The lights are on
Since The Legend of Zelda franchises first explored 3D with
Ocarina of Time, the franchise has featured a number of staples that fans have
come to expect from the series. Breath of the Wild aims to shake up these
expectations. After going hands-on with the game for our cover, along with our
observations we've been making since the game was announced, we collected a
number of common features from the Zelda franchise that fans won't find in Link's next adventure.
A compass points the
way – the compass has been a recurring item that could players find in
dungeons since the first Zelda game on NES. With Breath of the Wild, Nintendo
has removed this common item. Players don't really need a dungeon compass,
because dungeons are a bit smaller and their features automatically fill out on
your map as you explore the space.
"Dungeons have always been like mazes, so we needed that
compass to let the user know where the bosses were placed," says Zelda series
producer Eiji Aonuma. "But then, as you probably saw, you can see the goal
right away [in Breath of the Wild]. You won't get lost - you just have to
figure out how to get there. We have over 100 Shrines, and because we wanted
players to have fun find finding the dungeons and Shrines, there is actually a
compass item users can use to help them find the Shrines."
Musical chests –
The chest opening theme is burned into the brain of every Zelda fan, but you'll
have to hum it to yourself whenever Link opens a chest in Breath of the Wild,
because no special music plays this time around when Link tips those trunks
Green with envy –
Fans are used to seeing Link in his classic green tunic and matching Phrygian
cap. However, since Nintendo first debuted Breath of the Wild, Link has been
wearing a blue shirt. Aonuma says that you will be able to find green clothes
in the game, but you might spend most of the game outside of Link's traditional
The grass is filled
with gold – It used to be that if you were low on money, you could just
trim the hedges and find rupees laying around. This is no longer the case. Link
will still spend rupees to buy new items, but players earn these in various
ways, such as selling off treasures you find throughout the game.
"In the past, we had it so that whenever you defeated an
enemy you would get rupees. Whenever you cut grass, you would get rupees," says
Aonuma. "In the two-dimensional world, it was really necessary to encourage the
player to explore and find those rupees, but then with this world, we really
realized we didn't need to have the player collecting rupees because there are
so many items already scattered in the world and we wanted to shift the focus
to those items. If you cut the grass in Breath of the Wild, there will be
Jump, magic jump – In the early days of 3D, Nintendo figured it would be easiest for Link to
just automatically jump off ledges and this mechanic has stuck with the series ever
since. Until now. Breath of the Wild has its own dedicated jump button, which
makes traveling around the environment a bit easier.
Horsing around – Epona
has been Link's trusty steed for almost 20 years. She hasn't been on all of
Link's adventures, but she's been a regular companion. For Breath of the Wild,
Link still rides horses, but he must catch and tame these animals. Link's
horses might buck him off if he overexerts them, and they can even die if he doesn't
protect them in battle. Of course, players can name these animals, so
technically Epona can return if you want her to.
"I really love Epona and all the animals in the world," says
Shigeru Miyamoto. "In Breath of the Wild, there was actually a dedicated
designer and programmer just to create animals, and there are many, many
different types of animals. Even with horses, you really get to know the horse
and raise them and ride them, and even with the other animals, you can just
view them, or if you get hungry you might have to hunt them. You have that
choice. Even when you look up at the sky, you see birds on their way somewhere
and it's fun to think, 'Where are they going to end up? Where are they going?'"
For every dungeon, an
item – We talked about this aspect in more detail in our feature on Breath
of the Wild's dungeons,
but we didn't find a dedicated item in our dungeon. Usually, a dungeon's boss fight revolves around using that weapons, but that is not longer the case, because you don't acquire weapons in the dungeons. The only
weapon you take into a boss fight is your wits (and sword, and bow and arrows,
and bombs, and whatever else we found in the world up to that point).
Take your turn – Link's
3D enemies have typically been patient foes, circling around Link and waiting
their turn to strike. They're done waiting. In Breath of the Wild, Link's
enemies will pounce whenever they see a good opportunity. This makes combat a
bit more challenging, but much more realistic and rewarding.
"Trying to figure out when to approach those difficulties,
is part of the strategy and fun of playing Breath of the Wild, so it was
important that it be fun to die," says Aonuma. "Even for players who aren't
particularly good at action or battles, if they want to, they can go and buy a
really expensive weapon that can defeat a really strong enemy in one shot."
A ticking time bomb – Bombs aren't a traditional fantasy weapon, but they're one of Link's go-to
gadgets. For the most part, these weapons have always had a fuse that blows after
a set amount of time. Breath of the Wild does away with this convention. All of
the bombs in the game are detonated remotely, so Link will be able to set them
off whenever he feels like it.
For all of our The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild coverage this month, click the banner below.
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