The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the latest in Nintendo’s long-running Zelda series, set for release in 2017 for both the Wii U and Nintendo Switch.
There was never a doubt that this game would show up as one of our most anticipated games of 2017: after all, every release in The Legend of Zelda series is worthy of excitement. Whether you like the spatial reasoning and puzzles, the music, the action, or just want to return to the fairytale kingdom of Hyrule, the best Zelda games have had something for everyone.
Breath of the Wild looks to be no exception, this time taking the “see that mountain, you can climb it,” essence of Skyrim quite literally, as Link will be able to jump on and climb almost anything in the game’s open world. If that were not enough already, Breath of the Wild also breaks with other recent Zelda conventions including the long introductory tutorial and the linear pattern of dungeon to overworld to dungeon.
Yet despite these changes, Breath of the Wild promises something for fans of every era of Zelda games, and in the process highlights just how forward-thinking the series has always been.
The beautiful cel-shaded art and combat hark back to The Wind Waker, while the freedom to go in any direction recalls the original The Legend of Zelda. The untamed countryside with its scattered bandit camps share wild-west aspirations with Twilight Princess, and at the same time the ancient technology echoes Skyward Sword.
As for the actual story, Nintendo have been uncharacteristically quiet about the details, although this might change in the coming months. We do know that at the start of Breath of the Wild, Link awakens from a long sleep at the sound of a mysterious voice. He discovers that 100 years ago, a being known as Calamity Ganon laid waste to Hyrule before being trapped within Hyrule Castle.
Now, Hyrule is only just recovering. Ruins dot the countryside and the tentacular “Guardians” are motionless, growing moss like the robots in Castle in the Sky. Link’s mission, should he choose to accept it, is to find a way to defeat Calamity Ganon before he can break free and destroy the world.
Back during E3 2011, the first sign of Zelda on Nintendo’s then-next-generation Wii U was a brilliant-looking adaptation of Twilight Princess. Of course, the team were always clear that it was only a tech demo, but it sparked the collective imaginations of fans everywhere. Prior to this, Eiji Aonuma, the long-time manager of the series, had already been dropping hints that the next main title for home consoles would be a departure from the traditional Zelda formula.
Then, during E3 2014, a teaser trailer debuted for Zelda Wii U and confirmed many of the rumours and speculation about its open world design (or “open air” in Nintendo’s words). At this point, the game was still slated for 2015, though it was delayed into 2016 the following March.
A year later, the game was delayed again into 2017, and Nintendo announced that the game would be coming to the Switch (then known as the NX) as well as the Wii U. Monolith Soft, developers of the Xenoblade Chronicles series, were also confirmed to be assisting with development.
Finally, at E3 2016, the game was officially revealed with a new trailer and many hours of gameplay footage, both from the Nintendo Treehouse and from the various media outlets’ hands-on time. Even among other big reveals like Resident Evil VII and the new God of War, excitement for Breath of the Wild swept the show and resulted in a record turn out at Nintendo’s booth.
Even when put up against the other big action games of 2017, Breath of the Wild looks to stand its own. As an open-world adventure, Zelda games can be denser with puzzles and secrets than Red Dead Redemption’s sparse frontier; and as a four-quadrant crowd-pleaser, it can beat the equally exciting Horizon: Zero Dawn by not having a mature rating.
If Breath of the Wild can live up to even a quarter of what Nintendo are promising, it will still be one of the most exciting single player games of 2017 and a killer app for the soon-to-be-released Nintendo Switch. That is why it makes the list of our ten most anticipated games this year.