Meeting, if not exceeding our expectations, Nintendo revealed the new Legend of Zelda game for the Wii U:
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Considering that it has been in development since 2013, and the original release date was 2015, this reveal was a long-awaited release full of hype and high expectations. And I think I speak for most everyone when I say Nintendo certainly did not disappoint.
At E3 Day 1, Nintendo streamed from Nintendo Treehouse Live to bring us not only a trailer, but demos of the new game, and showed viewers a lot of the new features and designs. The open world of the game is vast, and they didn’t even finish exploring one portion (“The Plateau”, as they called it). But, they gave us a look into the world of a Zelda game that may change the way we view the Zelda gaming experience forever.
From the trailer, one can see right away that the game design is crucial to the game. Inspired by Japanese anime, the developers said they wanted have graphics that complimented the game-play. Eiji Aonuma said “We did not want to create an animation style game, but we wanted to use the art style and match it to the functions of the game.” He also points out that this style helps the player see things such as items a lot better. One could point out that the art is very similar to Skyward Sword. The art, however, is not the only aspect of the design that is important. The over all connection to the earth that the game displays is unlike any other Legend of Zelda game. Animals roam free, the grass waves in the wind, and the trees sway- nothing stops moving.
At the beginning of the game, Link is awakened by a voice. Which seems typical, considering it’s practically tradition for Link to be woken up at the start of every Zelda game. The curious part about this time, though, is where he wakes up. He seems to be in a cryogenic chamber-like bed of some sort. This is located in a place they call the “Shrine of Resurrection.” After being awakened, Link is guided to the Sheikah Slate, which is pretty much a Wii U Gamepad for Link. The developers wanted to incorporate technology, and not just magic, more in this new game than ever before. After getting the slate, he is told by the voice that he is the “light that must shine upon Hyrule again.” After that, there is freedom to do as the player chooses! One unique thing about this game is there are multiple “right” ways to play. It is a true open world that gives you options to do things in many different ways and at whatever point you want to. There are shrines, which are mini dungeons (takes less than 10 minutes). One thing I noticed is that the music in the shrines sounds a lot like the music in The Tower of the Gods in Wind Waker. Hm. At the end of the shrine, you greet what appears to be a very old person who tells you they have designed this trial and then they give you an item! It was said during the demo that there are hundreds of them throughout the game, not including the actual big dungeons. The possibilities in this game are endless!
The demo only featured the exploring and the shrines, with even a few things left out in those. The developers said they did that on purpose to keep the story line and other features a surprise. So though the demo looks like there is no story and there are few other characters, the developers assured the viewers that there are characters and rupees and more in the actual game. One character that was featured, which was very interesting, was a Korok! These characters were last seen in Wind Waker, which is what makes their appearance so interesting to the storyline.
What really wowed me was the new game play features. First of all, Link can jump anywhere at any time the player so chooses. He can also climb. Everything. Link has a stamina bar to indicate when he needs rest and how far he can climb, but really, there are very few limits. Trees? Yep. Cliffs? Yep. There is no edge to this world, it seems. In past games, getting to a cliff meant Link had to turn around and find another way. Now he can just climb over it. Another new feature is food. At least from what the demo showed, there are no free hearts. Hearts are gained by eating food. Mushrooms to steak, Link must find and gather food for survival. Each kind has a certain amount of hearts it replenishes. He must also gather weapons, because those break after a bit. Link must defeat enemies to acquire their weapons in order to continue in the game. Clothing is also found around (in treasure chests, from what was shown) and is optional. Yes, optional. “You can actually just fight Ganon in the nude” is an actual quote from the demo stream. Link may get really cold in the mountains (which takes damage, if I remember correctly), but really, clothes are not required. One comical yet kind of sad thing is watching Link shiver in the mountains without clothes. Fire, and the destruction it can cause (which the demo players seemed to really like) and the usefulness of it, such as cooking food, gives even more possibilities to the player as to how to solve problems Link will encounter. All this adds a real-world survival feel, which is something I personally really like.
There were many weapons featured, so I’ll highlight a few. My favorite was the skeleton hand because it wiggles and moves around while you’re holding it, and even when you drop it. It’s hilarious. Bombs are typical in any Zelda game, but what makes these bombs really cool is that you choose when it detonates. No more accidentally blowing yourself up while trying to find the perfect placement! The shield gets a new use: snowboarding! Yep, Link can snowboard down snowy cliffs on his shield. How cool is that? The advancement and certainly the introduction of new weapons is one thing that is sure to be a huge part in the new gaming experience.
Nintendo also revealed the Amiibos the player can use in the game. They can use the Wolf Link Amiibo (which came with Twilight Princess HD), and 3 brand new Amiibo! These are the Link (Archer) Amiibo, Guardian Amiibo (with movable arms!), and Link (Rider) Amiibo. The attention to detail on the Amiibo seems amazing and I can’t wait to see them up close when they come out! Though they didn’t reveal what the new 3 do, they did show us what the Wolf Link Amiibo does. When you connect the Wolf Link Amiibo, Wolf Link becomes your companion in the game. This companion has however many hearts the player has on the saved Twilight Princess game, and unfortunately, once the hearts run out, Wolf Link goes away. After 24 real-time hours, the player can connect Wolf Link again and the hearts will be back. Wolf Link is a great companion because he can sniff out things, and even help defeat Link’s enemies. Pretty helpful. It would be a bummer to get used to having Wolf Link by your side, and then have him lose his hearts, though.
Storyline Theories (Warning: Storyline spoilers)
Now, enough of the technical stuff, and onto my favorite- storyline theories.
What they show us in the demo is all we know so far. That has opened a plethora of questions as to what is even going on, and most importantly, when is all of this going on? I came up with a few theories of my own, and coupled it with some that I have read around online.
Where is this on the Hyrule Historia timeline?
- One theory is that this game comes before Skyward Sword, making it the first in the timeline. Reasons are that Link seems alone, and everything seems to be primitive (the fact he has to hunt and there are no markets, or rupees, or really many other characters). The art even resembles Skyward Sword a bit, which usually hints at a same story path. The problem with this theory, though, is like I said earlier, the developers assured the viewers that there are rupees, towns, and more characters in the real game. They just didn’t want to spoil much story-wise in the demo. Another big problem, is the appearance of the Korok. The story is that the Koroks were the Kokiri children from Ocarina of time, but when the world changed in the “Hero of the Winds and A New World” timeline, they adapted and became more plant-like, becoming the Koroks. Because of this, it would make no sense in the timeline for them to appear before Ocarina of Time.
- Another theory is that it comes after Ocarina of Time, in the “Hero is defeated” and the “Decline of Hyrule” timeline. Could this be why Link has to be “resurrected” in the shrine, because maybe he was dead? That begs the question- how long was he dead for? There are theories that Majora’s Mask takes place because Link was actually dead. Could this confirm that theory?
- The theory I thought of when I first saw the demos is that this takes place after Wind Waker. For one thing, again, the appearance of the Koroks. They are featured in Wind Waker and are identical in the new game. Another point is that when they show the Temple of Time, it’s in ruins and appears like it was underwater. There is moss and corrosion everywhere. This would fit with the whole Hyrule-underwater thing. But where did all the water go? And does that mean Link died with Hyrule?
Other questions/theories include:
- Is Link all alone? The developers promised more characters, but are they the same characters Link knew before? Or did he wake up after they all had disappeared? I really hope not, because that would be really sad. But then again, Link always has quite a tragic story, really.
- Okay, bear with me on this one, because I read it somewhere and it sounds so crazy that it almost makes sense- Is “Link” actually Zelda? The game didn’t specify a gender, from what I saw. Also, it is said The Goddess Hylia was reborn into Zelda. Is the “resurrection” her becoming the Zelda? And the Sheikah Slate, could this be the story of how Zelda became Sheik? That would be weird timeline-wise, and would again beg the question of when this took place. This theory seems pretty out there, but I can definitely see why someone would come up with it.
Overall, Nintendo completely blew it out of the park with Breath of the Wild, and this is all just from Day 1. I’m so excited to see what the next couple of days hold for Nintendo.