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Going Hands-On with THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD at E3

“Open your eyes.”

This is the opening line in the new trailer of the newly minted, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild–the game that so far has become the fan favorite at E3. And even though the line wraps around the Nintendo booth to check out Link’s new adventure, we got a chance to go hands-on for about an hour, and we’re here to give you a glimpse of what you can expect when it launches next year.

The demo, like the one played at the Tree House event, started off with Link waking up from a long slumber, completely disoriented. After waking, he discovered a new tablet-esque tool called the Sheikah Slate that allows him to open the doors of his tomb-like home as well as access new areas. At this point nothing is really out of the norm. Weird s*** happens to Link all the time, after all. It’s not until you find a couple of chests holding clothing in the next room when things begin to change for longtime TLoZ fans. As we predicted, these new garments now have defense ratings! Some of them even help you stay cool, or warm, which will likely play a big role once you reach distant lands.

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild Img 1

Then it happens. You walk out to find a beautiful and massive Hyrule that has most definitely aged and weathered, much like the Master Sword shown off in the trailer. As soon as you begin to take your first steps into this familiar yet foreign land, you realize that you have the freedom to go in any direction you want. Let me repeat: you can go in any direction you want, while completely ignoring your main quest. Yes, that means we’re finally getting Nintendo’s version of Skyrim. Now, if only we could loot NPCs that aren’t paying attention.

The map will indicate a couple of important spots you should visit to progress the story, but the good news is that you can choose to ignore it and go out and explore the world instead. On that note, I checked out the map in the game menu, and the world was massive. Seriously, it kept going for days! The plot of land I was on was about 1% of the game. Since I was just starting off, I chose to at least get some of the early objectives done, so I could nab a weapon and a few hints as to where to go next.

As I was finding my way through new locations, I ran into several enemies, mostly familiar grunts. The combat resembles Wind Waker‘s perfect system in the way that after locking on, you can complete several evasive moves and combos. Once defeated, these baddies will drop items–and every enemy appears to do so. Collecting these items will allow you to craft even better tools. These are RPG elements that were previously missing from this franchise, so as strange as it may seem, it makes so much sense.

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the WIld 3

Once I explored for a bit, it was time to test out some of the other mechanics in the game. First up, of course, is  jumping. This time around there’s a dedicated button that allows Link to get off the ground for a split second. But that’s not all; it also lets you climb trees, and rock formations. It’s truly liberating. One point for our hero, zero for gravity. There’s also shield surfing, which allows you to slide down slopes using your shield, and shoot arrows while you’re doing so. And if you choose to jump and use your bow and arrow, time will freeze for a second so you can get that perfect moment. When trying this out on the helpless grunts I used for target practice, I actually found myself shouting “Head-shot!”, which is something I never expected to say while playing this franchise. And while enemies usually have a weak spot, now there seems to be critical hits if you do get a head-shot. I’m sure that will be different depending on the baddie.

I unfortunately didn’t get to jump into a dungeon, but there were smaller dungeon-esque spots called shrines that appear to be completely optional. These will include the usual environmental puzzles that everyone loves. Dungeons are of course still included in the game, but this sort of reminds me of tombs from Rise of the Tomb Raider.

I’m definitely grateful that I got to play the game for an hour, but damn was it not enough. As much as I saw and learned about the new adventure, it feels like I haven’t seen anything yet. That’s an incredible excitement that I haven’t felt for a new TLoZ title in a while.

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

To sum it all up, Breath of the Wild has the potential to become an instant classic. If this does indeed launch alongside the Nintendo NX, it will become an system seller. Did you like what you saw from the trailer? What do you think about the shrines? Any theories as to what’s going on in Hyrule? Let us know in the comments below!

Watch as we break down the trailer for Breath of the Wild!

Images: Nintendo

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