Forget everything you know about The Legend of Zelda games, as Nintendo’s latest saga in the acclaimed series is like nothing Link has ever seen before. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild features an open-world environment 12x larger than Twilight Princess‘ overworld.
Set after the events in Ocarina of Time, an emnesiac Link — the game’s boy hero — awakens from a 100-year slumber to a mysterious voice that guides him to defeat Calamity Ganon. Breath of the Wild is the 19th title in the Zelda series, and the first time that voice acting is present in the franchise.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be released March 3 via Nintendo Switch and Wii U, the latter being the last Nintendo-produced title for the console.
Here are five fast facts you need to know:
1. Gameplay Mechanics Are Slightly Different & Link Can Jump!
One of the most intriguing aspects of Breath of the Wild, is the land of Hyrule’s expansive environment. As noted above, Link’s native land is 12x larger than the map in Twilight Princess which was quite large in itself.
There are also less emphasis placed on defined entrances and exits, giving the game a more open-world feel. No more getting frustrated because you can’t figure out how to leave the area.
Another first in the franchise, Link can now jump and climb most surfaces!
Like every other Zelda title, Link is thrown into Hyrule with very little direction allowing the player to explore freely at their own pace. In an interview with IGN, developers said they fell in love with the idea of “getting lost” in the game:
“During development I noticed this idea of actually getting lost is fun,” Aonuma admitted. “… but when everything in the world is connected, [you end up] challenging something in a way that ‘I think this is going to work’ and then discover that ‘Oh, this isn’t going to work.’ It’s not actually a painful experience.” It’s actually fun,” he said.
2. There Are 900 Puzzles, Over 100 Dungeons & 76 Side Quests To Complete
It really wouldn’t be Zelda without puzzles. In Breath of the Wild, Nintendo is going overboard with more than 100 “Shrines of Trials” hidden to discover throughout the map and explore. The shrines are basically mini-dungeons and will contain various types of puzzles to solve and enemies to defeat.
Due to the game’s open-world environment, each puzzle will have multiple solutions involving physics and will force players to think outside the box. Internet users spotted a Breath of the Wild game guide available on Amazon UK before it was removed. According to Nintendo Insider, the guide revealed information on side quests, shrines and more:
The guide, which will be published by Piggyback, promises to provide a comprehensive breakdown that covers: “120 Shrine mini-dungeons, 900 Korok seed puzzles, 76 side quests all mapped out and ready for you to discover and complete! Also includes optional challenges, mini-games, unlockables, Easter eggs, and more.”
3. Items Will Come From A 6-Tiered Menu & Weapons Now Have Stats and Durability
Catching up with modern role-playing games like Skyrim and World of Warcraft, Link’s weapons and other items in Breath of the Wild are displayed in a six-tiered menu system. Instead of his standard item pouch, Link’s inventory is expanded into six categories; including weapons, bows and arrows, sheilds, armor, materials and food.
Weapons will have varying stats and will break after excessive use, but many will have multiple uses throughout the game. For example, shields can be used as makeshift snowboards and tree branches can be used to light fires.
Link will still use the Sheikah Slate — technology that allows you to look at Hyrule’s map, investigate enemy stats and allows Link to create waypoints — and by discovering various runes, the Slate can be upgraded with various powers to create bombs, control magnetic objects and even stopping time.
4. You Will Have To Work For Link’s Iconic Weapons & Items
If you think you are just going to jump in and fight villains with Link’s Master Sword and Hylian Shield, you better think again. This go around, Nintendo is making players start from the bottom and work for those iconic Zelda items.
Even Link’s famous green tunic is an item that has to be worked towards. In an interview with IGN, Aonuma said:
“The blue clothing that you see (in the E3 2014 demo) actually has an important role in the story itself,” he said. “Every time we make a Zelda, we think about the story and then we adapt Link to that story. So we’ve obviously used the green tunic a lot in the previous Zelda titles, but yeah the current blue one plays an important role in the story.”
Another interesting aspect of the game is the fact that, depending on the player’s location on the map, Link will need to properly equip himself with the right clothing and weapons. Players can also equip Link with a suit of armor.
There will also be various types of elixirs that Link will be able to drink, allowing him to venture into Hyrule’s colder areas half-naked.
5. You Can Beat the Game Without Playing Any Missions
Speedrunning — the art of completing a game as fast as possible — is something that will always be synonymous with Nintendo, thanks in part to Mario and Donkey Kong, and it looks like the upcoming Zelda title will continue that trend.
In an interview with Polygon, Aonuma said:
“Users may not actually get the full story depending on how they play this game and how they strategize and solve puzzles,” producer Eiji Aonuma said. “Users are able to go to the very end goal without revealing why Link woke up the way he did and where he did. Whether you want to reveal the storyline and find out why Link woke up, or you want to just go straight to the goal, that’s an option totally up to the user.”
When Polygon asked directly if a player could reach the game’s final boss from the beginning of the game, he stated:
“Anybody who can go straight to the goal without doing anything else — there’s two possibilities,” Aonuma said. “Either they’re a really good gamer, or they could be somebody that’s a little bit crazy. But it’s not impossible. I created the game like that. Maybe it might be fun for fans to compete in a challenge for who can clear it first.”