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How Breath of the Wild solved The Legend of Zelda's situational item problem

March 20, 2017 | By Alissa McAloon

Before the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there was a somewhat predictable formula that dictated how both dungeons and Link’s various tools were treated throughout the game.

This ultimately led to the game introducing players to a handful of neat items that would be used creatively in one dungeon, and then more or less forgotten about for the rest of the game.

A recent video from Turbo Button explores how the design of Breath of the Wild shatters that structure by looking at items in a completely different way.

As explored in the video above, items in this newest Zelda title are made to interact with the world and each other rather than just as gadgets that simply exist to offer solutions to different variations of the same problem.

Past Zelda games saw items from a lock-and-key point of view. The spinner from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is cited as a prime example of this. The dungeon designed around the spinner is filled with interesting rooms and puzzles that take advantage of its unique mode of mobility, but outside of the dungeon the item is all but useless.

Rather than creating problems to fit certain items, many of the tools in Breath of the Wild can be used in different ways to solve problems players naturally encounter in the game world. Players can summon blocks of ice to create a bridge or use a chopped down tree for the same effect.

Beyond just that, items and abilities can interact with each other to put a unique spin on puzzle solutions, combat, and travel. Fire, for example, can be used to cook food but players can also light a patch of grass on fire and then use the heat generated to fly upwards with the glider and take aim on an enemy with the bow. 

The video above has more than a few examples of this versatility in action, and fully explores how the very world of Breath of the Wild’s contrasts how tools were designed in past games.

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