The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Breath of the Wild.
It isn’t very often that four one-syllable words can send the entirety of the video game universe into a frenzy. But, then, it isn’t very often that Nintendo finally releases the subtitle for a new entry in arguably the most revered franchise in gaming.
Yesterday was one of those days. Nintendo held a Treehouse Live @ E3 event where they announced the subtitle AND showed off around 90 minutes of gameplay. This promptly set the internet ablaze with excitement. They were very careful throughout the process to avoid revealing story spoilers so it is still unclear what the subtitle is referencing, but I have a feeling it is a reference to the open world nature of the game in some way.
The gameplay they showed off was amazing. It appears that the goal through the development process was to take every core assumption about how a Zelda game should work and turn it on its head.
First and foremost, Breath of the Wild is an open world game. From the time Link is woken up and he leaves the cave he was in the entire world opens up to him. You could take him down the hill to the right and meet a familiar old man, or you could go left and climb a mountain. You can truly go anywhere and tackle challenges (including the 100+ challenge shrines) in any order.
Breath of the Wild also features a significant theme: verticality. Link has always been able to climb certain surfaces in 3D Zelda games. But Breath of the Wild gives him the freedom to climb just about any surface he can find. This opens up all manner of options for navigating the terrain even if your options are “Do I climb that wall?” or “Do I take the path and go around?” This is different because, historically, Zelda games were fairly linear. There was a right and a wrong way to navigate the world. Giving Link the ability to climb like a contestant on American Ninja Warrior changes all that. The only real limiting factor on your ability to climb is a stamina bar; Link will fall when it empties completely.
Another massive difference (and possibly the biggest difference) between Breath of the Wild and other games in the series is the way it handles equipment. This game plays like an RPG. You will find armor, shields, and various weapons in treasure chests and in the hands of enemies. These pieces of gear will have stats that will allow you to take less damage or deal more. The key here is that each piece of gear can only be used a certain number of times before it breaks. So you’ll need to carry plenty of backups and save your most powerful weapons for real challenges. Even better? There are multiple weapons that all fight very differently. The spear is fast and has a reasonable amount of range, while the axe is much slower but more deadly.
Link can also jump when you press a button. Go ahead and wrap your mind around that. There as never been a jump button in a Zelda game before. This provides a number of interesting opportunities for challenges within the different dungeons and shrines that never existed before when jumping was automatic. We all know Nintendo knows how to do platforming.
I cant believe I’ve made it this far without talking about the aesthetic. Breath of the Wild is astonishingly gorgeous. It looks like a perfect melding of the bright colors of Windwaker and the animation from Skyward Sword. I couldn’t get enough of it. I watched the entire live stream and was hungry for more when it was finished.
At the end of it all, the one thing they left out was a release date. We know it is coming next year, but we have no real details regarding specifically when. Yet. Keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for more updates as we get closer to the end of the year.