E3 2014: we were introduced to a brand new Zelda trailer showing a dynamic and engaging cinematic that captivating the audience like wildfire. However, at that point in time, not much more was said beyond an eventual release in the near future. A few months later Nintendo Producers Eiji Aonuma and Shigeru Miyamoto showcased a playable demo during Spike TV’s Game Awards run. Judging from the gameplay footage alone, it was clear this upcoming Zelda title was going to reach groundbreaking proportions. Subsequently for most of 2015, the whereabouts and status of the game have gone cold. Finally we arrive at 2016 where for the first time we are given an extensive look of how this game is shaping up and the official title has been announced: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
After an arduous wait, I was taken into Nintendo’s Zelda-themed booth this E3 2016. The interior was lush and every aspect of the booth was resoundingly reminiscent of the game it’s promoting. The Nintendo representatives that manned the booth took us inside a cave where we viewed an introductory trailer giving us a solid grasp of the game and how to get the most out of our experience. After the trailer, the screen lifted and we ventured forward to our corresponding demo station.
From there we were given the usual starting procedure on controls and what we should expect. The session consisted of two demos. The first was an open demo where players were to get a gist of the gameplay, a feel for the open world environment, and the other nuances that set this game apart from previous Zelda titles. As I began playing, I noticed Link could climb and he even had a stamina, temperature and sound meter to boot. To my surprise, Link could effortlessly jump with the press of a button; simple yet radical progress in the Zelda series.
My first playthrough consisted of exploring a sophisticated cave and the majestic landscape that is the world of Zelda. As I played the demo again, I covered every nook and cranny possible with my limited gameplay time, such as the abandoned Temple of Time. Focusing on the environmental aspects there were captivating scenes which included a cold frontier in which Link had to wear appropriate clothing, lurk through a forest fighting a giant golem, to taking down Moblins in a cranial hideout. I even tried to cook and to explore the wilderness at nightfall. Additionally, players were encouraged to be more creative and resourceful as the game included the ability to eat, scavenge weapons that can break, and hunt for wild animals, proving that this Zelda took a much more realistic adaptation.
The second segment was actually the start of the upcoming game, thus taking a bigger focus on the plot. I wanted to test how this new title stacks with the previous games from a veteran’s perspective. Surprisingly Breath of the Wild took the best aspects of the Zelda franchise to new levels. The plot was familiar as the Calamity Ganon had taken over Hyrule Castle, and for Link, it’s been over 100 years. Link awakes in an implied dystopia and must now fulfill his heroic duties. Within the limited 20 minutes, I was able to meet the Old Man, get a glimpse of what happened to Hyrule, and explore the first dungeon, the Shrine Oman Au. This trial is where Link gets his first main item, the Magnesis Rune, and a Spirit Orb upon completion. The premise urges players to discover the greater underlying truth as we explore a massive and content-rich environment. I was very content with the upcoming plot in all its cinematic glory with the gameplay being the defining aspect of this title. I can say with great confidence that this Zelda will be a generation-defining title to the point that all subsequent games will use it as its basis towards what the new standard will be.