It’s been three long years since Nintendo’s next Legend of Zelda was first announced, but we’ve finally got our first look at the game at this year’s E3. And boy is it beautiful.
Although the much-anticipated Nintendo Wii U and NX title isn’t out until sometime in 2017, we’ve now got a good idea of how this gorgeous adventure will work. An open world adventure that’s said to be the biggest Zelda yet, both in terms of scale and the variety of techniques you can use to tackle dungeons and challenges, Breath of the Wild is a truly mouthwatering prospect.
Can it do enough to make up for Nintendo’s haphazard handling of the Wii U over the past year? Probably not. Still, at least the NX seems to have quite the launch title on its hands.
It’s the best looking game Nintendo has ever made
Looks aren’t everything, at least that’s what our mother told us, but the best thing about Breath of the Wild seems set to be it’s cell shaded aesthetic. A more adult take on Wind Waker’s cartoon vibes, this is the first Zelda to be designed in HD and seems to be the most stunning title Nintendo has made since Super Mario Galaxy - at least in terms of sheer wow factor.
Link has a roguish, wind-swept vibe (and a ponytail!), while the vast expanse of Hyrule surrounding him takes in volcanos, abandoned temples and plenty of old friends from previous games. You want to leap out into it right from the off.
Hyrule is huge and ripe for exploration
You’ll have to travel plenty far to see everything around you, though. Central to Breath of the Wild is the idea of exploration, with Nintendo claiming there are potentially hundreds of ways to play the game. Along your travels you’ll find camps of blood-thirsty goblins, ChuChus and even the cutesy Koroks from Wind Waker, but you won’t be guided along a specific path to find them.
There’s significantly less hand-holding than in previous Zeldas. Cut the grass in front of you, for example, and a swell of hearts and rupees won’t pop into existence. Instead, you’re tasked with feeding yourself with foraged goods and defending yourself with any weaponry you might pick up.
Basically, we’d wither and perish in this new imagining of Hyrule - until getting our hands on a Master Sword, of course.
You’ve got a tablet to find your way about the place
Thankfully, you’re handed the ability to jump and climb your way around Hyrule right from the start of the game. That means you can grab any apples hanging off a tree or scramble up a cliff face to get a better view of the awesome expanse in front of you.
Naturally Link’s trusty horse Epona is along for the ride, but there are also few new items to get to grips with. One of them is a kite for paragliding off mountains with, while your shield can also be used to surf down them as well.
By far the most important tool you’ll get your hands on though, is the Sheikah Slate, a new age iPad that’s a map/periscope/key that you receive right at the start of the game’s mysterious opening.
Flurry rush combat seems immensely fun
In terms of dossing around the main game world, it’s a great tool for planning your attacks on unsuspecting foes. Breath of the Wild’s combat is almost as varied as its exploration, with a slew of weapons (including swords, axes and the rather less useful tree branches) available for your beastie slaying needs.
The hack and slash strategy of previous Zeldas has been tweaked to serve up bullet time moments called ‘flurry rushes’. Unlike Neo or Max Payne, it won’t be bullets your enemies your enemies will be riddled with, but the sweet taste of cold steel.
Need to replenish your health mid-battle? You’ll be able to select food to chomp down on from the inventory section, but that’s far from all the inventory is good for. From what we’ve seen so far, it’s the key for managing your exploration with different items and types of clothing which are required for later areas.
It’s a new Zelda
All of what we’ve seen so far points to a complete reinvention of the classic Zelda formula. As with A Link Between Worlds, the rigid old ‘eight dungeons and a final boss’ rulebook has been ripped up in favour of freeform play and exploration.
Given it’s been five years since Skyward Sword, we were already plenty excited about the prospect of returning to Hyrule on a home console. With so much innovation seemingly packed into Breath of the Wild, we now can’t wait until 2017 rolls around.