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Why The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the Best Game at E3 2016

by Kyle Hanson

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Microsoft showed off, and announced some new hardware, Sony delivered an hour solid of game reveals, but it was Nintendo that dominated the news cycle with one single game. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was fully unveiled on Tuesday morning, and it seems like gamers have been talking about it ever since. With a four plus hour line all day, every day, gamers were chomping at the bit to get their hands on the open world action-RPG. Thankfully, I got to play through the two demos myself, and it showed that not only was all of this excitement worth it, but this was easily the best game at E3 2016.

I said before that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild changes everything. The title is a Zelda game through and through, but nearly all the conventions and traditions that have been setup around that over the past two decades are either gone, or reworked in new ways. It is open-world, and the world is truly massive, with the demo comprising only a small fraction of what the final game will deliver.

Beyond that though, Breath of the Wild offers up innovations and improvements that series fans have been asking for for a long time. Voice acting, realistic physics, and a more loose structure to the dungeons. However, if Nintendo just gave us what we were asking for, they wouldn’t be the Nintendo that fans love so much. Instead they went above and beyond, pushing into new territory for the series, and the genre.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild E3 Reaction

My far too short time with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was spent simply trying to soak in the experience. I ran around the open environment, looked at the massive map, and attempted various moves that no Zelda game allowed previously. Stealth and jumping are the two main changes that will likely impact players the most.

My far too short time with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was spent simply trying to soak in the experience

Stumbling upon a camp full of bokoblins is no longer a tedious affair. Now you can assess the environment, and look for different ways of taking them out. Sometimes you can shoot down a nest of bees, or roll a boulder onto them, or just go in stealthily, silencing one after the other without alerting their friends. And if all of your plans fall apart you default back to the excellent swordplay that Zelda is known for…just using some less than desirable weapons sometimes.

Jumping also changes things, and in unforeseen ways. One time I had just finished with a bokoblin camp and wanted to see what was on the other side of the nearby hill. I started walking down the path, which would slowly take me to the other side when I remembered. “I can just climb it” I said, “yep!” replied the helpful Nintendo booth attendant. I jumped on, making sure to watch my stamina gauge so that I didn’t drop suddenly to the bottom, and made my way up. At the crest of the hill I saw more wide open spaces to explore, including mountains and hills to climb. The possibilities overwhelmed me, but in a fantastic way.

The second part of the demo focused more on the story, letting me try out the opening half hour of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Here again the game impressed, with an engaging and mysterious opener that has already set me speculating. The world of this game is both familiar, featuring iconic locations like the Temple of Time and Hyrule Castle, but also very alien, with technology like we’ve never seen, and many dilapidated buildings and enemies.

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I won’t go into too many more details, because if you were following Nintendo’s Treehouse, or our own coverage then you know them already. Weapons and armor are swappable, breakable, and have effects depending on the environment. The world is more physics based, allowing for you to utilize gravity, the wind, and other elements. And lighting stuff on fire with the Fire Rod is endlessly entertaining, easily allowing for hours of fun by itself.

Also, the game looks gorgeous, with an art style all its own. It’s great to see a more colorful and cel-shaded entry again, with Wind Waker being a definite favorite, and Skyward Sword looking good, but suffering a bit from the technical limitations of the Wii. The Wii U holds up very well under the pressure, though on a big TV and with my face very close to it there were a lot of apparent issues. But that’s not how most people will play it, so there really shouldn’t be much to worry about there. And, of course, we still have the Nintendo NX version to look forward to, which should have improved visuals all around.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild impressed in so many ways that it’s tough to properly explain, without going on and on forever. For such a short time with the game, I already have so many things that I want to see, try, or explore. There are mountains to climb, enemies to fight, and a world to save, and the wait till March 2017 just got a whole lot longer.

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