The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild--All The New Things You Can Do
By Matt Espineli on
The gameplay possibilities in the expansive world of the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild have expanded far beyond anything we've seen from the series previously. This is in part thanks to the plethora of new features and abilities added into the game. From expanded combat options to the introduction of a jump button, here's everything new we’ve noticed in Breath of the Wild.
See anything we didn't cover? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check back as we update this gallery with more features and abilities as we learn more about the game.
Climb Anywhere (Mostly)
Unlike past Zelda games, Breath of the Wild lets you climb almost any surface in the environment. It consumes stamina, so you need to be mindful of whether or not you have enough energy to get to your destination. While climbing, you can leap upward to reach places faster; however, this technique consumes a large chunk of stamina.
Rupees--the Zelda series' iconic currency--are now incredibly difficult to find out in the wild. Instead, they can only be bartered for in towns; it remains unclear how this is done.
Light Bushes or Tall Grass on Fire
You can now light bushes or tall grass on fire using torches, explosives, or the Fire Rod. This ability has a variety of applications, for instance, you can use to solve environmental puzzles or even cut off the path of incoming enemies. In addition, spread of a fire can be influenced by the direction a high wind is blowing.
Twilight Princess has its wolf transformation, Minish Cap has its shrinking hat, and Breath of the Wild has the Sheikah Slate: an all-important, all-purpose tablet. The Sheikah Slate is Hyrule’s equivalent of a smartphone. Link can press the slate up against panels to open doors, flip through it to organize his equipment and weapons, look through it as a scope to zoom in on far-off locations, and use it to view the world map. The Sheikah Slate can also gain access to special Runes, which grant it access to a multitude of useful abilities.
There’s a weird precedent in Zelda games for fourth wall-breaking items: Ocarina of Time’s Stone of Agony looks exactly like an N64 Rumble Pack, and Wind Waker’s Tingle Tuner is a straight-up GameBoy Advance. So when we look at the Sheikah Slate, it may be more than just an in-game tablet--it could be a glimpse of the NX’s controller.
Sheikah Slate Rune--Stasis
The Stasis Rune temporarily stops the motion of an object by freezing it in time. While an object is in this state, it can absorb any kinetic energy applied to it. For instance, if you perform Stasis on a boulder and strike it with your weapon a few times, it'll launch away once time resumes. The Stasis Rune provides a handy method for flinging an object over considerable distances.
Sheikah Slate Rune--Magnesis
The Magnesis Rune lets you move metallic objects,and can be used in a variety of ways, such as placing a large metal plank in between adjacent ledges to create a walkway or throwing a metal boulder at a pack of bokoblins.
Sheikah Slate Rune--Cryonis
The Cryonis Rune allows you to create pillars of ice from bodies of water, which can be used as stepping-stones to reach faraway areas, barriers that shield you from harm, or wedges that lift up obstacles.
Sheikah Slate--Remote Bombs
Bombs have always been something of a commodity in Zelda games: if you have enough, you're golden. If you run out, it seems as if they're nowhere to be found. Bombs in Breath of the Wild are a now a Rune for your Sheikah Slate and can be detonated remotely. During one playthrough, we tossed a bomb, watched it roll downhill, and detonated it near the base of a tree. The ensuing explosion toppled the tree, which crushed an enemy bokoblin. That's a level of control never offered by bombs in earlier Zelda titles.
Snowboarding At Will
Link can snowboard at any time using his shield, which you can trigger at will as long as you're going downhill. In addition to speeding up your movement, you can perform unique attacks while riding your snowboard. For example, you can shoot arrows a la Legolas from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings: Two Towers film and even do a special spin attack that can knock down enemies in your path. It's worth noting that snowboarding will slowly lower the durability of your shield the more you do it.
Unfortunately, the paraglider seen in the Nintendo’s E3 livestream was not present in the playable floor demo. Past games in the series, such as Windwaker and Skyward Sword, had similar gliding abilities, but Breath of the Wild seems to take this ability further. For example, during the livestream, Link battled a Guardian boss as he rode on horseback and set fire to the plateau between him and the Guardian. Link then charged towards the boss, flipped off his horse, and engaged his paraglider over the fire. What happened next is the real kicker: the upward draft generated by the burning flames lifted Link high above the ground, giving him not only a height advantage but also more fall time, allowing for more slow-motion charged arrow shots. This is only one way we've seen the paraglider used outside of crossing great distances from up high.
Stealth Mode/Sound Guage
Sometimes stealth in games can feel unfair--you're moving slowly, you've barely brushed against your surroundings, and yet still the enemy somehow knows you're there. Breath of the Wild adds stealth to Link's repertoire with a click of the left thumbstick, then goes the extra mile to add a sound gauge, letting you know how much sound your movements are making.
Link can sneak through tall grass and around corners to surprise bokoblins and other enemies, getting the jump on them and potentially knocking them out or stealing their weapons before they know what hit them. But the sound gauge is the most interesting part of this new ability. A small bubble to the bottom right of the screen indicates the volume of the sound you are making as you sneak through brush and run along toppled ruins.
If you think an enemy might be nearby, you can attempt to be quieter and immediately see if the game recognizes your attempt to make less noise. It's a small touch that will likely make a big difference in Breath of the Wild's moment-to-moment gameplay.
Like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, Breath of the Wild will have amiibo support. While there will be new amiibo themed around the upcoming game, Nintendo hasn't confirmed what functionality the figures offer. However, it has confirmed that the recently released Wolf Link amiibo will work with the game, spawning the character into the world as a companion that can attack enemies or snatch nearby food items for you.
In addition, you can issue commands to your wolf companion, like “come here” or “stay.” Wolf Link will remain with you as a companion until he is killed, at which point, you won't be able be summon him back until 48 hours have passed in real-time. It's interesting to note that Wolf Link's health will be determined by the score you achieved in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD's amiibo-exclusive Cave of Shadows dungeon.
Unlike past Zelda games, Breath of the Wild emphasizes survival. To fit with this new theme, Link can now cook food, allowing him to create meals that can recover his health and grant him ability buffs, such as a temporary boost in health or stamina. It's worth noting that cooking is the only way Link can gain health, as hearts are no longer found in the environment. This is a drastic change from past games, which have always featured hearts as random drops after defeating enemies or breaking specific objects.
The idea of varying temperatures isn’t an entirely new one for Breath of the Wild. Ocarina of Time required you to wear the Goron Tunic to survive the blazing heat of the volcano atop Death Mountain, and the Zora Tunic gave Link the ability to breathe underwater. This time around, however, these changing temperatures can be dynamic. It doesn’t have to be a simple “wear this to survive here” mechanic; temperatures can vary region to region, even room to room.
Couple this with Breath of Wild's abundance of weapons and equipment and it’s not hard to imagine tiers of heat- or frost-resistant gear. Maybe the Goron Tunic is only good enough to get you up to the Fire Temple, but you’ll need an upgraded piece of armor to survive inside the temple’s inner chambers or boss rooms. All told, the temperature gauge adds a new consideration that could totally change how and when you explore new environments.
Knocking a beehive off a tree and onto some foes is by no means new to this series (or to popular media for that matter). The mechanic first appeared in Skyward Sword, where you could grab one and throw it at an enemy, enraging its bees into inflicting additional damage. But in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, bees and beehives have evolved: they can now be used to inflict damage as well as inject fear and confusion into your enemies. For example, Link can shoot down a beehive with his bow, causing the bees inside to attack and scare nearby bokoblins into abandoning their weapons. This creates an opportunity for you to sway the odds in your favor by rushing the encampment and seizing the bokoblins only means of defending themselves.
New Combat Moves
Classic charged sword spins and powerful combo moves return, but they now drain your stamina. Breath of the Wild forces you to use these moves conservatively, as overusing them will penalize you with exhaustion and prohibit you from using defensive dodges and wind up attacks. However, there appears to be a new combat mechanic that allows you to “cheat” the stamina system: even without stamina, you can perform a “Perfect Dodge,” by executing a well-timed jump/dodge right before an enemy uses their attack, which slows down time for Link. In this slow-motion phase, a “Flurry Rush” button prompt appears; the more times you mash the Y button, the more Flurry Rush hits land on the unsuspecting enemy.
Link can also perform a “Perfect Guard,” by blocking right at the moment of impact from an enemy attack. This has a variety of effects depending on the attack you deflect. For example, if you perform the maneuver against an enemy arrow, it'll launch the arrow right back at the bad guy who shot it. Alternatively, if you perform a Perfect Guard against a melee attack, you'll deflect it and create an opening for a riposte.
Technically speaking, Link has been able to jump in previous games by using items like the Roc’s Feather, but this is the first time we’ve had a dedicated jump button in a 3D Zelda game, allowing us to leap across gaps from the outset of the game. No longer are we forced to run off the edge of cliffs hoping Link’s auto-jump launches us where we want to go. This free jump can be combined with the bow for some Matrix-style fun too: leap from a high platform and draw your bow, and time will slow as you rain down arrows from above. Sure, this bullet- (er, arrow?) time consumes stamina, but it feels really cool.
Traditionally, Zelda games have treated equipment as coveted relics; items granted to a worthy person. Each new sword or shield was a symbol of your progress and ability, and came few and far between (with the exception of Link Between Worlds). While it’s safe to assume that there are some permanent, special items you'll acquire over the course of your adventure in Breath of the Wild, Link is more of a scavenger this time around, sourcing weapons and armor from common enemies and the environment--a bokoblin's club can be your club, for example.
This ties back to the game's penchant for survival mechanics, specifically weapon durability. Now, when you use a weapon too much, you can actually break it--a first for the series. It's not clear if this applies to every weapon in the game. If the Master Sword is in the game, as the E3 trailer implies, we're willing to bet it will be immune (or you’ll probably have the ability to repair items). Either way, stripping away permanence and ownership of most items will likely force you to be a more conscientious adventurer, and it's an interesting twist for the series that keeps the focus on Link, rather than the tools on his belt.