At long last, Nintendo finally pulled back the curtain on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild today. Throughout the day Nintendo Treehouse will be showing off more and more gameplay, focusing on aspects that differ from previous games in the franchise. While the standard gameplay feels like classic Legend of Zelda, let’s break down some of the many differences that have been shown off so far.
Many past Zelda games feature exactly as many inventory slots as there are different items in the game. Some spots will remain empty until you find the specific item that fills that slot. Breath of the Wild introduces inventory management, meaning your inventory is limited and you’ll have to drop some stuff if you don’t have the space to carry it all.
Weapons in Breath of the Wild come in many forms, from axes and sticks to swords and bows, and even enemy limbs. Axes can be used in combat and also to chop down trees. Every weapon has its own stats, so a stick will be significantly less powerful than a sword. Weapons will break if used too long without repairing them, though ways to repair have not yet been revealed. You can sneak up on enemies and steal their weapons, or pick them up once the enemy has been defeated. Some enemies will sometimes unexpected weapons, like the Bokoblin arm which continues to wriggle its bony fingers as you use it. Heavy weapons like axes and claymores take two hands to wield, so they cannot be used with shields. They can also be used to perform the classic spin attack; Link spins slower with them, but they have bigger swings.
You begin the game in just your underwear, and quickly find some ratty clothes to throw on. You’ll find several different outfits throughout the game that are more well-suited to different areas. The weather can also affect Link if he’s not wearing the right outfit, meaning that you may lose health if you wander into a cold area without warm clothes. There is a temperature gauge to show when you are in an area that your current clothing is ill-suited for. The Treehouse team did say that “you can actually play this nude if you want,” but you must be prepared for the consequences of doing so.
Many aspects of Breath of the Wild’s open world are entirely new to the Legend of Zelda series. One notable difference is the lack of invisible barriers. You can jump off cliffs and climb up walls without a problem. You’ve got limited stamina for wall climbing, so sometimes you’ll have to find another way around than climbing up, but the option is there regardless. Climbing is also more difficult in the rain, as the walls become slick and slippery. There is an emphasis of taking the adventure into your own hands, meaning you can essentially explore wherever you like in whichever order you choose. Allegedly, no two people would play the game the same way.
Using the Environment
There are many ways to use the world around you to your advantage. If you’re on a cliff and you see a Bokoblin camp below you, push a boulder over the edge and onto your enemies below. If you’re in a snowy area and want to move around quickly, hop on your shield and snowboard down a hill. You may perform other actions such as firing your bow and arrow while on the shield-sled, but your shield will break faster the longer you ride it.
The tradition of chopping chunks of grass until you find hearts to replenish your health is gone from Breath of the Wild. Instead your primary source of health will come from food. You can hunt for food, find it in enemy camps and chests, or other ways yet to be revealed. Cooked food will fill more health, and even give bonus hearts above your maximum for one use. Some enemy camps will have food cooking over a fire, but Link can use ingredients from his inventory, such as honey, to cook up his own dishes as well.
In Skyward Sword the player was able to roll bombs for the first time, adjusting the angles as if you were bowling. In Breath of the Wild you can roll bombs down hills to strategically take enemies by surprise by blowing them up. There are new square-shaped bombs as well, which are much easier for setting down at a specific spot. You can use bombs to blow up ore, or the ore can be mined with a pick to obtain minerals. Once you have obtained the bomb ability you can use as many as you like; there is no limit. You can also detonate them on command instead of letting them explode in their own time.
Minions throughout Hyrule will wander around just as Link does, and some will congregate together and make camps. Their AI changes depending on the time of day and weather. You can see them sleeping at the camps in the night, and staying under cover in the rain. Enemies can be targeted from afar by using the Scope item. Once a foe is targeted, their mark will remain on the mini-map until they have been killed.
Shrines are essentially challenge trial temples. There are more than 100 of them in the world, and conquering shrines will unlock great rewards. Completing four shrines unlocks the Paraglider, for example. While the outside world is filled with nature, the shrines harbor most of the world’s technology. The player cannot climb the walls of the shrines because they are too smooth. This is so players have to complete the puzzles without just climbing straight to the end. Earlier shrines are smaller, and become more expansive later in the game. Many are puzzle-based, but some are combat-based as well. Shrines are not the same as dungeons; they are in fact supplementary.
The Paraglider allows Link to jump off of a ledge and glide great distances quickly, but requires stamina to use. The Shiekah Scope works like binoculars, letting the player look far into the distance. You can also use it to tag enemies to make them show up on the mini-map. The Magnestic Rune allows you to move metal items. Using it highlights items you can interact with in yellow. It can even grab treasure chests!
Nintendo is almost exclusively focusing on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild during E3, so more new reveals will keep cropping up as the week goes on. We will be sure to update this article with more information as it becomes available!