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While Breath of the Wild prides itself on providing a vast expanse of gorgeous wilderness for the player to explore, one cannot overlook the importance of balancing that out with actual civilization. I recall quite clearly how much concern there was that the game would fail to deliver in that regard. Looking back on it now, nearly a year later, how did the game’s towns stack up?
9. Goron City
Why can’t we ever have a worthwhile Goron settlement? It’s always this same bland brown rock look; I realize that we’re dealing with brown rock people, but there’s got to be more that can be done! Given how much emphasis there was on mining, I’d have loved to see a town within a cave nestled into the side of the volcano, with shining crystals everywhere to give the place some visual flair.
After you’ve finished the main quest that takes place in the area, there’s really no reason you’d ever want to go back. It looks completely uninteresting. The music is very “Goron”, which is to say, it’s very unremarkable. The only remotely remarkable NPCs are Bludo and Yunobo. There’s not much to do other than having your Boulder Breaker repaired should you actually use the thing rather than put it on display in Link’s House. Plus, once teleporting back, you’ll always have to either immediately switch to the unfabulous Goron armor or consume a heat-resistant elixir just to SURVIVE. I’m pretty confident that if everyone who played the game took a vote on the worst town, Goron City would win by a landslide.
8. Lurelin Village
Look, I’m sorry, I realize that people will hate Lurelin ranking so low. I’m well aware that this village looks gorgeous and has nice music. I can appreciate that much.
But the village has nothing else going for it! It has absolutely zero story significance. In terms of side/shrine quests it has, what, one semi-interesting Shrine Quest? The NPCs are completely forgettable. Ultimately the only unique feature this place has is the chest mini-game, and that’s not exactly compelling content. I suppose it’s a nice surprise to stumble upon this little beachside town(I’m sure many players don’t even find it in their first playthrough), but you’ll quickly find said town to be totally unsubstantial.
7. Rito Village
This one feels a bit like wasted potential. Don’t get me wrong, it’s got some neat aspects: the Dragon Roost remix is a glorious addition, and there are quite a few great points to glide off of. Plus the aesthetic is unique: a town consisting of a linear journey up one long staircase spiraling around a great spire? Neat enough.
But that’s also my biggest issue with it: the town is basically just a long staircase with a few birdcages sticking out from it. They could have done so much more with the hometown of the Rito. And speaking of, the NPCs in this town are rather bland. They’re not as lacking in personality as, say, the Gorons, but the Rito don’t feel very developed. And the unique NPCs like Teba and the village elder are the most forgettable iterations of their archetypes throughout the four separate story arcs. All in all I’d say Rito village fails to impress, which is a shame, because I was really hoping they’d handle the Rito better.
6. Korok Forest
I liked the Korok Forest well enough. It looks gorgeous(though points docked for the framerate issues tied to this location). The Koroks are great. The music is nice. It houses the Master Sword. The Korok Trials make for some of the best Shrine Quests in the game.
But I never saw it as one of the game’s towns. It wasn’t even originally on this list; I had to go back and add it in. I suppose it has the staples of a BotW town; a shop, an inn, a Goddess Statue… but they’re all crammed into a tiny room inside the Deku Tree and that’s more or less the extent of their civilization. I guess the lack of civilization is kind of the point, but I have such a hard time thinking of Korok Forest as an actual town that I can’t justify placing it higher than this.
5. Zora’s Domain
Yes, it looks gorgeous. Yes, it has some great NPCs(by Breath of the Wild standards, anyway) in Sidon, Dorephan, and Mozu. Yes, the music is nice. Yes, the Zora have a lot of personality. And yes, those literal walls of text provide some nice lore to the town. These are all strong points, sure.
But you know what? After the initial impressment you have with the architecture, you start to realize that the town is a real pain in the fin to traverse. And once you’ve finished with the story content, you’re not going to feel compelled to spend much time here. And it doesn’t help that there’s only one standout quest, and it features uncomfortable shades of pedophilia. Zora’s Domain leaves a good first impression, sure, but it doesn’t hold up to repeat visits.
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4. Kakariko Village
So we FINALLY got a fully fleshed-out settlement for the Sheikah. That fact is enough to guaruntee Kakariko a considerably high placement on this list, but it’s got considerable sway beyond that. Its story significance despite not being involved in one of the four major arcs is nice, and its NPCs have a ton of personality. The villagers are all lively and you can get a real sense of how they interact amongst each other, which is nice. It’s got what is easily the best Shrine Quest in the game, and arguably the best quest. And between Impa and the nearby Fairy Fountain you’ll likely find yourself visiting the town fairly often.
It’s got some negatives, though. I’m not a fan of the aesthetic; it doesn’t do anything too interesting with the Japanese theming nor the Sheikah theming. I think you could also argue that the aforementioned Shrine Quest suffers from a huge amount of tonal disparity, given how seriously it plays the otherwise-clownish Yiga clan. Still, it’s a good town, and I struggled with whether or not to place it in the top three. What ultimately made me decide against it was the music: it’s disappointingly generic. I’d much rather have had a straight rearrangement of the classic Kakariko theme.
3. Tarrey Town
Ah, Tarrey Town. This town isn’t just home to the best sidequest in the game; this town IS the best sidequest in the game, and also serves as the best sidequest REWARD in the game. You spend the quest helping carpenter Hudson gather materials to construct buildings and seek out people to come into town and populate the place. This eventually culminates in a wedding sequence that is both heartwarming and hilarious, and at the end of it all you’re left with a town that’s both aesthetically pleasing and somewhat practical in that it offers the best selection of arrows in the game, as well as the only shop that sells gemstones. And the MUSIC. It actually builds as you fill the place up with people, with an instrument track added to symbolize each new race that’s introduced to the town. What you’re left with is not only the best town theme of Breath of the Wild, but one of the best town themes in the series; if Clock Town weren’t a thing this would probably be my favorite.
As for the negatives, there are some points. The additional content beyond the actual construction of the town is lacking: the sidequests that can be found here are nothing worthwhile. The NPCs are fairly lackluster. The town itself is quite small with little to do. Still, it’s a great locale that everyone should make a point of building during their playthrough.
2. Gerudo Town
This one was obviously going to be in the top two. Ultimately there’s two things that keep it from getting the top spot: you always have to wear the Vai outfit to enter the town(even after saving all their asses), and the next town on the list simply has more unique features to keep you coming back.
1. Hateno Village
I don’t get why more people don’t consider this the best village. I’ve heard complaints that the music is grating and the aesthetic generic, but personally I think the music is nice and that the town is the most gorgeous one in the game. The main questline with Purrah is a lot of fun. The town has some cool lore as the last holdout against Calamity Ganon’s influence. The NPCs here have a lot of personality, and it’s home to one of the game’s few good sidequests. But forget about all that, because what really sets Hateno apart from the rest is just how much it has to keep you coming back to it compared to other towns. It’s got the dye shop, which is the only place in the game where you can dye your clothes, and I’m sure lots of players had a blast coordinating colors with that. It’s got The Cursed Statue, which allows you to trade out heart containers and stamina. It’s got Link’s house, which provides storage (and will likely be wear you put the Champion’s weapons). And it’s got the Ancient Tech Lab, which offers you Sheikah Tech upgrades.
I don’t understand why some people rank Hateno so low; it’s got so much SUBSTANCE to it that I don’t think one could justify giving it anything but the top spot.