After a year and a half with next to no news for gamers long anticipated return to the lands of Hyrule, Nintendo kicked off their E3 Treehouse presentation with a marvelous new trailer for what is now officially titled The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
As is customary for the Legend of Zelda series, the game begins with an awakening. From there, vast swaths of grassy plains, steep rock faced plateaus, harsh windy deserts, and all manner of wondrous and tranquil environment await Link outside the Resurrection Tower where he will start this journey. This new Hyrule is grand in size, over 12 times the size of Twilight Princess’ world. In the truest sense of the word, this entry seems a return to the roots of the Legend of Zelda that hasn’t been seen since 1985. Pure adventure.
Though the game presents you right out the gate with a path for you to follow to begin your quest as the newest incarnation of the legendary Hero, you are free to ignore it. Go out and find horses to tame and speed up your travels, or hunt for your next meal. Climb up trees or scale mountains in search of crafting materials, or even take the fight to a campground of enemy Moblins. The world is dense and ripe with new things to do in every direction, though not without empty space to catch a breather. As intimidating as the immense scale of the adventure ahead may be, much effort was made to make this incarnation of Hyrule a serene world for you to do as you please.
In contrast to the typical fantasy elements of the franchise, Breath of the Wild markedly gives Link access to technology. Though there have been recurring sci-fi elements in the series, Link carries with him the Sheikah Slate throughout the game. Think of it as an ancient Hylian iPad, except actually useful. Use it as binoculars to scout out enemy encampments, and mark them to see their health. Place waypoints on your map and see the effect in-game to keep track of what you’ve yet to explore or conquer. Scattered throughout the game’s world are the ancient, enigmatic Shrines. These mini-dungeons make use of your Sheikah Slate and puzzle-solving skills to put you to the test and ensure you can live up to the legend of the Hero. Doing so will net you special spirit orbs, or even additional equipment or modifications for your Sheikah Slate. This initial demo area on display at E3 contained four of these shrines, though there are reportedly over 100 hidden throughout every nook and cranny of Hyrule just waiting for you to delve into.
Gone are the days of slaying your foes and replenishing your health by eating the hearts they drop. Foraging through Hyrule, Link will need to find ways to survive. Taking apples from trees, picking berries, or even hunting wild boars for meat. Keeping your inventory well stocked with curatives will be necessary to progress through the game. Not only is exploration encouraged, it is facilitated by the natural flow of the environment. No matter where you set out to go, you can always see something else of interest on the horizon. The varied climates promote different strategies in how you tackle them. Do you find a raft and sail your way down the river? Scale a snowy peak and let the winds glide you onward?
Rather than letting the formula grow stale, Nintendo seems intent of mixing it up and delivering us a fresh new experience for The Legend of Zelda this time around. Based on everything we’ve seen so far, it is paying off to a tremendous degree.
For now, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is marked for a release window at some point in 2017, though it is already up for preorder on Amazon. Stay tuned for more coverage onof the E3 2016 press conferences, and more info on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as it comes.