The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the latest installment in the The Legend of Zelda series and was 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 could 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."
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.
...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?"
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.
Ten thousand years ago, an ancient race known as the Sheikah created the Guardians and the Divine Beasts to watch over and protect Hyrule. These constructs would assist in defending Hyrule against the inevitable return of Ganon, who sought to destroy the land and the Hylian people. The Guardians were built to protect the princess and her appointed knight from Ganon as they, assisted by the Divine Beasts, assaulted and defeated Ganon. Over time, the tale of Calamity Ganon and the Divine Beasts became nothing more than a legend, until the day a prophecy was made foretelling the imminent return of the evil beast.
With this in mind, King Rhoam and the Hylian people uncovered the ancient relics and learned to control them in preparation for Ganon's return. In addition, Princess Zelda commanded Link, her knight and the chosen Hero of Hyrule, along with four individuals known as the Champions to pilot each of the Divine Beasts. Each champion was selected to represent the unique races Hyrule was composed of. They included Mipha of the Zora, Daruk of the Gorons, Urbosa of the Gerudo, and Revali of the Rito.
Zelda had been trying to unlock the power to seal away the Calamity as the reincarnation of the Goddess Hylia by praying at the spiritual springs. Frustrated with her lack of success, Zelda visited the one remaining spring on her 17th birthday in a final attempt to awaken her powers, but was again unsuccessful. Just as she was bringing this news to Link and the other Champions, Ganon returned. He took control of the Guardians and the Divine Beasts, killed King Rhoam and the four Divine Beast Champions, and left much of Hyrule in ruin. Unable to access the sealing power, Zelda and Link retreat from the castle. As an army of Guardians approached Link and Zelda in the aftermath of Ganon's attack, Zelda finally unlocked her sealing power out of desperation to protect the gravely wounded and exhausted Link. After Zelda destroyed the approaching Guardians, she found Link collapsed at her side and had him taken to the Shrine of Resurrection, where after a deep sleep he would recover and be ready to fight Ganon once again. Princess Zelda returned the sacred Master Sword to its resting spot in the Korok Forest, and used her power to contain Ganon within Hyrule Castle until Link awakened.
A century after the events of the return Calamity Ganon and death of the champions and king, Link woke from his slumber in the Shrine of Resurrection to a mysterious voice, not knowing who or where he was. After walking out onto the Great Plateau, he met an Old Man, later revealed as the spirit of King Rhoam in disguise. The King tells Link that Princess Zelda has been gradually losing her power to contain Ganon, who will soon break free of his prison. To obtain the power to defeat Ganon, Link must regain his lost memories and unlock the power he once possessed.
Assisted with guidance from several Sheikah who were present during the events of 100 years prior, Link travels to the four corners of Hyrule from which the Champions hailed. One by one, he retook control of the Divine Beasts from Ganon and freed the spirits of the Champions. He then proceeded to Hyrule Castle and defeated Calamity Ganon, freeing Princess Zelda, rescuing Hyrule, and fulfilling their destinies as Hyrule's protectors. Afterwards, the two set out to rebuild Hyrule to its former glory.
Breath of the Wild is the latest installment in the move towards more realistic and environmentally immersive game play in the Legend of Zelda series. While previous games have tip-toed carefully towards 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 doesn't just pertain to food that can be cooked, though. Link, like his 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, though, this Link can add any weapon he picks up to his inventory and use it until it breaks, or he otherwise loses it. Tunics and armor can also be changed out for look or functionality. A quilted tunic, for instance, in a snowy area will stop Link from losing health to the cold.
Weapons aren't 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 along side 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 tame.
A dynamic system of horses is one new addition. Any horse that you find in the wild can be tamed and brought to one of the many stables in the game, where it can be named. You can also call your horses, but they can't hear you if you are too far away from a stable.
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 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 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 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'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."
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.."
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."
"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'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."
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!"
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,  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  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. 
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. 
At the Treehouse Live Nintendo Switch event on January 13th, 2017, a new trailer was released which revealed the release date of the game to be March 3rd, 2017, the same day as The Switch launch making it a confirmed launch title for the new system. 
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 which 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.
On February 15th, 2017 it was announced that Breath of the Wild would be the first 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.
Expansion Pack 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 will contain 'useful items'.
DLC Pack 1 (Available starting Summer 2017)
- Adds a new Cave of Trials challenge
- New Hard Mode
- Additional Map Feature
DLC Pack 2 (Available starting Winter 2017)
- New original story
- New dungeon
- Additional challenges
There are currently fifteen amiibo that give specific bonus items in Breath of the Wild, some items which can be acquired normally in game, some that are only accessible by the amiibo. However, any other amiibo can be used with the game and will provide random items. 
- Link: The Legend of Zelda
Potential Chest Items: A chance of one of the three pieces of the 'Hero's Outfit (original Legend of Zelda)', sword, assorted weapons
Non-Chest Items: Barrels with rupees and arrows
- Link: Ocarina of Time
Potential Chest Items: A chance of one of the three pieces of the 'Ocarina of Time Outfit', Biggoron's sword, assorted weapons
Non-Chest Items: Raw Meat
- Smash Bros Toon Link & Toon Link: The Wind Waker
Potential Chest Items: A chance of one of the three pieces of the 'Wind Waker Outfit', Sea-Breeze Boomerang, assorted weapons, elemental arrows
Non-Chest Items: Fish
- Smash Bros Link
Chest Items: One time summon of Epona (the only way you can get her in the game, register immediately), a chance of one of the three pieces of the 'Twilight Outfit', potentially any of an assortment of swords, shields, and elemental arrows
Non-Chest Items: Assorted fruits and cooking materials
- Wolf Link: Twilight Princess
Wolf Link will appear in your game as a companion with the same stats as was saved on it from the Twilight Princess HD Cave of Trials. He will attack enemies on his own and help you find hidden items.
- Link (Rider): Breath of the Wild
Potential Chest Items: Traveler's bridle, Traveler's saddle, assorted weapons, elemental arrows
Non-Chest Items: Mushrooms
- Link (Archer): Breath of the Wild
Potential Chest Items: Assorted bows, elemental arrows
Non-Chest Items: Fish, raw meat, and arrows
- Zelda: The Wind Waker
Potential Chest Items: Hero's shield, gems, assorted shields
Non-Chest Items: Herbs, flowers, and vegetables
- Smash Bros Zelda
Potential Chest Items: Twilight Bow, various bows, various gems
Non-Chest Items: Herbs, flowers, vegetables
- Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Potential Chest Items: Hylian Shield (can be found in game without amiibo), star fragments, gems, assorted shields
Non-Chest Items: Herbs, flowers, vegetables
- Smash Bros Sheik
Chest Items: Sheik's Mask, various Sheikah weapons, elemental arrows
Non-Chest Items: Mushrooms
- Smash Bros Ganon
Potential Chest Items: Sword of the Six Sages, Gems, Monster Parts
Non-Chest Items: Barrels that are either explosive or contain rupees and arrows
- Bokoblin: Breath of the Wild
Potential Chest Items: Assorted Bokoblin weapons and shields, elixers
Non-Chest Items: Raw meat and monster parts
- Guardian: Breath of the Wild
Potential Chest Items: Assorted Guardian weapons and shields, guardian arrows, ancient cores
Non-Chest Items: It will spawn metal chests which have valuable gems, arrows, and machine parts
- Wii U Tech Demo
- E3 2016
- Switch Presentation 2017
- ↑ "New 3D Zelda and Mario Games are in the Works for Wii U" - GenGAME
- ↑ "New Detailed & Insightful Zelda U 'New Enemy' Translation" - Rev-Level
- ↑ Eiji Aonuma's Miiverse post about Zelda Wii U (translated)
- ↑ Eiji Aonuma's Miiverse post about E3 2015's lack of Zelda Wii U
- ↑ Shigeru Miyamoto's confirmation of footage for Zelda Wii U
- ↑ Zelda U will launch in 2017 on both Wii U and NX, playable at E3 2016 (Updated)
- ↑ The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Released Date Confirmed
- ↑ Zelda: Breath of the Wild Limited Edition - What comes with each release?
- ↑ Zelda Breath of the Wild Amiibo Unlock Guide
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