E3 2016: Nintendo’s Zelda Creating Big Ripples

E3 2016 Expectations

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

In complete honesty, I didn’t expect much from E3 2016. With the growing presence of the Internet, the need for a gargantuan press event seems to shrink by the day. However, the spectacle of E3 still makes me long for it. Like a kid wishing to go to Disneyland.

I spent most of E3 2016 watching the the most unlikely of candidates: Nintendo.

I need to make a special shout out for Sony. They delivered a press event that left people on the edge of their seats with nonstop, impressive showings with titles such as Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Last Guardian, and a surprising empathetic twist on God of War (a bloodthirsty game that typically doesn’t appeal to me). Sony’s dive in VR this autumn was the cherry on top. Despite this, I spent most of E3 2016 watching the the most unlikely of candidates: Nintendo.

Long gone are the days of Nintendo’s press conference and their substitute for it, Nintendo Direct, was nonexistent. Although, they did stick around with Nintendo Treehouse Live, a tradition they started a couple years ago. Being unable to attend E3, I am thankful for Nintendo’s streaming approach. It allowed viewers a detailed look at upcoming titles. Particularly The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

The Booth

Nintendo clearly knows how popular their Zelda franchise is and they weren’t afraid to pull out all the stops promoting it this year. Zelda’s grandeur overshadowed everything else Nintendo had to show, even news about Pokémon Sun & Moon and Pokémon GO. Heck, it would be difficult to even call their section of E3 this year a “Nintendo” booth. It was 100% a Zelda booth with such focus to detail, any Zelda fan would be envious of all the E3 attendees who got a taste of this living, breathing Hyrulean attraction.

Nintendo E3 2016 Booth

The Demo

Zelda fans welcomed this love letter from Nintendo. It signaled that Nintendo heard the plea for a large, open world. Breath of the Wild’s E3 build purposefully lacked towns or notable NPCs to avoid spoiling the story. Still, the Great Plateau (an area of the game that the demo was limited to) and its shrines, which are supplementary to dungeons, offered plenty to see. This may be partially because the Zelda development team took a unique approach to storytelling in this game. Story elements are largely revealed through the environment instead of narrative.

Shigeru Miyamoto, who had the role of ensuring natural movement and interaction, said that interacting with nature and the wilderness is key to discovering who you are in Breath of the Wild.

The environment plays such a key role in this game, the developers focused on blending the music with environmental sounds. Even Link’s clothing need to be adjusted with the surroundings in mind. Shigeru Miyamoto, who had the role of ensuring natural movement and interaction, said that interacting with nature and the wilderness is key to discovering who you are in Breath of the Wild. This is revolutionary for the franchise, but it also marks a return to form. It has an emphasis on exploration, very much like the original title which started it all. In many ways, Breath of the Wild is the 1986 title redefined for a new generation of players.

The Amiibo

Revealed were three beautiful Breath of the Wild amiibo figurines: Archer Link, Rider Link, and a Guardian. However, a previously released amiibo is what really caught everyone’s attention. This is because the Wolf Link amiibo makes the best use of amiibo functionality seen yet. While playing Breath of the Wild, tapping the Wolf Link amiibo will bring Wolf Link as furry, combat-ready canine partner in the game. It’s an amiibo feature that makes me quiver with excitement. Admittedly, for the first time.

Wolf Link in Breath of the Wild

Final Thoughts

Beyond Zelda, Nintendo’s event was notably lackluster, but clearly they’re doing something correct. By every right, Nintendo should’ve been only a blip on the E3 radar this year. Instead, it created a notable splash with Breath of the Wild that left many thirsting for more. It is a testament to the legacy Nintendo was able to establish with this IP across multiple generations of gamers. We all long for another adventure across Hyrule.

Write Down Some Thoughts