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Why The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is getting voice acting and sci-fi elements

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Zelda’s producers wants to touch players’ hearts and surprise them

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild screenshot gallery

If you’ve been reading our E3 coverage of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, then you already know that this is a game that really messes with the conventions of the series. It’s doing a lot of things very differently from what we’ve come to expect from 3D Zelda games, such as featuring a giant open world and allowing players to finish the game without finishing the story.

There are two tiny but important elements that many fans have been wondering about, though. First off, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be the first Zelda game to feature voice acting — though it will not be fully voiced.

"It’s really difficult to leave an impression on players with just text," Breath of the Wild producer Eiji Aonuma told Polygon. "It’s not that I made everything voiced. But I have these moments where I want to leave impressions on users. I add voice there."

Aonuma recalled a moment early in the new game’s development where he first heard a character with "actual human voice." According to the long-time Zelda developer, that moment "touched [his] heart" and "was really striking emotions."

However, Aonuma reiterated that the series’ protagonist, Link, will be remaining voiceless for the foreseeable future.

"If Link said something the user doesn’t agree with, that relationship between the user and Link would be lost," said Aonuma. "That’s why I chose not to go with that."

Another somewhat significant shift for the series is in embracing bits of science fiction and technology. In Breath of the Wild’s opening moments, Link wakes up in a shallow pool of water, climbing out of a strange, high-tech tomb located somewhere called the "Shrine of Resurrection." Fans immediately picked up on the more futuristic look and feel, and Aonuma confirmed that’s on purpose.

"There is a little bit of a sci-fi element to it," he said. "Link basically adventures through a ruined world. I wanted to add technology as the opposite side of that. I thought it would be interesting for Link to use technology to explore through this wild and ruined world. I figured that would add another layer to the game."

Though he was careful not to spoil anything, Aonuma also hinted that the technology at the heart of Breath of the Wild very well may have played a part in the world being "corrupted."

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be released in 2017 for the Wii U and Nintendo’s new NX hardware. For a longer look at the game, check out our gameplay video from the E3 show floor below.