Genre: Video game
Date released: March 3, 2017
Units sold: 11.7+ million
Director: Hidemaro Fujibayashi
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the 15th and latest installment of The Legend of Zelda series and the best-selling game of the franchise to date. The creation of this ambitious game took five years to develop and is a compelling story on its own. The end result is a game that combines expected Zelda mainstays and brand new elements. Critically acclaimed for it's enormous open world layout and atmosphere, Breath of the Wild allows players a sense of accomplishment even after exploring Hyrule for hours without touching the main plot.
Research and development for Breath of the Wild began in January 2013, with the aim of creating a game that combined novel concepts never before seen in a Zelda game with tried and true Zelda staples. Technical limitations in the past resulted in splitting Hyrule into blockier components to designate different geographies. This familiar Zelda concept was put aside in favor of a smooth, open world, a first for the franchise. Other new additions included modern sci-fi tropes such as advanced tech, lasers, and pocket devices such as the Sheikah Slate.
Building this new world required developers to conduct a prototype test in a very retro and nostalgic way- a 2D top down game with Nintendo Entertainment System sprites. This prototype helped developers map out the capabilities of the new game, including the intricate way items in Breath of the Wild can interact with the environment. If you've ever held a metal weapon and were then struck by lightning in the game, thank the 2D prototype for that immersive experience.
Breath of the Wild artists and developers found inspiration in Japanese history. The appearances of the Sheikah slate and shrines were borrowed from the prehistoric Jomon period. Designing Link, Zelda, and Ganon involved bringing back their historic roles with a twist, adding magical, steampunk-like details. Some early sketches even had Link wearing jeans, one of the over 100 different iterations presented before Link's final appearance.
The size of the world clocks in at over 12 times the size of the already expansive Twilight Princess. Breath of the Wild's open world was the biggest development challenge. Ocarina of Time's Hyrule layout, Wind Waker's exploratory feel, and Skyward Sword's drop-in to the world were all combined when making this ruin-ridden, post-Calamity Hyrule.
Zelda's expansive world is still being discovered or developed. Minus World in the original Legend of Zelda was recently discovered by a hacker, a new Breath of the Wild artbook is on the shelves, and Imran Khan of the Game Informer Show let slip that a new game for the Switch is on its way. A Netflix series is also rumored to be in the works. If Breath of the Wild is any indication, a long wait for more Zelda is not a bad thing.