In the run-up to E3, there was a lot of speculation about what role the book on Link’s hip, adorned with the Sheikah symbol, would play in the game. We now know that this isn’t a book, but is in fact the “Sheikah Slate”. Link acquires this mysterious artefact right at the beginning of the game, and Eiji Aonuma has said it represents a shift towards technology in place of magic in the series.
Lost? There’s a map for that.
The Sheikah Slate effectively functions as Link’s iPad. It acts as a map, allowing Link to pull up an overview of Hyrule from which he can examine his surrounding terrain and any waypoints he has set, as well as get a lock on the location of his current objective. It shows Hyrule in a topographical fashion, allowing the player to properly plan their route, taking into account the various hills and cliffs they shall need to traverse to reach their goal. The map screen also shows the time, and Link’s current altitude. Waypoints can also be set using the Sheikah Slate’s scope function, allowing Link to zoom in on objects of interest in the distance, and then set a beacon for him to aim for as he traverses Hyrule’s terrain. He can also use this function to analyse enemies, exposing their HP.
The Sheikah Slate also acts as a key, gaining Link access to over 100 shrines in the game once he waves it over the pedestal outside each one. Inside these shrines are numerous trials Link must overcome. The four we have seen so far also apply runes to the Sheikah Slate, granting Link a new ability. These shrines can be tackled in any order the player chooses and the abilities Link picks up can be used anywhere else, both in shrines and in the overworld. We’ve so far come across four different abilities, which are as follows.
This turns the Sheikah Slate into a giant magnet, allowing Link to pick up and interact with metal objects. This has applications for puzzle solving, shifting large metal plates that block his path, pulling out-of-reach treasure chests closer in order to get his mitts on the goodies inside, and also for attacking enemies. Link can use the Magnesis rune to pick up any metal objects to drop on unsuspecting Bokoblins, or manipulate swords and axes with which to batter enemies from afar.
Bombs in Breath of the Wild are no longer a perishable resource but are instead produced by the Remote Bomb rune on the Sheikah Slate. Coming in two different types, spherical and square, it allows Link much greater flexibility when it comes to his explosive needs. The spherical bomb allows Link to roll them towards his enemies, whilst the square bomb stops them from rolling away from any boulders or walls Link needs to demolish. As the name implies, Link can detonate these bombs at his leisure, meaning an end to the days of frustratingly mistiming a rolled bomb down a hill and alerting every Bokoblin within earshot to your presence. The bombs are limitless; you just need to wait a few seconds for a gauge to replenish before you can launch another.
This ability allows Link to freeze certain objects in time. This again is an invaluable puzzle-solving tool, giving Link the ability to stop incoming boulders in their tracks or freeze rotating platforms long enough to jump on and off of. Interestingly, objects affected by the Stasis rune also store kinetic energy, allowing Link to freeze them in time, beat them with weapons, until eventually the stasis runs out and that energy is released, launching previously immovable objects with panache.
The fourth ability we’ve seen so far allows Link to produce pillars of ice in any body of water with a number of uses. They can function as stepping stones to reach faraway platforms, or can be used to lift open closed gates Link cannot open by himself. Alternatively they can provide Link with a rough surface to climb up, allowing him to reach places that smoother walls otherwise render inaccessible, or function as a handy barrier between Link and some less-than-friendly characters.
The Sheikah Slate is clearly the most important item in Link’s possession and will play a crucial role in his quest throughout Breath of the Wild. It is also your access to the Amiibo functionality within the game, and we can’t wait to see what other secrets it might hold.