E3 2016: Impressions The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
After watching the E3 2016 demo for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it’s no surprise that Nintendo’s back-to-basics approach has a great impact to the overall experience. This is a very refreshing move for the series, one that will definitely refine the free-roaming sense of exploration and danger that made the first Zelda so great. At E3, Nintendo had a playable demo at their booth and I was able to get my hands on it.
Zelda series has had a long history, and Breath of the Wild seems to have noticeable features that are inspired by some of my favorite games in particular – think Monster Hunter or Uncharted. The demo was split into two 15 minute parts: Exploration and Story. You play as the main protagonist, Link. The exploration portion of the demo starts you off on a very small portion of the map, which was then revealed to me that it was only one percent of it. Pretty much everything you can see in the distance you can travel to. Visually this game is absolutely gorgeous from a design aesthetic perspective. It’s no surprise the game has a very unique art style.
One of the biggest changes to Zelda is that weapons now have durability and will break after using them for long periods of time. You can kill enemies and take their weapons or find them in chests but it’s no surprise that there will be a very in depth crafting system. Another noticeable change to Breath of the Wild is how your health is replenished. You can no longer obtain hearts by slashing through bushes or breaking pots. Hearts will now replenish by eating food. I was able to find food on the ground or by going to different enemy camps. The food can be cooked to increase its flavor and even combine it with other ingredients. They introduced a new different type of bomb called a square bomb that will not move once you place it down. I learned about this after trying to use a regular circle bomb on a rock that blew up knocking me off a cliff resulting in my death.
Combat is quick and fluid and Zelda: Breath of the Wild adds a lot of new tricks to Link’s repertoire. Players can still use the familiar Z-targeting system, charge up sword attacks, or use his bow to shoot arrows, but the combat goes way beyond the conventions of the Zelda series. Link can parry incoming attacks with his shield at the last second and could even repel or disarm some of the weaker enemies. A well timed dodge will result in slowing time, similar to Bayonetta, and you can use this opportunity to counter attacks. One mechanic I did enjoy was the ability to surf on your shield. This made it super easy to quickly travel down hills at high speeds.
My demo experience was packed with lots of discoveries. I came across several small camps and a broken down ruin that resembled the Temple of Time. Another thing I stumbled upon was a boss-like rock monster called a Steppe Talus that killed me in one hit.
The second portion of the demo was more focused on the story. A mysterious female voice beckons to Link to “open his eyes.” Our hero has been asleep for 100 years. When you wake up, you grab the Sheikah Slate and some worn-down clothes from the next room. The Sheikah Slate resembles the shape of a game pad and hangs from Link’s belt. It gives you access to the map which displayed skull and chest icons for various enemy camp locations and loot.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the games I am personally looking forward to the story, the massive world available to explore, and the crafting system. I could easily see myself playing this game for 200 hours or more. The new Zelda is chock full of mysterious weapons, recipes, and beautiful landscapes. And I can’t wait to play it again.