Bethesda's Todd Howard recently shared his thoughts on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, comparing it favorably to his own open-world games. Howard has been the game director for all of Bethesda Game Studios' modern releases. Suffice it to say, he's one of the industry's leaders regarding open-world game development and design. It's understandable that he's deeply familiar with The Legend of Zelda franchise, but his thoughts on Breath of the Wild may be surprising.
Howard has spoken candidly regarding open-world projects in the past. He's previously said that Bethesda's games are intended to pique and reward curiosity. Features for his games are designed to layer over each other in complex and surprising ways, allowing all of those "weird things intersecting" to create special moments. Howard encourages the idea that players should be able to take on as much as a game can offer to see how the game handles it.
It's perhaps no surprise then that in a recent interview with YouTuber Lex Fridman, Howard says that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is his favorite game from the Zelda franchise. He calls it "magical" and believes that it's "fantastic." He seems genuinely enamored with Breath of the Wild, an endearing sentiment as Howard is so often focused on hyping Bethesda's upcoming games that he rarely gets to talk about other titles he enjoys.
Part of why Howard loves Breath of the Wild, he admits, is that it's an open-world game like what he makes at Bethesda. There have been multiple open-world games in the Zelda franchise prior, whether it's Wind Waker, A Link to the Past, or the 1986 original, but there's something to Breath of the Wild that draws Howard to it. He praises the action-adventure game's freedom, saying that, "they don't constrain you." More specifically, Howard says that Breath of the Wild only limits players based on the abilities they have yet to earn, rather than putting up any "arbitrary barriers" prohibiting exploration.
Howard isn't the only person to see The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as the best game in the series. Breath of the Wild is the best-selling game in the franchise by far with over 26 million sales, the only Zelda game to ever sell over 10 million copies in a single release. The kind of courage to create Breath of the Wild, as well as the success that followed, is likely something most game directors can deeply admire.
What's particularly interesting about Howard's views of Breath of the Wild is the contrast between Nintendo's game and Bethesda's own titles. Breath of the Wild's straightforward simplicity is difficult to directly compare to the complicated systems of Fallout and The Elder Scrolls. They each have their own plusses and minuses and are deserving of praise in their own right.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is available now for Nintendo Switch and Wii U.
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