Over the past few years, Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma has talked extensively about his goal of re-thinking the conventions of the franchise. With series creator Shigeru Miyamoto taking a step back and giving him more creative control, Aonuma and his team have eschewed the formula followed by most of the recent entries in the franchise to create something fresh in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Speaking with Game Informer after E3, Aonuma elaborated on his decision to shake the series up, citing Wii title The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword as a key influence.

Game Informer: “This Zelda game is dramatic change from previous Zelda games, we’re curious why you felt like now was a good time to change up the formula.”

Eiji Aonuma: “So this came up a little bit in our Q and A session earlier, but someone, a user who played Skyward Sword, said, ‘We want to know what happens in the places you can’t go to.’ And I think for people, especially the Zelda fans, they have a curiosity to find out what happens in those places where you can’t go, where you’re not supposed to go. So we wanted to create a world where you can further that investigation, you can go further and further and continue to search for places where you can’t go.

“And to make this happen, we needed to create Zelda in a very different way and so that’s why it took a little bit longer than we had expected, the development took a lot longer than I had expected. Mainly because as we’re developing this game, we realized there’s all these new possibilities coming up. Like, ‘Oh, we can do this’ or ‘Let’s expand on that.’ And so that’s why development just took a lot longer. And of course there’s stuff that we couldn’t include because of time constraints, but I really feel like we were able to shape out the Zelda that we really wanted to, that really lives up to what we had envisioned.”

The map in
Skyward Sword was fragmented and restrictive, and progression through it was largely linear. Breath of the Wild aims to be the exact opposite, encouraging players to explore every nook and cranny. This focus on free exploration also drove the development team to expand on the stamina bar and climbing mechanics of Skyward Sword.

Game Informer: Where did the idea to allow Link to just climb on everything came from. I mean why allow him to climb up a rock face to begin with?

Eiji Aonuma: So having to use some sort of stamina gauge and run and dash that’s a function that was available in Skyward Sword and we really enjoyed how that feels and how that works out but we thought about how can we expand on that idea. In Skyward Sword you’re only able to climb in certain designated areas and we kind of threw that all those limitations and made it so you can climb anywhere. And when you’re able to climb anywhere you’re able to get to high places, and look down and then adding the paraglider, you can really go down and enjoy this experience. Where it started was wanting to expand on the idea from Skyward Sword.

If you were among the
Zelda fans left dissatisfied by Skyward Sword‘s overworld, Nintendo has heard your voice loud and clear!

Source: Game Informer

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Ben Lamoreux

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