E3 Roundup 2016: Top 5 Changes to the Zelda Formula in Breath of the Wild

After this past E3 week, it’s obvious that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild breaks series conventions in many ways. True to its newly revealed title, the game clearly has a focus on the natural world, with gameplay that conforms to logic and practicality more than any Zelda game that came before it. Here are my top 5 changes to the Zelda formula in Breath of the Wild:

5. Grass is just…grass

Changes to the smallest details in a Zelda game can make the biggest difference. Cutting grass and finding rupees, recovery hearts, arrows, bottles of magic, and more is one of the longest running traditions of the series. This is done away with completely in Breath of the Wild, which is pretty monumental when you think about it (yet it also makes perfect sense).

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4. Real voice acting!

We’ve seen the opening scenes of Breath of the Wild, and you can’t deny: there is actual voice acting in this game! We don’t know what the full extent of this will be, of course, but I’m optimistic that we’re going to see some great story cutscenes accompanied by voice work in the final product. Link, however, will still be gaming’s favorite silent protagonist; this is something I hope and predict will be the case for as long as Zelda games are made.

3. Movement

Nintendo experimented with a stamina gauge in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and I enjoyed the results immensely. Stamina returns in Breath of the Wild, but the game expands on the idea of more realistic mobility mechanics in absolutely every way. Auto jump, a staple in 3-D Zelda games, is no more. Link now jumps at will, a function found only occasionally in 2-D Zeldas. Climbing also follows more natural rules this time around. Link can climb almost any surface and in almost any direction, but he climbs slowly and carefully and is limited by his stamina gauge. And dare I forget to mention Link’s new para glider, which is sure to be one of the best methods of travel in the game.

2. A truly open world

Again, Nintendo clearly showed a desire to experiment with the Legend of Zelda series in A Link Between Worlds, in which the player could choose the order they completed the game’s main dungeons. Breath of the Wild represents the first truly open-world 3-D Zelda game. Its world will easily dwarf the next largest iteration of Hyrule in the series, and the game will offer players “unprecedented freedom” in how they explore that world. Next to nothing is known about large dungeons in Breath of the Wild, but E3 gave us an extensive look at mini-dungeons called shrines, of which there will be over 100. Completing shrines, exploring the world, fighting baddies, and unlocking the story will be totally up to the player.

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1. Items, materials, and equipment

From clothing and gear to mushrooms and monster fangs, every object in Breath of the Wild serves a purpose and, again, is governed by rules of logic. Link will apparently collect various types of clothing on his journey, each with certain properties. The same applies to weapons and tools, which now wear out and break. He can forage for edible plants, hunt boars for meat, and grow his collection of monster materials (presumably for equipment upgrades later on). The former two replace the need to search for recovery hearts, which were absent during the game’s E3 demonstrations. Link’s new source of heath is actual food. And all of this doesn’t even take into consideration the likelihood of rupees and shops returning. It all adds up to an RPG-like collection system that has me giddy with anticipation.

It feels like the Zelda series has been on the verge of major change for quite some time now. Skyward Sword in 2011 and A Link Between Worlds in 2013 both felt fresh, but somehow anticipatory. Breath of the Wild aims to be much more, however, with several gameplay departures, large and small, that will set it apart from its predecessors and set this beloved series onto new paths as time and the industry march forward.

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Author: Holly Fellmeth View all posts by
Site Manager/Editor - Holly's favorite hobby is playing new or different games. She believes there is no other medium that can offer such weird and wacky things as the gaming industry can. Her Nintendo Network ID is Aeroweth.