A few weeks ago, if someone asked me how I felt about Nintendo showing only Zelda for an entire day of E3, I would have said they were making a horrible mistake. This remained the truth until about 9:00 o’clock this morning, at which time Nintendo presented us with the first full-scale trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Never has something turned my feelings in such a complete 180–this trailer was exactly what my heart needed to be reinvigorated.
Everything about it is perfect. It offers us that little bit of story information we had been aching for since this game was first revealed way back in E3 2014. The music got my blood pumping with its sheer epic scale and representation of adventure. The visuals looked as appealing as we could hope — a mesh of the semi-realistic art style of Skyward Sword and the hand drawn style of The Wind Waker. And most importantly, it offers some concrete gameplay. Link is shown using tons of different weapons; from a large axe to his tried and true sword and he’s even shown scaling walls and cliff sides, which will give the player a sense of freedom they’ve never known in the Zelda series. The trailer even shows us the general setting that we’ll be exploring.
Unlike my original expectations, Breath of the Wild does not seem to be a direct sequel to Skyward Sword. I originally theorized that Link would be working towards constructing the original kingdom of Hyrule, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead, Breath of the Wild takes place after the total destruction of Hyrule, and Link is working toward rebuilding the lost Kingdom. I find this story a lot more interesting than what I thought it could be — which is essentially the easy way out — especially since Eiji Aonuma — the director of the game — stated that Breath of the Wild would take a much more passive approach in its storytelling.
From this, we can gather that players will be able to discover what happened to the now desolate and destroyed Hyrule on their own terms, instead of cutscenes where the game will just flat-out tell them. One of my biggest problems with the modern Zelda games is their focus on direct story telling. For me, 20 minute long cutscenes should be the last thing a developer uses to convey their story, so I was completely ecstatic at this new revelation. Being able to run around a barren wasteland that was once the legendary kingdom of Hyrule — the one that I’ve explored dozens of times in its fully realized state — is already going to be great. But, being able to do so without someone telling me why I should care every 30 minutes is going to be an experience for the record books.
Another problem with the modern Zelda titles is their insanely long intros. Skyward Sword spends at least 2 hours introducing the player to its story and general concepts; Twilight Princess spends 3. While Breath of the Wild seems to spend 5 minutes at the most introducing players to its humongous world. After Nintendo started their E3 showing with the Zelda trailer, they went straight into an all-day stream of the game. They started on the actual intro, which — as stated — lasted mere minutes. Link is woken up, given his objective, then sets out into the world with no sense of direction or any sort of guide. It’s reminiscent of the original Legend of Zelda, where the player is dropped in a world that — at the time — seemed endless. Now, 30 years later, Nintendo is bringing that concept back, and I couldn’t be happier.
The combat also seems to be completely overhauled. In the trailer, Link is only shown using a sword once. The rest of the time he’s swinging a giant axe or thrusting a spear, and for the first time in Zelda history, there’s a jump button. Not only will this make it much easier to scale mountain sides, but it will make combat the most dynamic and interesting it has ever been. In one clip, Link jumps into the air with a heavy looking axe and does a full front flip to bring it down on the enemy below him. It looks epic, and should be a refreshing experience — especially since Zelda combat has grown relatively stale.
Everything shown of the new Zelda has been nothing but exciting. A streamlined story, an actual variety of weapons, and open-ended exploration are all that the majority of fans have been requesting for the last decade. Personally, I don’t see any way this game will be anything short of spectacular, and I’ve gone on record hating open world games. But, there’s something special here. Whether it be the seemingly deep RPG elements in crafting and trading or the idea of a completely open game with an amazing polish of a 3D Zelda, something has me extremely excited for what’s in store for us. March 2017 can’t come soon enough, and I’ll watch that trailer every day until then.