New gameplay from the as-of-yet unnamed forthcoming Legend of Zelda game for the Wii U was showcased at the Game Awards 2014 last night, and it is a great time to be a Zelda fan.
The video featured Zelda director Eiji Aonuma and everyone’s favorite Nintendo employee, Shigeru Miyamoto, playing a small portion of the new game, and discussing its various features.
The game is being designed with high vistas in mind, somewhat reminiscent of the Assassin’s Creed games. Accordingly, when Link leaps off the cliff he’s sightseeing from at the beginning of the video, he doesn’t immediately plummet to his death and leave Hyrule in the hands of Ganondorf, but instead pulls out the Sailcloth from Skyward Sword and glides harmlessly to the ground. Aonuma and Miyamoto pick out a tower far off in the distance to journey to, set a waypoint, and use the Wii U Gamepad to demonstrate the features of the map. As they zoom out, and out, and out, showing off how huge the map is, you can feel your grin getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger.
Of course Link needs a quick way to traverse the huge new Hyrule, so we’re reunited with his equable equine friend, Epona. Horse riding seems to be semi-automated this time around, as Aonuma remarks that he’s barely touching the control stick as the duo weave through trees, commenting that “real horses don’t run into trees very often.” A valid point, and it frees Link up to focus on horse-based combat, not only limited to sword fighting, as in past titles. No, now Link can also pull out his bow to deal with baddies, and, in a gameplay feature reminiscent of the original trailer everyone salivated over back in June at E3 2014, he can now leap off his horse mid-combat, jump into slow motion, and pick off enemies.
The Legend of Zelda series has always been praised for its visuals, even if they haven’t been technically impressive relevant to what video games were capable of at the time, but this isn’t the case this time. This game looks gorgeous. The graphics are impressive, and the design is beautiful. This is what an open world feels like it should be, something to lose yourself in. The luscious world is filled with trees you can pick fruit from, wild horses to run alongside, and enemies to smite because you’re the Hero of… Whatever happens to be a relevant plot point in this game. Hero of Wide Open Spaces.
The trailer ends, somewhat anticlimactically, with the duo joking like old friends as Link rides through a field populated by wild horses. Miyamoto comments that the game is so accessible, you can even play it while chatting, as the two are doing. Aonuma says “That’s all for now, thank you for watching,” and so ends our brief glimpse into perhaps the most ambitious Zelda game to date.
Aonuma and Miyamoto both casually confirm that this game will be coming out in 2015, but not before a new StarFox game (and Miyamoto assures us development is going along smoothly), as well as the HD remake of Majora’s Mask for the 3DS. Clearly, 2015 will be a busy (and no doubt profitable) year for Nintendo.
As a Zelda fan, it’s easy to be excited about this game. Nintendo’s Wii U sales haven’t been great, but with the release of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, which became the fastest-selling Wii U game to date, things are looking up. A new StarFox game, and especially a new open-world Zelda game could be just what Nintendo needs to really energize its fanbase. If this gameplay trailer is any indicator, we may be in for a treat in 2015.