Nintendo took an unorthodox approach to this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3. Instead of unveiling the NX, or showcasing several of their upcoming games, they chose a different path through these ever important woods. Although they spoke briefly about the upcoming Pokemon games, Zelda: Breath of the Wild, was the meat, potatoes, and delicious cheesecake dessert, of Nintendo’s E3 show. Although many saw this as risky going into it (myself included,) Nintendo more than proved themselves with just one, monumental title. They not only gave this previously untitled game a name, but they also showed hours of gameplay and offered fully realized demos to everyone on the floor. They also showed a lengthy new trailer, with quite a bit of unseen gameplay (3 minutes and 18 seconds.) For Zelda fans, this absolute shoveling of new features was quite a bit to digest, so I went ahead and did all the leg work for you.
When Miyamoto made the original Legend of Zelda for the NES, Link was basically able to go wherever the player intended, right from the jump. The first Zelda was, in a way, the first “open world,” game for many players. It was quickly made clear that Aonuma’s Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, was a vision meant to pay tribute to that original experience, while also bringing the franchise into the modern age of action adventure RPGs (Link even runs into a mysteriously hooded old man early on.) So many new features have been added, that it was arguably acceptable that Nintendo didn’t show much else. The game was originally announced in 2013, and was planned for a 2015 release, before suffering delays to 2017. The game is now scheduled to launch along side the NX, and is simultaneously being released for the Wii U, as originally promised. Everything that was shown at this years E3 was shown on the Wii U, but don’t let that scare you. The game was BEA-UTIFUL.
I’ve decided to divide the world into 3 categories; Environment, Graphics, and Sound.
Nintendo has said that the area that was available in the E3 Demo was less than 2% of the entire world, and the community has since been in heavy debate over the actual size of the rest. Regardless, that is quite a hefty world size considering Aonuma intends to let the player completely loose, to go in whatever direction they choose, right from the start. The Hyrule we’ve seen thus far has been one characterized by large plains, covered in tall grass, and spotted with forests. Looming in the distance of any of these fields will almost certainly always lie a snowy mountain top, or some sort of ruins. The part that makes all of these beautiful set pieces stand out, is the fact that if you see it, Link can go to it, and attempt to even climb to its peak, or roof-top. As Link runs through the plains, climbs mountains, or glides down from the top of a tower, various wildlife and enemy encampments can almost always be spotted. Link can hunt this wildlife, and attack these enemy camps, to collect various resources and weapons. Using the environment as cover, he can stealthily creep through tall grass to gain the element of surprise, when encountering groups of foes. As Link looks out into the world from the peak of a mountain, or the top of a monolithic building, the field of view is absolutely outstanding, especially considering that everything we were shown, was shown on the Wii U. Whether it be a babbling brook in the distance, or an abandoned woodsman’s shack at the base of a mountain, Link can look on in fantastic detail, and mark his map for future exploration. Enemy AI even behaves differently depending on the time of day (sleep at night, guard shifts, patrols, darker enemy types, etc.)
Fans of the series will immediately recognize the iconic cell shaded art style, much like that which was present in Windwaker. The creatures and scenery have a very vibrant color pallet, and although the cell shading in Windwaker gave the game a “cartoony” feel, Breath Of The Wild has a surprising level of detail that makes it work in a humble way that Nintendo has become fond of. The lighting is great, and even the clouds cast shadows on the ground as they pass overhead. Details like this speak volume to the dedication to making a fantastic game, that has caused Aonuma to delay the game so far. The game uses, what seems to me, to be about a 24 minute day/night cycle. When the sun rises from behind the mountains, the dynamic lighting is bright and casts glare upon the outdoor environments. In contrast, the sun sets to amber and purple tones as it transitions into twilight, and then into dusk, all while casting dynamic shadows in the little crevices of the rocky cliffsides and worn outer temple walls of ruins. Realistic weather effects showcased sheets of rain pouring down on link and surrounding wildlife, while lightning struck close during the gameplay trailer (about the 2 minute mark.) Fire and explosions look fantastic, and water looks and behaves pretty realistically, even when link interacts with it. There is even fog in areas with higher elevation.
The music of the Zelda franchise has always been iconic, and that isn’t without reason. Breath Of The Wild continues this legacy with, what sounds to me, to be the best score so far. Fantastic subtle piano melodies play as Link traverses the peaceful areas of the Hyrule terrain, and exciting string orchestra music picks up tempo as he finds himself in dangerous situations. Aside from the music, the world of Hyrule has an orchestra of its own, comprised of subtle wildlife sounds, as Link treks through forests, and snowy mountains. Throughout the various gameplay videos, Link sprints from situation to situation to the sound of the wind blowing through trees, birds chirping from within the trees, insects buzzing and humming in the tall grass around him, and the grunts and knocking about of nearby encampments of Bokoblins. Each of the many weapons Link can now wield make a unique sound when hitting the various enemy types shown, and the same goes for the sound different shields make when enemies are swinging back at him. Fires audibly crackle as they spread to burn the grass, trees, and even Link himself. Arrows whistle as they whizz past Link’s head, into enemies, and thunk against shields or the environment. The bows in this game even make the iconic thrumming sound when the wielder runs out of arrows and learns the hard way. Water even makes subtle sounds as it falls, or babbles in a stream or creek. Last but not least, the first thing that the viewer will notice in the new trailer is the presence of a voice actor telling Link to “Wake up!” (I got chills.)
As you can see I’ve chosen to also split this topic into several categories, due to the colossal overhaul to how Link travels within Hyrule.
Until now, every 3D Zelda has had a unique approach when it came to jumping. Link has never had a button that caused him to jump on command. This concept was dropped in lieu of a system where Link had a dodge roll, and if he needed to jump, he simply would jump in the direction he is running if the player pushed him to run over a ledge, or towards a gap. Aonuma has chosen to give link the ability to jump on command in Breath Of The Wild, so that he can more tactically tackle the obstacles, and challenges, of the varying terrain. Link can now jump towards a ladder and will grab onto it at the height of his jump. He can also jump to avoid incoming threats and attacks, just like he could with the dodge roll. Hyrule now has a much more vertical sense of setting.
Hoooweee climbing. Let me tell you about climbing. Aonuma is quite proud of this addition to the series, as it is quite complex for a Zelda title. Previously, Link could only climb in specific areas which were marked by painfully obvious vines, or other climbing type game textures. Oh how that has changed. People who played Skyward Sword will remember a round stamina meter that would appear, and reduce gradually, as Link ran, climbed vines, or pushed heavy objects. That stamina ring has returned and is being used in a very similar way. Link can now climb, what seems to be, anything. Stamina will now decrease according to the incline of the surface he is climbing, and as long as the player can reach the top before depleting said meter, Link can go anywhere. He can even climb larger enemies, much like the player does in Shadow of the Colossus, for Playstation 2.
If you’ve ever looked down at the base of a snowy mountain from the top and thought, “Man I wish I didn’t have to find a shady way to work my way down this beast to get there,” fret not, for Breath Of The Wild has found a wonderfully fun way to expedite this tedious open world challenge. While jumping, the player can now press a button and Link will hop onto his shield like a snowboard and zoom down hillsides and snowy declines with ease. As far as I can tell, the shield that you surf on will take durability damage based on the distance Link falls before he hits the ground and begins building momentum, and it may even take more based on how far he surfs.
With the vertical nature of Hyrule being placed more center stage this time around, gameplay demos showed Link tackling this issue by using an item that worked much like a hang glider, or parachute. The glider seems like a main item that Link can deploy after jumping from high elevation, which enables him to slowly fall, as he safely covers ground, and moves to a far away location with lower elevation. The item seems to work much like the gliding leaf in Windwaker, and the one Deku Link uses in Majora’s Mask.
At one point Link discovers a raft in a river that runs through some snowy mountains. To steer the raft, Link is shown fanning in the direction he wants to move at a sail, with a large leaf. This may very well prove to be the quickest alternative to swimming, should link be left with slim pickings in the way of traversal through water based obstacles and terrain features. Just speculation, but improving the raft may be a mechanic that Nintendo shows off later, as the upgraded sail was added to the HD remaster of Windwaker for the Wii U. This upgrade to a classic game showed Nintendo acknowledged that players didn’t want to spend long boring stretches traveling from point A, to point B.
Combat, although largely unchanged at it’s foundation, has become faster paced, and teeming with little subtle improvements. For example, instead of having to just know how many hits each enemy takes to be destroyed, they now have visible health bars floating over their heads as you engage them. Also, since the many weapons Link can pick up on his journey, now take durability damage through use, combat now involves the frequent use of the ability to switch seamlessly from weapon to weapon. Armor now also gets considered. Each piece of clothing or armor you collect now has an armor value, which decides how much damage is reduced upon being hit. Shields are similar in this way, and also have a block stat. Combat has been sped up and link can now fire his bow as he surfs on his shield down a small hill to avoid incoming enemy arrows. In contrast, if Link executes a perfect dodge/parry time slows down and he gains the ability to deliver a “Flurry Rush,” which essentially lets him quickly deliver a flurry of hits at the enemy before time resumes. Different weapon types mean different strategies. Although the sledgehammer does more damage than the traveler’s sword, Link must adopt a much slower attack animation which leaves him vulnerable. Should the player choose to wield a claymore, they must also choose to sacrifice the use of a shield. Breath of the Wild certainly brings the Zelda franchise into the modern era of RPG combat.
Categories. You’re starting to get the picture here I assume…
The menus and item organization have been modernized alongside everything else. Subtle improvements to the interface of this game in general make obvious the reasons for it’s delays. Instead of the rotating box menus and vague item categorizations of past games, they’ve adopted just a general organizational tab system that keeps armor, weapons, food, and crafting materials into their own neat categories. Each item has it’s stat, whatever it may be, visible in the lower right hand corner of it’s thumbnail portrait. These stat numbers are even color coded red, or green, depending on how it stacks up against your current equipment.
Aside from the stereotypical “Hearts,” that represents Link’s health, in the upper left corner, some peculiar things have been added to the on screen HUD that add an all new layer of depth and tactics to the gameplay. The mini map in the lower right hand corner seems to be MUCH more detailed than previous titles in the franchise. The map in Breath Of The Wild seems to be quite like a satellite image, ripped from a cell shaded version of Google Maps. Just to the left of this mini map are two new meters that should be noted. The top circle is a temperature gauge. As this gauge’s needle leans into the hot or cold ranges, Link must change his clothing accordingly, to avoid being crippled by health reduction. It’s shown in several gameplay videos that Link must don a “Quilted shirt,” at the cost of armor, to increase cold weather resistance.
Just below the temperature circle, lies a little circle of the exact same size that displays sound in the general area. This gauge gives the player an idea of how much noise Link is making, so that they can make tactical decisions when approaching enemies with stealth. There are even pop ups that appear alongside the right of the HUD when new gear is picked up, which informs the player if the equipment is better or worse than current equipped items (green or red up or down arrow.)
The Sheikah Slate
What is it?
Link recieves the “Sheikah Slate,” immediately after awakening in a mysterious pool, and is told by a voice, “That is a Sheikah Slate. Take it. It will help guide you after your long slumber.” The Sheikah Slate, is essentially a magical tablet/Swiss army knife. It acts as Link’s map, performs what are basically the games spells through “runes,” can be used as a scope to place markers on the terrain/map, operates the amiibo functionality, functions as a key to various temples, and looks like a wicked cool tome hanging on his utility belt. Link even, now has the ability to pull his map up on the Slate and fast travel to key locations from anywhere.
The runes, as seen below are essentially what boil down to spells. There are essentially 4 of them so far. The first one is the bomb. Basically the slate generates a rechargeable, magical, blue bomb that has the option of being remote detonated. Next is Magnesis. Magnesis essentially turns Link in to Magneto, and gives him the ability to telekinetically move metal objects and chests. The third one is called Stasis. Stasis allows you to freeze time for an object. This is shown to solve puzzles by stopping gears, rolling boulders, and to store kinetic energy. Essentially if the object has had stasis cast on it, Link can then hit the object several times, and when time unfreezes all of the hits will register simultaneously and send the object flying. Last is Cryonis. Cryonis is essentially the same as the Ice Rod, from earlier 2D Zelda titles. Link can use Cryonis to raise blocks of ice from water to act as platforms, or lift gates.
The Wolf Link Amiibo has been shown to summon Wolf Link into the game world as a sort of pet for Link. The Wolf pet follows link around and helps him hunt wildlife, and fight foes, much like D-Dog in Metal Gear Solid V. The Wolf’s hearts will coincide with his hearts acquired through the special stage in Twilight Princess.
What follows will not only be a brief description of each of the categories, but also a comprehensive list of all of the Items I’ve seen so far, along with their coinciding stats.
Breath of the Wild has broken the traditional Zelda formula of having a very small weapon list, accompanied by a repetitive tool set. Items and equipment in this game function much like other modern RPGs, in that enemies often drop equipment/items that link can wield, wear, or even consume or craft with. Each weapon has a unique set of combat animations, attack speed, damage stat, and appearance. Below is a List of every weapon I saw, with its damage stat in parenthesis.
- Traveler’s Sword (5)
- Traveler’s Claymore (10)
- Iron Sledgehammer (12)
- Bokoblin Arm (5)
- Soldier’s Spear (7)
- Soldier’s Sword (??)
- Soldier’s Broadsword (14) [credit to redditor Pandaa 187]
- Traveler’s Spear (3)
- Boko Club (4)
- Torch (2)
- Wood Cutter’s Axe (3)
- Tree Branch (2)
- Rusty Broadsword (5)
- Boko Spear (2)
- Korok Leaf (1)
- Pitchfork (2) [credit to ZerrithDotCom of Reddit for showing me this]
- Fire Rod (5) (special casting projectile weapon)
- Traveler’s Bow (5)
- Soldier’s Bow (14)
- Spiked Boko Bow (12) [credit to redditor Pandaa 187]
- Boko Bow (4)
Arrow Types [UPDATE: Thank you J. Watts for reminding me of the various arrow types that have been shown.]
- Pot Lid (1)
- Soldier’s Shield (??)
- Traveler’s Shield (4)
- Booko Shield (3)
Armor works just like weapons, bows, and shields, except there are added stats that have to do with temperature, and weather protection. For example, the Quilted shirt, while less defensive than the Hylian tunic, offers link increased cold resistance, for snowy mountains, and chilly lakes. Not much armor has been shown, but in the trailer we do briefly see link wearing shiny, metallic, plated armor, with a matching knight shield. (Although it is only speculation, I assume the hat seen in the picture to the right is a part of that armor set. Also, in some videos Link had various different hair styles.)
- Hylian Tunic (3)
- Hylian Trousers (3)
- Quilted Shirt (1)
- Old Shirt (1)
- Well-Worn Pants (1)
- Champion Shirt (3)
Food seems to work a lot like it does in Skyrim. If you’re in a pickle, you can simply cram your face with food for some quick hearts restoration in a pinch. There has also been a cooking mechanic shown, which increases raw food’s health restoration. In the list below the value to the right of each item, is the amount of hearts it restores on consumption. Link can now hunt wildlife like boars and deers, for meat which can of course be cooked. Hunting requires Link to be quiet and stealthy to keep from scaring skittish game. (Credit to
- Steak (1)
- Bird Meat (1)
- Rushroom (1/2)
- Courser Bee Honey (2)
- Hyrule Herb (1)
- Hyrule Bass (1)
- Acorn (1/4)
- Beet (??)
- Hylian Shroom (1/2)
- Apple (1/2)
- Spicy Pepper (1/2)
- Stamella Shroom (1)
- Endura Shroom (?)
- Hearty Truffle (2)
[Food-Cooked] (Note that a + indicates that the recipe will fully restore health and add that number of hearts to link)
- Hearty Mushroom Skewer (+4)
- Seared Steak (1.5)
- Prime Steak (1.5)
- Baked Apple (3/4)
- Meat & Mushroom Skewer (7)
- Energizing Mushroom Skewer (5)(Restores Some Stamina)
- Failed Experiment (1/4)
- Steak Skewer (2)
- Hearty Meat & Mushroom Skewer (+3)
- Energizing Elixir (restores stamina)
- Spicy Elixir (3)(Cold Resistance for 9:50)
- Dubious Food (1)
- Steamed Mushrooms (2)
I’m not honestly completely sure of what capacity a crafting system will exist in this game, but I expect it to be at least a slight improvement to the one that existed in Skyward Sword. Below are the Items that didn’t have a recovery stat, so I am assuming they are used for crafting.
- Ancient Spring
- Restless Cricket
- Ancient Screw
- Sizzlewing Butterfly
- Sunset Firefly
- Hightail Lizard
- Ice Keese Wing
- Bokoblin Horn
- Bokoblin Fang
- Keese Eyeball
- Keese Wing
- Rock Salt
- White Chu Chu Jelly
- Blue Nightshade
- Korok Seed (P.S. these guys are back :D)
Credit to Reddit user, FacenessMonster, for catching this odd sighting in a Polygon video and creating a .Gif for all to see, what looks like, either a floating city, or a UFO of sorts.
If I learn more, I’ll add it here.
Another Redditor has reminded me of the sighting of a creature of some sort crawling on the side of death mountain. Check it out in the video below, (there’s even a surprise event during the night time portion of the footage!) [Thank you the_summer-scholar]
Whew, that’s it so far folks. I appreciate the read, and welcome any criticism or advice for improvement. Feel free to contact me, or comment, and I’ll be updating it as new info comes out.