An In-Depth Look at the New Mechanics of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

There’s so much to talk about when it comes to the new Wii U and NX installation to the Zelda franchise, Breath of the Wild. It’s clear that Nintendo went well out of their way to try and modernize the old Zelda formula which is looking absolutely fantastic so far! The story hasn’t been fully given to us so we’ll mostly be talking about the new mechanics that Breath of the Wild offers.

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Let’s start from the beginning: Link wakes up in a place called the Shrine of Resurrection with nothing on him but a pair of briefs. No other clothes or weapons. Very early on we get to see that each piece of equipment has stats. You read right: STATS, as in RPG-style attack and defense numbers. Weapons also have their own durability, meaning you’ll be finding and switching out weapons throughout the course of the game. On that note, there is a limited inventory space so that you can only hold a certain amount of items in each category. The inventory is separated in categories by weapons, shields, armors, foods, and materials. It seems like you’ll be able to craft your own weapons and create some tasty dishes using the materials found from enemies and across the world.

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During the presentation it was said again and again that this new installation is supposed to capture the feeling of the very first Legend of Zelda from 1985 where you’re just dropped into a world and given an immense amount of freedom. Nintendo is trying to recreate this same feeling by allowing you to interact with the environment in Breath of the Wild by cutting down trees, starting trees and bushes on fire and even rolling boulders down a hill to crash into some poor bokoblins! You’re allowed to jump freely now (surprise!) as well as climb pretty much anything: trees, rocks, walls, you name it! They’ve also added a hand glider, similar to the Magic Leaf from Wind Waker except this one doesn’t use any magic, allowing you to jump off a mountain and gently float across some fields or bodies of water. Unfortunately it looks like the dreaded stamina gauge from Skyward Sword is back in Breath of the Wild but at least it makes sense in the context of being able to roam an open world. You’ll have to watch your stamina when you swim long distances because Link will drown!

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With such a big world at your finger-tips, they made sure the world is much more lively and vibrant. You’ll be able to find wildlife just frolicking in the forest waiting to be slain and cooked into a tasty steak! Steak you say? But of course! Nintendo has opted out of letting random hearts come out of cut grass, so now you must eat food to keep your health up. Don’t worry though, it seems like acorns, apples, and mushrooms are not too hard to come by in the forest so you can easily stock up before setting off on your adventures. You can also cook foods using a cooking pot which can give extra buffs such as cold resistance or temporary maximum hearts. It also looks like bugs are making their way back into the new installation. Perhaps someone will want them for a side quest later in the game like say, Agitha from Twilight Princess? One can hope.

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Those were some of the basic new mechanics that they featured in the presentation. Now I’ll be getting more into the nitty-gritty of what the combat in particular has to offer. You can charge up your weapons just like in previous Zelda games, but doing so uses up some of your stamina. Breath of the Wild now offers several different kinds of weapons to choose from: swords, spears, axes, and clubs. There may be more that we don’t know of, but we do know that each weapon has a separate charge attack. Swords offer the classic spin-attack, spears will stab the opponent upwards of 10 times in rapid succession, and both axes and clubs charge up for a single strong hit (although the animations for each are different). You can also throw any of these weapons to deal damage if you’re out of arrows or just want to deal with a ranged enemy without switching weapons. Just make sure to pick your weapon back up!

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There is a day and night cycle in Breath of the Wild where one of the main features will be stealth during the night. You’ll be able to shoot an arrow and hide behind a wall to avoid being caught sniping. You can also crouch in tall grass to lessen the enemy’s vision of you. They’ve implemented sneak attacks to the game as well when you attack from behind. Another new feature they’ve added is the equivalent to Bayonetta’s “Witch Time”. If you jump from a high location and draw your bow, you’ll be able to slow down time and aim your shots precisely.

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If you end up in a situation where you’ve run out of arrows and are getting shot at by arrows, you can just pick them up! Now that tall grass no longer drops hearts or arrows, gathering arrows from your enemy’s misfires will be crucial to maintaining a good supply of arrows. This also means they changed how bombs will work. It seems that you’ll just need some magic to use them once you gain the ability to use bombs.

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One of the main components of Breath of the Wild is the Sheikah Slate which will be used to open doors, interact with things in dungeons and shrines, and will be upgraded throughout the game to use different rune abilities. There are many shrines scattered throughout the world that act as mini-dungeons to give Link spirit orbs or possible upgrades. The shrines are not to be confused with the main dungeons of the game though, they only act as a partially optional dungeon.

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Another use for the Sheikah Slate is to activate your amiibos. There are 3 new amiibo coming into production but I won’t get into that. What I will get into though is that the Wolf Link amiibo has functionality within Breath of the Wild. Upon tapping in the Wolf Link amiibo, you will be able to summon a Wolf Link companion that will follow you on your journey! He will attack any enemy near you and hunt any wildlife nearby but be sure to protect him from danger! He has a limited amount of health and can be defeated in combat. If he does happen to lose in combat, you’ll have to wait a whole day (in real time) to be able to summon him again.

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That about sums up all of the information we were able to decipher from the gameplay presented to us. How do you feel about all of the exciting new features being added to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Let us know in the comments below!

Ryan Douglas

Ryan Douglas

Ryan is a content writer and editor for The Hyrule Herald.

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