Basically two days.
It’s no secret that one of the best and most talked about games at this year’s E3 was The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. With Nintendo forgoing any sort of press conference or even a Nintendo Direct, it was clear early on that they were putting a lot of their faith in this new Zelda title. In a space where every company is trying to show off as many games as humanly possible, to spend nearly an entire day focusing solely on one title is pretty much unheard of. While it is true that they showed off other games such as the new Yo-Kai Watch or the latest Pokemon title; The Legend of Zelda was obviously their crowned jewel for this year’s E3.
However, as E3 begins to fade away, one has to question this choice and whether it really did pay off in their favor. After all, there is no doubt that the NX’s shadow loomed over their conference like a black storm cloud. There has been a lot of hype and mystery surrounding Nintendo’s latest console, so for them to not show it was quite a bold move. Especially since other companies during their press conferences mentioned that some of their titles will be coming to NX. By not including their next big step forward, it was easy to think that they were handicapping themselves and setting themselves up for disaster.
Companies rarely follow this sort of mentality, as having the biggest buzz-churning reveal is what usually helps them stand out among the masses. Yet, for some reason, Nintendo decided to avoid revealing the NX at all, even if it was still in some kind of beta stage, in favor of showcasing a very small handful of titles. This move wasn’t foolish by any means, in fact, it was downright brilliant.
E3 is all about pomp and circumstance in which the majority of games we see are through maliciously produced demos or gorgeous CGI trailers that rival most Hollywood films. Yet, Nintendo’s choice to just showcase their game allowed us to dive deeper into what the game offers and what it looks like beyond anything the other companies could. There were very few secrets in regards to Zelda, with the gameplay not just focused on a sole dungeon or level. We were dropped into a massive section of the world and even the hosts running the actual game ran into many unscripted moments. It felt organic and real, something E3 rarely does and lent The Legend of Zelda the credibility it desperately needed.
There have been a lot of questions surrounding what exactly an open world Zelda title would look like, so this large segment gave us a plethora of much-needed answers. The basic formula for The Legend of Zelda hasn’t really changed over the years, as each iteration adds their own twists but this really doesn’t alter the core frame much. Breath of the Wild is a huge shift in a totally different direction for the series, so Nintendo’s choice to demo as much of the game as they could helped explain many of the mechanics. What also helped was the constantly shifting panel of developers and Nintendo employees that each offered their own explanations and input into this new game.
Nintendo’s choice to cast aside the majority of their big names for the sake of Zelda helped them not only stand out among the various press conferences but to become the most talked about game during E3. It’s no surprise how many people flocked to see the new Zelda title, but it also helped highlight that audiences are over the shiny gimmicks studios are trying to pull. We are not watching E3 for the celebrity endorsements, cheesy marketing strategies, or the massive amount of awkward moments and poorly timed jokes. E3 is about games and should be a celebration of the new titles headed down the road.
As much as Nintendo might be criticized for their policies and lack of understanding, there is no doubt that they are truly dedicated to their video games. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild wouldn’t have worked if it was like every other Zelda before it or even if Nintendo decided to showcase an entirely different title. It was the right game, in the right genre, at the right E3 and we will probably never see such a successful attempt again.
This was the major win that Nintendo needed and will be surely go down as one of the best examples of how to showcase a game at E3. Well played Nintendo, well played.