The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo’s super-popular open-world action-adventure game, is the gift that keeps on giving. Despite being six years old now, BotW stans continue uncovering all kinds of obscure secrets and funny tricks in Link’s Switch adventure. From absurd speedruns to bonkers mods, there’s no end of fun to be had in the fallen Kingdom of Hyrule. One BotW player in particular has decided to go all-in on insane stunts, some of which are so damn cool that The Great Plateau can start to feel like the set of a Fast & Furious movie.
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Launched in 2017 to universal praise and high scores across Metacritic and OpenCritic, BotW was an incredible swan song for the Wii U and a “must-own” for owners of the new Nintendo Switch. Featuring an open world full of emergent gameplay opportunities and a rather emotive narrative about a kingdom lost to demonic forces far too powerful for a single hero, Link must summon his strength and recruit allies to defeat a vile Ganon in preparation for the villain’s rehydration in the imminent sequel, Tears of the Kingdom (TotK).
BotW was a vibe. While you could gear Link up to battle the jerks roaming The Great Plateau, you could also ignore most of the strife in favor of living a quainter virtual life, cooking, fishing, and snapping photos. Or, as in the case of Twitter user ambi, you could turn Link into a virtual stuntman, sending him hurtling through the air like he’s trying out for a Michael Bay film.
Kotaku caught up with ambi to chat about BotW, the complications of recording the trick shots they post online, and the possibilities they see in BotW’s imminent sequel, Tears of the Kingdom.
1,500 hours of ambi’s life later
Ambi, who goes by they/them pronouns, is a BotW video creator who primarily shares their work on Twitter. Their posts usually consist of funny memes and wild stunts, such as a chicken bombing buildings and precision parries through massive skulls. All of this started around 2018, one year after BotW came out.
Ambi said they got bored one day and started playing around with stasis, one of several rune abilities Link has that allows him to freeze objects in place. This led to their first trick shot in January 2018. Dubbed “Fire in the hole,” the stunt saw Link careening through a large skull’s eye socket while riding atop a boulder, with explosive consequences for a Bokoblin encampment. That was it for a while, but after a bit of a hiatus from video games and social media for “personal reasons,” ambi came back this year “with a pretty big creative high” and are back at work in the BotW stunt mines.
“Most of the ideas tend to pop in my head and I write them down on my Notes app to try later,” ambi said. “I know the map super well and where a lot of the objects are, so it’s easy to brainstorm new scenes to put Link through. The amazing thing about BotW is most of these ideas work! This game rewards creativity more than any game I’ve played, which keeps me coming back to it.”
Ambi said they’ve put nearly 1,500 hours into BotW, which comes to about 62 days. It’s thanks to all this time traipsing around The Great Plateau that they were able to find the best spots to perform stunts.
“A lot of my tricks take place in the Hyrule Field area since it’s a pretty great ‘central’ spot in between a lot of the metal objects you can find in the game,” ambi said. “There are two metal doors southeast and four or so metal boxes east. There are also explosive barrels in the northeast and northwest sections [of the map.] It also has a bunch of guardians, so getting things together is pretty easy. The Great Plateau is a close second since it has a lot of objects there.”
Stunts go completely wrong until they go right
The process of setting up the trick shots is far more complicated than posting them. Thanks to the Switch’s internal capture capabilities, capturing footage isn’t tough. But since this is a video game with deeply complex physics, actually getting a stunt to go correctly requires hours of repeated trial and error.
Sometimes the stars fail to align and the game just won’t deliver the hoped-for result, like this one time when ambi was trying to launch a horse into a hole. What ended up happening was the horse straight vibing thanks to an unfortunate glitch that caused it to “drown” and get stuck in its swimming animation. This bug, however, wound up resulting in their single most-watched video.
“Since most of my tricks are super physics-based, they all go completely wrong…until they eventually go right,” ambi said. “Some of my best videos were actually made from mistakes that happened and I just improvised and made something completely different with the outcome. My most popular video to date actually happened as a mistake when trying a trick that didn’t end up working out, in the end causing a glitch. Once I saw the horse doing that, I noticed it had a ‘club bpm’ to the way its head swayed. So I went through my music library to find Magikarp Festival from Pokkén Tournament [and it] fit pretty well, [plus I] got as many angles as I could to make the video. I still haven’t been able to replicate the glitch, so I’m super happy I acted when I did.”
Some tricks, such as this “cute jump-rope shot” and the “tree shield guardian shot,” were the easiest to set up and film. These didn’t require objects that needed to be placed beforehand or anything of that nature to perform. In fact, ambi said these two were simple primarily because the stunts were all about getting the timing right. But while these were some of the easiest tricks to record, ambi explained that one of their more popular posts, a trick that saw Link motorcycle-backflip off a metal door to shoot three guardians while dodging their laser beams, was by far the hardest to perform out of everything they’ve uploaded.
“I’m hoping to keep ramping things up leading up to Tears of the Kingdom, so I’ve been holding back a lot of my best ones that I’ll hopefully upload soon,” ambi said. “As far as things I’ve already uploaded, my recent ‘Backflip vroom-kaboom shot’ takes that crown. It was about a one-and-a-half-hour setup and I ended up doing it multiple times when I was unsatisfied with the initial result.”
All ambi’s hype points toward Tears of the Kingdom
Ambi expressed guilt about the time they’ve spent in BotW, saying they have the “urge to add up all the hours into real-world days” to see what else they could be doing instead. Still, though, the anticipation people have for ambi’s posts and the “pure fun” of creating these videos is what keeps them going.
“Honestly, at this point, I’m just kinda [obsessed with] it,” ambi said. “Playing BotW and setting things up in the world has been my way of listening to music and random long-form documentary videos in the background while having my eyes and hands busy playing the game. It’s become part of my routine and has been a super relaxing way to just wind down with some mindless tasks. I’m also really happy people enjoy what I make, so that’s another big motivator, as well.”
In between listening to orchestral and piano albums and documentaries on “findings and theories of ancient times and early civilizations,” ambi is really looking forward to TotK’s May 12 launch. While they “love everything about” Skyward Sword, ambi said BotW is their fave Zelda game right now, with all of their anticipation turning toward new TotK additions like the “Fuse” ability.
“Not surprising, but the new abilities look very exciting,” ambi said. “It’s going to be fun seeing what people immediately start figuring out once the game releases. Year-one TotK will likely look nothing like year-five TotK since people are even discovering things [in BotW] to this day.”
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What ambi has gotten up to in Breath of the Wild has been truly wild to see. I’m gagging over the stunts, some of which seem incredibly complicated to put together. With Tears of the Kingdom dropping soon, it’s only a matter of time before ambi’s running amok in the new game, blowing everyone’s minds with insane new trick shots and stunts that could only ever take place in the wild world of Hyrule.