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Zelda: Aonuma Explains Why Breath Of The Wild Is “Open Air”

Breath of the Wild Link

The Legend of Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma continued his press tour for Breath of the Wild with Japanese magazine Nikkei Trendy. In the discourse, he discussed the game’s declarative “Open Air” concept and where the franchise goes next. Credit for the translations goes to Japanese Nintendo.

Breath of the Wild as an “open air” game has been a discussion of Nintendo’s since E3 last year, but the concept’s origins date back to Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64. “When I first created a Zelda that’s played with 3D in Ocarina of Time,” Aonuma explained, “what we put our attention on is: To cope with how we were still not familiar with 3D yet, we show ‘routes’ so that you could progress forward without getting lost in even broad worlds.”

“At that time, I thought that was the right thing. However, as we stacked on the series, ‘not getting lost’ would produce feelings of blockages like ‘cannot do anything but that’ or ‘cannot run away’, so more and more people felt dissatisfied with that.

With Breath of the Wild, the Zelda team finally had the chance to release these roadblocks and blockades that limited the exploration of yore. “‘Open Air’ are words that really liberates us from those ‘feelings of blockages’,” Aonuma continued. “You can freely explore a vast world connected seamlessly, and you can progress to find out your own ‘answer’.”

As to where The Legend of Zelda goes next, Aonuma wishes to continue experimenting with the series’ format and to upend player expectations. “It’s not an easy thing to be able to answer expectations of all our users, but through this game, I recognized again that the significance of continuing to create the series is right there, so in the future I’d like to repeat doing ‘great fusses’ and provide ‘surprises’ that exceed everyone’s expectations.”

Players around the world have warmly embraced Aonuma’s “open air” concept. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has sold 3.84 million copies as of March 31st, slightly more than there are Nintendo Switches. The game has been a killer app on Nintendo’s newest system and even on their last generation console, the Wii U.

Alex Irish
When he's not writing about games, Alex Irish is an illustrator and animation expert. His favorite gaming franchise is Pokémon, full-stop, but his favorite game of all time is Resident Evil 4. He attended the first-ever IGN House Party and is a five-time attendee of the Ottowa International Animation Festival.