One of the biggest franchises in video game history, The Legend of Zelda game designers are gearing up in 2017 for its next release, Breath of the Wild. With each new installment, the franchise and its team of designers keep outperforming their own unnaturally high benchmark for gaming, and each new episode presents us with Ejii Aonuma’s compulsive quest to outdo himself every time, both in painstakingly conceived pixelation and complicated dungeons.
We might be wondering how Aonuma can beat himself once more, but then again, he always does better every time he sets his mind to it, so if you are a bit concerned that he’s not going to achieve what he set out to do this time around, think again. A bit of skepticism is probably not even in order given the franchise’s list of accolades and accomplishments. The only real negative debate surrounding the game so far has been whether NX is the right platform for the game, since the game was originally designed for Wii players. Some game insiders are expecting some glitches playing the game with NX, so they are advising gamers to stick with Wii in these early stages.
As with many of his past Zelda releases, fans can expect a mix of both old and new elements in Link’s new adventure. Here’s a list of new things we can expect from Breath of the Wild.
15. An Open World Environment
In the previous Zelda installments, game players had a prescribed role-playing adventure that moved in a logical order from point A to point B. As Link moves through his quests, he fulfills his missions at a volcano dungeon or on icy mountains in the north and then moves onto to the next stage of the adventure. An interesting, and perhaps confusing, aspect of the new game is that it will feature an open world environment, which enables the game player to move through the quest and dungeons in any order he or she wishes. It’s unclear what level of freedom this will involve, but it seems obvious that players will have the option to defeat various bosses in their own chosen order. For example, if you want to proceed to the ice mountain first and do the volcano quest later, you can do it that way. Or if you want to do the volcano first, then you can do that. It’s your choice.
14. High Resolution
Over the years, Zelda designers have consistently upped the ante on pixelation and screen resolution, with each successive installment of Zelda beating the next one in terms of resolution. This is only natural as the technology of gaming continues to improve at a regular rate every year. Ocarina of Time was a landmark at the time in terms of its resolution and still remains eye-catching to this day, but it still pales in comparison to the picture quality of Twilight Princess. We might wonder if Nintendo will ever do virtual reality and put us even further inside the game; maybe it’s a pipe dream. For now, high resolution, state-of-the-art screens are the next phase of gaming evolution, and Nintendo designers plan to keep the franchise on the cutting edge of the trend by making Breath of the Wild high resolution. It’s interesting to notice that early screenshots of the game appear very similar to the highly adept anime movies by Hayao Miyazaki.
13. The Weather
This is only speculation, but as you may know already, a title has a very important role in any story, so we can expect the title to be of some importance in the game. We already saw in Wind Waker how Link summoned the wind with an ocarina to sail in different directions. This would undoubtedly rule out this option for what the development team of Breath of the Wild to have in store for us. Perhaps Breath of the Wild, the title, means that Link will have to use a heightened state of breathing to accomplish his task. The wind in the form of weather magic could also be a weapon for him, or it could be some powerful force he uses to recharge himself or confuse the minds of his opponents. In Majora’s Mask, we saw how the mask allowed Link to shapeshift. There’s some indications that the weather will be a problem in Hyrule throughout the game and that Link will have some troubles with cold temperatures. This appears to be the likely source for the title.
Twilight Princess, as you may recall, was a very large version of Hyrule, larger than we had even seen before out of Zelda designers. When you turned into a wolf, it was substantially easier to cross the vast meadows and forests of the medieval world, but still, it was a sizeable world for Zelda addicts to play in for years to come. In another sign of the franchise’s quest to consistently outdo itself and impress game players even further, the development team has expanded Hyrule’s borders once again. The world this time in Breath of the Wild will be twelve times larger than the Twilight Princess’s Hyrule, which will make game addicts probably twelves times more happy and twelve times less likely to do something social at night after work. All of this could make the game more difficult to complete and navigate, one might conjecture, especially if the game is set in an open world, or free-roaming, environment, where the characters have more options to choose from. A lot of gamers will probably be relying on the cheat sheets online, we might suspect.
11. Multiple Amiibos
Introduced in 2014, amiibos are toy figurines that gamers can plug into their console unit for Wii U. The figurines, which can allow for inter-communication wirelessly between consoles, introduce new partner characters into the game to help out with gameplay. They can also update the Link’s adventure capabilities. Unlike previous games that have come before it, Breath of the Wild will allow game players to use a multiple amiibos to help Link out while he tries to defeat his nemesis this time around, Calamity Ganon. For example, a wolf amiibo can insert a wolf version of Link— such as the one found in Twilight Princess (Link normally shapeshifts into this form in later stages of the adventure)— into the game to help Link defeat enemies he encounters along the way. As of July 16, Nintendo has reported selling 36.9 million amiibos to their customers.
10. Link Can Climb Any Surface
Like Spider-Man, Link in the new game will be able to climb any surface he wants. How he’s able to do this has not been explained yet. He might use some sort of sticky gel on his fingers, like a spider, or he might be equipped with some sort of gloves (which he has to find somewhere early on in the game) that enable him to climb up any wall. In previous versions of the Zelda lineage, climbing cliffs of any sort or scaling down a steep rock ledge into a waterfall were simply not available options for players in many cases. In the upcoming game, players will be given access to all sorts of new options here for divesting items and exploring Hyrule’s many caverns, hills, and mountains. If you want to take the path around or trying scaling straight up the cliff, you can go either way. It appears Aonuma is intent on making the new game as true to experience as life itself.
9. The Gadgets
Some of the new gadgetry in Breath of the Wild includes a magnetic device that can pull objects to Link. The magnet can be used to open hidden passageways in dungeons and the sides of a mountain, revealing new areas to explore in Hyrule. It also can be used to levitate objects, such as stone or metal blocks, as part of Link’s quest. In some ways, it resembles in actions a fixture in the Zelda games for a while— the always present grappling hook, which is used to pull objects to Link and also to yank Link up into high areas, like cliffs and rocks. Whether the grappling hook is back again hasn’t been revealed yet. In addition to the magnetic device, there’s also a shield that can allegedly also be used as a snowboard. Sticks can also be pulled from trees to light fires.
8. Link’s Mapping Device
In every Zelda game, there is a special weapon, device, or talisman Link uses that becomes the central focal point of the game. In Ocarina of Time, it was the ocarina, a flute-like instrument that enables time travel. In Majora’s Mask, it was a mask that enables Link to shapeshift into a Goron or a Hylian or other beings of Hyrule. In the new game, it might just be the Sheika Slate, a mapping device which allows him to mark waypoints and other points of interest in Hyrule where’s he already been. But the Sheikah Slate isn’t merely that: it can also be used to investigate enemies’ strengths and weaknesses, and it can also be upgraded to enhance his magic powers. This can include using the slate to create bombs and stop time surrounding objects and during battle with enemies. Obviously, this will be a big help to Link.
7. Link Can Fly?
We’ve already seen Link fly in Skyward Sword, but he mainly does so in that game with the help of Loftwing, a giant bird that each resident of Skyloft is awarded at the commencement of the game. In Breath of the Wild, Link soars to the skies with aid of a paraglider that enables him to soar off cliffs into the forests below. The paraglider doesn’t look too modern; it’s really a piece of silk or cloth with a symbol emblazoned on the front. It’s unclear how this paraglider will figure into the game— whether it will be a big part of Link’s quest or whether he’ll junk it after one of the quests. The paraglider idea Aonuma used might be based on the modern sport of wingsuits, which uses a large cape to soar down the sides of mountains. At any rate, the paraglider might be utilized as a way to get around Hyrule quickly. That is, it might be used instead of the other warp measures that have been used before to cut down on travel time in Hyrule.
6. The Guide
It’s an interesting feature of the Zelda games that Link never has a mentor. This is a bit different than other fantasy and science fiction series like this. Consider that The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars both had mentors who guided their main characters through a process of wizardry and combat to an ultimate demise of the demon overlord. This hasn’t occurred at all in Zelda until Breath of the Wild— maybe. It’s true in Ocarina of Time, Link had the Deku Tree and the Navi to guide him a bit during the process and give him clues, but never has he really had a mentor-like figure like Gandalf telling him what to do. The plot of Breath of the Wild includes an old man at the beginning this time who tells him of what has befallen Hyrule during Link’s 100-year sleep— that Calamity Ganon has returned and ravaged Hyrule in the meantime. It’s up to Link to sort out all the pieces. Maybe the old man at the beginning is a sort of a mentor. We’ll see.
5. The Enemies
In previous games, Link confronted a range of mutant shapes and skeletons emerging out of the ground on any given night. The enemies were scattered all over the place, and it was difficult to travel at night without confronting one of these annoying pests that appear out of thin air and start attacking Link. In Breath of the Wild, Link does not face this situation. Enemies are in a range of settlements and colonies, spaced out in varying places throughout Hyrule. A meter on the screen tells a game player when the noise you are making is too loud, or if you are moving too quickly to attract their attention. If the meter gets too high, you will wake the enemy encampment, and Link will have a big problem on his hands.
Aonuma decided to use an advanced physics framework model to determine the pattern of how objects will fall in Hyrule for Breath of the Wild. This particularly comes into play when Link decides to chop down trees. In the game, he eventually obtains an ax, which enables him to fell trees over a ravine and cross the ravine over the fallen tree. The advanced physics engine, as it’s known, is a computer software that enables scientists to see how objects will fall in space ahead of time. By doing this, Aonuma was trying to actually recreate how a tree or another object will fall in the world, so that the game mimics reality as we know it. This is a detail that many might not notice, but it’s interesting the game designers went to this level of detail in creating this new version of Hyrule.
3. Gouache Film Style
The new game features a new visual appeal based on the water color art known as ‘gouache’. This the same style, or similar style, that renowned anime maker Hayao Miyazaki uses in his naturalistic films, such as Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle. This will give the game a more artistic appeal perhaps, which, it seems, the Zelda crew is trying to achieve with video gaming. Video gaming as art is still a new concept, but maybe it will get traction in years to come. Breath of the Wild will also employ a visual style called ‘en plain air’, or ‘open air’, which gives the game player a realistic sensation of how the nature scene or dungeon actually feels. The style of art, which is connected often to impressionism, was advocated by no less luminaries as Monet and Renoir.
2. Link Can Jump
In basketball video games, jumping is not a sideline issue but a necessity. We can little imagine a game of basketball without the ability to jump. An interesting feature of the Zelda series up until now is that Link has never had the ability to apply himself vertically. That is about to change in the Breath of the Wild, where game designers have quietly leaked that Link will actually perform this basic maneuver, which, for some reason, has never been part of the franchise history. Link before now has been able to sidestep sidewise, a usual fighting move for sword combat. He’s even been allowed to flip backwards or strike forwards with a sword poke, but he’s never actually been able to perform the vertical jump. Rumor has it that he will also be able to hang in the air once he’s in the air as well.
1. No Hearts
There’s some indication that life-giving hearts won’t play such a role in Breath of the Wild as it has done in previous Zelda games. What’s expected instead is that Link role players will engage in a lot of scouring for food, raw and otherwise, that helps boost his overall performance level. Cooking the ingredients increases performance levels to even higher levels, so we can expect some down times in the game where Link will have to relax and chill out a bit to revitalize himself. We already saw this type of thing in Ocarina of Time with the cow’s milk and fairy bottles, which when acquired after an arduous series of tasks or (in the cow’s milk case) a difficult horse race, turn out to be godsends for Link’s vitality. The Zelda team, you must realize, doesn’t spare any time in creating something for no good use, and things that appear to be dilly-dallying-type actions for a lazy summer afternoon turn out to be crucial to surviving the big fights at the end with Ganon and the other bosses.