The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has gone down as one of the finest video games of recent memory, not only selling impressively but also securing widespread critical acclaim as well.
GamesIndustry.biz has been speaking to two major developers about what makes this Switch and Wii U title so groundbreaking, and what it means for the future of the open-world genre as a whole.
Benjamin Plich was the lead designer on Assassin's Creed: Unity and For Honor, and is currently employed as lead game designer at Montreal's Reflector Entertainment. He had this to say about Nintendo's masterpiece:
Breath of the Wild showed something most designers already know, but which is hard to achieve... [these games are] evolving from classic open worlds to an open-game model - open progression following each player's intrinsic motivations, adaptive challenge curve and economy, open narrative structures, and so on.
Damien Monnier served as senior designer on The Witcher 3 at CD Projekt RED and is now lead designer at Techland, and has similar feelings to Plich:
Breath of the Wild has managed to bring classic open world mechanics together while not relying on them to guide the player through its world. You go and explore it because you wonder what's out there, not because a loot icon tells you to.
My expectations, and I mean for me as a Zelda fan, have changed for sure - they've raised the bar when it comes to world crafting and this sense of total immersion I get when I play it. While its world includes classic open-world activities, collectibles and loot-filled mobs, it definitely doesn't feel overloaded and allows the focus be on the exploration. You want to explore this land whether or not you are on a quest, or being tasked to collect/gather something. You know, If you were to remove all NPCs, quests and mobs, I would still take pleasure in exploring that beautiful world.
Breath of the Wild may be thrilling gamers the world over but it's the mark of a truly exceptional video game when its influence goes as far as to inspire fellow game-makers. We're sure the shockwaves of Zelda's brilliance will be keenly felt over the next few years; Nintendo may not have been all that active in the open-world genre but it has set the bar very high indeed with Breath of the Wild.