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Zelda: Breath of the Wild E3 2016 Impressions

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Breath of the Wild E3 Impressions

I had the opportunity to play The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword at E3 in 2010. I remember being amazed with the motion controls and the new take on combat — I went back and played the demo a few times (there wasn’t a three hour line for this one). When the game came out I was ultimately disappointed. Sure, the motion controls were nifty and all, but the game was just so tiny. It didn’t feel like Zelda. It didn’t feel like an adventure.

I ended up hating the motion controls after a couple more play throughs of Skyward Sword. They quickly went from clever feature to annoying hinderance. Five years after release, the only dungeon that sticks out to me was the Sandship. And Farore’s trial near the end — don’t even get me started on that.

With Breath of the Wild, Nintendo is making a game that seems to be the polar opposite of Skyward Sword. It’s big. It lets you explore. You can just press a button to attack.

“A lot of the users, when they looked at the map, they said, 'OK, there's these places I can go, but how come I can't go over here?' A lot of Zelda fans are the type of people that really like to explore those hidden elements,” Eiji Aonuma said in an interview with Polygon. “I realized that creating this bigger world and letting them freely play may be the solution to all of that.”

The E3 demo throws you right into the middle of the game’s starting area, the Great Plateau. That starting area on its own is pretty big. The first thing I did was open the map and zoom all the way out. Hyrule this time around is gigantic. I can’t wait to see how big the game’s dungeons are, too.

For what it’s worth, the forest area the demo started me in was called “The Forest of Spirits.” From there I headed to the Temple of Time, cutting grass and collecting mushrooms along the way (you don’t get hearts or perishables from cutting grass this time around, however).

One of the coolest new additions in Breath of the Wild is the ability to climb anything. It adds a verticality to the game’s world that you just don’t see in other open world games like The Elder Scrolls or Xenoblade X. I climbed all the way to the top of the Temple of Time and jumped off to my death.

I didn’t know the demo didn’t give you the paraglider… Probably to keep players on the Great Plateau.

Combat in Breath of the Wild feels a lot tighter and more challenging than other 3D Zelda games, namely The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess. With that said, I was still able to clear out a Bokoblin hideout without taking too much damage, although I hear that Link’s Hideaway’s very own Austin Dickson blew himself up a good number of times.

One tiny aspect to combat that bothers me is the constant breaking of weapons. I picked up a Hylian Knight’s sword off a Bokoblin (damage 14) and it ended up breaking after a few uses.

There’s so much I’m curious about in Breath of the Wild. Are heart pieces gone now since you can get temporary health upgrades by cooking food? What role will NPC villages have? Has the Sheikah Slate’s runes completely replaced traditional items?

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is slated for release on Wii U and NX next year. In the meantime check back with Link’s Hideaway for more impressions, news, and images.

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