The trailer for Breath of the Wild, and subsequent Treehouse demos, have introduced a whole host of new items to Link’s arsenal, and reinvented the way that they’re deployed, suggesting a level of customisation never before seen in a Zelda title.
The Sheikah Slate
The mysterious Sheikah book that provoked much speculation in the lead-up to E3 has now been revealed to be a “Sheikah Slate”. It boasts a number of uses, including a map to help Link navigate and display objectives; a key that allows Link to access new areas and shrines; and it can also acquire runes which give Link a number of abilities, including a magnet-type item and the use of bombs. We’ll have an in-depth look at this key item shortly.
In terms of weaponry, Link has a whole host of options available to him. The trailer showed glimpses of a number of swords, including a menacing looking V-shaped dual blade number, but interestingly, once gameplay started, we learned that Link was able to use all manner of things he finds as a weapon. Tree branches can be used to bludgeon enemies, or set alight for a more fiery battle style.
Stealing from enemies
Once they’ve been defeated Link can acquire his foes’ weapons, from clubs to spears, for his own use. There also appear to be a variety of swords dotted around Hyrule that Link can pick up. Some of these swords are huge two-handed affairs, dealing more damage but leaving Link unable to use his shield. Each of these items degrades with use and eventually breaks, though we did see footage of Link foraging for flints meaning he may well be able to repair his swords, Monster Hunter-style. We’ve also seen how defeating enemies yields other items — Bokoblin Horns, Keese Eyeballs and the like — which, combined with being able to forage other items such as flowers, and the ability to mine for ore, suggests that an upgrade system similar to Skyward Sword‘s could well be returning. Defeating the skeletal Bokoblins at night [presumably those are the new Stalfos? – Ed] also gave Link the option to pick up their bony arms to use as a weapon, complete with still wiggling fingers!
Axe, shield and bow
Link can now wield an axe too. Not just a potent weapon, it can also be used to fell trees. These can consequently be chopped up further for firewood, or as the trailer shows, felled across ravines to allow Link to access new areas. As a weapon, axes appear to be heavy and powerful, but not particularly useful for quick combat. Fortunately, our hero also seems pretty adept at using a spear in combat too, giving him greater range and also a faster attack. The trailer also showed Link as having one strapped to his back whilst diving into a body of water, suggesting it could also be used to harpoon a fish supper.
One of the coolest items we’ve seen thus far is the shield. Link is able to pick up anything vaguely shield like, such as a pot lid, to aid his defence, as well as relieving enemies of their shields and stealing them for himself. What’s cool about them is that if Link happens to be at the top of a snowy mountain, he can channel his inner Legolas, jump on his shield and surf down the mountain, firing arrows at all the enemies in his path. Speaking of which, bows can also be found scattered around Hyrule or harvested from defeated enemies, the amount of arrows Link has left in his quiver displayed alongside the crosshair. We’ve also seen the return of both fire arrows and bomb arrows for those of you who are fond of pyrotechnics, and Link can replenish his quiver from the arrows that enemy archers drop.
New inventory system and gliding
All of these items are sorted into various inventory slots. One for Link’s shields, one for all his melee weapons, from broadswords to pitchforks, another for his various bows, and further slots for food and materials. Once your slots are full you can drop items you wish to replace with more potent ones, or hurl weapons at unsuspecting enemies nearby to free up some space.
Outside of weaponry, the sailcloth has now been adapted into a paraglider which Link can deploy after leaping off a cliff to safely glide to his destination. We’ve learnt that this isn’t available from the get go, so could perhaps be an upgrade to the sailcloth we saw in the GDC footage.
All in all, Breath of the Wild takes a brand new approach to Link’s weapons and items. Adapting and utilising the environment seems to be a key aspect of the game, and this has naturally crossed over to Link’s armoury.