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I love pretty much everything about the Gerudo in Breath of the Wild

Neiteio

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I also love pretty much everything about BotW — the most fun I’ve had in a videogame since MGSV, and the first game to dethrone RE4 as my all-time favorite. But I’m trying to keep this focused!

I’ve put in 200+ hours and taken 3,000+ screenshots. I adore this rendition of Hyrule and its people — from the Rito now resembling actual birds (osprey! macaws!), to the adorable kids in every village that scamper around going “Hoo! Hah! Hoo! Hah!” (Whenever rain-slick surfaces or broken weapons have you down, just remember: you’re doing it for the kids!)






But of all the wonderful people and places in Hyrule, I think the Gerudo stand out the most… and not only because they stand 8 feet tall! It’s also their diversity and culture — by far the most developed in the game — and the well-designed region they inhabit.

Deserts don’t usually do much to capture my imagination. I find them to be a bit, well, dry! So I really dragged my feet traveling southwest. The idea of a barren wasteland just didn’t seem appealing next to the prospect of dew-dappled grasses swaying in a mountain breeze, or autumnal landscapes in the shadow of an active volcano, or lush tropical jungles leading down to the beach. I’m also a sucker for the constant rain (yes, slippery slopes and all!), and I knew there wouldn’t be any in the desert.





But when I finally got there (gliding unaware over the Gerudo Canyon stable, which I didn’t discover for another 50+ hours!), it almost felt like a whole new game.

The desert region is walled off from the rest of Hyrule by way of the Gerudo Highlands that block your view of Hyrule Castle and Death Mountain — two landmarks that serve as reference points for just about every other region. As such, the desert feels like its own little world. And immediately I was taken with its deeply immersive weather system.

During the daytime, certain areas are scorching hot, requiring you to equip heat-resistant clothing or ice-infused weaponry, or to consume meals and elixirs with a cool-down effect. But soon enough, the sun sets, and temperatures plunge, requiring you to warm up instead. Chalk it up to the strong art direction and convincing wind effects, but when Link feels hot or cold, so do I — and the ability to engage this as a gameplay mechanic immediately made the desert more compelling than in games prior.

Here are some random scenes from around the Gerudo region (both highlands and desert):





For all its vastness, it’s surprisingly easy to navigate, too, even if you’re not lassoing one of the sand-burrowing seals. I quickly came across two locations — Gerudo Town and Kara Kara Bazaar — and this is where I truly fell in love with the region. I'd like to talk about Gerudo Town, in particular.

Simply put, the Gerudo people are awesome. I don’t personally care for timeline talk, but I’ll concede it’s neat to see how the Gerudo have evolved from a ragtag gang of thieves in a bandit camp in OoT to the proud kingdom they maintain in BotW. It has been more than 10,000 years, I suppose!

Within the sun-bleached walls of Gerudo Town is a bustling trade hub — commercial activity that extends to the bazaar down the road. The rock spire above the palace provides an endless wellspring of water, which they channel through town via an elaborate system of aqueducts. The Gerudo have domesticated wildlife (seals) for surfing the dunes, and they mine ice from the highlands for their drinks (and food preservation, I imagine). They maintain a well-trained army, purely for self-defense in the Yiga- and Molduga-infested wastelands. They also preserve their unique language and a strong sense of history, researching countless ruins across the desert — the Swordswomen, the Seven Heroines, etc. To top it off, there's a love/hate relationship with terrible puns! (Sealiously!)

Most intriguing of all is the gendered nature of their community: No men are allowed in Gerudo Town. During the events of BotW, this seems to be purely tradition, since several townspeople are indifferent to Link’s true identity and don’t mind him there in disguise. But I find the implications interesting.

I think the suggestion is they’re trying to preserve their cultural identity, which might otherwise be lost since they’re constantly courting men of other races — an absolute necessity when a Gerudo male is born only once every 100 years. However, there are women from other races in town, so there’s still some cross-cultural mingling taking place. Maybe the “girls only” rule is more about providing a safe haven where women can learn about men and the real world before venturing out themselves. The relationship classes and cooking classes come to mind. Their gendered culture might be predicated on the sisterly notion that women simply understand each other in a way that men don’t.





Whatever the case, the gendered nature of Gerudo Town gives it a unique feel. And in a refreshing twist for videogames, the women there come in all shapes, sizes, and skin tones. You still have Amazonian women with chiseled abs and rock-hard muscles, of course, but you also have plus-sized middle-aged women and slender elders. You have the familiar orange skin tone from past games, but you also have darker and lighter tones. You even see Gerudo kids, who are already tall compared to other kids in Hyrule. (For this reason, I wonder if Riju — their young chief with normalized proportions — is actually just short!) Naturally, being a female-only society, women also run all aspects of town: business, military, administration, recreation, research. It’s wonderful to see such diversity on display. Nothing feels exploitative, either. In the hands of another dev, the temptation might’ve been there to sexualize the designs of the Gerudo, but in BotW they’re treated with dignity, each of them beautiful in their own way.

Here are some scope shots I took of people around Gerudo Town:



Oh, and I mentioned Riju. I just adore this character. Once you complete Divine Beast Vah Naboris, she tasks you with helping her people. In exchange, you'll earn the privilege to borrow the Thunder Helm. And once you have the Thunder Helm, she begins a Majora’s Mask-like routine, moving around her palace with different stops (and dialogue!) at different times of the day. Many NPCs do this, to some degree, but it seems especially detailed with Riju. She’ll go to her diary, pray at her mother’s shrine, sleep in her bed dreaming about her mother, and visit the pavilion in Patricia’s pen. Her diary also updates in time, with some vulnerable reflection as she doubts her ability to lead.

She’s just a lovable character with a fabulous design. Here’s hoping we’ll see her more in the future, be it the story content in DLC Pack #2, or even a spinoff appearance in a potential Hyrule Warriors 2. Imagine her racing across the battlefield with her sand seal!





I also love the design for Urbosa. Such a strong, striking figure. Her calm and measured voice matches her statuesque figure perfectly. Makes her even more badass! (The heels seem impractical for walking in sand, though.)





So yeah. This thread is partly an excuse to share some screenshots I took on Switch, but also an opportunity to gush a bit about how cool the Gerudo people and region are in BotW. I also enjoyed the Gerudo's depiction in OoT and MM, but here they really went all-out, creating a rich tapestry of diverse characters and world-building detail. It's nice to see the Gerudo rise above their humble origins as thieves and become perhaps the most sophisticated group in post-apocalyptic Hyrule. :)

So how'd you like the Gerudo in BotW? Where do they rank for you among the Gerudo, Goron, Rito, Zora, Korok, Sheikah and Hylians?
 

Auto_aim1

MeisaMcCaffrey
Jul 7, 2010
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Agree, the desert section was fantastic. It was so mysterious and fun to explore. Urbosa is my fav too.
 

Skel1ingt0n

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I don't have some incredibly insightful input to continue the dialogue; but I will say that I believe BotW does one of the best jobs in all of games to depict different in-game cultures and races; the amazing amount of variety and how they're dispersed around the game feels very organic, especially considering how fantastical the whole adventure is in the first place.
 

Ashby

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Oct 3, 2015
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Clearly the Zelda team doesn't agree with Anakin Skywalker's opinion on sand because the last two console Zeldas the desert sections were the best ones.
 

Firebrand

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Apr 27, 2007
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Yup, my favorite part of the game as well. And Urbosa + Riju have some of the better VA in the game as a bonus.

The desert could have had some more interesting things to find in it though.
 

Aldric

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Feb 15, 2016
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Great OP. Gerudos are also my favorite race in BotW and the desert is the best region by a significant margin. Too bad the highlands were underwhelming.

lt's kind of crazy to think the last game they appeared in was MM almost 20 years ago, but they sure made a triumphant return. Now l hope the same thing happens with the Dekus.
 

ryushe

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May 16, 2011
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The Gerudo are easily my favorite design in the entire game.

The juxtaposition of how these characters can look incredibly fierce and strong as well as soft and attractive is just fascinating to me.
 

mindsale

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May 18, 2013
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My favorite areas were probably the Rito and Zora, I found the desert really annoying to navigate, but the politics of Gerudo outsourcing marriage while being a female-only city was pretty neat.
 

Yoshimitsu126

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Jun 18, 2016
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Oh yeah, I should probably do those town missions not that I beat Ganon too! Didn't know it would give more story for Riju!

Why were the Gorons let in the town again?

Also the writing for the NPC were great:
 

Snkfanatic

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Sep 22, 2010
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Man OP you are making me want to play again.

I am trying to hold out for Hard Mode to start a whole new run on the game but...I miss Hyrule so. Might have to wonder around tonight because of your awesome thread.
 

H2intensity

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Apr 8, 2012
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Yeah Urbosa design is great..love everything about her. Agree on Gerudo..its the best region in BOTW its unique and fun to explore.
 

GurgleBot20

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Their depiction was a huge step up from Ocarina and Majora. I'm glad they weren't depicted as enemies this time.
 

EatChildren

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Urbosa is perfection.


 

jph139

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I went to the Gerudo region first (well, I went southeast first, then to the Gerudo) and honestly, it set the bar way too high. The quests, the characters, the culture, the dungeon - it's head and shoulders above the rest of the game. The other villages seemed lacking in comparison.

Hopefully they keep Gerudo in the rotation more in the future. Probably my favorite race at this point.
 

bjork

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I liked this part of the game as well, it's the section I most recently finished the main quest bit for. I'm glad I have some side quests to go do there, still.
 

Nottle

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Really wish that the Rito had about half as much care out into them as the Gerudo.

The Gerudo area seems so well thought out. Like that area has some real interesting history. Zora did a decent job with this too, just at a lesser scale. The Gerudo desert felt like the games best arc by far. Fun city, different type of exploration, unique enemies, best dungeon and divine best pre boss fight and boss.
 

mhayes86

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I'm not a fan of desert areas in games either, but this game made it really fun and mysterious to explore. Sand Seals, shield surfing, and sand storms. The Gerudo were excellently developed as well!
 

Vhalyar

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Jul 17, 2009
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To make fans continue asking the same question they had since Ocarina of Time, "Do female Gorons exist?"
For what it's worth, the Goron walking around the city is wondering why he was allowed in when it's females only.
 
Feb 9, 2006
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Awesome post.

I also love pretty much everything about BotW — the most fun I've had in a videogame since MGSV, and the first game to dethrone RE4 as my all-time favorite.
Bloodborne in my case, well I can't pick between these really. But definitely the best Zelda for me.

Really wish that the Rito had about half as much care out into them as the Gerudo.
I did love that village (and the music). Some nice quests as well, like the
one with the adorable singing kids
.

And Kass is Rito and he's the best character in the game.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eILzF0YDLU0
 

Mr-Joker

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I am glad that I left the Gerudo region last as it was the only area that felt closest to past Zelda titles, well barring the subpar dungeon.

Though I hated having to wear the female outfit just to get into the city, more so when Riju see through it and ask for your help but fail to tell the other Gerudo that Link is okay.

Like other champions I don't care for Urbosa, more so since she doesn't seem to be bothered about Riju.

I also like how Nintendo added creepy male NPC who's mission was to get into Gerudo city, as it felt so satisfying to steal both his boots and crush his hope and dreams.
 

Tavernacle12

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The Gerudos were definitely the most well developed race in the game, though I found the desert lacking in neat things to find (even if what was there was better than the other regions).
 

Griss

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I don't have anything to add to such a comprehensive OP other than to say you mirror my sentiments exactly.

The desert was the first area I went to after the initial mission that sends you to Kakariko. Flying out over the Gerudo Highlands and seeing the scale of the desert (and therefore the game) with divine beast Vah Nabooris trundling along in the background... It was a 'Hyrule Field Moment' for a new generation of Zelda, and I honestly thought I'd moved past being blown away by that.

What a masterpiece of a game.
 

casey_contra

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Deserts don’t usually do much to capture my imagination. I find them to be a bit, well, dry! So I really dragged my feet traveling southwest. The idea of a barren wasteland just didn’t seem appealing next to the prospect of dew-dappled grasses swaying in a mountain breeze, or autumnal landscapes in the shadow of an active volcano, or lush tropical jungles leading down to the beach. I’m also a sucker for the constant rain (yes, slippery slopes and all!), and I knew there wouldn’t be any in the desert.
Dude, I agree with you 100%. I usually hate the desert, but Nintendo did an AMAZING job of taking a race that has typically been a texture reskin on the same model and dialogue in mostly the same tone and made it a living, breathing realistic population.

I think my favorite part is the fact that Gerudo Town is essentially a commuter town. Many of the women live outside of the city with their husbands (no idea where lol) and commute in to work. This detail really struck me.

I also really liked how (post Devine Beast Vah Naboris spoilers)
Urbosa mentions how Ganon once took Gerudo form and how that makes her hate him even more.

A whole people carrying the burden of one person is such a real concept. Please PM me if this is inappropriate to say or an unfair comparison, but it reminds me of how my German friends regard Hitler. Like Ganon, he's obvious evil, but the fact that that evil took form within their country and community has a certain effect on them.
 

bjork

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Though I hated having to wear the female outfit just to get into the city, more so when Riju see through it and ask for your help but fail to tell the other Gerudo that Link is okay.
I finished the dungeon, talked to her to complete the quest or whatever, then changed into other clothes and still got thrown out. It's puzzling.
 

Neiteio

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Nov 10, 2007
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I don't have anything to add to such a comprehensive OP other than to say you mirror my sentiments exactly.

The desert was the first area I went to after the initial mission that sends you to Kakariko. Flying out over the Gerudo Highlands and seeing the scale of the desert (and therefore the game) with divine beast Vah Nabooris trundling along in the background... It was a 'Hyrule Field Moment' for a new generation of Zelda, and I honestly thought I'd moved past being blown away by that.

What a masterpiece of a game.
OP here. Thanks for the kind words.

I think my "Hyrule Field Moment" was getting lost in the jungles. I think that'd be Faron or East Necluda? Not sure offhand, but I'd like to maybe start a thread about that place at some point. So many beautiful sights. And from the jungles I reached the east coast, and followed it seemingly forever. I was never bored, though — even a setting as well-worn in videogames as a "beach" is endlessly varied here. Really drives home the sheer scope and scale of everything.

BotW is simply incredible. You could start a million discussions about this game.
 

Enforced

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Feb 21, 2014
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It's pretty much my favorite part of the game. The guerdo town music is amazing. I'll never forget the feeling when I first walked there. Felt like I played a new different game when I went to that area.
 

lvl99 Pixel

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Oct 28, 2011
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gerudo area was much better than the rito village and its ugly/creepy copy pasted children
they look like the swollen woman from Eraserhead
 

marc^o^

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Feb 17, 2005
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So far it's the only region I 100% completed, to the helmet gift. So I'm with you OP.