Zelda - Hyrule Field
Image: Nintendo Life

There's no greater feeling in a Legend of Zelda game than when you first step out onto Hyrule Field, is there? It's the moment when the games shake off the training wheels and let's you loose in the world of Hyrule, free to go in whichever direction you like.

Where on earth do you start? What's that settlement over there? Oh god, why are skeletons sprouting from the ground? Whether you're galloping with Epona or simply slogging it in your trusty brown boots, cruising around Hyrule Field truly encapsulates the adventurous spirit of the Zelda series.

As with any recurring location or feature in video games, however, there are those that do it better than others. Today we're taking a look at which Hyrule Field is the cream of the crop, which one has perhaps gone to seed, and all the rest in between. And if you disagree with our picks, there's a poll at the bottom for you to have your say.

Before we begin, how do we define 'Hyrule Field'? Should it be limited to an actual named location within the wider world of Hyrule? Or is it simply a section of the Hyrule map which might constitute a 'field'? For the purposes of this list, we've gone with the former, so the following entries are all locations that are actually called 'Hyrule Field' in their respective games.

So without further ado, let's begin with... Termina? Okay, then.

Cheeky Bonus! - The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (Termina Field)

Image: Nintendo

So, according to our own rules, we can't rank Termina Field here because it's very plainly not a Hyrule Field. But we couldn't very well run down this list of Zelda's most famous grasslands without mentioning this one, could we?

Termina Field feels about as different from Ocarina of Time's Hyrule Field as you can possibly get. Its circular layout, with Clock Town serving as the region's focal point, feels almost overwhelming to new players starting off on their journey; where on earth are you supposed to go first? It reignited a sense of adventure that Ocarina so gracefully nailed the first time round, but now with an added sense of mystery.

We have to give a special shout-out to the Termina Field theme, too. After an almost identical introduction to Hyrule Field's theme in Ocarina, it launches into the classic Zelda overworld theme that was absent from its predecessor, a romping tune that long-time fans absolutely adore, but with some added menace and whimsy that could only be associated with Majora's Mask. We love it.

Okay, then. Time to return to Hyrule...

#6 - Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

Age of Calamity - Hyrule Field
Image: Nintendo

Something had to come last, right?

Hyrule Field appears as a stage in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (and in fact, you can check it out for yourself in the free eShop demo). The reason it appears at the bottom of our list is simply due to the fact that Hyrule Warriors places a lot more emphasis on combat and enemy count at the detriment of the environment.

While the stage does look quite nice, it's still not on the same level as Breath of the Wild, and given the structure of the game, you're unable to fully explore the environment as much as you'd probably like. The level of interaction is also toned down significantly; yes, you can still cut down trees, but it just doesn't feel the same.

We still like it, mind — just not as much as the others.

#5 - Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition

Hyrule Warriors
Image: Nintendo

Compared to its depiction in Age of Calamity, Hyrule Warriors showcases a Hyrule Field that is arguably more interesting than its successor. Rather than being based on another game, this location is wholly unique and feels like a kind of mash-up of every Hyrule Field we've seen so far. Stylistically, it's probably closest to the Hyrule Field seen in Twilight Princess, albeit with deeper colours and an altogether grimmer atmosphere.

Yes, it's a bit lacking in environmental detail; the luscious grass seen in Age of Calamity is obviously not present here. But nevertheless, there's definitely something unique about this version of Hyrule Field that we've not seen elsewhere. We'd love to see it return in a mainline Zelda game.

#4 - The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Twilight Princess - Hyrule Field
Image: Nintendo

Twilight Princess took the general concept of Hyrule Field in Ocarina of Time and made everything bigger.

Rather than being confined to just one area, the location is spread across three provinces: Lanayru, Eldin, and Faron. Due to its hefty size, it really felt like it was built with Epona in mind, with Twilight Princess putting great emphasis on horseback combat (remember that incredible announcement trailer?).

One could argue that Nintendo made this version of Hyrule Field a bit too big, with not enough to keep players engaged (and you'd be right), but it does successfully recapture some of that magic of riding across vast landscapes against one of the best theme tunes in the entire franchise.

#3 - The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

Minish Cap - Hyrule Field
Image: Nintendo

The Minish Cap is an absolutely beautiful game, so of course the Hyrule Field showcased here is a real visual treat. It's split into two sections — the North and South — with Hyrule Town in between and Link's own home located in the south region.

As pretty as it looks, however, it's not a particularly large region, and can't quite pack the same punch as its 3D counterparts. Given that it's also one of the first areas you'll visit in the game, it's also devoid of any real threat of challenge, with Red Octorocks being the only enemies you'll come across.

But man, it really looks pretty, doesn't it?

#2: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

BotW - Hyrule Field
Image: Nintendo

Breath of the Wild's Hyrule Field is a pretty dangerous place. Granted, there are monsters in every iteration of the location, but here, you'll come face-to-face with not only Bokoblins and other standard beasties, but also a whole bunch of Guardians.

It's designed to ward the player off from heading straight for Hyrule Castle, and while it's definitely possible to make your way there at the start of the game, it won't be easy. Needless to say, you won't have a lot of time here to really take in the scenery before a Guardian decides to blast you with its laser beam, and this is mainly why it doesn't come out on top in our list, despite its visual splendour.

Based on what we've seen so far, we can't imagine Tears of the Kingdom will go to particularly great lengths to make Hyrule Field a more pleasant environment to visit (in fact, we'd wager the area will have even more monsters to contend with), but it's still a very beautiful location, regardless.

#1 - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Ocarina of Time - Hyrule Field
Image: Nintendo

For anyone who played Ocarina of Time back in 1998, nothing can really compare to walking out onto Hyrule Field for the first time, after a short lecture from Kaepora Gaebora. Seeing such a wide open space at a time when 3D console gaming was still in its relative infancy was simply mind-blowing.

By today's standards, the field admittedly looks a bit bare, with few trees and structures to add visual variety, but that doesn't matter — . Whether you're heading to Lon Lon Ranch in the centre of the field, Gerudo Valley to the West, or Kakariko Village to the East, there's an unrivalled sense of freedom and adventure that frankly hasn't been felt in quite the same way until Breath of the Wild arrived nearly 20 years later. And that music...

It's still the king in our books, and it's going to take something truly magical to knock it off its throne.

Those are our picks for the best versions of Hyrule Field in The Legend of Zelda franchise. But what do you think, dear readers? Do you think we've gotten it completely wrong? Be sure to vote in the poll below and let us know in the comments which one you think is the best.