In this month’s issue of EDGE magazine, Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma spoke of the challenges he and his team have come across in implementing a day/night cycle in Breath of the Wild. Such temporal changes aren’t a new element in Zelda games, but it can be said that the last few home console installments have left something to be desired. From the waiting game for dusk in Twilight Princess to the limited freedom Skyward Sword allowed, day and night cycles haven’t wowed us of late.
Fortunately, the sheer size of Breath of the Wild appears to promise more for night owls to enjoy, and the ease of shifting from day to night (a stop at any campfire will do it) is sure to be a relief. But these improvements haven’t been without a few stumbles, with Aonuma going as far as to say it’s been “extremely hard.”
One of the concerns that arose was emulating darkness without making it… well, dark and scary. It was easy enough to get lost in just the small area that made up the E3 demo. Throw in the deep of night and it could be disorienting. Aonuma described his experience with nighttime to EDGE, and explained how he hoped to make it work in Breath of the Wild.
“…I’ve been up a tall mountain at night and seen the stars; it was completely dark, but the starlight made it brighter. I wanted our nighttime environment to be something like that. And when it’s dark, there are elements in the environment that glow, so the player can use those to find their way.”
Shrines of Trials, Blue Nightshade, and even moonlit clouds provide light for players without sacrificing ambiance.
Lighting effects aren’t the only challenge for Aonuma and his team. The new game mechanics, such as temperature and sound gauges, must also be taken into account. Many enemies slumber at night, but running up to them with bombs blasting may not be the best plan; sneaking is much easier under the cover of darkness. The setting of the sun also brings with it colder temperatures, which could spell game over for players who aren’t properly equipped.
Of course, the night can offer some bright spots as well. Watching the full day/night cycle over on NCL’s site shows some beautiful changes, such as the calls of owls and even the fall of a meteorite that sends up a beacon of light, encouraging players to seek it out. Without a doubt, the changes between the two extremes will leave plenty for Breath of the Wild players to discover. What are you hoping will make it into the game?