“I’m getting stressed,” I told my coworker Alex Cranz after a week with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, “because I might never run out of shit to do in this game.” The Switch launch title’s map is huge, with shrines and monsters and side-quests in every direction. Areas that look out-of-bounds turn out to be ancient mazes or survivalist island challenges. For a casual gamer like myself, it’s daunting at times—which is where a guide comes in handy.
Thankfully, Danilo Passos and the rest of the team behind Zelda Maps claims to have data mined Breath of the Wild to find the exact locations of its hundreds (thousands?) of points of interest. The game rewards exploration—and as our sister site Kotaku pointed out, one of the best examples of this are the Korok Seeds. They’re useful little pellets strewn across obscure areas of the map that can be spent on upgrades, but there are 900 of them. That’s far more than any reasonable person has time to discover through blind luck alone. Zelda Maps’ current claim to fame is obtaining the location of every single one.
The project isn’t complete yet, though some categories like shrines, stables, and towers appear to be fully mapped. Strangely, Zelda Maps doesn’t yet contain the option to display the locations of the ancient screws, shafts, cores etc. that are needed to forge some of the game’s strongest weapons and armor. Presumably there’s more data mining left to be done.
It’s also not known if the team pilfered the Korok seed locations from the Wii U or Switch version. If it’s the latter, it could mean that whatever read/write protections Nintendo added to Switch games have already been bested, paving the way for future exploitation.
We reached out to Passos for details on how the data was gathered and what future resources might be coming to Zelda Maps. We’ll update if we hear back.
Update 3/14/17 1:01pm EDT: Gizmodo got in touch with Passos via Skype who confirmed he and his friend Devon Schneider cracked the Wii U version.
“Devon has been able to use some homebrew tools, such as yaz0dec and cdecrypt, he was able to extract the files from the game into a format we could both further extract data from,” he wrote, “the Switch is still new and there is no way to poke the files.”
The Breath of the Wild map, when extracted, is a staggering 24000 x 20000 pixels. With “luck and pure math” Passos was able to convert the game’s Korok seed locations into pixel data, and plans to do the same with NPCs, enemies, and side-quest info. The only problem is that, with Breath of the Wild’s many mountains and valleys, a two dimensional map is only so helpful. He’s planning on hopefully creating a 3D version “so you could manipulate the map... [and] do a ‘street view’ of the game.”