If you've ever played The Legend of Zelda,Nintendo's classic adventure series that first launched in 1986, then you know slashing at grass with hero Link's sword is a big deal. If it doesn't uncover a rupee -- Zelda's signature currency -- it turns up a heart filling your health meter.
In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, players will have to work a little harder to stay alive. For starters, health is restored by eating food, some of which might require hunting animals and crafting recipes to later cook up.
It's one of several big changes planned for The Legend of Zelda, which is expected to launch next year for both Nintendo's Wii U and the upcoming NX console.
The franchise features Link, a young hero called to action to protect the land of Hyrule from mystical threats. In the case of Breath of the Wild, Link is shown waking up in a chamber, as a voice implores him to investigate a mysterious enemy.
Breath of the Wild is a much larger game, roughly 12 times as big as the previous console game, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Even the small patch featured during this week's Electronic Entertainment Expo felt vast.
The first thing players will notice in Breath of the Wild is the layer of realism introduced to the series. Players can climb a mountain as Link, but misjudge his stamina and he could face a steep fall. Weather plays an important role, as Link feels changes in temperatures and must be careful carrying metallic gear during a lightning storm.
Breath of the Wild is also less structured. Players can follow the game's story closely, or branch off to attempt one of 100 Shrines of Trials, which features a series of tests leading to special rewards after they're completed.
Link's approach to combat has changed drastically, too. Players can sneak around to gain an edge on an opponent, or survey foes from atop a ridge or mountain to decide their next move. Players will also collect items dropped by enemies or scattered across Hyrule, which they can use to craft. Weapons are fragile, requiring upkeep and even replacement if too worn down.
What's fascinating about Breath of the Wild is the sense of freedom. It's easy to explore and potentially get lost in the environment on the path to rooting out evil forces. And, yes, you can still chop through grass. But only if you really want to.usatoday.com