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This week at the Game Awards, Nintendo showed off the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild… twice! They unveiled a new trailer in the pre-show and about five minutes of gameplay during the actual show. When the show ended, the winner of the Most Anticipated Game award seemed to ask more questions than to answer them.
Let’s start with the second video as it doesn’t contain story analysis. Nintendo of America’s Bill Trinen and Nate Bihldorff did a prerecorded Let’s Play video of a dungeon raid on the Wii U version of the game. First took is that Link talks to a minstrel bird person (Rito?) named Kass, who adds lyrics to the Breath of the Wild theme: “Where the dragon’s mouth meets the serpent’s jaws/A shrine sleeps in the forest with noble cause.”
This referred to a dungeon called the Zonai Ruins, where a stone snake gives a clue. Link, donned in a nice cranberry-colored tunic, raids it. Bill takes a straightforward approach and dies by an electric arrow. But Nate shows off that you can travel through dungeons more non-linearly, and takes a more stealth route with his bow.
He swims around, climbs a wall and takes high ground. Nate snipes a headshot on an enemy (Lizalfos) and shows that arrows drop after some distance (guessing drop distance varies on the equipped bow) by killing another. He then uses the glider to hover above another enemy and strikes it down with his sword. The glider can be used in various fashions like sledding on shields. When Nate arrives at the boss and a shining altar (which we never know what’s in it), we realize that the statues are actually chameleon-like enemies who ambush him. After a straightforward fight, Nate defeats the enemy and the demo ends.
How this is huge for Zelda, as nonlinearity in dungeons are a first. Fans of open-world games, especially ones with stealth like Metal Gear Solid V, are in for more of the same. That’s totally not a bad thing as Zelda was overdue for a refresh. It seems to be taking the concept and is running with it. It’s not just Zelda either. Now that Japanese developers are taking to open-worlds with games like Xenoblade Chronicles X, Final Fantasy XV and the aforementioned Metal Gear Solid V, we are really seeing the open-world concept going in excellent new directions. FINALLY.
The pre-show trailer was fast and short, and like a previously mentioned, made more questions than answered them.
The trailer begins with a moving piece of art, with a Sheikah tear (like the ones that power up your tablet in-game), and grows trees. It then shows trees in both a spring and autumn flavor. I’m guessing are two different areas, not that seasons change. Then it finally shows something people were paranoid were missing after seeing the game at E3: People.
A village actually. The trailer, called “Life in the Ruins,” shows fans that people are doing just that, living among ruins of an old Hyrule. People have farms and are fighting enemies to keep themselves and others alive. Then it cuts to Link.
He witnesses a bird person (again, Rito?) fly up to a bird-shaped airship. Another piece of art answers something that was an easy guess: Those Guardians Link fights in the gameplay? There are supposed to guard Hyrule Castle. But since Calamity Ganon has control of the castle, it means he controls the Guardians.
Then this above shot arises. That’s very similar to Link’s clothes in Breath of the Wild (with some yellow trim), but that’s very much NOT his body. If the long hair isn’t a dead giveaway, the breasts are. We’ve seen Link shirtless, so this isn’t a “he’s a girl the entire time” scenario. Is this Linkle with a possible female option? Perhaps Zelda? Or are Link and this woman Sheikah and are wearing similar tribal clothes? My guess is the second option, and it’s just that, a guess. My wish is the first option, but I think it’s a story-related shot the more I see it.
The next shot shows Hyrule Castle shooting magical explosions in and all around it, in the same color as Calamity Ganon. It leaves Hyrule Castle Town nearby (maybe?) decimated. But the last shot, shown below, shows Link bowing to a woman in a blue dress. My guess is that it’s this era’s Impa with the color scheme, but that’s nothing but speculation.
These new videos further strengthen a theory I had with Breath of the Wild, and that is its place in the timeline: between Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker. The Korok confirmation shown at E3 and the Rito-looking creatures from the Game Awards shows that the Kokori and the Zora evolved, which only happens in the “Hero of Winds and the New World” branching timeline. It can’t be in the new land where Spirit Tracks takes since the Temple of Time and Hyrule Castle are there, which are only in Hyrule.
It’s before Wind Waker since Hyrule isn’t flooded yet, so it takes place during an “Era Without A Hero,” between when Ganondorf is resurrected and Hyrule is sealed and flooded. Wind Waker’s intro states that the hero doesn’t return after Ganon’s resurrection. They believe to be someone in green, confirmed with Wind Waker Link receiving green “Hero’s Clothes” by his grandmother. That makes the Hyruleans beg the Goddesses to save Hyrule, in turn makes them flood the land.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild launched in “2017” for Nintendo Switch and Wii U. No March on that release hints that it won’t make Switch’s launch.