When it comes to Nintendo, they like to innovate. Be it in the form of hardware with motion control and touchscreen technology, or in the form of the way they present their content at E3. As such, what was presented to us last night in the Nintendo E3 Treehouse is not something we can report on in the usual style of an E3 press conference write up, therefore it’s time we inovated.
I say inovated, but I’m just going to write an opinion piece rather than the usual news post that we would usually make. I would like to a give a massive shout out to Iron Maiden and The Darkness, whose music actually got me through writing this piece, as at the end of today’s Nintendo stream I was quite literally exhausted.
You see, Nintendo’s stream lasted around 7 hours today. An hour to an hour and a half of Pokemon Sun & Moon, where they played through the first 30 odd minutes of the game, and revealed a new game mode: Battle Royale, where you can have 4 way trainer fights. The other 5 and a half hours were one game: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Usually when it comes to games being shown at E3, we’re left saying “More… more”, but in this case I just wanted to walk away. You see, I probably could have turned the stream off after 90 minutes and miss nothing. After a very broad overview of gameplay in the first 30 to 45 minutes, they went rather in-depth with many of the features of the game in 30 minute-ish blocks. I stayed and watched the whole thing, however.
I watched them talk about the emphasis on weapon switching, as well as how weapons get damaged and have durability in the combat spotlight. I watched them beat 6 shrines (mini dungeons) over the course of the day, demonstrating puzzle solving. I watched hour upon hour of Link running around a gorgeous landscape, killing countless Bokoblins. I watched them pick up countless mushrooms, and use them along with meat they had hunted to cook kebabs and meals that have buff effects, all in hope of getting a tidbit of real news. And there was none.
But you know what? I don’t care. Yes I feel exhausted. Yes it was repetitive but I don’t care.
This was a 5 hour loveletter to what looks to be an amazing installment of an amazing game series. Everyone on stage was so in love with the game, rightfully so, that it flowed over into me as I was watching it. I can’t stand the 3D Zeldas for the most part, and this game has me speechless sometimes.
There was, however, a very interesting interview with Shigeru Miyamoto. Earlier in the day, Producer Eiji Aonuma had said that Breath of the Wild was about breaking many of the conventions that built up around the Zelda franchise. However, when Miyamoto took the stage, he said that this game was closer to the original Legend of Zelda than many people thought. He expressed the opinion (shared by many people) that since the transition to 3D, the Zelda games have had more and more exposition as well as more and more rigidity applied to them so that they became somewhat linear. The original NES title was about freedom. The freedom to go where you wanted and do what you wanted. It dropped you into the game with no opening exposition, no one telling you who you are or what you are supposed to be doing. Breath of the Wild does the exact same thing; it returns to the core value of Zelda: Freedom.
Another really unique thing in Breath of the Wild is the soundscape. There is no rousing overworld theme, there is no swelling music while playing. The team instead opted for a more natural soundscape, you may hear very vague music here or there, but it’s more of a natural sound than anything.
The final thing I want to mention, is the integration of technology into the Zelda mythos. Within the first minutes of the game, Link receives something called a Shieka Slate that seems to act somewhat like a smartphone, allowing you to call up maps (and in the shrines I mentioned) before you are able to add abilities to the Slate, much like downloading apps into your phone. You would be forgiven for thinking this is weirdly anachronistic, but it is presented in such a way that just..fits.
In conclusion; Nintendo, 5 hours is WAY too long to look at a single game without ANY progression at all. I applaud your decision to not progress the story and thus not spoil things, but you could have done all that you did in an hour, maybe two if you tightened up your presentation and put a bit more thought into it. HOWEVER, it’s clear you all love this game, and while I was exhausted, I was never bored. Your infectious love for a game that looks like a Ghibli movie come to life poured through the screen. I cannot wait for more information about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.