Phoenix654

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Breath of the Wild influences are far-reaching

I, like seemingly everyone in the games press, have fallen into a deep Zelda hole. There are many other games I could be playing right now. Horizon: Zero Dawn sits uncompleted, Disc Jam seems like a fun take on Windjammers, I started Titanfall 2's amazing campaign a while ago but stopped, my Kerbal Space Program attempt to build a drilling base on the satellite Minmus hasn't been worked on in weeks, Rocket League will probably get some more attention this Wednesday when a new mode hits... However, all of that has been put on hold. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BotW) has consumed all my free time. I don't have an hour count for you, but it's gotta be approaching 50 if not more. Given all that time spent, I've been noticing some influences on the game that are kind of surprising given Nintendo's usual rinse and repeat strategy with Zelda games.

Influence the first: Minecraft

This has been noted by others, but it bears repeating. The worlds of Minecraft feel infinite, even the compressed version that exists on the Xbox 360. The space is massive and it gives you a sense of unending possibility. BotW somehow captures that feeling. Granted, I have come up on the game's invisible wall at the edge of the map (it has a simple message saying "You can go no further") but it's so out of the way and hard to get to the edge that I only got there by really trying. You won't stumble across it in typical gameplay sessions. The experimentation with cooking recipes also mirrors Minecraft's. There are basic rules in both, trying variations leads to interesting results.

Influence the second: the Souls games

While Dark Souls and its ilk are not games that speak to me personally, I have watched Vinny play a bunch of them. As such, I've gotten a certain feel from them that BotW has in spades. Namely, the world you play in is a harsh place that won't hesitate to kill you. This is nothing new to Zelda games, but it's been absent for quite some time. I can't remember the last time a basic baddie one shotted me in a 3D Zelda game, and it honestly might not have happened since Link to the Past. This gets you on your guard and makes you think a little harder about the things you're doing. You have to plan out every enemy encounter, because it might be your last if you don't (okay, not really, you have infinite respawns, but you know what I mean). The fact that weapons degrade over time also makes you consider what to bring to each party of Moblins you see.

Influence the third: Shadow of the Colossus

This is a minor spoiler, but there are giant monsters in BotW that you have to (for lack of a better term) puzzle into submission. While you don't have to scale them from the ground up like in Shadow of the Colossus, you do have to navigate around inside them and figure them out, much like the giant beasts in Team Ico's finest work. It's a great callback, intentional or not, to another game with a massive world that gives the feeling of infinite possibility.

Influence the fourth: The Legend of Zelda

It seems weird to say that The Legend of Zelda influenced... The Legend of Zelda, but hear me out. The very first Zelda game has little structure. You get a wooden sword and the option to go in three directions. No tutorial, no guide posts, no friendly/annoying fairy telling you what to do, nothing. You just get to explore. BotW had me deeply worried at the very beginning of the game. I thought I had broken the scripting of the game somehow. I could not find anything to do in the Temple of Time. It took me a while to discover the first tower and actually get the game going. Then I realized the developers were telling me something powerful with this game, "We're relying on you to figure this out. Good luck." This level of trust is unheard of in modern games. Everything holds your hand, points you in a direction, and says, "Go this way first, this way second, this way after that..." BotW does none of this. You're free to encounter the world at your own pace and in any order you see fit. There is no "first" dungeon. There are four, any can be tackled at any time with the tools you start with. There are now speed runs of the game that last less than an hour. People have figured out how to take down Ganon in an hour. That's awesome and a true achievement, both for the speed runners and that Nintendo has produced a game this versatile. I'll probably spend 100 hours with the game exploring every nook and cranny I can. That a game can be satisfying in that way to both audiences is unparalleled and hopefully speaks to the future of the company. I cannot wait to see what they've done with Mario and his trip to New Donk City.

Anyway, that's what I've got so far. I'm sure there's more to unearth.

17 Comments

18 Comments

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Nick

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I would put the Elder Scrolls games on this list too; Bethesda has made the large, "go anywhere", completely open world games popular over the last 20+ years and Breath of the Wild definitely learned a thing or two from them.

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Phoenix654

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@nick said:

I would put the Elder Scrolls games on this list too; Bethesda has made the large, "go anywhere", completely open world games popular over the last 20+ years and Breath of the Wild definitely learned a thing or two from them.

That's a fair point. To be honest, the last Elder Scrolls game I played was Oblivion, so that series has largely slipped my mind, but yes. Collecting all the fruit in an area, roaming a vast open world, constantly swapping weapons because they wear out... I can totally see that as an influence too.

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WesternWizard

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Shadow

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I'm seeing a lot of Arkham City as well, with the way that you get korok seeds

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Picky_Bugger

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@nick: I get why you'd say that but this game to me felt nothing like a Bethesda game. Yeah they have open worlds like this but the interactions you have are so totally different that I don't see a correlation past them both having big maps.

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Phoenix654

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@shadow said:

I'm seeing a lot of Arkham City as well, with the way that you get korok seeds

Holy shit. Someone needs to do an art mash up of a Korok dressed as the Riddler.

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Rejizzle

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In my mind, Breath of the Wild is probably the closest thing We'll get to Dragon's Dogma 2. Both feature expansive worlds where the long, arduous journey is usually more important than the destination, both feature roving enemies in the overworld of varying size and strength, and both games are much more action focused than your typical open world RPG.

Also, the weapon degradation system, which is a point of contention for many, remind me of the best aspects of First Person Shooters, rather than the more traditional durability of a Dark Souls or Dark Cloud style system. The weapons are so fragile that they force the player frequently change and pick up new weapons. This reminds me of the campaigns from Titanfall 2 and DOOM of last year.

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Nightcrawlah

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@rejizzle said:

In my mind, Breath of the Wild is probably the closest thing We'll get to Dragon's Dogma 2.

Man, that'd be really depressing. Dragon's Dogma is the only game right now I actually want a sequel to. And Hyrule bores the shit out of me.

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Eurobum

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Edited By Eurobum

@picky_bugger said:

I get why you'd say that but this game to me felt nothing like a Bethesda game. Yeah they have open worlds like this but the interactions you have are so totally different that I don't see a correlation past them both having big maps.

Bathesda games target mature audiences, I don't expect a Nintendo game to open with a beheading anytime soon. But Bathesda were the first to create a truly open "open world" by making enemies scale with the player's level, which sadly feels very fake and forced and weird once you becomes aware of it, which earned them a lot of criticism with Oblivion. Same for Skyrim, except some reviewers mistakenly insisted that this wasn't the case any more. Not sure how this works in Zelda, I hear tell that at least the enemy weapon-drops scale with progression.

Cooking and alchemy are another obvious similarity, awkward UI and inventory, slowing down time while bow-aiming, hunting and gathering, awkward horseback combat, the chosen one "a hero's journey" story, magical Fus Roh Da powers, stealth, crappy puzzles, choice between stamina and health (thus completely simplified RPG progression), snowy / changing landscape, Dwemer automata/drones. The success of Skyrim vs that other Zelda game, as well as timing, look and philosophy seem like a completely obvious influence. There is one big difference: Bathesda games rely heavily on voiced story quests, vs Zelda seems to rely on puzzles and its physics sandbox. In Skyrim the physics sucked, but you could put cauldrons on people's heads, and roll cheese wheels down a mountain.

What i'd like to know is: which game first let enemies and NPCs pick up weapons, I know STALKER did that, which was completely hilarious.

Anyway doing away with terrible video game story is a solid choice, because seeing genre movies reenacted by polygonal dirty faces and jerky animation is just depressing, even though you get to ride the dragon or run from an explosion.

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Nick

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@shadow: I think they took some general ideas from the Elder Scrolls games but totally put their own spin on them so much so that they feel very different, but I still think there's a lineage of ideas there.

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Slag

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Still gonna say Dragon's Dogma was a huge influence

  • Open World
  • You can climb on monsters
  • You can jump/parkour
  • Emphasis on exploring the overworld vs dunegons
  • Bokoblins packs are basically the same as Goblins packs, generally the open world encounters play out in similiar fashions. Lot of variability and occasional insanity (like blowing stuff up and knocking bad guys off cliffs)
  • No Corpse Runs
  • Difficult combat at times that doesn't really punish you if you lose
  • Go anywhere, do anything emergent story telling
  • Light Resource gathering (chipping ore deposits, collecting herbs etc)
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Picky_Bugger

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@eurobum: Good Post, I'm sure Zelda was influenced by Bethesda game but to me it doesn't play like them. It does feel somewhat similar to Morrowind in the sense that it's a world you can easily get lost in although Morrowind was more to do with the complex dialogue / text options and leveling systems than anything in Zelda. And while the leveling system is simple in Zelda it never felt like a hindrance to the game that the god awful leveling system in Skyrim did. I do worry about the future of Bethesda RPGs because after Fallout 4 and Skyrim (both games I think are pretty terrible) they seem to be moving into a world where everything is simplified except for the environments.

There is something odd going on with the monsters leveling with you. Not too sure it's really the weapons but more the colour variations of the monsters. I'm seeing loads of silver enemies now which even after finishing the game are a pain in the arse.

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Edited By TheManWithNoPlan

For real, a lot of the boss fights had me squinting my eyes just to make sure I wasn't playing a souls game. The whole dodging at the right time cause there's invincibility frames thing is especially reminiscent (although not exclusive to those games of course.)

(Hey, my 7000 post!)

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pause422

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Bethesda worlds feel lifeless, full of things that are copy pasted , and of course buggy as hell. Can't compare how good the world is done in Zelda to that at all.

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Edited By avantegardener

I would also throw a nod to Mario 64, a game that really enlightened players to the possibility of the hardware, with a striking art style (not to mention nailing 3D) and a 'go anywhere' exploration attitude. It, like Zelda BOTW, was a terrific showcase.

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Eurobum

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Let met drive this point home.

Zelda: Skyward Sword is released in November, 2011. Fanboy Patrick K. isn't exactly smitten.

Skyrim is released in November 11th, 2011. Goes on to sell more than 20 million copies across systems. Next Zelda is open world and looks a lot like Skyrim. Do you think it is coincidence that they showed someone playing Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch? Nintendo is pandering to the Skyrim audience so hard, acting like they invented the wheel is ludicrous. That GDC talk (shortcut) about how they went back to the freedom of Zelda 1, that was some rather high level, superficial BS, though still interesting.

The Zelda buzz isn't nearly as huge as the cultural Phenomenon in 2011, because of the Wii U install base and the fact that it's impossible to buy a Switch even if you are willing to shell out 400 bucks, which isn't a given.

For people who try to milk these games for all of their content, all open world games end up a disappointment. We are not there yet in the cycle! And there will be a lot of milking and disappointment coming up given it's a new system, with few games.