For E3 2016, Nintendo has one thing on the brain: The Legend of Zelda. The developer is forgoing the chance to show off other upcoming titles or even its next console, known only as NX, to focus exclusively on this one title.
In other words, great news for The Legend of Zelda fans. For others, not so much.
Nintendo's pre-show conference kicks off June 19, bright and early, at 9 a.m. PT. This is usually a Nintendo Direct packed with announcements and gameplay from upcoming titles. Last year was no different. Viewers were given looks at games such as The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, Fire Emblem Fates and Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival, while dates dropped for titles such as Xenoblade Chronicles X and Star Fox Zero.
This year's livestream, Nintendo Treehouse Live, will be a daylong demo of The Legend of Zelda. Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime is set to host the stream, which will be watchable on Twitch, YouTube and Nintendo's E3 website.
This is the first time the game will be playable on E3 showfloor — and, in keeping with this year's Zelda-mania, it's the only playable game Nintendo is bringing. It's worth noting that this is the Wii U version we'll be seeing, not the NX release.
As this E3 will be our biggest look at The Legend of Zelda yet, let's recap some of the facts.
The Legend of Zelda was originally announced as a Wii U title with a 2015 release. It's the first new Zelda game to hit Wii U, and the latest console entry in the series since Skyward Sword's release in 2011. We still don't know the game's full name, but longtime series producer Eiji Aonuma has promised a huge new world with few boundaries. During a Nintendo Direct back in 2014, Aonuma teased a more open world while viewers were treated to new gameplay footage.
"As far as what you can do with such a vast field to explore, as soon as those boundaries are removed, it means you can enter any area from any direction," Aonuma said. "So the puzzle solving in this game begins the moment the player starts to think about where they want to go, how they want to get there, and what they will do when they arrive. This is a clean break from the conventions of past games in the Zelda series, where you had to follow a set path and play through the scenario in the right order."
The Legend of Zelda — and Aonuma, along with Shigeru Miyamoto — made an appearance at The Game Awards in December of that year. This demo was short, but offered viewers an expanded look at the game's world and how they might explore it, as well as some of the GamePad's functionality.
In 2015, Nintendo delayed the game to 2016 and decided not to show it at E3. We later learned that The Legend of Zelda will include amiibo functionality, specifically using the Wolf Link amiibo sold with the HD remaster of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
Earlier this year, Nintendo announced a delay yet again, this time to 2017, in order to bring the game to NX as well as Wii U.
There's still very little we actually know about The Legend of Zelda — its final release date, how dungeons will differ from previous games, the exact nature of its open world, weapons and enemies, or even any hint of the game's conflict. For now, all we have are early looks at its gameplay and its gorgeous art style, and a lot of expectations for E3 2016.
As with any E3 (or big upcoming game, for that matter), there are a fair amount of rumors floating around about The Legend of Zelda. The two most interesting tidbits, as reported by Nintendo Life, would indicate a major change for the franchise if true: first, that the new title will include voice acting for characters other than Link. Second, that players will be able to choose the gender of their hero.
The idea isn't as far-fetched as it sounds. Nintendo has already dabbled with the idea of a "female Link" with the introduction of Linkle in Hyrule Warriors Legends.
Of course, the biggest news we're anticipating for The Legend of Zelda still covers the basics: its full name and its release date. We'll be reporting live from E3 2016 when it kicks off in June.
For more details on E3's livestreaming schedule make sure to check out our one-stop shop for the show's streams.