’ll encounter on your journey.
I love the alpine feel of the Tabantha region. There’s tons to do, including the Rito side + shrine quests and a Great Fairy Fountain nestled inside of a mountain. This region is also distinctive from others, with its high altitudes and the wide canyon that splits the rest of Hyrule from Tabantha. And what’s better than the wonderful little Rito Village? It’s one of the best towns in all of BOTW, with its unique spiraling staircase design and the “needle” rock pillar it wraps around. Unlike the museum-like structure of Zora’s Domain, Rito Village and the Tabantha region are rustic and genuine.
3. Central Hyrule
Central Hyrule is the spectacular center of the vast land you’ve explored for the rest of the game. It’s also the location of the battle-weary Hyrule Castle and the site of the final showdown between Zelda, Link, and Calamity Ganon. Even the (annoying?) myriad of Guardians roaming the castle’s exterior and Hyrule Field are there for a reason: they are there to protect Ganon and strengthened by his power. The land’s corrupted capital is a flawless representation of the state of ruin that Hyrule is currently in, showing just how much it has suffered – and how much it has stood strong through.
The Faron region is one of the best-designed regions in BOTW. Lush jungles and paradise beachsides cover the area’s entirety, with a nice bonus of the hidden Hawaiian-themed Lurelin Village. Like older Zeldas also featuring Faron, its main geographical feature is forests, but with an inventive new tropical spin. And Nintendo rightly made the choice to place many points of interest in this too-good-to-be-true region. For starters, there’s the Spring of Courage, one of the three sacred Springs of Hyrule, and an abundant hearty durian farming area that will prove helpful in cooking healing dishes. And a shrine hidden behind a waterfall? That’s new!
In the beach part, Faron does a good job in evoking an “island paradise” vibe. Though Lurelin Village is not one of the villages key to BOTW’s main questline, it’s clearly worth it to visit. Who doesn’t want to give Link a little sun tan? (Okay, technically, he can’t get one, but I wish he could.) There’s also Eventide Island, a deserted island off the Necluda shores that presents you with a minimal equipment shrine challenge. Oh, and guess what, if all of that wasn’t already enough – after completion of Eventide, you’ll get to unlock a super fun parasailing minigame!
Lanayru is Hyrule’s loveliest jewel. No, literally: the cliffs around Zora’s Domain are unique, as they are studded with crystalline translucent blue rocks that sparkle in the sunlight. Located in the center pool of water between the already beautiful dams and cliffs is none other than Zora’s Domain, the home of the Zora Champion Mipha and Prince Sidon. And the domain is a majesty in itself. Especially after you stop Vah Ruta’s rainfall, Zora’s Domain will look happier than ever with Mipha’s statue in the center and two completely symmetrical sides. There are also plenty of things to do, including side quests and shrine quests, within and around the domain. Aww, and those coral reef bushes… they look like Lanayru came straight out of the sea!
Even if the picture-perfect Zora’s Domain isn’t your thing, Lanayru still has tons of other fun things to do. There are two Lynels in the area – one atop Ploymus Mountain, the other at Lanayru East Gate – that present a tough challenge for you machinists. The Spring of Wisdom is also located in this region, atop Mount Lanayru, which is the only spring with a Malice-corrupted dragon, Naydra. The entire thing is a spectacle to behold, especially when looking from bottom up. The Lanayru region is a great example of a well-designed BOTW region with just the right amount of things to do – and things to see!