As their name suggests, the Guardians found in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are not supposed to be killing machines that threaten civilisation. We won't go into the story here, but even if you only have a passing knowledge of the game you're likely aware of players that are in constant fear of these mechanised foes. Like it or not players eventually have to stand up and fight these mechanical menaces, so for those playing the epic adventure we've brought together an extensive guide for survival, at the cost of trial, error and… a few unfortunate casualties.
Obviously, some spoilers included, but we've stayed away from specific plot points (if not locations).
First and foremost, know that there are six different models of Guardians recorded on our studies. Five of them are corrupted and the sixth very unique type remain safe from corruption inside Sheikah Shrines, standing as tests of combat. If you find yourself targeted by one of them: 1) Don't panic! and 2) Always keep in mind that machines obey their programming. We will use this against them. But first, a word on recommended equipment:
Regular weapons will barely make a scratch on Guardians, you need to fight fire with fire, in this case Sheikah weapons. You can find several variants of these glowing weapons, often inside Shrine chests, make them on demand at the Akkala Tech Lab or claim them from fallen Guardian Scouts. It is always a good plan to keep a couple of Ancient Weapons in your inventory at all times, saving them to fight with Guardians.
The Master Sword
A big game changer this one, since it doubles its base power when facing off against corrupted Guardians; it will become your de facto Guardian killer once you are worthy to wield it. Sadly it will need to recharge after extensive usage, so make sure you do keep a few Ancient weapons at hand just in case.
Machines often run on electricity but get current passing anywhere outside where it is supposed to and you've got fried circuitry all over. Guardians and electricity don't mix, so if you happen to have Electric Weapons make sure to use them to briefly stop these foes in their tracks. If you have Electric Arrows and a x3 or even x5 Bow make the most of them on our rather large preys.
If you ever found yourself thinking "If only there was a place on Hyrule that let you buy Ancient weapons in exchange for Ancient crafting materials and rupees…", well you're in luck because unlike the Hateno Ancient Tech Lab that deals exclusively with Sheika Tablet upgrades, its counterpart in Akkala offers a much wider range of Ancient possibilities… if you can afford them. You will still need to bring the nearby Blue Ancient Flame from the hill (which is a prominent side-quest) before they may set up their services. Once you do, it's Ancient shopping spree time… again assuming you can afford anything. Here is what is on sale:
2 Ancient Screws, 1 Ancient Shaft, 1 Arrow - 90 Rupees
Ancient Arrow x3
6 Ancient Screws, 3 Ancient Shafts, 3 Arrows - 250 Rupees
Ancient Arrow x5
5 Ancient Springs, 5 Ancient Shafts, 5 Arrows - 400 Rupees
Ancient Short Sword
15 Ancient Springs, 5 Ancient Shafts, 2 Ancient Cores - 1,000 Rupees
10 Ancient Gears, 15 Ancient Springs, 1 Ancient Core - 1,000 Rupees
15 Ancient Screws, 5 Ancient Shafts, 2 Ancient Cores - 1,000 Rupees
15 Ancient Gears, 5 Ancient Shafts, 2 Ancient Cores - 1,000 Rupees
10 Ancient Gears, 15 Ancient Springs, 1 Giant Ancient Core - 1,000 Rupees
They also sell three very interesting clothing options… and that's our next equipment recommendation.
The Ancient Armor
If you don't mind walking around looking like a Shrine, The Ancient Armor is your go to choice of clothes when facing off Guardians. Once upgraded by Fairy power it will substantially reduce damage from Guardian laser cannons, offering excellent defense stats overall and adding an Ancient Proficiency bonus that will allow you to deal extra damage with Ancient weapons. It's expensive and you will have to gather Ancient materials for it, but it is all well worth it. Here is what you need to gather:
20 Ancient Gears, 5 Ancient Shafts, 3 Ancient Cores - 2,000 Rupees
20 Ancient Gears, 5 Ancient Screws, 3 Ancient Cores - 2,000 Rupees
20 Ancient Gears, 5 Ancient Springs, 3 Ancient Cores - 2,000 Rupees.
We added all the numbers here so you don't have to: the complete Ancient Armor Set will cost you exactly 60 Ancient Gears, 5 Ancient Shafts, 5 Ancient Screws, 5 Ancient Springs, 9 Ancient Cores and 6,000 Rupees. Keep in mind you will need extra Ancient crafting material to upgrade it further in Fairy Fountains.
Now that you're nicely stocked for a fight, here are some helpful, common pointers regarding Guardian engagement:
Fight Fire With Fire
Try to block a Guardian's Laser Beam discharge with any Shield in the game and you can kiss that piece of equipment goodbye (unless it happens to be called Hylian Shield). Get the timing correct, however and press the "A" button just as the Laser is about to hit and you can use your shield (any Shield! Yes, even a Pot Lid!) to deflect the beam back to its point of origin. Just make sure you don't use your favourite shield for this in case you mistime it. Can't get the timing right? Here are the easy alternatives: Daruk's Protection will do the exact same thing without the need to press "A", just hold "R" and watch the fireworks. Else the Ancient Shield from Akkala Ancient Tech Lab is your best friend since it will bounce those lasers back without the need of your input.
One In a Million
Guardian's Eyes make for some excellent bow and arrow practice. Shooting any type of arrow against an Eye will make its tracking procedure reset and give you a few precious seconds to either setup a follow-up attack or run to safety. However if you happen to get an Ancient Arrow straight in the Guardian's Eye, it will trigger a complete catastrophic system failure. You read that right: Ancient Arrows are a one-shot sure way of turning a lethal foe into a pile of Ancient Crafting Materials. If you are having trouble aiming those shots, make use of the mid-air Bow shot that will slow down time for a few seconds and let you align that perfect shot. Just make sure you make those Ancient Arrows count.
More often than not a Guardian Laser blast will set what it hits on fire, creating an updraft. You can quickly jump and use your Paraglider to either escape to safety or set up an attack from a vantage point. Note that some Guardians are unable to track you if you are standing right on top of their head. We leave that dangerous rodeo to your good judgement (or lack of it).
Upgrading your Stasis Rune at the Hateno Ancient Tech Lab will allow you to use it to give enemies a time out. Smaller enemies will be frozen in time up to five seconds. Sadly Guardians are only frozen for about 1.5 seconds. Use this time to either escape to safety or close the gap to rush them.
Now that you are both well stocked and have some vital knowledge for the hunts ahead, let us take a look at the Guardian types you will encounter in your adventure, and how to deal with them.
Formidable as they are, you will be relieved to learn most Guardians have been destroyed by time, destroyed from resistance by the people of Hyrule or simply broken down due to lack of maintenance. As such you will often find their hulking carcasses covered in vegetation, abandoned to decay along the roads. If you're in a pinch, they provide the easiest method to obtain Ancient crafting materials; you just need to go up to them and try your luck with the "A" Button. Keep a lookout for puddles of water underneath their husks. In that case use your Cryonis Rune to create a block of ice to lift them up, revealing extra Ancient crafting materials to pick up.
Be wary that there is an off chance you might stumble onto a live decayed Guardian! In this case it will power up but remain immobile, its eye will begin tracking you and it will begin charging its devastating laser cannon. You can either flee (something that is usually easy if you run for cover or quickly find a blind spot from his eye) if you are not well equipped or just too weak to risk a fight, or charge them, repeatedly striking them with your Master Sword or Ancient weapons. Note that standing on top of their heads will confuse them quite a bit, but it is a risky proposition.
The most common and notoriously dangerous Guardian types are these highly mobile six legged menaces. Once they spot you they will quickly shorten the distance between them and you, stopping at the optimal distance to fire a Laser Beam. Trying to outrun them even on horseback is useless, so it's better to stand up to them. If you do happen to be on horseback, jump and pull off a quick Bow shot to their Eye, allowing you to rush them as soon as your feet touch the ground. Due to their programing, if a Stalker Guardian senses his prey near, it will back away until it is back to optimal distance to its target. Don't allow this to happen, get in close and go for their legs, one by one. With luck you might be even able to briefly turn them over, making there eye-tracking impossible.
After you chop all legs off you end up with a still dangerous but now immobile Stalker Guardian that you can take out with a method of your choice. If you're not on horseback, then quickly take a glance at your surroundings and use a tree, a ditch, ruins or even a rock to stand between you and the Guardian. Once it loses track of you, it will revert to its programing again and move close to the last place it spotted you. Let it get really close and then rush attack its legs and use the same strategy written above. Sweet payback for all the hardships we had to endure earlier in the game.
Don't let that name fool you, the Skywatchers are not looking at the sky at all. Instead they are flying around in set patterns looking for anything that moves on the ground with their spotlights. Once they do find an interesting target they swoop down to optimal range and begin charging up the same Laser beam weapon found on other Guardian Models. This is your chance to either fight or flee. Your bow and bomb arrows are your best friends here, but don't try to hit the main body, try to shoot at any of the unit's propellers instead (and if you're confident in your archery skills Ancient Arrows will destroy propellers in one shot!). A Skywatcher with minus one propeller will fly slower and irregularly, but a Skywatcher with two propellers down will fall to the ground with little ceremony. Once an airborne threat, it's now little more than a grounded nuisance for you to dispose in any way you see fit. If you wish to avoid a fight, do your best to run or hide somewhere where it can't see you. The Skywatcher will shortly lose interest and return to its programmed flight pattern.
These peculiar models are exclusive to the Divine Beast Vah Rudania. They are easy to confuse with Skywatchers, but are fortunately much less of a threat since they carry no weapons and have less hit points to bring down. Once they spot you or your hypothetical Goron companion, they will sound off an alarm and the attack itself will come from Vah Rudania that will unceremoniously make fire rain down on you. We reckon these are best avoided rather than risk confrontation and get the whole mountain coming down on top of you.
You will find these nasty pieces of work exclusively in Hyrule Castle. As their name implies they are immobile towers that have been spread atop of the many walls of Hyrule Castle. Worse yet, they are often spread in a way so that one tower covers the closest tower blindspots, so remember not to wander around in the open because you can easily get targeted by three or more of these nasty contraptions at a time. Also, be warned about aerial assaults; these things have a greater vertical range than regular Guardians and will track you even if you're standing right above them. The trick to deal with these nuisances is patience: locate one, hug the walls or even climb the wall itself or go inside the walls if possible, and find a good spot to do some hit and run attacks. By that we mean get in close, drop them a few solid Master Sword or Ancient weapons slices and then quickly retreat to a blind spot where they can't track you. Repeat until destroyed.
HP: Varies with model, between 500 and 1500
These are very unique variants of the Guardian models. You will find Mk I Scouts serving as corrupted defenders of the Divine Beasts and even as standard defense on some shrines, with some of them carrying a regular Ancient weapon, but most of the time they just shoot at you from afar when they spot you. This model poses little threat and you should have little problem rushing and attacking them, even with regular weapons.
MK II, III and IV Scouts are a different matter. These Guardians were made to emulate human soldiers in battle, and as such will carry both Ancient weapons and shields. You will find them in Shrines with minor, regular and major tests of strength. Their first attack pattern thus resembles how a humanoid would attack, with weapons at hand. Greet your mechanic opponent shield first and wait to see its actions. Do not attack if it has its shield up, you will only be degrading your weapons in trade of zero damage. Wait until it locks one of its weapons arms in position and then you can choose to block the attack or attempt to jump to either side or back in hope of triggering a Flurry Attack. Even if you don't trigger that counter, proceed to attack the Scout with regular swipes until it jumps away from you.
At this point the Scout will trigger its second attack pattern by beginning to rotate its upper torso with all arms and weapons fully extended. You will not be able to outrun it, so instead seek cover behind a pillar or even make an Ice wall using the Cryonis Rune between you and the Scout. It will hit the obstacle and be stunned for a short period of time in which you should rush in and deliver some swipes with your weapon of choice. Scouts will then repeat these two patterns broken up, with some small volleys of Laser fire at your general vicinity.
Once you deplete enough energy, they will engage their third attack pattern: they will jump away, withdraw their arms and beginning spinning around when stationary, eventually firing up a tight laser beam that will create a "circle of death" around the Scout. Stay well clear of the radius and notice that this motion creates an updraft around you. Use your Paraglider to quickly set yourself up directly above the Scout and drop down on its head to stop this attack and do a good chunk of damage. If you are lucky, this should be enough to dispose of the Scout.
If not, the fourth attack pattern will trigger: the Scout will run away from you, immobilize in one spot and begin charging its eyes for a very potent, very lethal laser blast. These take much longer than their Stalkers and Skywatchers variants to charge, so this is your chance to shorten the distance between you and the Scout to deliver as many blows as you can muster before the Laser fully charges. If you are lucky you will deal the killing blow to your mechanic foe before it fires on you. If you're not… be prepared to run perpendicular to the Scout's firing angle. If you're feeling courageous and do not fear losing your shield, it is possible to tap "A" at the right time and send the blast back to its point of origin just like one would when fighting a Stalker. This fourth attack pattern is pretty much do or die for either you or the Guardian Scout, so make sure it is not your adventure that ends in the cold, inglorious floor of a sacred Shrine.
That is all for this guide on Advanced Anti-Guardian Warfare. We hope you adventurers picked up a new strategy or two to deal with these millennial mechanical menaces. Good luck out there in the field!