E3 2014: The Legend of Zelda Is Reborn on Wii U

Power. Wisdom. Courage.

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Nintendo has finally announced what a lot of us have been waiting for: a brand-new Zelda game on the Wii U. The presentation focused on the scale of Hyrule, which is significantly grander than it has ever been before. Of course, we also got to see a new version of Link, who's curiously without his familiar green tunic. Of course, it was an impressive show of the capabilities of the Wii U, but the most important message is that the next Legend of Zelda will be returning to the series' roots.

Many Zelda fans have bemoaned the series' familiar and rigid structure of late, where Link must travel through a series of dungeons in a strict fashion. Link's next adventure won't follow this pattern, and you'll get to explore the entirety of Hyrule from the start. For the first time in a very long time, The Legend of Zelda is embracing open-world design. In many people's eyes, this is how Link's adventures were always meant to unfold. After all, the original Legend of Zelda was inspired by the childlike sense of wonder that comes from exploring the wilderness, but that game is perhaps the only one in the series that truly captured what it meant to be an explorer. Curiosity led you down a path, and fear of the unknown tested your courage, and with the wisdom to understand your abilities and limitations, you could survive long enough to see every corner of Hyrule's beautiful, brutal world. This is the Hyrule that started it all, and we're finally going to get a chance to go back.

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And what a world it is. Hyrule has never appeared as vast, lush, or varied as it did in today's reveal. When the camera opens on Link, he's overlooking an expansive vista filled with rolling hills, wildlife, streams, mountains, and even a familiar-looking volcano. In the foreground, tall dense patches of grass sway in the wind. It's a beautiful world, and one that is seemingly full of possibilities.

The original Legend of Zelda gave you the freedom to explore Hyrule however you wished, but in turn, you would be at the mercy of enemies, from common weaklings to powerful beasts, at any moment. Today, we caught a glimpse of a complex, colorful, and powerful enemy that chases Link and hurls fireballs at our hero, razing the land in a blaze of fire. At first, Link is shrouded in a cloak, but after he tosses it aside, we see a new Link, without his familiar green tunic, armed with a bow and magical arrows. It was an exciting, colorful encounter that encapsulated the best of Link's courage and abilities.

An open Hyrule is an incredible promise, especially when it looks so rich and vibrant, and the new Link is an exciting evolution of a hero that has been growing, and changing, for nearly 30 years. If Nintendo can deliver on its promise, fans of the Zelda series won't need to worry about the future of console-size Zelda games. It might even end up being the killer Wii U title that everyone has been waiting for.

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