LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Nintendo is putting all of its faith in Link at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.
The video game publisher is using its entire booth at the gaming industry’s annual extravaganza to promote “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” the latest installment of the action-adventure series starring iconic adventurer Link. After delaying the title from last year, “Breath of the Wild” is set for release next March for the Wii U console. It will also be available for Nintendo’s yet-to-be-revealed NX system, scheduled to debut in 2017.
“We knew a trailer and a five-minute experience weren’t going to be enough,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America. “We wanted to immerse the player in the experience of ‘Breath of the Wild.’ In order to do that, we needed to dedicate our entire booth to that experience. Because it is this open-air adventure, it still doesn’t capture all of the content we’ve brought to E3. This is just a fraction of the overall game experience.”
Here’s a glimpse at how “Breath of the Wild” is different from other entries in 30-year-old series:
OPENING UP THE WORLD
The most noticeable change is that Link awakens after a 100-year-long slumber in a freewheeling rendition of Hyrule featuring sweeping vistas, castles, forests, temples and volcanoes. The pointy-eared protagonist won’t be strong or well-equipped enough to reach every point at the outset, but he’s not bound by walls or restricted to a linear story line, similar to such fantasy role-playing series as “The Elder Scrolls” and “Dragon Age.”
GETTING A MOVE ON
Link will now be able to transverse his larger 3-D realm by jumping over chasms, swimming across bodies of water and climbing mountains, trees and other structures. The adventurer won’t be able to ascend the game’s largest peaks at the beginning. There’s a circular stamina meter that will bring Link to his death once it runs out. Later, he’ll gain access to a paraglider and his trusty steed Epona to move more quickly across Hyrule.
LIVING OFF THE LAND
The hearts that Link once found hidden within grass will no longer be enough to sustain him during his journey. He’ll have to hunt and forage to boost his health. Link will find edibles such as apples in trees and mushrooms in mountain sides, while deer- and squirrel-like creatures roaming the world must be hunted for their meat. The ingredients can be roasted on fire pits to create dishes with various effects, such as boosting Link’s stamina.
Besides cooking up tasty meals, Link’s other new abilities include crouching to stealthily hide from enemies, crafting specialized arrows, mining ore from rocks, chopping down trees and utilizing a magical tablet-like device. The doodad will serve as a key card, map and spyglass. Link will once again be primarily armed with a sword, shield and bow. However, weapons will be breakable, so players will constantly be on the lookout for new equipment.
GOING DOWN UNDER
The series’ treasure-filled dungeons have been replaced by puzzle-laden shrines. They mostly serve the same function as past underground locales found in “Legend of Zelda” games. In the E3 demonstration, one shrine tested players’ ability to manipulate bombs. Nintendo of America product marketing manager Bill Trinen said the subterranean enclaves won’t always be as easy to spot. There are a few hidden from plain sight on the surface of Hyrule.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/derrik-j-lang .