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Breath of the Wild: Save Hacking

May 8, 2020 (updated February 27, 2022) by Noah

Updated (Feb 27 2022): I found a way to not activate the Great Plateau Tower but still have time-of-day pass as normal, so you can have a "no towers, no shrines" run but still have regular time/weather related events.

I've played the everloving heck out of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch. Played through the game to 100% completion (not always with the Korok Seeds) on Normal and Master Mode, and played dozens of "challenge runs" where I self-impose various restrictions to make the game more interesting.

Things like: "no activating towers, no armor upgrades, no korok seeds, etc." -- lots of variations you can find online. Eventually, I decided to try playing the game on my PC using the "CEMU" emulator of the WiiU. There's a whole modding community out there, but I wanted to keep the game relatively vanilla but just play around with some of the game's built-in features and apply some "light" cheat codes, such as removing weapon durability or giving infinite stamina.

Anyway, I made a couple of modded save game files for the CEMU emulator for Breath of the Wild which can give you a kind of "New Game++" and changes a few things around.

Pictured: the Great Plateau Tower is still buried in the ground, and I have the Bow of Light, Tunic of the Wild and the Motorcycle Rune at the start of a "New Game++"

No Sheikah Slate, No Towers, No Shrines

There are some glitches you could perform on the actual Switch and WiiU games in order to skip picking up the Sheikah Slate at the start of the game. This comes with a few interesting side effects:

  • The time of day is frozen at 5:15 AM, because the developers wanted that opening cutscene where Link runs out of the Shrine of Resurrection and looks at Hyrule to be the same experience for all players.
  • You can NOT open the map screen, or use the Sheikah Scope to zoom in to far off objects. This also means you can't use Divine Beast controls when exploring those dungeons. (The Rito Divine Beast Vah Medoh is the only one that can be completed without the Sheikah Slate, but the other three require it!)
  • You CAN use Runes though, selected using the D-pad.
  • Link's model doesn't show the Sheikah Slate equipped, but he'll still use it during cutscenes (e.g. to activate towers and shrines).
  • Blood Moons never trigger, meaning it's perma-death for all the enemies you kill. You could eventually drive all the Bokoblins to extinction!

This is all interesting, but what about skipping the Plateau Tower?

On a challenge-run playthrough I like to avoid activating towers so that the map of Hyrule remains unexplored and mysterious... but you normally can not skip activating the Great Plateau Tower, so you always have at least that part of the map filled in. This is because the Plateau Tower activation triggers a cutscene where all the other towers across Hyrule rise from the ground, and it enables all of the 120 Sheikah Shrines across Hyrule so that you can enter them.

If you could skip activating the Plateau Tower:

  • The entire map of Hyrule can be left blank, including the Great Plateau
  • All shrines across Hyrule are deactivated: they're not glowing orange and you can NOT enter them, except by glitching through their walls like some speedrunners do for the plateau shrines.
  • All towers across Hyrule stay in the ground / don't exist.
  • The time of day advances to 11 AM and then freezes until the Plateau Tower is activated.

The picture at the top of this post shows the Great Plateau Tower, still buried in the ground, and Link wearing the Wild Armor, the Bow of Light and with the Master Cycle Zero out. All of these are late game items (the Bow of Light is for the final boss fight and can't normally be had outside of that).

Pictured here is the Hebra Tower, or where the tower would have been if the Plateau Tower were ever activated.

Updated (2/27/22): No Towers, but Time Still Passes

Skipping the Plateau Tower is interesting but has a downside that the time of day in-game is stuck at 11:00 AM. So while you can roam around Hyrule with all the shrines being powered-down and not openable, the constantly sunny day gets a bit tiresome and certain time-based events can't fire.

I found out that the 11:00 AM constraint isn't related to the Plateau Tower itself, but is related to you getting the quest "The Isolated Plateau" in your game. Normally, after climbing down from the Plateau Tower and the cutscene with the Old Man plays, it begins this quest line (to solve the four tutorial shrines) and time begins ticking.

If you don't activate that cutscene, the work-around is that you need to solve all four tutorial shrines so that the quest gets added and marked as "Complete"; but since the Plateau Tower needs activated so you can enter the four shrines, I had to get creative.

I tried doing the "shrine clip" that speedrunners use to glitch into the shrines, but I'm not that good. So instead, I used a regular save file and saved the game standing on each of the entrance pads of the shrines, and used the BotW Savegame Editor to find out the world coordinates of each of those entrance pads. Then, I just hacked up my New Game+ save to put those coordinates in, load the save in-game (spawn inside the closed shrine), enter the shrine and complete it, then edit my savegame again to move to the next shrine's coordinates.

The result: a New Game++ save where I have the Paraglider, but the Great Plateau Tower isn't activated, so no other towers exist and no shrines can be entered. Interestingly, the four tutorial shrines appear as blue markers on the map but can not be fast traveled to, the shrines are lit up in blue but the doors are closed still and they can't be entered.

I'll also tell you the coordinates of these shrine pads in case you want to play with making your own modded savegame like this yourself:

Shrine of Resurrection:
-1130.26025390625
237.38507080078125
1914.330078125
MainField D-6

In front of tower:
-679.5706176757812
172.20535278320312
1682.180908203125
MainField E-6

Magnesis:
-673.2518920898438
173.0489501953125
1513.3070068359375
MainField E-6

Bombs:
-446.26824951171875
179.9768524169922	
1990.0823974609375
MainField E-6

Stasis:
-924.8590087890625
274.1265563964844
2321.34912109375
MainField E-7

Cryonis:
-1436.5888671875
337.5350036621094
1991.1871337890625
MainField D-6

Save Files

I have the save game files in a zip and there's a few variations which build upon the previous ones:

  1. New Game, Paraglider and Runes, No Sheikah Slate, No Towers

    This save has you on the Great Plateau near the buried tower at the start of a new game. You already have the Paraglider, so you can fly off the plateau freely. You do NOT have the Sheikah Slate, but you do have all the runes including the Camera rune.

    You can explore Hyrule without any towers or activated shrines for a fun challenge run.

    If you want the Sheikah Slate, just go towards the Shrine of Resurrection to activate the cutscenes. You could also activate the Plateau Tower and be back to an otherwise "normal" world state.

    Great Plateau tutorial quests are not completed, so you can talk to the Old Man and do all that stuff if you want.

  2. With Motorcycle Too

    Builds on the previous save file, but you also have the Master Cycle Zero rune to summon your motorcycle. (Normally this is an End Game item you get after completing all the divine beasts and the Champion's Ballad DLC)

  3. With Bow of Light and Wild Armor

    Builds on the previous two saves. Adds the Bow of Light and the Tunic of the Wild to your inventory. Since towers and shrines are not activated, you couldn't complete the 120 shrines for the Wild Armor otherwise.

Download the save files:

How I Made These

It was actually a bit tricky. There is a BotW Savegame Editor where you can upload your CEMU save games and tweak all sorts of settings, but some of them don't work too easily from a new save game file.

For example, you can give yourself all the Runes, but you can't select any Runes using the D-Pad until you actually pick up a Rune in-game for the first time.

So I modded a new game file to add the Paraglider and All Runes to it, but the Runes couldn't be used yet. With the Paraglider you can leave the plateau without voiding out, and I went all the way to the Hateno Ancient Tech Lab to get the Camera rune -- adding this rune unlocked the D-Pad and now I could select any of the runes. Finally, I went back to the plateau and saved the game and this is the save files I have on this page.

So it's mostly a brand new game but with some light questing in Kakariko Village and such to get the Camera rune.

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