The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has easily cemented itself as one of the most popular and beloved games of the last decade, and the Zelda series in general. Even after 5 years, people are still discovering even more of the game’s mysteries and secrets, and almost everyone is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the sequel next year.
But as they say, there’s no such thing as perfection, and there is one aspect of Breath of the Wild that fans agree certainly is not perfect: Ganon. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with Ganon as a villain. He seems like a driving force for the game’s narrative and is quite intimidating throughout it. He feels more like an eternal force of nature that has brought the world to its knees that Link must conquer to both redeem himself and heal the broken landscape, and it works.
The problem lies in the actual boss battle with Ganon, though, which in all honesty… kinda sucks. This is actually a trend I’ve noticed with most 3D Zelda titles in particular: the final boss is not much of a challenge, especially when compared to the 2D games. While this is not an inherently bad thing, it does not leave much of a sense of satisfaction if the battle has built up so much throughout the game, only to offer little to no challenge.
Bosses like Demise and Ganondorf are also good examples, but Dark Beast Ganon in Breath of the Wild is by far the worst of the bunch. So, how do we fix it?
Issue 1: Calamity Ganon is Not Intimidating Enough
First things first, we need to look at what exactly makes this fight so bad, and to that, we need to split this fight apart. Let’s look at the issues with the first “phase” of this fight: Calamity Ganon.
Considering this is the main thing the game has been building up towards, there is a lot of expectation for a hell of a time when Link draws the Master Sword and the music finally swells. However, while Calamity Ganon is definitely a formidable foe, Link at this point in the game should be far too powerful for him regardless.
You can of course cheese this battle to all hell with the amount of glitches and tricks, but ignoring those and going in with a vanilla playthrough, Link at this point should have just about everything in his arsenal necessary to make Calamity Ganon a complete joke.
The Champion’s abilities, the Rune (especially the Statis upgrade that freezes enemies, including bosses), the Master Sword itself, and a plethora of other abilities cater to this. While a final boss is in fact meant to be a culmination of all the skills and knowledge you have gained over the course of your quest in any game, it should still be a proper challenge.
By the time you fight Sephiroth in Final Fantasy 7, for example, your group is pretty stacked with abilities and items and skills, but he’s still really hard, and that should be the case for Calamity Ganon as well.
So for Calamity Ganon, we essentially just up the ante and the actual abilities of the boss, which is not a very difficult task. A simple solution would be to make him impervious to the attacks players would likely use to try and cheese him, such as the Runes, forcing them to get more creative with how they approach him.
There would be no changes to his actual behavior and attacks, other than probably making him slightly more powerful and faster. The main new feature would be preventing him from being affected by Runes, at least at first, until the second phase of the fight where Zelda intervenes and makes him vulnerable.
It always felt a bit odd to me that Zelda had next to no presence in the first phase of Breath of the Wild‘s final boss. She was still technically in the room, yet she never does much of anything to actually help Link in this part of the fight.
This battle has been teased for the entire game as something both Link and Zelda are fighting in, and therefore they should both feel like active participants.
That is honestly all Calamity Ganon himself really needs. His behavior and tactics are not necessarily bad, it’s simply how easy it is for you to make him seem like a joke. I understand this is meant to be a testament to how much you have grown over the course of the game, which is why I included Zelda’s assistance in “nullifying” him temporarily so the battle becomes easier.
This could probably be changed, too, but that is the general idea just to add a little more challenge than what players are given. Changing Calamity Ganon is easy, but Dark Beast Ganon is a whole other, well, beast.
Issue 2: Dark Beast Ganon is a Joke
Dark Beast Ganon somehow manages to be more of a joke than Calamity Ganon was. While Calamity Ganon in the original version of the game is much easier compared to the one we’ve just established, he still somehow manages to be harder than his second phase. I use the term “harder” very liberally of course, but at least Calamity Ganon puts up a fight.
All Dark Beast Ganon literally does is move so slowly it looks like he’s standing still and shooting a very telegraphed laser along the ground. That’s it. All Link has to do is ride his horse around him and wait for Zelda to point out the weak points on his body, so he can shoot them with the Bow of Light.
I have occasionally seen some people in comments and discussions say that this fight is meant to be more cinematic than actually challenging, and to some extent, I agree, but I still believe we can do better.
If you are going to make Link fight on horseback, that’s fine, but it needs to feel like it’s an actual battle, not target practice. One way to immediately fix this would be to make Dark Beast Ganon actually move, taking very big steps forward that could easily crush Link if the player is not careful. He wouldn’t be absurdly fast or anything, but definitely not as slow as in the original. He’d move at a decent pace.
Another thing his slowness did was make it seem like he was not much of a threat. Sure his laser was dangerous, but you can go another direction and he won’t aim at you, and the surrounding environment does not react much to him.
Let’s change that, please! Make so that every time you shoot or get too close, he actually directs his laser straight at you, and it follows you along the ground as you ride on your horse. In addition, he would not just mindlessly shoot in one direction, but actively attempt to destroy Hyrule.
The broken landscape of Hyrule is one of the most bittersweet outcomes of the Zelda lore introduced in Breath of the Wild, but over the course of the game, you see the life that still thrives here even after the calamity. I believe this was meant to give Link – and by extension the player – hope that things would get better once Ganon is finally defeated, giving you further reason to go defeat him.
So when you finally face him, he doesn’t even pay attention to you at first, and is instead focusing on destroying the Hyrule you have gotten to know after all this time, and well, that’s a hell of a motivator.
If Dark Beast Ganon is supposed to be a pure embodiment of hatred and malice, make him act as such, and use his massive size to his advantage as well. The second addition I would make would be bringing in some kind of outside presence, in the form of summoning other enemies during the fight or summoning Guardians.
Guardians would be better suited as something that could be added in Master Mode, but even regular enemies like Bokoblins spawning on horseback and messing up your aiming could make this battle fives times more intense.
Just imagine having to deal with even just 2 or 3 Guardian Stalkers aiming at you at the time Ganon is making his own laser follow you, forcing you to divide your attention among them. Yikes.
This spawning would be part of Ganon’s “second phase”, if you will, after you’ve hit the targets once already.
To conclude, I want to point out that this discussion was not meant to critique the work of Nintendo, but rather present a fun and more challenging alternative to the game’s final confrontation.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is still an amazing game even if the final boss does not present much of a challenge, and he doesn’t need to in order for the game to be a masterpiece.
My goal with this was to illustrate what could have been and to show what heights it could have reached. My hope is that Nintendo will take note of the fact that its audience is starting to grow and the demographics may be a bit older and looking for something that pushes them more, and that that perspective helps them to build better games down the line.
Thank you for stopping by Nintendo Link! What do you think of this assessment of the Dark Beast Ganon fight? Do you agree? Would you like to change it differently or even keep it the same? Is so, let us know in the comments!