Nintendo @ E3 2016
This year at E3, Nintendo boasted some beautiful games. We got an in depth look at The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. We got to see some gameplay of Pokémon Sun & Moon, not to mention the first AR Pokémon game Pókemon go, and many other games that we can look forward to.
Day 1 of Nintendo’s E3 Treehouse Livestreams went great. Here’s the lowdown on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Pokémon Sun & Moon.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The first glimpse we got of the game at this year’s E3 was an all-new trailer. “Open your eyes” are the first words we hear before we are taken on a tour through some of the games mind-blowing landscapes. “Wake up Link!” Once more we hear this angelic voice beckon Link to rise from his usual game opening slumber. That’s when we get our first glimpse at some of the brand new gameplay the game has to offer. All of which I’ll go through in detail throughout this section.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a very new take on the Zelda series. Say goodbye to every trend you thought you knew. Some conventions will not change; the game starts with a sleeping link being beckoned to wake up and save the kingdom once again, and yes he’s still a guy. (That puts one rumour to rest)
We don’t know when the game is set in the Zelda timeline but we do know that Link has been asleep for 100 years. At the end of the new trailer we see the Master Sword and is rusted, so maybe it’s set after Wind Waker? The sword could be damaged due to Hyrule being flooded for so many years. All we know for sure is something terrible has happened in Hyrule and all that remains are tragic ruins to explore.
Link looks a bit different in this game too. His hair is darker, and his tunic is blue. Though at the very beginning of the game he’s wearing nothing but a pair of short trousers. This shows a new vulnerability to Link that we’ve never seen before.
The game boasts some of the most intricate and beautiful artwork of any Zelda game to date. The massive open world is stunning. Building on the Hylian artwork from previous 3D Zelda instalments. Breath of the Wild also brings about a whole new sound design; instead of constant music like in most Zelda games, there’s a beautiful array of nature sounds.
As well as the expected dungeons there’s the addition of shrines. These shrines look beautiful, they are incredibly atmospheric and mystical. Throughout the enormous map, said to be twelve times the size of Twilight Princess’ map, there are over 100 shrines some very small some much larger. During the Treehouse gameplay showcase we saw some of the tutorial style shrines being explored.
In these shrines Link is given runes, which are upgrades for his new Sheikah Slate. Link’s newest tool that he keeps on his belt at all times. This is the source of all of his magical power. Think of it as a Tablet, but instead of running on electrical power it runs on Hylian magic. I guess Link is getting tech savvy. During the Shrine of Trials section of the Treehouse livestream, we see link obtaining the Magnesis Rune. This rune allows Link to move metal objects, regardless of their weight and size. The player uses the Wii U GamePad’s motion controls to move these objects. They can be moved and used as weapons, or to help you overcome obstacles in the game.
Another Rune gives link the power to wield bombs. Unlike in previous Zelda installments, these bombs are detonated manually. So you can precisely time them to explode at the moment they’re most effective. The round bombs roll down sloped surfaces, so you can roll deadly bombs downhill on enemies. There are also cubic bombs that you can place on moving platforms and detonate them when the platform reaches a breakable wall.
The most noticeable new feature in the game isn’t the Sheikah Slate, it’s the way link interacts with the world around him. Instead of finding hearts and rupees in long grass, Link has to harvest resources from the world and use them to make potions, upgrade weapons and armor, or trade for rupees.
If you watch the trailer carefully you’ll notice that at one point, when Link is facing a massive rock boss, outdoors, he’s wearing a full suit of metal armor.
This is brand new to the franchise as link usually wears a simple tunic. Link also uses different clothing options to help deal with different weather conditions. This can also be done with potions. The fact that we’re going to be fighting bosses outdoors is also a new feature as Zelda bosses are usually only found at the end of dungeons.
Some huge changes have also been gameplay controls, Link now has the ability to jump with the X button and climb vertical surfaces. Your stamina gauge depletes at different rates depending on the angle of the surface Link is climbing. If the stamina gauge runs out while you’re climbing, Link will fall. If the gauge runs out when he’s swimming he’ll drown. Tough break.
The combat gameplay has changed dramatically. Not only can Link use his Shiekah Slate magic to bash goblins with metal boulders, he can also surf down hills on his shield while slinging arrows at enemies. There’s a new parry / dodge system that looks very challenging too. There are many more weapons too, from axes to spears. The mechanical arrow from the reveal trailer was nowhere to be seen at E3. Maybe it’s linked to story and Nintendo don’t want to spoil anything.
Some Amiibos are compatible. You can summon Wolf Link with the Wolf Link Amiibos. His health will vary with however many hearts Link had in your last Twilight Princess save. When he runs out of hearts he dies and you have to wait 24 hours (real time) before you can summon him again. There are also more Amiibos to be released along with Breath of the Wild; a Guardian, Archer Link, and Rider Link. The Guardian is Nintendo’s first posable Amiibo. These new figures beautifully capture the artwork of the game.
Every minute of real time is one hour of in-game time; a full day cycle is 24 minutes. At night you can find enemies, such as goblins, sleeping at campsites. You can sneak up on them, kill them and steal their loot. Yes you heard right. Breath of the Wild is the first game in the Zelda series to have stealthy combat option. With a noise gauge you can sneak through long grass or around cover.
Breath of the Wild is all about discovery. It looks like a game where getting lost is more fun than frustrating. With countless things to do, from harvesting fruit and fungi, to chopping down trees for wood, I don’t think this game will ever be boring. It’s clear that there’s no one way to play it. There are many possible solutions to the games puzzles and many paths they can take.
In terms of story we really have no idea what’s going on with link and his home kingdom of Hyrule. Nintendo are keeping their lips tightly sealed about it. But the gameplay alone is enough to get me all excited.
Nintendo have gotten serious with this installment, taking inspiration from western RPGs. I can see fans of games like The Witcher or The Elder Scrolls games loving this. The playable demo at E3 is highly polished. It’s safe to say this new Legend of Zelda instalment will likely win over some fans for Nintendo.
Pokemon Sun & Moon
Another one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises, Pokemon, had a gameplay Treehouse demonstration, with producer Judichi Masuda and Director Shigeru Ohmori from Game Freak. This segment wasn’t quite as exciting as the Zelda segment. They started off by showing us the trailer, which most people would have already seen, and the three starter Pokemon, which were also unveiled previously. The demonstration didn’t really take off until we got to see actual gameplay.
When asked about the games title, Ohmori explains that the Sun and Moon are the source of all life on our planet and this is also true for the world of Pokemon and he wants this game to celebrate this.
The game begins in the main characters bedroom. He/she has just moved to a new region, Alola. The region is made up of four islands and one man-made island. Alola looks a lot like Hawaii and Masuda states that the development team travelled there to get inspiration for the games visual style. We also get to witness the festival that’s being held for your character and his friend/rival, to celebrate and wish them luck on their adventure.
It is your characters mission to travel to all corners of the region and become a Pokemon master. No changes there. You are given your starter Pokémon, either Rowlet, Litten or Popplio, by Professor Kukui, a ripped Pokémon professor who isn’t afraid to show off his pecks. When designing the starter Pokémon, Masuda says that he wanted them to be, “so cute you’d want to reach out and touch them.”
We then see how the battle gameplay has changed. During battle the player’s character can be seen standing behind the Pokémon at all times. This evokes a feeling of involvement with the player. How the camera moves during battle is also different. It’s more dramatic to add a feeling of tension to battles and gives a sense of scale.
The most interesting addition to the gameplay comes to light when the player comes close to a trainer challenger. Dark shadows appear on the top and bottom of the screen, almost like a warning telling you that the trainer will challenge you to battle. This feature can be useful if your Pokémon are unfit to fight or if you’re in a hurry to get somewhere in the game.
It was also mentioned that the two new legendary Pokémon, Solgaleo and Luluna, play a huge part in the games story. Zygarde also returns for this game but not much information was given on him other than he will, once again, change form over time.
There are other simple changes like Information icons over each of your Pokémon’s moves, which give a full description of the ability. This is convenient for players who are new to the franchise. There is also a 2D icon of your Pokemon at the top of the touchscreen which will tell you how the Pokémon’s stats have changed throughout battle.
We also got a glimpse of two of the smaller Pokémon, whom we’ll all likely grow to resent as we play through the game and they pop up again and again. Ladyba, Yungoos and Pikpek.
We were also told about a new Pokédex system that also acts as a guide onyour adventure, the Rotom Pokédex. Though we didn’t get to see much of it as the game is still in development.
The gameplay has changed in regards to character movement, now fully analogue.
At the festival we are introduced to two other new characters; Hola, A great Pokémon trainer on the island, and Lillie, Kukui’s assistant who will follow you on your adventure. We then we witnessed a battle in the festival space, Where you can see a crowd surrounding the trainers. This arena style battle space will be pretty interesting, I’m looking forward to seeing it on a greater scale further into the game.
The highlight of the demonstration was the unveiling of a new play mode, Battle Royale.
“With the pokemon series facilitating communication between players has always been one of the things we’ve really focused on with the game; Trading and battling between players. This time that’s no different. We have an all new multiplayer battle mode, Battle Royal.”
This mode is for 4 players. Each player choses 3 Pokémon and battles using one of them at a time. When a single player loses all of their Pokémon the battle is over. The results are then tallied by how many Pokémon each player defeated and how many Pokémon they have left, still conscious, by the end of the battle. It’s a free for all so you can strategize to work together or alone.
I’m looking forward to seeing more of Pokémon Sun & Moon as they develop.
More Nintendo E3 news tomorrow.