First Impressions – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

zelda wii u

Last week Nintendo finally released more information on the latest installment in the beloved Legend of Zelda franchise. They kicked off their e3 showing with a brand new Zelda trailer and continued with footage of their new Zelda game for an entire day. The game impressed most that saw or tried it, gaining praise from media outlets and “winning” e3 through gaining a ton of positive media buzz throughout the week.

On June 7th I wrote a wishlist of sorts for what I wanted from the new Zelda. I want to compare and contrast that along with my general thoughts from what was shown at e3. Let’s see how they did:

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Stealth:

While stealth has been a part of most Zelda games, it’s never been fully fleshed out. On my list I had asked for more options in how one could approach a combat scenario including stealth. From the trailer and from the demo we learned that Link can indeed perform some stealth maneuvers in the game. I had asked for something like Metal Gear Solid V, which left me very impressed from a gameplay standpoint, so I’m lucky that Aonuma has gone on record saying he’s impressed by Far Cry 4, which is essentially a first person MGSV. I had mentioned that stealth would add a lot to an open world game, and both scenarios I mentioned (sneaking past a powerful adversary and taking over an enemy camp) are included in the latest Zelda game.

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Combat:

In my previous article I had split the combat section into two paragraphs detailing archery and sword play. For archery, I had written that I wanted to see bullet-time slow motion being in more places than just jumping off your horse, Nintendo confirmed that it is a maneuver that can be performed anytime Link is midair as long as he has stamina. Additionally, I had hoped for shots to do more damage depending on where it lands and we saw that in the footage headshots do indeed perform more damage.

The swordplay was the one aspect that most needed updating in Zelda and is gladly one of the aspects that has received the most attention. It’s base is still somewhat similar, but enemies are more aggressive and Nintendo has taken a page out of action game contemporaries like Bayonetta 2 and MGSR:Revengeance with slow motion dodges and parry systems.  Additionally, health is more scarce and enemies more aggressive which fixes a lot of the issues with the combat previously.

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World Building:

This is one aspect I nailed in many ways. I had predicted/wished for a change to the health system in the new Zelda game. Your health is still displayed as hearts, but there are no heart nor rupee drops. Instead you cook and eat to regain health. This allows for more variety in enemy drops which is important with the game’s focus on item durability and crafting. It’ll give drops more value as they aren’t just scattered about.

In terms of narrative, Nintendo did not mention much. They purposefully chose not to demo towns and they removed NPCs from the demo in order to keep spoilers to a minimum so there’s little to talk about in that aspect. There is voice acting, but not for minor dialogue exchanges like with the Old Man.

I had mentioned equipment and wanting to change what Link wears with each giving you new buffs, Nintendo took that a step beyond with the new clothing system where you can wear what you want when you want. There will likely be different suits that do more than just regulate body temperature and defense, so it’s exciting to see what Nintendo adds next.

Thoughts on what we’ve seen:

I finished e3 being very impressed by just what we saw. It’s Nintendo’s vastly different take on a beloved franchise and it seems to be what I wanted and so much more. The maneuverability looks fantastic with so many options to move around the world making it less annoying than previous open world adventures I’ve experienced. Combat scenarios seem vast with endless options on how to tackle them. Physics add a lot of new gameplay concepts that wouldn’t be possible without them making them a worthy inclusion despite causing the delay. I love what I’ve seen so far and it’s made me very excited for the the game, NX, and Nintendo’s’ future. Can’t wait to get my hands on it.

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