The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Redefines the Franchise - Hands-on Impressions - PreviewMorgan Lewis , posted on 21 June 2016 / 5,835 Views
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was one of the most anticipated games of E3 2016, and for good reason. After initially being unveiled at E3 2014, gamers have been itching to get their hands on the game, and at long last it was finally playable at this year's E3 and I was lucky enough able to get hands-on with it. With its breathtaking visuals and redefined gameplay, Breath of the Wild was the game to play at E3 this year and it did not disappoint.
There were two separate demos for Breath of the Wild and they lasted about 40 minutes combined. One involved exploring an area known as the Great Plateau, which was a massive open world filled with enemies, mini bosses, cliffs to traverse, and a multitude of diverse areas to explore.
The one thing that strikes you as soon as you play the game is that the controls have changed drastically from the traditional Zelda formula. Y is now your attack button; B is your dash button (the stamina meter is back); ZL triggers on to enemies yet again; ZR fires your bow and arrow; X actually allows you to jump for the first time in a Zelda game; A is your action button, which allows you to pick up items, weapons, and so on; and L allows you to use items. This is the first time that the Zelda series has dramatically changed up the controls since Ocarina of Time, so it does take a bit of getting used to. The 40 minute demo does give you some time to adjust, but even then when you've had the same control system engrained in your mind for almost 18 years mistakes are easy to make.
Enough about the controls, though. Breath of the Wild is absolutely gorgeous and the overworld is full of stuff to do. Whether it’s hunting boar, fighting moblins (I presume they were moblins), discovering mini-bosses, or merely taking a second to admire the beauty of the world, Breath of the Wild is the most astonishing Zelda title yet.
You can even traverse cliffs by with the X button and the L stick, and this seems to be a very important aspect of the game in terms of exploration, although it does take up stamina in order to climb. One nice throw back in the game is that there are actually aspects of The Wind Waker’s gameplay that return. You can pick up enemy weapons and wield them once more, or even just throw them at enemies, just like in the GameCube classic. Weapons have a certain level of durability though and can easily break, so you have to be careful or else you may just end up defenseless.
Stealth also returns from The Wind Waker, as Link can crouch and sneak up on his enemies undetected if he’s quiet enough and depending on whether it is day or night (yep, the day/night cycle finally returns to the series). This is very useful in hunting animals such as boar or even avoiding major brawls. Animals can give you food, which is used this time around to replenish hearts as opposed to simply having hearts fall when defeating an enemy. Link can also cook a meal in order to replenish his hearts.
The second demo was the complete opposite of the first and very much story driven, so beware of minor spoilers from this point onwards until the next screenshot. It takes place, I assume, at the opening of the game where Link awakens after a 100 year slumber in the Shrine of Resurrection, presumably in an ancient Sheikah temple, where he gains a key item known as the Sheikah Slate. This opens a number of doors in the temple and other locations, and appears to be a key item in the game.
Once you exit the initial temple you're presented with a devastated Hyrule which is all but deserted. As you make your way through the initial path you find a curious old man who seems like a guide of sorts, but he is very coy about what he knows. It's revealed that Hyrule Castle has been corrupted for 100 years by the most vicious and terrifying incarnation of Ganon that we have seen yet, Calamity Ganon. With a black aura surrounding him and Hyrule Castle, and his piercing eyes and classic horns, Ganon is close to attaining his full strength, and when that happens, the entire world will be in jeopardy. Naturally, it is up to Link to prevent this catastrophe.
Continuing through the demo Link proceeds to another Sheikah temple and in the process causes shrines to open up all around the world in a very impressive cut scene that spans all of Hyrule. Link’s next stop is Hyrule Castle, but it is separated from the land by a steep cliff. In order to travel across it a paraglider is needed, which the old mysterious man possesses. The man sends you on a quest into one of the shrines to receive a treasure in order to trade for the paraglider, but this is where the demo ends.
The one part that I've not yet touched upon in this preview is the music. While it’s not necessarily going to become iconic, it’s absolutely breathtaking and incredibly relaxing, so hopefully it’s not just placeholder music.
Zelda has never looked so good and the vastness of Hyrule, the seemingly enticing story, and the sheer amount of fun to be had in the demo alone is why people are raving about Breath of the Wild coming back from E3, myself included. It was a magical experience and Nintendo hit it out of the park with its showcasing of the game and then some.
There is still so much to be revealed Breath of the Wild, but after this small taste, even with a delay until next year, I'm confident that it will live up to expectations.