The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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This article describes a subject regarding a game that has not yet been released. It is therefore subject to change.
Expected release: March 3, 2017
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild logo.png
NintendoSwitch TLOZBreathoftheWild boxart.jpg



Japan March 3, 2017
United States March 3, 2017
Europe March 3, 2017
Australia March 3, 2017



Nintendo EPD





Hidemaro Fujibayashi



The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the next The Legend of Zelda game to be released simultaneously on the Wii U and Nintendo Switch on March 3, 2017.


The game's development began with the team experimenting with what kind of gameplay experience the Wii U can offer.

"It's not something they're working on daily right now, but we are talking about some of the things we might be able to do with that system. The demo that we showed at E3 was really just more of a rough idea of if all we were to do was to make a Zelda game and put it in HD, this is what it might look like. We're much more interested in looking at the power of the Wii U system and seeing how we can take advantage of that power to do things that we haven't been able to do in a Zelda game before."

Aonuma, GameInformer

On November 28th, 2012, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata was asked about Nintendo Wii U versions of the Legend of Zelda and Mario and he gave the following response.

"We will announce the launch schedules for new 3D Zelda and Mario games in the future, but this is not the right opportunity for me to indicate when we will make such announcements. we develop a new hardware platform, we ask ourselves such questions as, 'what kind of new Zelda and Mario games do the software creators hope to make on this?

Satoru Iwata[1]
January 23rd, 2013 Nintendo Direct
On January 23rd, 2013 during a Nintendo Direct video stream, Eiji Aonuma updated about the progress of Zelda for the Nintendo Wii U. He stated that the game still had a significant way to go, but in the meantime, announced the remake of The Wind Waker for the Nintendo Wii U, set for release in Fall of 2013. Regarding Zelda Wii U, Aonuma particularly mentioned that Nintendo would be rethinking many of the conventions of Zelda, including the following.
  • The order a player is supposed to complete dungeons.
  • Rethinking how Zelda is a 'Play by yourself' game.

At E3 2014, Aonuma emphasized the large open world shown in the brief video, which seems to reflect this mentality.

In July 2014, Nintendo Japan's official website revealed more information about Zelda Wii U. It would be possible to explore and go anywhere in the new Zelda world without boundaries and challenge new and tougher enemies as a new, mysterious Link. However, without an official English translation, a new nemesis has been translated from this information instead of new enemies.[2]


Much is still unknown about the story in Breath of the Wild, but the basic outline was given by game creators at the E3 2016 demo. The game begins with Link is woken up by an old man and learns he was asleep for 100 years, in the Shrine of Resurrection, where he is given a device known as a Sheikah Slate. He finds the world outside to be in a state of unrest, by the actions of a monster known as Calamity Ganon, who has taken over Hyrule Castle, and whose presence has caused significant damage to the realm. It's then up to Link to stop the monster and save Hyrule once more.

A bit of text from gameplay footage, shows the Old Man character talking about the Sheikah's role in the story. He tells link this:

“The appearance of those towers and the awakening of this shrine… It’s all connected to that Sheikah Slate you carry on your hip there. Long ago, an advanced civilization known as the Sheikah inhabited these lands. It has been quite some time since I’ve seen or heard of the Sheikah Slate… It was the power and wisdom of the Sheikah that saved this land time and time again. But their civilization disappeared long ago… or so it is said. It is interesting, however, to think… that something of them might still remain hidden away in a shrine such as this,”


At the E3 2016 Nintendo Treehouse Live event, over an hour of gameplay was shown by game creators, and people attending got the first chance to play the game since it's announcement. Features such as item collection have been carried over from Skyward Sword, but appeared to be much more prominent, as Link was shown crafting over camp-fires, and being able to collect many weapons from defeated enemies.

Unlike the heart-driven health meter from previous Zelda titles, Link needs to gather and eat food to keep his health up in Breath of the Wild. This makes hunting and gathering an important part of the game. The game features heavily enhanced stealth mechanics, and Link now has a noise indicator. Meaning depending if he's in a crouch or running through tall grass, Enemies' chances of hearing him is dependent on the sounds he makes.

Enemies will now form in groups and clusters more frequently, making it possible for Link to raid enemy camps or steal supplies unnoticed. Throughout the footage, and in the trailer shown before the gameplay event, Link switched between several different outfits, each likely having their own buffs and weaknesses, requiring players to gear up before going out into harsher environments. Speaking of, Link is now affected by the cold, he will shiver and have icy breath in snowy areas, and if he gets too cold it could affect his health.

The game features weapons from previous Zelda games, such as the Bokoblin club, bows, and swords, but also introduced a whole new array of items Link can acquire on his quest through the world. During the E3 trailer, Link was climbing up trees, and on buildings and cliff-faces, he also used a Glider to descend from a high height, unlike the Sailcloth which was shown in earlier gameplay footage. Along with the clothes customization, there was also a glimpse at hairstyle options during the gameplay footage when Link uses the glider to access a new area. Link can also affect the environment much more fluidly in Breath of the Wild, as shown both in the trailer and the gameplay footage. Players can dislodge boulders to roll over enemies, and cut down trees to access more areas.

The world of Breath of the Wild is much more open-ended and non-linear, meaning there is no order to dungeons, and game choices can affect the outcome of the entire story. It has the largest map ever in a Zelda game.


The Wii U controller's screen in the tech demo featured Link's inventory and map, or a copy of the game screen. Aonuma has other plans for it as well.

"I really think [having two screens is] one of the most exciting features of the system. Unlike the Nintendo DS, there's distance between the television and you and your other screen. That really allows for some different interactions, some of which you saw [at E3]. For example, imagine having the contents of Link's satchel available to you on the screen of your controller, and using elements of the pouch to interact with gameplay on the television.

With The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, we had the Nunchuck and Wii Remote sort of stand in for the sword and shield that Link carries. But in a game for the Wii U, I can definitely see something like the controller itself becoming the different items that Link is using, allowing you to interact with the game world and with the game items in a very different way.

Aonuma, Nintendo Power

"I'd like to do things that are more surprising than [what was in the tech demo]."

Aonuma, Industry Gamers

However, it's still a possibility that we will see motion controls return. After all, after swinging your own sword to interact with the game, how could one go back to using a controller?

"Iwata: Now, can you talk about how this new controller works together with the Wii Remote that we have been using until now?
Miyamoto: Sure. Actually, as I was making it I didn't have a whole lot of doubts in my mind that the Wii Remote would still be used as it was. I feel like the Wii Remote has pretty much become its ideal form with the Wii Remote Plus.
Iwata: I see, you mean you can do just about everything you want to do with it.
Miyamoto: That's right. And when I thought whether we really needed to require the purchase of something completely new, I felt that we could continue with this way to play for another while. I feel that way even when I play The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

Iwata Asks

In an interview at E3 2012, Miyamoto hinted that the Zelda game in development for Wii U may not include motion controls after all.

"With the last game, Skyward Sword, that was a game where you had motion control to use your weapons and a lot of different items, and I thought that was a lot of fun, but there were some people who weren't able to do that or didn't like it as much and stopped playing partway through it. So we're in the phase where we're looking back at what's worked very well and what has been missing and how can we evolve it further.."

Miyamoto, Entertainment Weekly


The beautiful tech demo has gotten a lot of attention, and this time Eiji Aonuma is careful to not set our expectations in stone. What was shown at E3 is merely a demonstration of the system's power, not a teaser for a new Zelda game.

"You probably remember that when we introduced the GameCube, we showed a somewhat realistic Zelda demo, and what we actually created was the cel-shaded Wind Waker. So when we show a graphic demo, people think, 'Oh, this is what the next Zelda will look like,' but that's not necessarily the case."

Aonuma, Wired

"Well, one thing I want to emphasize here, when talking about the Wii U Zelda HD experience, is that we really built it specifically to be an experience. The idea is using Zelda as the backdrop for one of these HD experiences, what kind of representation Zelda can make there. But this is really just to show people what kind of things the console can do. And so, it's not necessarily the case that we would use that graphic style or depiction the same way we would in a new Zelda, when there is a new Zelda for the Wii U. Just like the map functionality that was also implemented in that experience - it's simply us giving an objective look at the kinds of things that can be done with the HD hardware. And Zelda happened to be the filter through which we view it in that experience. So nothing is defined right now as far as how we'll proceed."

Aonuma, Industry Gamers

Not only was the demo used to show us the graphical capabilities, but it was developed to help design the system.

"I'm on one of the committees that oversaw the general steering and direction [of the Wii U]. We talked to each other a lot about several elements, one of which was, 'How exactly will the HD graphics work?' In doing concepts for that ... we used Zelda assets quite often to examine, OK, how real will we make this look?"

Aonuma, Wired

Shigeru Miyamoto sheds some more light on what he'd like this look to be.

"This is an HD system, our first HD system, and we want to create a real HD Zelda game for it. You will see a lot of these in-depth and deep experiences in terms of visual style. You will also see some play styles that are fun and interesting because of the play structure. We are not planning on putting any restrictions in terms of requiring developers to leverage HD in a particular ways. Even if you are using a simpler visual style it will still look very beautiful."

Miyamoto, Kotaku

The E3 2014 trailer for Breath of the Wild revealed the graphics style to be advanced cel-shading, similar to the cel-shading of The Wind Waker, only with more realistic and detailed textures, lighting, and models. At the time, little else was known about the graphics, as the actual cinematic shown was extremely short and only 4 native-resolution screenshots were released.


In an edition of Iwata Asks in November of 2011, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata stated that the five year development of Skyward Sword was quite long. In response to this, Skyward Sword director Hidemaro Fujibayashi set the following goal:

"I'll think of something that can happen in three years!"

Fujibayashi, Iwata Asks

Because of this statement, many people believed that the game would be released in 2014, which was three years after 2011.

In the E3 2014 trailer for the game, the release date was officially given as 2015, but with no month or day given. Aonuma stated on Miiverse that he believes that Zelda Wii U will be playable at E3 2015 in June, [3] implying a release date after this event.

The game was eventually delayed until 2016, and was later announced in a Miiverse post by Eiji Aonuma [4] to not be shown at E3 2015. In an interview with IGN, Shigeru Miyamoto confirmed that Nintendo did have "some great Zelda footage" that would be shown at a later time. [5]

On April 27th 2016, the game was further delayed to 2017, and it was not only confirmed that the game would release both on the Wii U and the Codename NX (Nintendo Switch), but also that it would be the entire focus of E3 2016 for Nintendo. [6]