Nintendo made it clear that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (formerly known as Zelda Wii U) would be the main focus for E3 2016. With the show floor open for the first day of E3, Nintendo has been showcasing the title for fans at the Los Angeles Convention Center and those watching the Treehouse Live stream at home. Eiji Aonuma, producer of the new game, was also on-hand to offer new details and insight into the upcoming Nintendo NX and Wii U title.
While Breath of the Wild may resemble Wind Waker with the cel-shaded appearance, this new title is a bit of a departure from previous entries in the series. The tradition Zelda gameplay is intact, but Aonuma took some liberties to rethink some of the conventions of Zelda games. For instance, Link can now jump, which is something that hasn’t been widely available to the character in the past.
This time around Link can go almost anywhere in the world. The demo of the game begins as Link awakens in a cave. You quickly find the Sheikah Slate, which is one of Link’s many new tools. This new Zelda has a focus on technology and the Sheikah Slate looks almost like a Wii U controller with the large display in the center.
Before you leave the cave you’ll find a shirt and pants for Link. That’s right, Breath of the Wild allows Link to change his clothes. Upgrading to new and better clothing and armor will give Link better stats as well. In addition, you won’t be using the same weapons over and over in this new game. This time around Link’s weapons have durability and will break. Throughout the E3 demo Link had to switch weapons several times, but new weapons were found on enemies and just laying around in the wild.
As you leave the opening cave, you can head to the right to reach and area that has a few enemies you probably can’t handle yet. This is what happens when you can go anywhere in the world. With no real boundaries to stop Link, you may end up in high-level areas. If that happens, just back track and take a different path until you’re strong enough to take on the enemies in the higher level area.
Another new gameplay feature of Breath of the Wild is the Stamina Gauge. Whenever Link climbs, runs or attacks a green circle appears that represents his stamina. If your stamina depletes completely you won’t be able to perform strenuous actions until it slowly refills. Climbing seems to be a big part of Breath of the Wild, so paying attention to your Stamina Gauge will be important throughout the game.
This version of Zelda is more along the lines of modern role-playing games. Instead of collecting hearts to replenish Link’s health, you need to eat food. As you venture throughout the land you’ll find apples, mushrooms and other food items that you can use to replenish Link’s health. In addition, the trailer showed off Link cooking a meal. We didn’t experience that in the demo (yet), but it felt very much like the Monster Hunter cooking system, which would be a nice new addition to the series.
Combat seemed similar to past Zelda titles, but this time around if you time your dodge correctly the game slows down to allow you to score a critical hit. The timing didn’t seem overly strict, so it shouldn’t take long to get adjusted to the new gameplay mechanic. For now, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is set to land on the Wii U and Nintendo NX sometime next year. Stay tuned to Prima Games for more as new information becomes available!