After the announcement earlier this month that Nintendo would be holding a presentation at GDC on the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the event has come and gone — and left quite a few tidbits in its wake.

Besides talking about developmental philosophy and the game design ideas that the new title was built upon, the presenters — game director Hidemaro Fujibayashi, art director Satoru Takizawa, and technical director Takuhiro Dohta — showed off some interesting early concepts for the game. Also featured in the presentation was a cute “remake” of the original Zelda in BotW’s engine, creating a cool 2D-in-3D look. Here’s a quick rundown:

 

 

  • The developers felt that Zelda has been a very “passive” and predetermined game in the past. So they sought to create an “active” experience that changes based on player input. From here, they focused on making a game about freedom and expression.
  • To achieve this end, they focused on object interaction — player interaction with objects, which in turn would interact with the world at large. This is where the “remake” of Zelda 1 was brought in — to more effectively communicate these ideas to the entire team.
  • The core elements that make up BotW are “physics and chemistry” – how the factors of the world interact with one another in ways the player wouldn’t expect. For example, you can push a giant boulder all the way to the final boss if you wish. Everything is connected to the world and the player.
  • The main goal of all this was to create moments when the players would think to themselves, “Wow! I’m a genius!”
  • The Zelda team was (apparently) told rather abruptly by Eiji Aonuma to bring the title to Switch and make it by launch, and it appears they managed to do just that.
  • Before the concept for BotW was locked in, there were more bizarre ideas tossed about – “Hyrule Wars” and “The Legend of Zelda: INVASION” appear to be more sci-fi takes, reminiscent of when A Link to the Past featured time travel to a futuristic world in early stages of development.
  • Some strange designs for Link were also shown – Biker Link, Tracksuit Link, and Guitarist Link, leading one to wonder just what sort of Zelda game would have been made in that instance.
  • Takizawa wanted BotW’s art style to be “refreshing and full-flavored,” striking a good balance between playability and reality. His goal: to impose “Gutto Kuru” (translation: “To stir the soul”) upon players.

View some of the most interesting parts of the presentation in these screenshots:

 

 
A truly fascinating presentation, for multiple reasons. What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

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Written by Amelia Fruzzetti

A writer and Nintendo fan based in Seattle, Washington. When not working for NinWire, she can be found eating pasta, writing stories, and wondering about when Mother 3 is finally going to get an official localization.

Amelia Fruzzetti