The first thing most people will notice about the upcoming Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is how expansive the game is, and how little hand-holding there seems to be. You can go anywhere, find important items in the most inconspicuous spots, and even rush straight to the final boss if you want to.
In other words, it’s the antithesis of Skyward Sword, which was filled with linear pathways, items locked away in dungeons, and other arguably tired cliches of the franchise.
While on the surface it may look like Breath of the Wild is “fixing” the Wii game’s more controversial mechanics, I think Skyward Sword has actually set the foundation for the new title more than any other previous Zelda game, in terms of both narrative and gameplay.
From the demo we know that Breath of the Wild has an incredibly short introduction. After awakening from his mysterious hundred year stasis, Link grabs the Sheikah Slate and can run straight out into the open world. So far, so different.
The first NPC he encounters, however, makes an incredibly overt reference to Skyward Sword – the nearby ruins, which are later revealed to be the Temple of Time, are called the “birthplace of the entire kingdom of Hyrule.”
Players of Skyward Sword will remember that the Sealed Temple was heavily implied to be the future Temple of Time seen in Ocarina of Time, due to it being the final resting place of the Master Sword. At the end of the game, when Link and Zelda stand atop the Goddess statue and name the surface world “Hyrule”, they are right outside the Sealed Temple’s doors. This is likely the legend the old man is referring to.
Even more references to Skyward Sword occur later, with the frequent references to the Goddess Hylia. Before Skyward Sword we only knew of the three goddesses: Din, Farore and Nayru, the creators of the Triforce. In comparison, Hylia holds a more personal connection to the surface dwellers and was eventually reincarnated in the body of Zelda.
These references to Hylia are delivered by monks who are quite clearly Sheikah in origin, and their designs seem to take more than a few cues from the thousand year old Impa in Skyward Sword. In that game it is made clear that Impa devotes her life to protecting Hylia, in both her Goddess form and mortal Zelda form, so it could inferred that her devotion stretches to the rest of the tribe too.
It’s also worth noting that it looks like a replica of the Goddess statue is present in the back of the Temple of Time, as well.
It isn’t just story elements that are returning from Skyward Sword – a lot of Breath of the Wild’s gameplay elements are essentially building upon the mechanics created for the last game.
For example, managing and upgrading equipment was present in Skyward Sword, albeit it was not nearly as in-depth. By gathering ingredients and loot Link could upgrade his potions and shields in the Skyloft Bazaar, and he could also equip various medals to a select few slots to get buffs.
Likewise, the incredibly flexible movement found in Breath of the Wild has its roots in Skyward Sword, which introduced sprinting without the use of Pegasus Boots as well as a stamina bar.
One final gameplay similarity is one that no doubt raises a lot of questions with fans – Link is right handed. Traditionally a leftie, the hero has only been right handed in two previous games – the Wii version of Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. Both of these instances were due to motion controls, which makes his dominant hand rather confusing in the Breath of the Wild, which uses a traditional GamePad layout.
While plenty of other Zelda games are getting nods in Breath of the Wild, from the appearance of Wind Waker’s Koroks to the canonically confusing summoning of Wolf Link, it does seem like Skyward Sword is getting the most attention. Will we see references to Fi, Demise, Ghirahim and, dare we hope, Groose? Only time will tell, but we can’t wait to find out.Leave a Comment