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Here’s what Breath of the Wild looks like without cel shading

Art direction makes a huge difference

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s soft pastels are so iconic that it’s hard to imagine the open-world adventure looking like anything else. So, here’s a bit of a brain-bender: Link’s latest adventure, without the graphical bells and whistles that define it.

Kinda weird, huh?

What you’re viewing is the PC “version” of the game, which is emulated and therefore open to modifications. This version, which is showcased by YouTuber Arkh Longstride, has a variety of graphical tweaks and optimizations that spiff up the performance. The reflections and smoke are better in this version, for example, and the game is running at 60 fps. But, most notably, it’s got the cel shading turned off — which makes the game look entirely different.

Personally, I'm not sure this version looks better than the original — as one commenter in the video says, it “looks like a fanmade UE4 game.” But, if nothing else, this footage is a great reminder that art direction makes a tremendous difference in the look and feel of a game. Breath of the Wild isn’t an ordinary experience; the developers have to communicate a sense of magic and wonder. You can’t do that with typical depictions of realism.

And now to wait for the world to come around to this idea when it comes to Wind Waker.

The next level of puzzles.

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