In a recent interview with Kotaku, Shigeru Miyamoto spoke about what he believes is the core experience of the Zelda franchise, and how Breath of the Wild is a return to that core.
Comparing Zelda to other fantasy franchises, Miyamoto discusses how, if the game were just based on swords and magic, it would fail to stand out. Miyamoto sees Zelda’s emphasis on exploration, and the way the game is built around that, as its core mechanic. “Zelda is really about exploring and adventuring [through] the land. And you’re kind of fighting against the land as if you were hiking in real life, and that’s how this game works. And the player has to think for themselves and has to put their ideas into practice. That’s what this game is,” he said. That definitely ties in to what we’ve heard so far about the landscape in Breath of the Wild being the primary focus for the game. We heard during the live stream at E3 that this was the reason behind the game’s title.
“It resulted in going back to the roots and core of what Zelda is. And that’s something we’re happy about.”
Miyamoto also elaborates on how as the franchise has progressed and become bigger and more complex, the sense of freedom and free roaming had diminished, and the new physics engine developed for the latest iteration in the series has allowed the development team to take the franchise back to its core. “We always felt that core is very important and crucial, but what resulted kind of strayed from it. And that’s the dilemma we were kind of fighting for. When we implemented the physics engine in this game and were able to explore the land freely, it resulted in going back to the roots and core of what Zelda is. And that’s something we’re happy about.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Miyamoto, along with his long-time translator and NOA Product Marketing Director, Bill Trinen, discussed the importance of sound when creating the game. By coupling the visuals of the game with sound effects that perfectly complement the on-screen action, they hope to invoke memories within the player of similar experiences they’ve had in the real world, something Trinen has experienced himself. He said: “That’s why I love this game so much. When I lived in Japan I used to do a lot of hiking. I used to hike by myself a lot. And it’s amazing kind of tapping into the visuals and the sound effects and how they remind me of how I used to go out into the mountains on my own, trying to follow these trails and climb up these peaks and get that breathtaking view. It really just resonates with me.”
It really sounds as though Breath of the Wild will be the most immersive Zelda game yet. Exploring a rich and vibrant world has always been one the best things about the series and the focus on that core component, with all the opportunities the new physics engine presents within this latest entry, could well result in a defining moment for the series.