×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Will Breath of the Wild be a new Skyrim for Zelda fans?

Nintendo's newest installment in the Legend of Zelda game series drops in 2017 on both Wii U and the new "NX" platform. Featuring HD resolution and open world gameplay, this may be the most anticipated game title in years. Nintendo has been secretive about both Breath of the Wild and the new NX console, but at E3 2016, they revealed more information, previews, gameplay videos, and even a demo of the new Zelda title. Critics at the expo loved Breath so much that the title won three awards, including Best of Show. Here's what we know so far about this hugely anticipated game.

Open world play style

In a marked departure from previous Zelda titles, Breath of the Wild features a open-world environment—approximately twelve times the size of the overworld found in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess—in which players control Link and explore with little to no prompting provided by the game. During their explorations, players will encounter enemies, find weapons and other equippable items, and battle foes.

During E3 2016, Nintendo offered a playable demo of one of the areas found within Breath of the Wild. The demo area offered hours of gameplay, including four shrines—which appear to be similar to dungeons—as well as a world boss and multiple sub-areas filled with items and mobs. According to Nintendo, this demo area only constituted two percent of the total game. A quick-thinking YouTuber at E3 traversed the demo zone and did some extrapolation based on the time it took to fully cross the area. According to his calculations, the entire Breath map will take approximately 40 minutes to walk across from north to south, and 33 minutes from east to west. For comparison, it takes approximately 30-35 minutes to walk across the map of Skyrim, which has many Zelda fans salivating already. This doesn't even take into consideration that Breath of the Wild may also feature an additional underworld or shadow realms like previous Zelda games.

Realistic and advanced features

Breath of the Wild also boasts a spectacularly powerful physics engine. In addition to allowing Link to fully manipulate and explore the world around him, the engine also features streaming assets, which means that the game should be lightning fast, as the engine will continuously load in only what it needs as Link progresses through his environment.

While previous Zelda titles have included cartoon-like artwork and predominantly top-down gameplay, Breath of the Wild will have both realistic graphics and player perspectives. The high-definition visuals incorporate cel-shading, and game producer Eiji Aonuma stated that the game artwork was inspired by both the gouache and el plein air art styles in order to set it apart from other games.

Plot and gameplay

At the start of the game, protagonist Link hears a voice in his dreams, telling him to wake up. He emerges from a deep sleep, and the voice guides him to discover what has become of Hyrule during his slumber. Link then meets an elderly man, who explains that 100 years ago, an evil figure known as the Calamity Ganon arrived in Hyrule and laid waste to the realm. Ganon was sealed within Hyrule Castle, and nature reclaimed much of the landscape in the century that followed. While Ganon remains sealed within the castle, it is growing in power and must be defeated before it breaks free and destroys what remains of the world.

Link possesses an artifact—the Sheikah slate—which provides players with information and maps, and can be upgraded with runes to provide additional functions and powers. Not only can Link climb, jump, and otherwise manipulate the open-world environment, but items found in-game have realistic properties and multiple uses. Weapons can degrade and break over time. Shields can be also be used as snowboards. Branches can be used to make fires with which you cook food to restore health.

The game's producers have emphasized that there is something for gamers of all kinds to love in Breath of the Wild, regardless of their personal gameplay style. Players who enjoy taking a logical progression approach to gameplay and dungeons can follow the storyline, and depart it at any time. Unlike previous titles, dungeons and zones do not have to be conquered in any particular order because of item/weapon prerequisites. Don't care about saving Hyrule? That's fine too! If you like, you can ignore the storyline completely. Eiji Aounuma stated that the story is completely optional—players can reach the end of the game without progressing through the story at all.

Development and release

In 2013, Nintendo revealed that a new Zelda game was in the works for the Wii U. Little information was released, but fans did find out that the new title would challenge some long-held conventions of the series, such as the requirement that players complete dungeons in a specific order. At E3 2014, the first in-game footage was released, with expectations that the game would arrive in 2015—only for those expectations to be dashed when it was delayed the following year.

While most fans thought the 2015 delay meant the game would come out in 2016, Nintendo again pushed back the release date—this time to 2017. In April 2016, Nintendo explained the latest delay was due to issues with the game's physics engine, as well as plans for a dual release on both the Wii U and the NX simultaneously.

Following E3 2016, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was made available for pre-order on Amazon.com. It's received overwhelmingly glowing reviews from gaming critics and news outlets alike, and has bagged several awards already—even though it won't be released for another year! If you'd like to learn more about Breath of the Wild for yourself, be sure to check out both Nintendo's official YouTube channel and their web portal for the game, where you can watch trailers, gameplay videos and much more. We'll be eagerly awaiting more news about Breath of the Wild as 2017 approaches, and you can be sure we'll share it with you here first!