The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild hit E3 like a truck, creating massive, four plus hour lines, and becoming the most talked about game of the show. I got a chance to try the game out while I was there, and it was easily my personal game of the show. I’ll be putting down my entire thoughts on the game soon, so keep an eye out for that, but I wanted to hone in on one thing about the demo that really struck me. It’s probably something you’ve already noticed from the many videos and impressions that are swirling out there. To put it simply, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild changes everything, and somehow I love it for it.
I say “somehow”, because to me, Zelda is pretty sacred. The series has reinvented itself a few times, but the core concepts have remained largely intact since the original NES adventure from 1986. You play as Link, you explore Hyrule, you find dungeons, and you gain new items. Really, this can still be used to describe Breath of the Wild, but almost everything else surrounding these core principles has been modified or altered in some big ways.
The very concept of your health, movement, weapons, and armor are altered, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild adopting some things from other games and creating some new stuff of its own. You now have to cook and eat to regain health, no more hearts popping up out of the grass. You can finally jump at will, and climbing is an essential part of the gameplay, with Link able to climb almost any surface. Your weapons are expendable, with a meter to show you when they will break. Armor also now impacts you in a number of ways, with Link having to don specific clothing to survive the cold. Looking back at the Zelda series, many of these concepts are totally new, and totally fresh.
The key here is that these changes totally enhance the Zelda experience
Fans should be in revolt. Changes like this to a series as loved as Zelda should cause rioting in the streets. Yet, fans are not only excited, but they are gleefully excited. It seems like fans were ready for some changes, and while Nintendo has introduced many in the past, they’ve always been done in small doses. Seeing such a massive shift for the series get accepted so easily is surprising, but not unexpected after getting time with the game.
The key here is that these changes totally enhance the Zelda experience. A massive open world, being able to explore however and wherever you want, having more of a realistic feel. These are all great things, that should do nothing but enhance the experience for players. Nintendo didn’t just go in and gut the series, tossing in new stuff just because it is new. Instead they took a long look at what was working, and what needed to be changed, and we ended up with the wonderful The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Of course, this was just a short demo, and we need to wait for the full game to hit before we know if all of this risk paid off. So far it is working out extremely well, with fans at an all time level of excitement, and the press lavishing praise on Nintendo. It seems like change has finally come for Zelda, and everyone couldn’t be more happy, myself included.