Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild; Nintendo Has its Mojo Back
It was hard to ignore Nintendo’s presence at E3 2016. Naysayers questioned why Nintendo was even there in the first place considering they were only bringing a single game to the biggest event in gaming. Laments of “they should come back when they’re really ready to show us something” were heard in multitudes during the lead up to the show. Then, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild happened. In all my time covering this industry I’ve never heard a group of negative gamers get their traps shut so quickly, almost instantaneously, as I did when we saw the magic that Nintendo had in store for us.
Now I know it’s a bit much to say that Nintendo needs saving, but you simply can’t deny the fact that the Wii U was an overall poor outing for the Japanese giant. Sure they still have the market cornered on handhelds with the thriving 3DS platform, but when it comes to home consoles many are viewing the NX as Nintendo’s last kick at the can. If they want to stay relevant in the home console market they flat out can not afford to screw this one up. While details on the actual Nintendo NX console are light at the moment, what we do know is that Breath of the Wild will be primed and ready to go for the launch window. This is a good thing to help kick off sales of the machine because after an hour or so with the game we can guarantee you one thing; Nintendo’s ability to trap lightning in a bottle, with some good old fashioned Nintendo magic on the side, is in full effect.
“Nintendo’s ability to trap lightning in a bottle, with some good old fashioned Nintendo magic on the side, is in full effect.”
The first thing you’ll notice when jumping into Breath of the Wild is the sheer beauty of it. A watercolor painting in motion, the style is described as en plein air, a French term meaning ‘open air’, and it is an absolute wonder to behold. Playing on the Wii U build you could tell the console was chugging hard to keep up. The frame rate became choppy on a number of occasions, but knowing that the game will not only run smoother on the NX but also feature enhanced visuals, is something to look forward to. You’d likely be hard pressed to find another game that can boast this kind of unique beauty.
The world of Breath of the Wild also comes in bigger than ever before. Numbers being dropped are 12 times the size of Twilight Princess, and 9 times the size of Skyrim. That is a lot of Hyrule to see and we only got to see the tiniest fraction of it. It was open and expansive, albeit a little sparse, but its rolling hills, blue tinged skies and lush landscapes make for pure, unadulterated eye candy. This is a world that you can’t wait to explore, to see what’s behind every rock and over every mountain. The sheer size of this game is very likely the biggest world Nintendo has ever ventured to create and it’s interactive like no other world before it.
During the demo we were able to test out the combat and you’re most likely going to be challenged in ways you’ve never seen in a Zelda game. Link, donning his new teal colored tunic, ducks and dodges masterfully while charging up massive swings of his axe or unleashing a flurry of sword attacks. It’s all very fluid and something special to see in motion. If you’re a Nintendo fan of old (or an old Nintendo fan, like me) you’ll immediately be transported back to your youth. I instantly recalled my first moments with A Link to the Past and sat there with the world’s biggest and goofiest grin on my face. This is a special feeling that only Nintendo can muster up within me. Lots of games make me smile, but rarely do any fill me with a warm sense of nostalgia like Nintendo.
“Sure, there are a ton of amazing developers who can bring visceral, heart pounding experiences to life, but Nintendo magic is a tough act to follow.”
Adding in RPG staples like crafting, and an alchemy system of sorts goes a long way in modernizing the Zelda franchise and bringing it up to par with other games of this nature. When the COGconnected crew were debating our E3 2016 awards however, we were hesitant to label Breath of the Wild with that RPG label. Sure it has some RPG elements to it, but picking up that gamepad and wandering into Hyrule felt like the ultimate adventure for any Nintendo fan. Not surprisingly the game garnered not only our Best Adventure Game award, but also our Best in Show award. Not content with the two awards we threw their way, the team at Nintendo also managed to snag our Best E3 Booth award too. It was all winning for the big, red N.
The joy of a AAA Nintendo game has a quality about it that few other studios can match. Sure, there are a ton of amazing developers who can bring visceral, heart pounding experiences to life, but Nintendo magic is a tough act to follow. Pause for a second and remember that first time you experienced that exact thing, that Nintendo magic, and you’ll undoubtedly sport a goofy grin just like I did. This is what you have coming your way with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and this is why Nintendo is throwing all its eggs into one Hyrulian basket. This game is special, and when it launches on the Wii U, and later on the NX you can be sure that Nintendo will once again cement itself as a big player on the console scene.