Uncovered Zelda: Breath of the Wild image reveals early build with real Japanese landmarks

Reportedly, Nintendo's early work on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild used real-world Japanese landmarks to develop the scale of the world in-game.

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Years after The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild launched with the Nintendo Switch, it still stands as one of the most amazing and vastly ambitious efforts in the Nintendo library, let alone the Zelda series. Every corner of the wide world of BOTW’s Hyrule is rich with adventure. There are many stories and rumors about the long process of how Nintendo built this wonderful game world, but recently, a tweet showed off what could be an extremely early look at Breath of the Wild’s development which once supposedly featured real-life Japanese landmarks to aid in creating the scale of the game’s characters and world.

Recently a number of tweets popped up featuring supposed footage from an early build of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which appeared in a closed door presentation at Computer Entertainment Developers Conference (CEDEC) 2017. One of the more recent tweets from Twitter account and LootPots editor Pixelpar showed off a look at Link running alongside a background view of the Himeji Castle in Himeji, Japan. Further back tweets showed that Nintendo may have first designed a map of an entire Japan region to test the full scale of the game.

Though it wouldn't make it into the final game, early images of Zelda: Breath of the Wild not only show famous Japanese landmarks, but also a skydive feature that was being adapted from Skyward Sword.
Though it wouldn't make it into the final game, early images of Zelda: Breath of the Wild not only show famous Japanese landmarks, but also a skydive feature that was being adapted from Skyward Sword. (Image via Vicente Quesada)

It’s interesting to see just how Nintendo worked to achieve a rich and vast space of exploration and adventure in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Though certain mechanics, such as a skydive feature shown in some of the CEDEC 2017 images, would not make it into the final game, it’s still pretty great to get the sweeping views of major Japanese landmarks that were used to give a full sense of magnitude to the redesigned land of Hyrule and everything it offered. It’s arguably not just that vastness, but also the sheer amount of discovery within it that gave BOTW high marks throughout the industry, our Shacknews review included, and made it hands down the Game of the Year of 2017.

It’s unlikely that we’ll ever see any of that early build of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in motion, but it’s still extremely interesting for gaming history’s sake to get another glimpse as to what exactly went into BOTW’s winning development and design. It makes us want to explore those landmarks with Link as much as we’re waiting with anticipation for Breath of the Wild 2.

News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. When he's not handing out beatdowns in the latest fighting games, exploring video game history, or playing through RPGs with his partner, he's searching for new food and drinks in the constant pursuit of good times with good people inside and outside the South Texas area. You can also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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