Sunday, January 15, 2017

Breath of the Wild: Link and Zelda Claim the Master Sword Together

There's so much hidden stuff in the newest trailer, it's quite astonishing. Canyarion from ZeldaPodsmashers did some frame-by-frame inspections to assemble a scene, where Link and Zelda go out together to claim the legendary Master Sword. And this is even a scene, which we've seen before at E3 2016.

If you do a frame perfect snapshot at the end of the trailer, you can actually spot Zelda next to Link, who's pulling out the Master Sword:

Additionally you can spot Zelda fighting a Guardian with an orb of light to protect Link. You've certainly noticed the orb scene in the trailer, but it does a quick turnaround and if you pause at the right moment, you can see the Guardian and Link behind her:

You can also see the Guardian's red target beam during the rest. Anyhow, the same scene is very reminiscent of the ending of the trailer from E3 2016, where Link hides in some rubble and a Guardian climbs over him. And those might actually be connected, since the atmosphere is very similar with the rain and the sparks in the air.

It also might tie together with the scene, where Zelda cries in Link's arms. And also with the shot, where you can see her kneeling in front of the Deku Tree, but this appears to happen later on. Zelda is still dirty, but the sun shines again. But they might have taken a rest after their battle.

And after all this we might get to the moment, where they seemingly part ways, Zelda with the Sheikah Slate in her hands and Link with the Master Sword. It's just that they've somehow gotten clean uniforms in the meantime.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Breath of the Wild: Playable Characters?

Here are some of the new artworks for Breath of the Wild, showing some of the more important characters in the game:

What do these artworks all have in common? They all look like they were made for Hyrule Warriors 2! With the reveal of Fire Emblem Warriors, I suggested that this new project is a good thing, because Koei Tecmo should wait for Breath of the Wild, before they start developing Hyrule Warriors 2, since the new Zelda epoch might deliver lots of good material for the sequel. And as it turns out, Nintendo is already playing fully into Koei Tecmo's hands with their character designs...

Look at them, everyone is holding a specific weapon fitting their characters. Zelda is equipped with the Sheikah Slate, the "Here it comes!!!" Goron has a some kind of hammer sword and the Zora girl uses a trident, probably stolen from King Neptun himself.

And then it struck me: I already had the feeling that there are multiple Heroes of Hylia, where both Princess Zelda and the Rito, who's equipped with a bow, might be playable characters in the game. And this might be the case with other new characters here as well. Probably Zelda and all four protectors / riders of the Four Giant Guardians might accompany Link through parts of his adventures, especially if they explore the dungeons together that might be inside those Giant Guardians. We even already saw Link together with the Gerudo girl in front of the giant camel:

You would be able to switch between characters for some "coop" play, which isn't even a new thing. We already had this in the Wind Waker with both Medli and Makar, who were also playable characters at your side for the duration of one dungeon. And of course there was Phantom Zelda in Spirit Tracks or Gongoron in Phantom Hourglass. This simply might be the next evolution of the system, where an entirety of five additional characters is playable next to Link. At least they all look like they are ready for the part!

And with this Breath of the Wild would offer the ability to play as different races again, which is one of the coolest features of both Majora's Mask and Hyrule Warriors. They might also use this for some actual coop multiplayer, where a 2nd player can join via Wii U GamePad or something. But that's taking it maybe a little too far...

We'll see about this, in the very least it should be clear that these characters will play an important role in the story. But hopefully they will be more than just that!

Breath of the Wild: The King of the Merge

The history of the of the Royal Family of Hyrule is also the history of the Calamity Ganon, a primal evil that has endured over the ages...
- Impa

I think, you are now ready, ready to hear what happened 100 years ago...
- The King of Hyrule

The Triforce. The sacred triangles left behind by the Goddesses, after they created the world of Hyrule, will grant any wish to whoever touches it. However, if someone with an unbalanced heart touches it, it will split into three pieces. This is the Legend of the Hero of Time. After the evil thief Ganondorf entered the Sacred Realm and tried to conquer the world using the Triforce, it split and a battle over Hyrule unfolded. However, not only the Triforce was left split after this battle, but time itself.

The world of Hyrule kept existing in three different times, but each of them was haunted by the calamity that is Ganon. Because of this one Hyrule was reigned by darkness, another was flooded by the Goddesses and in the third a constant battle over the Triforce occurred over the ages. But the battles were ultimately won and the Triforce left in the possession of the Royal Family of Hyrule, where they could use its power to do good. The Sheikah, who protected the Royal Family since the early times, even were able to create new, magical technology to bring Hyrule to prosperity.

One king, however, learned that his prosperous kingdom is in fact just one piece of a broken world, broken in the veins of time ever since the Hero of Time fought Ganondorf. With all of them plagued by evil, the king decided to use the Triforce to reunite the worlds to form one new peaceful kingdom, guarded by the technology of the Sheikah. But this had its price. Not only were the worlds of Hyrule united into a gigantic new land, but also the Calamity of Ganon, forming a massive evil of unseen power. The Sheikah were able to banish this evil into Hyrule Castle with an army of Guardians made from their magical technology. But the new world of Hyrule ever since is at unrest.


This or something similar I could imagine as the backstory of Breath of the Wild, to put some more meat into my timeline merge theory from June. It would be quite the epic fan service to use Ocarina of Time and the Legends about the Hero of Time as the starting point, where the timeline split is in coherence with the split of the Triforce. The nice twist about this approach is that it was ultimately the king's fault that Calamity Ganon got created and now haunts Hyrule Castle.

There is even a scene from the trailer, which supports this theory somewhat, where Zelda looks at Hyrule Castle in what's clearly a flashback and you can see a glowing light coming from it:

This might be the king making his wish...

Breath of the Wild: The 4 Giant Guardians

Let's start digging a little bit deeper. Yesterday Nintendo showed us more glimpses at the story of Breath of the Wild and the "Legend of Calamity Ganon", where we can put certain things together to understand what the main goals of the game might might be. Some of the mysteries from last year could even be solved now.

For example we have seen this huge flying thing in the air and the big monster climbing over Death Mountain several times during E3. You can see both of them from a great distance and it now seems that these are in fact Giant Guardians... In the new trailer you can spot the one from Death Mountain:

Now, in the Treehouse Live stream Nintendo then showed the map that comes with the Master Edition of the game. And on the back of said map there is an interesting illustration that shows the "Legend of the Calamity Ganon":

Take a good look here. In the center, below Hyrule Castle, you can spot Ganon surrounded by dozens and dozens of Guardians (I wonder, if this represents the actual number in the game). In the corners you can see what appears to be four giant guardians: a bird, a gecko, an elephant and a camel. The bird we have also seen before in the Life in the Ruins trailer, where it is shown in both a blue and a purple red state. In the new trailer we can also spot the other three, you can see the feet of the moving elephant guardian, the camel guardian sunken in the desert and the "gecko" making a fiery climb through the mountains. They are all there.

Additionally, in the artwork they all have someone, who rides and commands them. Here it looks like the Sheikah technology was used to banish Calamity Ganon into Hyrule Castle and that makes a lot of sense from what we already know. But in the present the technology was corrupted by Ganon. You have the Guardians in their purple red state running around, wreaking havoc. And the four giant guardians also seem to be corrupted.

Link's mission probably will be to undo the corruption and bring them back into control of their riders. These riders will essentially be the "Seven Sages" of this game and we've potentially seen them all in the trailer. There is one of each race: the flying guardian is guided by the Rito, the gecko by the Gorons, the camel by the Gerudo and the elephant by the Zora.

It's still not sure, whether the new bird people really are the Rito, but looking at the new evolved Zora designs, it's entirely possible. There are Zora based on different species of fish (which is yet another thing that reminds me of One Piece next to Arms, because the new Zora seem a lot closer to the Fishmen from that saga) and similar there could be Rito based on different types of birds. Anyway, the "Bird Link" is guiding the flying guardian, we've even seen him fly up to it in the previous trailer, and the "Here it comes!!!" Goron guy is probably in charge of the gecko guardian.

And all this could relate to the rumors from last year that the game will have four main dungeons and one hundred minidungeons. The part about the minidungeons came true with the Sheikah shrines, but so far we haven't seen or heard anything about the other four dungeons.

Until now. Those four giant guardians might be the four main dungeons! It's not as apparent with the flying bird and the climbing gecko, because they don't look as big at first glance, but take a look at the scene from the new trailer, where Link and the Gerudo girl stand in front of what seems to be the entrance of a dungeon:

That's the camel giant!

So, this means that the game might offer four dungeons that are actually giant creatures moving through the world. That's quite impressive and it's certainly a lot more original than having yet another set of Forest, Fire, Water and Desert Temples.

Breath of the Wild: Return of the Gerudo

The Deku Tree isn't the only thing that will make a return from the GameCube times in Breath of the Wild. In fact this will be the first time since Four Swords Adventures, where the Gerudo tribe will make an appearance. One of them seems to even have a more important role similar to Nabooru from Ocarina of Time, where she accompanies Link in parts of his new adventure:

Of course it's not entirely clear that she's in fact a Gerudo, since she also shares some similarities to Din from the Oracle saga. But with these games Capcom took quite some design inspiration from the Nintendo 64 Zelda games and their characters, where Din was probably inspired by the Gerudo and Onox even has a Gerudo symbol on his chest and looks like an Iron Knuckle.

But there's additional proof that there will indeed be Gerudo in Breath of the Wild, because the new trailer showed us an entire Gerudo desert town and you can clearly see the Gerudo symbol above the entrance gate:

I wouldn't be surprised, if this town actually will be named "Nabooru", following my theory from last month about the Villages of the Sages. There could also be a Goron mountain town called "Darunia" and some Zora settlement called "Ruto". In the Treehouse Live footage from yesterday you can even spot them crossing a bridge named "Gleeock Bridge", so naming places after beings and things from past Zelda games might be really a convention in Breath of the Wild. But this is just a side note.

In any case, this town looks well crafted. I really like, how they are using the water streams that are coming from these giant goblet rocks. We have similar rock formations in my home area, just without the water streams, but I really like the design of the new town. I'm eager to explore it all and maybe again become a worthy male member in the all-female Gerudo clan.

It's also nice that the Gerudo are getting something that looks like a real desert town. The fortress in Ocarina of Time was pretty amazing as well, but it never felt like a real place to live in, it was just a series of dungeon tunnels. The same with the Pirate Fortress in Majora's Mask. In Four Swords Adventures the Gerudo had a small village made of tents, but this was really just a minor occurrence. So, it's good to see this tribe back and that it gets more fleshed out.

Also, the trailer had another part of the desert area with some water flows in the mountains:

At first this reminded me of the Diamond Steppe Island from the Wind Waker, just much larger. But it's also reminiscent of the waterfalls that you can see in the Gerudo town. It's not the same place, though.

Breath of the Wild: The Deku Tree Returns

"That look on your face tells me that you have no recollection of me, however..."

The Deku Tree returns in Breath of the Wild and its feet the legendary Master Sword rests. The Koroks are all over the forest as well and all of this raises more questions about the story of Breath of the Wild and where the game might take place in the timeline.

The quote from the Deku Tree in the newest trailer is interesting, because he implies that he has talked to Link before, but he has simply forgotten, what has happened hundred years ago. It might even be that Link left the Master Sword in the protection of the Deku Tree and now has returned to claim it again.

It might also be that the Deku Tree isn't referring to this new incarnation of Link, but to the Hero of Time or the Hero of Winds or the soul of the hero in general, which is reborn ever so often. We can't say for sure.

But in general this is a very curious setting. In the three timeline branches we've only seen the Deku Tree and the Koroks in the Wind Waker, which on first glance supports the idea of this game taking place after the Wind Waker, in a time where Hyrule has risen from the Great Sea again, probably long after Spirit Tracks. The Zora don't really fit in there, because they supposedly evolved into the Rito, but the new Zora in Breath of the Wild could be some oceanic subspecies.

On the other hand it's curious, how in the trailer we can see the Hyrule Castle Town from Twilight Princess getting destroyed by Guardians. But of course it could just be that a similar castle and town was built in the newer new Hyrule. But it's also curious, how the Master Sword pedestal still looks exactly like the one from A Link to the Past and A Link Between Worlds, just much older, and it's entirely possible that the Deku Tree grew in the other timeline branches as well. It could be that he was there in the same location all along, but you couldn't see it in A Link to the Past and A Link Between Worlds because of the cropped topdown view. Imagine that! This would certainly create an interesting mindfuck.

But overall I'm still a fan of the timeline merge theory that I've been advocating since E3. It's still the one "explain it all" wildcard that really would provide a restart for the franchise built on its entire past. But more about that later!

Breath of the Wild: Princess Zelda in Action?

The newest trailer of Breath of the Wild solved the mystery of the female blonde character from the last trailer in December. It was all Zelda! Again, it felt like Nintendo was playing with the audience on purpose with all the rumors about a playable female Link going on. But that should be out of the question for Breath of the Wild, because this game again builds heavily on the relation between Zelda and Link, as you can see in the newest trailer with Zelda crying in Link's arms.

They already tried to achieve something similar with Skyward Sword, where I even made a post about the cute Zelda at the time and how she's more of a character that you might want to save, instead of some far away princess hidden in a castle or dungeon, who you have never even met before. However, this didn't really work out so great. The beginning was lovely, but ultimately Zelda then just spent her time in the game running away from you, instead of running into your arms. And she grew quite a distance to Link, when she became aware of her role as the incarnation of Hylia. This kind of ruined the whole approach and hopefully their relation will be more fulfilling in Breath of the Wild.

It also still looks like she has a more active role in the game. She wears the same blue "uniform" as Link and she might even have her own Sheikah Slate, though in the trailer only of them has one, so there might only be the one Sheikah Slate. In the above scene Zelda has the Sheikah Slate, while Link carries the Master Sword. Even though Aonuma denied a playable Zelda at E3, it really looks like it's a possibility at this point, where you take the role of Zelda for a part of the game that focuses on "Wisdom" (the puzzles), while Link brings the necessary Power and Courage.

But it also looks like that both Link and Zelda come from the same time and were put in stasis for those 100 years in between. Here it's possible that certain scenes from this trailer and the last one are simply flashbacks, which is a theory that already came up in December from channels like GameXplain, but I'm not sure, if I would like the game to jump between the times as much. I'd rather explore the mystery of what happened hundred years ago in the present.

I'd also prefer an approach, where Zelda has a more active role in the game and you can switch to her, if you need the Sheikah Slate, or where both go on their separate missions. However, this would feel needlessly complicated and maybe even limiting, since Link can just do it all. He can use weapons and the Sheikah Slate, there's no need to split this between two characters, unless you want to perform certain actions at the same time. But then again this might be complicated to control. So, in the end I'm not sure, why Zelda has the Sheikah Slate in the footage.

In any case, they seemingly tried to make Zelda more loveable than ever with her new look. Those big eyes (and eyebrows, haha) create this emotional connection, where you want to care for her... Even more so the heartbreaking cry in the trailer. I personally like this design more than her Skyward Sword look with these goddessawful bangs. And while her Twilight Princess design was amazingly graceful, she felt too cold and distanced in that game. In Breath of the Wild she looks cute and serious at the same time. I'm not entirely sold on the new looks just yet, but I do like her more than the Skyward Sword incarnation.