It turns out that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s character modeling really does follow Nintendo’s Mii format. This means an enterprising modder has figured out a way to get NPCs to look like specific Miis.
Twitter user @HEYimHeroic, who has assiduously cataloged more than 100 official Miis on their Mii Library site, discovered over the weekend that Breath of the Wild NPCs “use an advanced version of the Mii format” called UMii. “UMiis have almost all the same parameters as Wii U/3DS Miis, with a few minor differences here and there,” Alice wrote on Reddit on Monday.
For the record, there has long been speculation (since the game’s 2017 launch) that Breath of the Wild resorted to the Mii format to build NPCs to populate the game’s vast open world. Alice’s work confirms it, and also reveals that Miis can be directly imported into the game.
Hi, Mii expert here. Turns out, the NPCs in TLoZ:BotW use an advanced version of the Mii format. This means that with modding, you can inject Miis into the game. :)— i'm alice (@HEYimHeroic) January 4, 2021
Thinking about opening commissions for Mii injects, both screenshot/images of your Mii and mod downloads! pic.twitter.com/8NfVr4zyqA
Obviously, the art style of a Mii and the characters in Breath of the Wild is quite different; but the two use essentially the same attributes and parameters. It’s a convenient way for the game to generate unique NPCs at a large scale. The modder figured out what their Mii would look like in Breath of the Wild, though the game converted the Mii’s hairstyle (which was not one of the Breath of the Wild hair options) into one that is supported. (Hats and other headwear are likewise just converted into different hairstyles, too.)
Importing Miis to Breath of the Wild isn’t necessarily laborious but it does require a modded Nintendo Switch, or Wii U, and then extracting and editing a UMii file from the game to take the same attributes as the Mii file. It’s also replacing a specific NPC, so you’d have to find where they are and visit them in the world to see for yourself.