Just a bit earlier today, I was granted one of the lucky golden tickets to be able to participate in the demo experiences for the new Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It’s a real doozy and with this demo having been played the delays were entirely worthwhile.
My name is Link. After one Hundred Years of Slumber I’ve Awoken With Only One Goal. Survive.
Following a brief trailer on the big screen, we were escorted into the exhibit, which is an article in itself. That will be spoken of on a later date. Let’s just focus on the game, which had us placed at the screen with GamePad in hand, with a few small instructions on how to play the game.
First Demo – The Great Plateau
The first demo had Link begin at the Great Plateau, and from that point on, it became a fight to survive this enormous world. The main focus of Breath of the Wild is in exploration, going completely against the grain with set stories and tutorials that have players spending hours learning incredibly basic stuff. Players can apparently advance to the final boss (not in the demo) without experiencing story. From the get go, I had to start immediately foraging for food. Food is the gateway to survival in this, because no longer are hearts the way to recover health in the over world. Food will restore fractions of hearts at a time, and players are encouraged to collect in bulk.
Admittedly, being the explorer rather than the directive fighter, I spent a lot of time in the first demo just walking around the fields, picking up food and finding new weapons to play with. Being able to jump around, cook food, climb trees, cut down trees, the game is teeming with all-new kinds of life never really seen in Zelda.
The map of this Hyrule is just absurdly vast. With The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess’s Hyrule in mind, the map of this Hyrule makes that one look like child’s play at twelve times the size. The demo map, vast as it is, is one percent of the world. Link is just a small dot in the vast world. If you can see it, you can travel to it, albeit eventually. Climb, run, walk, play stealth mode, it’s all there and the world of Hyrule for Breath of the Wild is just an enormous sandbox.
Combat is a lot more strategic this time around. With the idea of weapons being entirely breakable, it adds a whole new layer of complexity to the system. Enemies are sometimes not advised to be fought against. Equipment also plays a factor and can influence how one fights. I know that with bows and arrows, arrows can be picked up for use again and again. It’s tough because the resources are so varying in their usages. I admittedly spent about two thirds of this demo just collecting things, leaving no stones unturned and trying my hand at cooking, which can be done at any campfire. The cooking subtitles are great as well, with titles such as “Dubious Food” with hilarious subtexts to accompany them.
This first demo had me find a small shrine that led underground, where I got to explore and find absolutely nothing by moving platforms with the magnet mechanic. It’s great, so great. Sometimes these explorations turn up empty handed. Pushing L activates the magnet, and upon finding a metal surface, it goes from red to yellow. Pressing A grabs it, and players can move it around, making their own platforms for usage. I completed this mini-dungeon, and once I got outside, the demo had officially ended. The second demo will be discussed tomorrow.
All in all, I was concerned about the singular title that Nintendo would have in store. I was incredibly, and I mean incredibly shocked at the number of people that turned up just as the show floor opened. A four minute delay getting to the booth led to a four hour queue. I managed to squeeze in at the end of the evening, thankfully, and it was entirely worth the wait because the demo can be done with an endless combination of explorations with different outcomes.