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Spoiler warning: Plot or ending details follow.

"The Guardians are self-guided weapons built to fight Calamity Ganon and developed by our Sheikah ancestors. For many years, the Guardians were kept below Hyrule Castle. However, when the Calamity struck, they were stolen away. I've been researching ways to take them back..."
Robbie

Guardians are enemies from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. They are a group of mechanical enemies, all sharing a similar design and being products of the ancient Sheikah tribe's technology. They were originally programmed to defend Hyrule. However, upon the second rise of Calamity Ganon, the beast corrupted and took control of all the Guardians, turning them against Hyrule as extremely hostile beasts capable of ravaging an entire town alone with their strongest and only attack being a devastating laser of light that is easily capable of killing most living creatures in a single hit. Guardians are resurrected during Blood Moons, despite being mechanical.

Guardians have a weak spot, their eye. Link can cause extra damage and prevent the laser charge by shooting their eye with an arrow. Guardians are particularly vulnerable to the Master Sword and "Ancient" weapons such as Ancient Arrows or Ancient Bladesaws, inflicting more damage than other weapons. Additionally they are also vulnerable to "Guardian" series weapons such as Guardian Swords, Spears, and Ancient Battle Axes. "Ancient" armor provides higher protection against them as does Midna's Helmet (acquired via DLC). Simply hitting a Guardian may cause it to shoot a laser, which rids the lock on needed for a Guardian to hit Link. Later, they will be able to fire multiple lasers, with the first hit registering damage, and the following lasers stunning Link further. When nearby to one, the Master Sword will become more powerful as they are possessed by Calamity Ganon.

Story

Spoiler warning: Plot or ending details follow.

Origin

The Guardians were originally created by the Sheikah ten thousands years before the events of Breath of the Wild along with the four Divine Beasts, from their ancient technology, to protect the Hyrule Kingdom and aid the Princess of Hyrule and the Hero to defeat Calamity Ganon and seal him. The Sheikah and their technology was firstly hailed as the power of the gods, but as time went on the people and Royal Family of Hyrule came to fear their power as a threat to the kingdom, resulting in the Sheikah becoming exiles.

Excavation

Main article: Great Calamity

One hundred years before the events of the game, King Rhoam Bosphoramus Hyrule became aware of the prophecy about the inevitable return of Calamity Ganon. This drove a search for the fabled ancient Sheikah relics. Upon their discovery, King Rhoam decided to excavate them. He then formed a group of skilled Champions commanded by Princess Zelda, four elite warriors who were selected from across the kingdom and tasked with the duty of piloting the Divine Beasts to assist Link, the appointed Knight and Hylian Champion. One hundred years prior to the events of Breath of the Wild, while the Champions were making preparations to battle Calamity Ganon, he reappeared and devastated the Kingdom of Hyrule by taking control of the Guardians and the Divine Beasts, killing four of the Champions in the process. A century after the Great Calamity, Link awakens from his slumber in the Shrine of Resurrection he usually first encounters remaining Decayed Guardians at the Eastern Abbey, near the Ja Baij Shrine. He then finds more Guardian variants during his adventure.

Anti-Calamity Armaments

It is later revealed that the Guardian researcher Robbie was researching how to the free the Guardians from Ganon's control but found it too difficult and tells Link it would be unwise to try, so he offers to provide Link with ancient soldier gear made by the Ancient Oven Cherry he developed to help Link combat them instead in exchange for Rupees to fund his research. The Ancient Soldier Gear is forged from Guardian Parts by the Ancient Oven thus this equipment is made from recycled Sheikah technology giving it the strength to combat and defend against various types of Guardians, giving Link a technological advantage when fighting them. The ancient soldier gear consists of weapons such as the Ancient Bladesaws, Ancient Short Swords, and Ancient Spears, Bows, and Ancient Arrows which are all designed to damage Guardians. Additionally Link can obtain an Ancient Shield that automatically deflects Guardian lasers without a Perfect Guard. He can also obtain the Ancient Soldier Armor set which grants Link resistance to Guardian attacks and grant the "Ancient Proficiency" set bonus once upgraded to Level 2 or higher which increases the damage inflicted when wielding Ancient/Guardian series weapons. The "Guardian" series weapons and shields are used by Guardian Scouts which were original intended to be used against the Calamity, which Link can acquire himself and are strong enough to used against the Guardians themselves. Additionally, as most Guardians are corrupted by Ganon's influence, the Master Sword will react to its presence within the corrupted Guardians causing the blade's true power to awaken, thus Link finds that the Master Sword is an effective means for combatting corrupted Guardians as well. However even with these armaments Link must be careful when combating them especially in areas with a large Guardian presence such as the Central Tower, Forgotten Temple, the Akkala Citadel Ruins, Hyrule Castle Town Ruins, and Hyrule Castle to prevent himself from being overwhelmed as he had a century earlier.

Resistance

In addition to Link's battles with the Guardians both in the past and present, Link learns that during the Age of Burning Fields while he slept that while most people of Hyrule learned to avoid Guardians to survive, some brave souls fought against them though most of these attempts would end in failure or only partial success. One such failure was a battle in Akkala between the Guardians and Hyrule's remaining soldiers and knights though it ultimately turned into a valiant last stand at the Akkala Citadel, though the number of broken Guardians in the region suggests they put up a fierce resistance before being overcome by sheer numbers as Link been. However other attempts proved more successful such as when the father of the late Zora Champion Mipha, King Dorephan managed to defend Zora's Domain from a Guardian that had wondered into his kingdom, using his supernatural strength to pick up and throwing the Guardian down a ravine destroying it, something which greatly impressed the Zora Knights who had been struggling to even damage it. Additionally, Link learns that while traveling to the Akkala Lighthouse to set up the Akkala Ancient Tech Lab shortly after the Great Calamity had ended, Robbie encountered several Guardians that patrolled the area, managing to use his knowledge of their weaknesses to defeat them one by one before final reaching the lab. Thanks to the Guardians those valiant soldiers and knights defeated their last stand at the Akkala Citadel as well as the Guardians Robbie himself had managed to take down, Robbie had more than enough materials to continue his research. Several broken remains and even a small scrap yard containing countless broken Guardians can be found near the Akkala Ancient Tech Lab.

Ancient Materials

As a result of his battles with them, Link can acquire various "Ancient" materials left behind by defeated Guardians or by examining inactive Guardians. These parts include Ancient Screws, Ancient Shafts, Ancient Springs, Ancient Gears, Ancient Cores, and Giant Ancient Cores. Screws, Gears, Springs, and Shafts are the among the most common, while Ancient Cores and Giant Ancient Cores are more rare. Some guardian types only drop certain types of parts. Most of the people of Hyrule view Ancient Parts as either somewhat valuable ancient junk or novelty, with some even scavenging broken Guardians for parts to sell, though most people reject the idea of even going near active Guardians let alone combat them to obtain their parts. These parts can be used by Purah to upgrade Runes or by Robbie (through Cherry) to create Ancient Soldier Gear. They can also be sold to merchants and shops for Rupees or to Kilton for Mon. Link can also use them Cooking with small critters and insects to brew Elixirs like he can with Monster Parts, though using them with other ingredients usually results in Dubious Food. Additionally, some merchants and shops sell Guardian Parts allowing Link to purchase them as well. Guardian Parts can sometimes be found in Treasure Chests, such as ones found in Shrines. Guardian Parts obtained from examining inactive Guardians are determined at random and the only Guardian Parts that cannot be obtained in this manner are Ancient Cores or Giant Ancient Cores.

Guardian Parts

Broken Decayed Guardians

In various locations of Hyrule, Link may find derelict and inactive Decayed Guardians which no longer function. These Link can search some of these Guardians for random Ancient Parts (he can only do this once per inactive guardian). Additionally broken Guardians lacking legs and found near water can be lifted up using the Cryonis Rune. Link must create the Cryonis pillar under them which will cause the Guardian to be lifted up. This will cause a random Guardian Parts to be knocked out of it. Unlike searching, rarely they may drop an Ancient Core when lifted up. However like with searching, Link can only lift these broken Guardians once to obtain random Guardian Parts. Link can only lift Guardians without legs with bodies of water under them. Several of these broken Guardians can be found Torin Wetland though most can only be lifted with Cryonis Rune when Torin Wetland floods during a rain or thunderstorm.

Interestingly, during the DLC Side Quest "EX Treasure: Fairy Clothes", the EX Treasure Chest containing the Tingle Tights can be found buried under a broken Guardian in the Mabe Village Ruins. When Link uses the Magnesis Rune to dig it out, the uplifting of the chest will lift up the Guardian knocking it over.

Link must be careful while walking around in areas with broken guardians as one may actually be a Decayed Guardian in stasis which activates when Link approaches and attack with its laser beam. However Link can use the Camera Rune to identify Broken Guardians from Decayed Guardian enemies as the Camera Rune will identify Decayed Guardian enemies as a Hyrule Compendium target while inactive broken guardians will not.

Spoiler warning: Spoilers end here.

List of Guardian types

There are several variations of these enemies:

Guardian Stalkers

Main article: Guardian Stalker
Breath of the Wild 2014 E3 Trailer Guardian Chasing Horseback Link (Screenshot)

A Guardian Stalker attacking Link during the 2014 E3 trailer

The Guardian Stalkers found across Hyrule's landscapes are large, mechanical spider-like creatures that remain inactive or partially active until Link approaches. They can fire energy beams from their eye which will explode upon impact. A direct hit can kill Link, unless he wears resistant armor, has high health, or has increased his defense with certain food dishes or Tough Elixir. If timed correctly, Link can use a Perfect Guard to reflect a Guardians' energy beams. He can kill a Guardian Stalker by reflecting the beam five times or less depending on the Guardian and Link's accuracy. Although found mostly in Central Hyrule near Hyrule Castle, some defective ones can be found, in particular at the Temple of Time's ruins near the Great Plateau though these are a different type called Decayed Guardians, lack legs, and can be destroyed by reflect their beams once. Additionally Link may encounter damaged Guardian Stalkers in the Hyrule Castle Town Ruins which have destroyed legs and reduced health though are just damaged Guardian Stalkers as they are listed as Guardian Stalkers when viewed through the Camera Rune.

Due to their lasers and mobility, Guardian Stalkers are dangerous opponents for Link early on and make travel through areas like Hyrule Field more difficult, even when Link knows how to deal with them and this danger is increased if their are other enemies or Guardians around, thus Link should try and take them on one at a time and lure them away from other enemies to prevent being overwhelmed. Shooting an arrow to its eye can stun it for a short time, allowing for Link to have a chance at combating it using conventional means. In addition to Perfect Guard and shooting its eye, Link can reduce its mobility and reduce its health by cutting its legs, which also causes it to drop some Guardian Parts for each leg destroyed. Once all its legs are destroyed it is rendered immobile allowing Link to flee or destroy it using other means. However this method usually requires strong weapons with high durability and/or attack power as it tends to take a toll on Link's weaker or less durable weapons, which tend to break or require more hits before Link can destroy a leg both of which could allow the Guardian to move out of melee attack range. The best weapons for this method are the "Ancient" and "Guardian" series melee weapons due to being based on the same technology. However other high tier weapons like the "Royal" and "Lynel" series work well too, as do some of the elemental swords and spears. It should also be noted that as they are possessed by Ganon's influence, they are also susceptible to the Master Sword which takes on its glowing "True" full power state when confronting Guardians (unless Link has completed the DLC quest "EX Trial of the Sword" which awakens the Master Sword's "True" state permanently allowing it to be used at all times). However the Master Sword can lose power forcing it to recharge if used to much even while in its true state, so Link should make sure to carry back up weapons to switch too if this occurs. Like all Guardians, Guardian Stalkers are extremely vulnerable to Ancient Arrows which can destroy them in a single well aimed shoot or at least cause massive damage. Unlike common enemies killed by Ancient Arrows, the arrowhead only damages them and does not obliterate them completely, thus they still drop Guardian Parts when destroyed with Ancient Arrows, giving Link a useful way to farm extra Guardian Parts to forged more Ancient Arrows or other anti-guardian weapons.

Decayed Guardians

Main article: Decayed Guardian

Decayed Guardians are decaying immobilized versions of Guardian Stalkers located around Hyrule Field, near Ja Baij Shrine (albeit disguised by being in stasis), and a large number appear in the Forgotten Temple. They are less durable compared to Stalkers, Turrets, and Skywatchers, having a third of their health (500 compared to 1500), and their lasers only need to be reflected once to kill them. According to the Hyrule Compendium they are Decaying Guardians that are in inactive stasis only to be awakened when they sense Link's presence. As a result they are effectively camouflaged by not having their eyes "active", their bodies glowing magenta, and their heads being retracted, which caused . They can be easily distinguished from inactive Guardians by wearing the Champion's Tunic or by using either the Camera or Stasis+ Runes. Unlike the other Guardian variants, they do not drop an Ancient Core or Giant Ancient Cores. Decayed Guardians are most dangerous when they appear in areas with the remains of large numbers of inert broken Guardians, as they only reveal themselves when Link gets near, thus Link must be careful when walking around inert Guardians. The Camera Rune is quite useful as a Link can just point it at a inert Guardian to identify if it is a Decayed Guardian as any Decayed Guardians will produce a Hyrule Compendium targeting reticule that identifies as such even without taking a picture. Unlike the Stasis+ Rune, the Camera Rune does not need to be recharged nor its rune be upgraded to be used in this manner once it is obtained.

Guardian Scouts

Main article: Guardian Scout

Guardian Scouts can be found in Shrines and on Divine Beasts. They can wield and drop Guardian Swords, Guardian Spears, Ancient Battle Axes, and Guardian Shields of any weapon level (normal, +, and ++). Guardian Scouts come in different models from I to IV. Higher level models have more arms for wielding weapons and tend to wield higher level + or ++ weapons and shields. The ones in Shrines do not have a magenta glow, as they were not possessed by Ganon. However, those aboard Divine Beasts do, but this is only a visual difference, as all Guardian Scouts are enemies for Link. Additionally the Guardian Scouts encountered in Shrines are meant to test and challenge Link thus are the only Guardians that remain true to their original programming.

Guardian Scouts drop materials based on their model. Guardian Scout I drop Ancient Screw and Springs, Guardian Scout II drop Ancient Screws, Springs, Gears, and Shafts, while both Guardian Scout III and Guardian Scout IV drop Ancient Screws, Springs, Gears, Shafts, and Cores. Guardian Scout I are the basic model and are basically little more than smaller and weaker Guardian Stalkers as they can only attack using their lasers, though their laser is much weaker. Guardian Scout II have from one to two arms that allow them to wield basic Guardian series armaments or two weapons at once. Guardian Scout III are equipped with two arms and wield + Guardian series armaments. Guardian Scout IV are equipped with three arms allowing them to wield three ++ Guardian series armaments at once making them the only standard enemies capable of wielding three weapons. All Guardian Scouts are equipped with lasers and higher models can charge them to fire a laser beam with power capable to a Guardian Stalkers laser. Guardian Scouts can also perform two versions of the Spin Attack as well, one weapon based and while the other is laser sweep version which produces an Updraft allowing Link to use the Paraglider to dodge the laser sweep.

Guardian Scout I and Guardian Scout II occasionally appear as common enemies that patrol inside Shrines. Guardian Scout II, Guardian Scout III, and Guardian Scout IV normally appear as mini-bosses inside "A Test of Strength" combat trials in which they must be defeated to access the room containing the Shrine's Sheikah Monk. Interestingly despite not being controlled by Ganon, once completed the trial of these Shrines are designed to reset every Blood Moon, thus allowing Link to combat the Guardian Scout it contains again to obtain their equipment and ancient materials, as well as allowing Link to take their picture with the Camera Rune if he forgot or was unable to do so (such as taking on their combat trial before obtaining the Camera Rune).

Guardian Skywatchers

Main article: Guardian Skywatcher

Guardian Skywatchers are flying Guardians found in certain parts of Hyrule, particularly south of Tabantha Tower and Akkala Highlands. They also appear in abundance near Hyrule Castle. They have the same HP, weapon, and main body to the Guardian Stalkers. However, they lack legs and are more difficult to hit, since handheld weapons cannot damage them without being thrown, and Link is usually unable to target them, unless at the same height such as on stairs. They have three propellers which can be easily destroyed with Bomb Arrows, rending them immobile. However like Guardian Stalkers their lasers can be reflected via a well timed Perfect Guard and are extremely susceptible damage by Ancient Arrows and will drop Guardian Parts even when destroyed with Ancient Arrows.

Guardian Turrets

Main article: Guardian Turret

They are found exclusively in Hyrule Castle. Guardian Turrets behave identically to Decayed Guardians, only with more health and can aim vertically better. They resemble inverted Guardian Skywatchers as their head erects once Link is spotted, causing the Guardian to become more visible. They drop the same types of Guardian parts as Guardian Stalkers and Skywatchers.

Sentries

Main article: Sentry

They are found in exclusively on Death Mountain. Sentries, like the Guardian Skywatchers, hover in the skies and although they are incapable of attacking directly, they can alert any nearby enemies, in particular Divine Beast Vah Rudania which triggers a hail of magma. They do drop Guardian parts, albeit rarely. Like Decayed Guardians they do not drop Giant Ancient Cores, though will drop Ancient Cores though this is extremely rare due to the chance of them dropping any parts being rare in of itself. Like Guardian Skywatchers, Ancient Arrows are an effective way to combat them.

Spoiler warning: Spoilers end here.

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