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Breath of the Wild’s NPCs are actually Miis, modder confirms

Players have suspected this for years; now they can see themselves in the game

Zelda with a dog in Breath of the Wild’s second DLC Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

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.

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.)

@HEYimHeroic credits the Breath of the Wild modding Discord with a lot of assistance, especially in testing and providing screenshots of the conversions from Mii to game.

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.