The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
🌎 March 3, 2017
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the latest installment in The Legend of Zelda series, taking place long after the events of Ocarina of Time. It was released simultaneously on the Wii U and Nintendo Switch on March 3, 2017. As of September 30, 2020, 19.74 million copies of the game have been sold worldwide on Switch, plus at least 1.6 million Wii U copies. A sequel was announced at E3 2019.
Even before the release of Skyward Sword for the Wii, Zelda fans received a preview of what a new HD Zelda release might look like for the Wii U at E3 2011. The 2011 Zelda HD tech demo showcased the hardware capabilities of the then upcoming Wii U. 
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!"
Because of this statement, many people believed that the game would be released in 2014, which was three years after 2011.
By late 2012, it had been confirmed that a new HD title for the Wii U was in development.
"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.
...as 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?"
A few months later in January of 2013, it was confirmed by producer Eiji Aonuma that a number of changes would be coming with the new game, which were brought on by the desire to "rethink the conventions of Zelda". Among these changes would be the ability to complete dungeons in any order the player desired. 
For E3 2014, the world was given its first real look into what the new Zelda would look like with a brief gameplay trailer. With this new footage came several full resolution screenshots and additional information about the game. With the ability to choose the order in which dungeons were completed came a massive open world, inspired by the feel of the original Legend of Zelda from 1986. It was also announced that the game was scheduled to be released in 2015. 
In Q1 of 2015, Nintendo announced that the new Zelda would be delayed until 2016 and would not be shown at E3 that year, owing to the desire to give the developers ample time to bring "all these ideas to life" and focus completely on their work.  Then, on April 27, 2016 an additional delay was announced pushing the game's release further out to 2017. It was also announced that the title would be released simultaneously on the Wii U and upcoming Switch (then known as the NX), and that the game would be Nintendo's focus of E3 2016. 
The long anticipated E3 2016 reveal unveiled the title of the new game as Breath of the Wild, and offered fans a chance to play the game for 30 minutes in an area known as the Great Plateau, which is only 1% the game's total area. Reception to the playable demo of the game was immediately and overwhelmingly positive with its art style and massive open world gameplay. Many notable changes to the franchise were noted as well, including the weapon and food collection system and associated survival mechanics, new combat techniques, and the presence of the Sheikah Slate as a technological aid to Link's quest. 
During the Nintendo Live Treehouse Switch event on January 13, 2017, it was announced via a new trailer that Breath of the Wild would be released simultaneously with the Nintendo Switch on March 3, 2017. 
At launch on March 3rd, 2017, Special and Master Edition packages were released in limited quantities. Both packages included the game itself; however, additional items included an audio CD containing 24 musical selections from the game, the Sheikah Eye coin that was first given away to E3 2016 attendees, the Relic of Hyrule: Calamity Ganon tapestry and weather worn map, and a unique Sheikah Slate Switch console carrying case. The Master Edition also included a statuette of the Master Resurrection Sword.
By the end of the month, less than four weeks after release, it was announced that 3.84 million copies of the game had been sold worldwide.  By early September, Breath of the Wild had outsold Twilight Princess in Japan. 
- Main article: Breath of the Wild Story
Link awakens to the call of an unfamiliar voice after a long slumber, with no memory of his identity or whereabouts. Venturing outside the Shrine of Resurrection onto the Great Plateau, the strange voice gives Link instructions to make his way to the point on his map. Along the way, Link meets a mysterious Old Man, who seems to know more about Link and his past than he initially reveals. After completing a series of challenges tasked to him by the Old Man, Link embarks upon a journey to restore his memories, learn about the past, confront Calamity Ganon residing in Hyrule Castle and restore peace to Hyrule.
Breath of the Wild is the latest installment in the move toward more realistic and environmentally immersive game play in The Legend of Zelda series. While previous games have tip-toed carefully toward this from the limited ability to pick up enemy weapons in The Wind Waker to the extensive collection system, exhaustion meter, and shield degradation in Skyward Sword, Breath of the Wild has taken a giant leap forward down this avenue and relies heavily on survival mechanics.
Gone are the days of heart collecting to restore health. Link must now hunt, gather, and cook to survive in Hyrule. Different combinations of ingredients help in various ways from restoring health to adding additional hearts on the end of the health meter to providing extra warmth for a limited time to combat cold weather.
Scavenging does not just pertain to food that can be cooked, though. Link, like his The Wind Waker counterpart, can pick up enemy weapons and use them. While the Hero of Winds was confined to using those weapons on the same screen on which they were acquired, this Link can add any weapon he picks up to his inventory and use it until it breaks, otherwise he loses it. Tunics and armor can also be changed out for look or functionality. A quilted tunic, for instance, will stop Link from losing health to the cold in snowy areas.
Weapons are not everything, though. The new Sheikah Slate is an important part of Link's arsenal and allows Link – once the runes have been learned in Sheikah Shrines – to do things such as create columns of ice from water, build different types of bombs, and, with the Wolf Amiibo from Twilight Princess HD, summon a companion Wolf Link to fight alongside him. Stealth mechanics and a noise indicator also make interaction with the wilder elements of the game more involved. The level of noise Link is creating can alert enemies to his presence, scare off prey, and even spook a horse Link is trying to mount or tame.
A dynamic system of horses is one new addition. Any horse that you find in the wild can be mounted and tamed and brought to one of the many stables in the game, where it can be named. You can also summon your horses by whistling; however, they cannot hear you if you are too far away.
The land of Hyrule itself is full of exploration potential. Breath of the Wild is a truly open world game hearkening back to the original The Legend of Zelda, getting rid of the need to play the game in any sort of order. In fact, nearly the entire story can be skipped while still completing the game. The large terrain can be traversed using horses Link has tamed, or by using warp points at Sheikah Shrines and Towers, and there are many opportunities to use the environment and runes in the Sheikah Slate to open up ways to new areas. If you can see it, you can go there, and with the largest map of any The Legend of Zelda game, that is an adventure all in itself.
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."
"I'd like to do things that are more surprising than [what was in the tech demo]."
However, it is 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."
In an interview at E3 2012, Miyamoto hinted that the The Legend of 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.."
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 The Legend of 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."
"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."
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?"
Shigeru Miyamoto sheds some more light on what he would 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."
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.
- Main article: Breath of the Wild Expansion Pass
On February 15th, 2017 it was announced that Breath of the Wild would be the first console The Legend of Zelda game in history to get downloadable content. Marketed as an 'Expansion Pass', two installments were identified with an additional expansion pack bonus available at time of purchase. The DLC was originally priced at US$19.99.
Expansion Pass Bonus (Available starting March 3rd, 2017)
Upon purchase of the Expansion Pass, consumers will immediately gain access to three new treasure chests in the Great Plateau region of the game. One will contain a Nintendo Switch Shirt that Link can wear, and the other two contain Bomb Arrows and a Ruby.
DLC Pack 1: "The Master Trials" (Available starting June 30th, 2017)
- Trial of the Sword
- Master Mode
- Hero's Path Map Feature
- Masks and Armor
- Travel Medallion
DLC Pack 2: "The Champions' Ballad" (Available starting December 8th, 2017)
- Divine Beast Tamer's Trial
- Masks and Armor
- Horse Gear
- Main article: Breath of the Wild Amiibo
There are currently fifteen amiibo that give specific bonus items in Breath of the Wild, some items that can be acquired normally in the game, some that are only accessible by the amiibo. However, any other amiibo can be used with the game and will provide random items.
- Main article: Breath of the Wild Characters
- Main article: Gallery:Breath of the Wild Enemies
- Main article: Breath of the Wild Items
- Main article: Gallery:Breath of the Wild
- ↑ "Breath of the Wild Doesn't Fit Anywhere on the Zelda Timeline" - Kotaku
- ↑ "IR Information: Sales Data - Top Selling Title Sales Units" - 
- ↑ "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Has Sold Nearly 18 Million Units" - 
- ↑ "E3 2011: Zelda Goes HD on Wii U" - IGN
- ↑ "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. " — Interview:Game Informer October 2011. Aonuma, GameInformer, Breath of the Wild
- ↑ "New 3D Zelda and Mario Games are in the Works for Wii U" - GenGAME
- ↑ "Nintendo will ‘rethink the conventions of Zelda’ on Wii U" - VentureBeat
- ↑ "E3 2014: The Legend of Zelda for Wii U First Details" - IGN
- ↑ "The Legend of Zelda for Wii U delayed until 2016, and won't be at E3" - DigitalTrends
- ↑ "Zelda Wii U Delayed to 2017, Also Coming to NX" - IGN
- ↑ ["E3 2016: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Might Be The Open World Zelda We Always Wanted" - IGN
- ↑ The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Release Date Confirmed
- ↑ Zelda: Breath of the Wild Limited Edition - What comes with each release?
- ↑ "Sales Numbers for the Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" - Kotaku
- ↑ ["Zelda: Breath of the Wild surpasses sales of Twilight Princess in Japan" Nintendo Everything
Zelda HD Full Tech Demo E3 2011
Eiji Aonuma Talk about the Zelda HD Experience at E3 2011
Zelda Wii U at E3 2014
Zelda Wii U Gameplay Demo at The Game Awards 2014
The Legend of Zelda Wii U - Teaser (November 2015)
The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild Game Trailer (June 2016)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Nintendo Switch Presentation 2017
9 Minutes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Treehouse Live
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Nintendo Treehouse: Live with Nintendo Switch
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Expansion Pass - Nintendo E3 2017