The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Our E3 2016 Preview

Nintendo /

It’s been a rough couple of years for Nintendo, but Breath of the Wild might be a defining new chapter for the company’s prestige.

You may have been recently had your attention brought to the video which unflatteringly shows a stampede of gamers filmed rushing towards the Nintendo booth on the last day of E3 this week, all hoping for a chance to play the company’s latest big title. As ridiculous as it may have looked, those eager fans had good reason to be excited, because the time spent with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at E3 quite possibly represented the very best experience of the entire show. We were lucky to enough to get 40 minutes of unbound time with the game on the show floor, and we can happily confirm that this looks to be a Zelda title that was definitely worth waiting for.

We began the demo with the opening of the game itself, which you may have seen during Nintendo’s Treehouse livestream last week. A tunic-less Link awakens within some sort of tomb before venturing forth to discover a breathtaking open world. It is at this point where the camera swoops out, the heart-stopping music begins to play, and the first magical moment of the game is witnessed. Within five minutes of playing, we are already experiencing the kind of ambition we haven’t seen from Nintendo in years.

The Legend of Zelda Breath Of The Wild
Nintendo /

Whilst the art style is undoubtedly beautiful with its watercolor aesthetic, the graphical power of the Wii U is clearly holding the game back from achieving its true visual potential. The high-definition quality was lacking in sharpness, and the overall visual fidelity – including some notable framerate issues – feels like a step back from what we’ve come to expect from the ever advancing technology of the video game industry. Hopefully the power of the NX – which will launch with Breath of the Wild as an accompanying title – will be able to solve this frustrating limitation on an otherwise gorgeous looking video game.

From that point on, we were able to explore the limited (but still huge) section of the open world available to us at E3. The first matter at hand, of course, was to start climbing everything in sight; trees, cliffs, ruins, rocks, you name it. It’s a simple new mechanic that doesn’t require much skill other than holding down the X button, but it offers a completely new way of traversing the more vertically oriented areas.

breath of the wild
Credit: Nintendo /

Soon enough, we came across a gaggle of Bokoblins sitting around a fireplace, and noticed a conveniently placed boulder on the hill above them. Naturally, we shoved the boulder down the hill into the even more conveniently placed explosives situated behind the campsite, with the resulting blast taking out all three Bokoblins below, and even depleting some of our own health in the process. Luckily, the cooked meat roasting atop their campfire was ripe for the taking. We grabbed the food and immediately consumed it to restore our health back to max.

Considering we were right next to a campfire, we figured it wouldn’t be a half-bad idea to try out Breath of the Wild’s new cooking mechanics. To experiment with Link’s culinary skills, we simply opened up our inventory, selected the ingredients we had picked up along the way (apples, mushrooms and raw meat) and chucked them into a pot atop the campfire. There was a gloriously Nintendo-like musical jingle as Link watched it stew away for a few seconds, and the resulting food item was a delicious meat and mushroom skewer, which could restore up to three hearts of health.

breath of the wild
Credit: Nintendo /

High off of our gastronomic success, we began running and leaping towards a lake in the distance, only to discover that there were two chests perched upon a platform in the middle that couldn’t be reached via climbing or jumping. This is where one of Link’s new powers comes in handy. Using the Magnesis ability, we were able to telepathically pick up a large plank – found at the bottom of the lake – and place it carefully to act as a bridge towards the platform. Each chest contained a round of fire and ice arrows, which we were told would pack a powerful punch in combat.

At this point, we had managed to attain both a two-handed axe as well as the aforementioned arrows, so we headed towards a nearby skull icon (representing enemies) pinpointed on the mini-map in the hope of a fight. It was during the following encounter where it became apparent that Breath of the Wild shares a lot of DNA with the modern RPG genre we’re now accustomed to in the west. We were able to sneak up behind two unassuming Bokoblins, and hold down the attack button to swirl Link’s axe around before smashing it down for the final killing blow, Bloodborne style.

Credit: Nintendo
Credit: Nintendo /

It’s the sort of experience anyone who’s played an Elder Scrolls title might find familiar. There were a bunch of other Bokoblins in the near vicinity, but they were preoccupied with their failed attempts to catch a fleeing wild pig for supper. Subsequently, we were able to make quick work of them using our batch of fire arrows which, as expected, did indeed pack quite the punch.

Next: Everything We Know About The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

During our demo, we also caught a glimpse of Breath of the Wild’s original story, which we’ll keep mum about for the sake of spoiling anything here. Just know that Link’s awakening in this strange and expansive new universe has also resulted in the beginning of a potentially world-changing event, which probably isn’t for the best. One of the first NPCs you meet in the game is a mysterious old man, who offers to trade his parachute if you first do him a favour. It was here, sadly, wherein our time with Breath of the Wild came to a close; we reluctantly left the booth, utterly mesmerised with what looks set to be one of Nintendo’s greatest games in recent memory.