Emulating Zelda – Breath of the Wild with Cemu


In this guide I am going to explain how you can install the Wii U emulator Cemu and run Zelda using it.

Updates

  • Updated on 4th of August for Cemu 1.9.0c. The screenshots still show an old version but the instructions apply to the new version.

Requirements

  • You should already have a legal copy of Zelda in a Wii U emulator format
    • I am not going to explain how to do this since there are already sufficient tutorials available
    • Depending on the copyright laws in your country you may also get the game in a proper emulator format online if you already own the game. Due to legal reasons I can not link to these sources
  • At least 8 GB of RAM
  • Windows 7 or 10
    • There are reports that Cemu works on Linux with Wine but this guide will focus on Windows

Recommended

  • 16GB of RAM
  • SSD
  • i5 CPU or comparable/better
    • 3.5 Ghz should be sufficient, but more is better in this case
  • A good GPU (e.g. GTX 970)
    • Not as important as the CPU but it will help

What you should expect

Cemu is in active development and thus will most likely include crashes, lags and bugs. I personally think that Cemu has come a long way and that the game has been playable since version 1.7.4d, but you should not expect it to run flawlessly.

Our target is a 4k resolution because in Cemu’s case the resolution is not as coherent with the performance as one might think, but you may adjust this to your personal needs.

The emulator will be capped to 30 FPS. This is not a performance decision as the game is actually supposed to run at 30 FPS. Removing the FPS cap may cause issues.

Getting Cemu

If you are a Patreon (if you don’t know what this is, you are not) you will have received a copy of Cemu. Otherwise go to the Cemu download page and download the latest release. The emulator is in a zip archive and can be extracted to any folder (e.g. the Desktop or your Program Files).

Tweaking with Nvidia control panel

Open up cemu.exe and let in run in the background. Now open the Nvidia control panel (via the system tray icon or search for it in the start menu).

Choose “Manage 3D settings” and then “Program settings”. For program choose cemu.exe and set the following settings:

 

Graphic packs

Graphic packs are a way for the community to change graphics settings and behaviour. They predefine things like resolution but may also fix minor glitches or improve effects like shadows.

There is a collection of graphic packs created by the community which can be found on GitHub. To download the collection follow the link, click on “Clone or download” and choose “Download ZIP”.

Extract the zip to it’s own directory. Inside you will find a lot of different folders for different games and categories.

If you have the recommended hardware I suggest using the “BreathOfTheWild_2160p” pack in the “Quality”-folder. If your hardware is not that perfect you can also use the “BreathOfTheWild_540p” or “BreathOfTheWild_360p” packs from the “Performance”-folder. If you are not sure, just go with the quality pack for now and you can still change it later.

Move your selected folder into the “graphicPacks” folder inside your Cemu directory.

For extra improvements also copy the appropriate packs from the “Enhancements”-folder to your graphic packs folder. There are a few more then when I made the screenshot below by now, but you can copy any enhancement you like. I used all except the “BreathOfTheWild_ProPlus” HUD enhancement. It caused graphic glitched for me and others.

Restart Cemu, choose “Options”, “Graphic packs” and choose all graphicPacks that you have just moved to your folder. You need to restart Cemu after this.

Make sure to update your graphic packs every once in a while since they get modified and improved regulary. To do this just download the ZIP again and overwrite the folders.

Cemu hook

“Cemu hook” is a plugin for Cemu made by the developer “rajkosto” and allows playing video sequences with the H264 codec which are not yet supported by Cemu and a few other changes that are listed on the website.

To install the plugin just head over to his website and download the plugin version that fits your Cemu version. Extract the zip file and simply move the dbghelp.dll-file inside the cemu directory.

Firing up the game in Cemu

For the following steps we need to run Zelda so that some files are generated.

Just open Cemu, choose “File” and then “Load” and select your game file. This can be a rpx, wud, wux, iso or wad file. As soon as the game has loaded, close it again.

Shader caches

When you run a game in Cemu the emulator has to calculate a lot of things. Some of these have to be calculated once and can then be written into a cache that is to be reused by the emulator. This is good because not everything has to be recalculated but this also means that you get FPS drops the first time things like shaders need to be calculated – which is all the time.

The good news is that you can download the shader cache of other players so that your emulator does not have to do everything by itself. The bad news is that these caches are probably affected by copyright laws and thus I can not link to these files. For the possible case that you already own such a cache or stumbled upon it with something like a Google search, I will now explain how you can copy it into Cemu.

Ideally your shader cache should have somewhere between 5 to 10k shaders. More will cause excessive RAM usage and will take a long time to compile. Less will probably mean missing shaders that will cause FPS drops.

Shader caches are .bin-files for each game and in the newer versions of Cemu they have become transferable. All you have to do is to copy the .bin-file to your [Cemu folder]/shaderCache/transferable folder and replace the .bin file that has been generated in the previous step. It should have a string with letters and numbers as file name and it is important that you replace this file so that your new file has the same name.

Disabling Hyper-Threading for Cemu

This part will only affect you if you are using an Intel CPU with hyper threading – like i7-4960X. Otherwise you can just skip to the next step.

While Hyper-Threading should be beneficial, it can be bad for Cemu if important processes are not assigned to a physical core. To solve this we will change the processor affinity in the task manager.

Start Cemu and open the Task Manager. Switch to Details and find cemu.exe, right click it and choose Processor Affinity. In the following window uncheck every second thread. If you have 8 threads you should uncheck CPU 1, CPU 3, CPU 5 and CPU 7.

You will have to repeat this step if you install a new version of Cemu.

Compiling shaders

Finally you can start the game as described before.When you start the game Cemu has to compile your cached shaders. It can take a long time (10 minutes to an hour if you have up to 20000 shaders) when you are doing it for the first time, but from the second time on it should be loading much faster.

Make sure the GPUFence setting is enabled. Open “Options” and enable “GX2SetGPUFence skip (HACK)”. You may need to do this after every restart.

If you run into any problems, please check the troubleshooting section below. If you can’t find an appropriate solution there, feel free to ask for help in the comment section. You can also check Reddit or ask for help on their Discord server.

I suggest making regular backups as playing around with the emulator can destroy your savegames. Your savegames are located in [Cemu folder]/mlc01/emulatorSave. I would also appreciate a comment below about your hardware specifications and how well the game is running for you.

Troubleshooting

I will continue to extend this section as I stumble upon new common problems.

  • The game crashes during or directly after starting the game and Windows tells me there is not enough RAM available.
    • You can try to increase the file of the pagefile.sys. Instructions on how to do this can be found here.
    • A big shader cache (>10k) might also be the problem. You can try to use a smaller one with 5-8k
  • My shader cache is compiling extremely slow.
    • This can have a number of reasons and in some cases is just the way it is. There are reports though that activating VSync in the Nvidia control panel does slow down the process. You can try to turn it off again and see if it works for you.
  • How do I solve tasks which need the gyroscope?
    • The gyroscope can be simulated with the mouse. It does not work nicely, but the tasks can be solved.
  • The game crashes every few minutes.
  • My games won’t save or load.
    • Maybe Cemu does not have write permission for your save game folder. Try running Cemu as administrator (right click and choose “Run as administrator”).

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  • Max Sylver

    hey, one thing, “the stuck camera bug” do not restart/ load a previous save, since it just happens on shrines you can just use your sheikah slate to teleport out the shrine and do it again.

    • Otto Wayne

      Thanks, I added that solution 🙂

    • Louis Samolinoff

      it would still be faster to load last save because game will have to load an area only one time instead of loading world and then the shrine again

      • Max Sylver

        yeap, sometimes people forget to save everytime, so theres that too

        • You can just save and the immediately reload so you don’t even need to remember to save earlier. The game isn’t dead you just can’t move the camera.

          • Otto Wayne

            This will not help you in shrines where you will just be placed at the start of the shrine.

          • The other options you have are teleport or load an old save game. I understand it starts over but all the other options do the same thing. This way it loads faster and you keep the same items.

    • Ty Hickey

      The better solution is to throw yourself on a ledge in shrines that allow it. You’ll respawn with a few less hearts, but most importantly AND ALL YOUR PROGRESS INTACT.

      I’ve also read anecdotal evidence that this prevents camera lockups from happening until cemu is closed, but I can’t verify that.

  • Bruno França

    nice, thank you very much for the all explanation,clear than this impossible

  • isaackearl

    Hello, This guide didn’t mention anything about saving the game… is that possible yet? Thanks!

    • Arken Falgurd

      yes

  • yag

    Great and very complete tutorial.
    One question tho : is it still interesting to launch cemu from a virtual disk ?

  • kasen

    Thanks so much! Works really well..only issue is the right stick on my xbox 360 controller turns really slow. Tried all the settings which doesn’t seam to make a difference.

    • Perky Pug

      I think you should read the original post more carefully – it stated that the “Link sinking in the ground” bug will be addressed in Cemu 1.7.4d, which will become available to the public on 9th of April.

      • kasen

        Ah your right…I’m getting old and didn’t see that part. Thanks for pointing it out to me 🙂

  • #WatercoolerRace

    Thanks buddy

  • JackMeOffski

    cool thanks

  • ChuckyLK

    Currently I only have the USB QWERTY keyboard and the mouse to play this game. But I don’t know how to

    1. aim using the bow
    2. aim the magnesis
    3. change the camera position

    using the keyboard. Is there a workaround for this?

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  • kasen

    I just noticed that every-time I load the game it compiles the cached shaders each time….possible I did something wrong?

    • Jacob Tanner

      It has to compile the shaders every time, but once it’s been compiled the first time the process is much faster on subsequent loads.

  • Faris Ansari

    Excellent guide! I am trying to run BoTW on AMD HD6670 and after the loading screen the emulator/game freezes. I know my GPU is quite dated, but any chance I can run it?

    • Otto Wayne

      It depends more on your CPU. In any case you should not use a version below 1.7.4d with your AMD GPU.

      • Faris Ansari

        So, my i3-4130 is no good either. Thanks for clearing that out. Will test it again on 1.7.4d once it’s public.

  • Radicale Bezem

    Hello, i cant turn on the fence skip hack, it is in the options tab, though it is greyed out and un-clickable. What do i do?

    • Otto Wayne

      It is already enabled if you use Cemu Hook.

      • Radicale Bezem

        i dont think so, i have ran BOTW on earlier versions of cemu and i got around 30 fps. now i get around 8 and it drops to 0 every 5 seconds

        • Zeonex

          Can you fix this gpufence issue ? i have the same problem with cemu 1.7.4d

      • Radicale Bezem

        i also dont think so because the option is there for me i just cant click it

        • Jacob Tanner

          For me the option is greyed out until I start the game, then it becomes available.

          • Radicale Bezem

            ye, i fixed it now.

  • kasen

    Any thoughts on when we can download 1.7.4d? I thought it was supposed to be out yesterday on the 9th?

    • Otto Wayne

      It has been released yesterday. You can download it on the official Cemu website: http://cemu.info/ (It will show up as 1.7.4, but is is 1.7.4d)

      • kasen

        Ah ok that’s great thanks so much 🙂

  • kasen

    Another silly question…I was finally able to find and install the DLC but my version is saying 1.1.2….I thought it was 1.1.1? Is this perhaps a new update?

    • Otto Wayne

      This is a new update, yes.

  • Jason Smith

    just a few questions. is the 16gb of ram nessary? also would this card suffice GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 750Ti 2GB LOW PROFILE. or should i go for the 1050 LP?

    Thanks for your input!

    Jason

    • Otto Wayne

      8GB of RAM should be enough as I wrote in the “Required” section.
      You can just try it with the 750Ti. It is much more dependent on the CPU.

    • Bert Scardina

      you’re gonna lag really hard

  • Dabil

    When using cemu hook with cemu 1.7.4d I get an immediate crash. Doesn’t matter which version of cemu hook I use for 1.7.4d. I have tried cemu hook versions 0.4.0.3, 0.4.0.2, and 0.4.0.1 all which state are for cemu 1.7.4d. I have never tried cemu hook before so not sure if it was working with other versions of the emulator.

    I am using Win10 with a Intel i7-6700HQ processor and GTX970M graphics card if it makes a difference.

    If I run Cemu without cemu hook game boots up but then I get an error message “you must perform a system update”. I tried googling that, I get a lot of links. One said I simply need to go to the directory in Breath of the wild “he Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild (USA)contentSystem” and open the file Version.txt, change the contents from “0.9.0” to “1.0.0”. I did that, and restarted. The game starts up okay. I get this glowing orb of light that says a few things, then grows to take up the entire screen, and the screen then just stays white. Cemu keeps running at 30ish frame per second, but the game does not progress any further. I see that some people recommend to update the game, but I am not sure how to do that. Or to what version. There seems to be some tutorials on how to use various programs to update, but I am not sure which ones are safe to use. Is there another tutorial for fixing this problem?

  • Thanks a lot for this guide!

  • Bernardo De Giorgis

    great guide.
    just one question, should i delete the precompiled folder and activate shader cache in the nvidia control panel or i just put the shader cache file in transferable and precompiled?

  • blakinsel

    Hi !
    I folowed your tutorial but when I launch the game, CEMU crash during the light after the message “Breath of th Wild”. I google it but no answer :/
    Any idea to solve it ?

    • Connor Crosby

      Go to your BoTW game file>content>system>version and make sure its the appropriate version number. I believe you have to change it to 1.1.0 then after you get past the screen you can save and update it to 1.1.2. Try playing around with that.

  • Jose Garcia

    What about AMD GPUs? how can we configure?

  • Russell Matterson

    When I go to manage 3D settings, I can’t find cemu in the drop-down list.

    • Sean G

      Have you launched cemu first?

  • Zachary Walker

    Using a xbox controller worked before i updated my cemu but now when i launch the game it just says unable to communicate with wii u game pad even though my xbox controller is selected

    • Austin Horstman

      Make sure your input settings are emulating a Wii U Gamepad and not the pro controller or something else.

  • Tallest Skil

    Still can’t get better than 13 FPS in-game, after following this to the letter. 29 GB of RAM, GTX 980, and dual X5570 Xeon chips.

    Please tell me my CPUs aren’t the bottleneck…

    • dstruct2k

      They are. X5570 runs 2.9-3.3GHz, most people on newer architectures are needing 3.5+ just to hit 30 occasionally. Cemu runs 2 main threads, which are not SMP-capable, so you’re using 2 individual X5570 threads and the rest are wasted (as far as Cemu is concerned)
      Hell, my i3-6300 is better for this task.

      • Tallest Skil

        Sounds more like CEMU’s problem instead of mine; the damn thing’s still single-threaded. If nothing else, it looks like they’re falling for the fucking megahertz myth.

        • dstruct2k

          I challenge you to find a modern emulator that manages full SMP.

  • wintertoburn

    what are ideal values to enter for the pagefile initial size and maximum values?
    i have 8mb ram
    it was currently system managed and set at 3072MB and its recommending 4607MB
    but i dont know what to enter for initial size and if i should make the max higher than 4607
    im getting BOTW to run failry decenly but the only problem is i encounter the low memory message after a little while playing every time, it just keeps running me out and this seems like it may help but i dont know what to enter. im not using a shader cache, just letting it build my own.
    thanks in advance

  • Border Frame

    damn, how to get 30 fps lock? I do everythink, im trying lots of youtube videos where explains how to do 30 fps, but i still got 10-15.
    I got i7-4710, geforce 860m

  • aq

    Hey guys
    Here is my config
    Windows 10 64 bit – Intel I76700K – Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti (last driver 382.05) – 16G DDR3 – SSD
    CEMU 1.7.5 – Cemu Hook activated – Riva turner locked at 30 FPS – all graphic packs – shader cache around 9000 – BOTW 1.1 and I followed all the topic from the begining to the end.

    My problem is that I fully block around 5 to 7 FPS on this game, I can’t find out why I can’t get those 30FPS as everybody… Make me crazy really

    Do you have any idea from where I messed up or what I forget to do?

    Thx

  • Kaleb Skalicky

    Win 7, i7-4790. 3.6GHz each. NVIDIA GeForce GT 610 x2

    Sticks at bright light intro. Have tried the solutions others have posted. Still no luck. Any ideas?

  • somedutchdude

    Is there a specific restart function or should I just exit and start it again? When I change a setting in the graphics pack menu, it doesn’t persist and just goes back to the default, which is 2k and I can’t run that. :3