clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Everything we know

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the next Legend of Zelda title — Nintendo finally revealed the official title at E3 2016. We're learning more and more about the game in Nintendo's livestreamed gameplay demo, so we'll be updating this article over time with new information.

Here's what we know so far about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Just the facts

Developer: Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development

Publisher: Nintendo

Platforms: Wii U, NX

Release date: 2017

The story

We don't know much about the story of Breath of the Wild at this point. In the demo Nintendo showed, the game begins with Link waking up after a 100-year slumber to find a world in peril. A century ago, a misty monster named Calamity Ganon took over Hyrule Castle. Its presence has caused great harm to the realm, and now it's up to Link to do something about it.



Asked and answered

What is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild?

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the next entry in Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series of action-adventure games. It is in development for Nintendo Wii U, as well as the company's next platform, currently codenamed the NX. Breath of the Wild will be the first main Zelda game since 2011's The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which was released on Wii.

What will you be doing in the game?

Breath of the Wild is different from previous Zelda titles in that it offers an expansive open world — in-game minimap and all — for Link to roam around in. (Nintendo characterizes the game's genre as "open-air adventure.") The player will be able to choose their path through the realm as they explore mountains, fields and forests.

So Link has to walk everywhere?

Thankfully, no. In addition to riding around on his trusty steed, Epona, Link will be able to use a paraglider to fly across the world. He can jump, which is a first for 3D Zelda games. He can also climb on boulders and scale entire mountains — as long as he has some of his stamina bar left.

Link can jump, which is a first for 3D Zelda games

Cool, that sounds like a new direction for Zelda! What else is different?

One of the first items Link picks up in Breath of the Wild is an electronic tablet-like device, the Sheikah Slate, which hangs from Link's belt. Link can use runes with this tablet to create items like bombs and generate special abilities such as a magnet. The Sheikah Slate also displays the game's map. This makes it possible to play the game with a Wii U Pro Controller instead of the GamePad.

Link will have to sustain his health by finding food, which also has the chance to grant him a temporary boost or ability. Hunting and gathering is a big part of Breath of the Wild, and it will take some skill to bring animals down with Link's bow. Many of the game's beasts and enemies now live together in colonies, so they'll be able to defend themselves more easily. Link can pick up resources (like meat) and weapons from downed foes, and he can cook raw food at campfires. This is the way Link recovers health, not with heart pickups. (You don't have to constantly worry about keeping Link fed, though.)

Huh, that sounds weirdly like a Minecraft-esque survival game.

Well, there are other elements of survival games — or at least, survival-light elements — in Breath of the Wild. The game features a day-night cycle, and Link will have to contend with the elements as well. It's a good idea to bundle up in frigid areas and go with lighter clothing in the desert. And the aforementioned temporary abilities include buffs like a resistance to cold temperatures, so it seems like Link can use other tools to his advantage besides what he's wearing.

Are there other helpful items?

Breath of the Wild features amiibo support, and Nintendo is planning to release three new figures that will be compatible with the game. The "Archer" toy gives Link a bow; "Rider" puts LInk on a horse; and "Guardian" is an enemy from the game that will be the first-ever amiibo with flexible parts. (You can bend the figure's six arms.)

In addition to the aforementioned new toys, Breath of the Wild will be compatible with the Wolf Link amiibo that Nintendo released alongside The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. When you tap that figure to the GamePad, Wolf Link will appear in the game. The creature will help Link hunt by attacking animals on its own.

That does sound useful, but what about the other main element of Zelda games — the puzzles?

As you explore the world of Breath of the Wild, you'll come across Shrines of Trials; there are more than 100 of them throughout the game. These dungeons include puzzles to solve and traps to avoid, and plenty of hidden items to discover. Since the game is nonlinear, you'll be able to visit the Shrines in any order you like.

When can I play it?

Breath of the Wild is scheduled to launch simultaneously on Wii U and NX in 2017.

Wait, so what's the deal with the NX version?

Nintendo isn't going to officially unveil the NX until later this year, and the company won't be discussing NX games until then. But Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma has said that Breath of the Wild players "will be able to have the same experience with the NX version as they will with the Wii U version," so the game won't be too different on the upcoming console.


Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon