The early hours of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom don’t give you a really good shield. The game spends a lot of time showing you how to fuse items to your shield to get some cool utility out of it, but if you want one that will take a lot of hits? Your early shield options are pretty lacking. Luckily, Link’s iconic Hylian Shield is actually pretty quickly accessible in the new Switch game. It’s dangerous to go alone, so take this handy guide that will show you exactly where to go.
First off, you’ll have to get through the initial tutorial and get back to Hyrule proper, so it will take you at least two or so hours to get to the Hylian Shield’s resting place. But once you’re back on the surface after Link’s trip to the sky, getting our hero’s signature shield is a pretty quick detour. You’ll just have to fly to the docks underneath Hyrule Castle.
To accomplish this in the early hours, your best bet is to do some of the story missions first. Meet with Purah at Central Square, and help her set up the Skyview Tower. Doing this will get you the paraglider, which will be extremely helpful in getting to the Hylian Shield (and for just traveling anywhere in Hyrule, really). Once you’ve acquired this gift from Purah, grab a bow and arrow and head to Hyrule Castle itself. You won’t need to actually enter the floating, cursed hellscape yet, so don’t worry about having to fight any endgame-level enemies. Instead, you’ll just need to navigate around it until you reach the back side of its perimeter, to the north. You can do this by climbing around the rock formations on either side of the castle grounds, or by running straight through the castle itself if you’re bold.
Once you reach the northern side, drop down to the lower depths underneath the floating castle, where you’ll find an opening that looks like it was once for boats in the before times. Here you’ll find the Hyrule Castle docks. The space is covered with some powerful enemies and corruption that will likely be best avoided if you’re coming here early on, but luckily, we don’t have to go in too deep to find the Hylian Shield.
Upon reaching the docks, you’ll notice a long staircase that leads to a higher level with a brazier surrounded by torches. Using your bow, aim an arrow through one of the torches and shoot into the brazier. Doing this will raise a chest from the floor, and inside you’ll find Link’s iconic Hylian Shield. It has a base defense stat of 90, higher than any other shield in the game.
Unlike the Master Sword, however, the shield can break if it’s hit enough times, so even the best shield in the game is susceptible to Tears of the Kingdom’s weapon degradation. In Breath of the Wild, if the Hylian Shield broke, a replacement shield was available to purchase from a vendor. We’re still trying to find out what you need to do to get a new Hylian Shield in Tears of the Kingdom, and will update this guide when we do. But if you want the best item in the game for all your blocking and parrying needs, the Hylian Shield is a relatively quick and easy grab, even if you’re just beginning your journey in Hyrule.