How Skyrim Influenced Breath Of The Wild

Breath of the Wild does, in fact, share some of Skyrim's DNA.


When you think about massive, open-world, systems-heavy games, there's a good chance Skyrim and Zelda: Breath of the Wild come to mind. In spite of six years between them, they share a lot in common: they're enormous RPGs with ambient activity everywhere, secrets to discover, and hidden areas to complete. As it turns out, this isn't a coincidence. The Breath of the Wild developer was, in fact, inspired partly by Skyrim.

We recently sat down with game director Hidemaro Fujibayashi and producer Eiji Aonuma to discuss the genesis of Breath of the Wild and how the developer pulled off such a huge game. They explained that they didn't look to other titles for elements or features to pull from them. In fact, Fujibayashi doesn't actually play that many games at all.

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Now Playing: GameSpot's Best Of The Year 2017 - #1: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

"I don't actually myself play a lot of other games," Fujibayashi explained through a translator. "I obviously am well versed in them, I know what's happening in them. But this ending up in this kind of bigger open world really started from the prototype stage where, just kind of naturally by virtue of what we wanted to do in this game, we started to realize that we absolutely do need this bigger open world in order to make the kind of game that we wanted."

However, the studio did look to Skyrim to learn more about the challenges of making open-world games. Having never tackled anything at Breath of the Wild's scale before, the team needed data and material to research. According to Aonuma, Skyrim helped provide some of that data.

"In the past I've also actually said that I have played Skyrim, so it's not necessarily that I don't play games," Aonuma stated. "But we don't look at it from, 'Oh, what kind of things can we take from this game?' It's more of like, 'How can we prepare for this? What should we expect from games like this?'"

"And so we also think about how many people we might need, or how we can make it improved, or with the number of people," he continued. "We would collect data and then work and see what worked, what didn't."

In other words, it appears that even though Breath of the Wild doesn't owe its existence to Skyrim, the studio nonetheless researched Bethesda's game to help understand how to improve the open-world RPG formula. And, like Skyrim before it, it appears that Breath of the Wild is a new benchmark in the genre.

Breath of the Wild was recently given GameSpot's Game of the Year award for 2017. In our feature, critic Peter Brown explains, "Like the most meaningful and landmark games of the past, Breath of the Wild is a game that will be discussed and analyzed for years to come. Everyone agrees that 2017 was an amazing year for games, but none other than Breath of the Wild can be considered a milestone for the medium at large."

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