Friday, June 17, 2016

Genericide Update: Yeah I Just Talk About Zelda

“I’m not sure if I’ll have the article ready for next week.”

-Grand Admiral Genericide of the USS Disappointment,
June 10, 2016...and seemingly every week after

What more explanation do you need? If you answered “the kind that actually explains something”? First of all, how’s the weather down there in Snarkansas? Enjoying a cool, refreshing sassparilla? Second of all, yeah okay fine. The short explanation is e3. The medium explanation is e3 and Zelda. The longest explanation is that I may have replaced my computer with a giant monitor that just plays the Breath of the Wild trailer until I get bored of it or the heat death of the universe, whichever comes first. Close race, place your bets. If you’re wondering how I’m typing this article without a computer, let’s just sidestep that query and hope my neighbor doesn’t come home anytime soon.

So seriously, that’s the whole explanation. I have little enough time each week as is, and it was consumed by the media juggernaut that is e3. And by e3 I mean yeah-some-of-that-looks-cool-or-whatever-but-CHECK-OUT-THAT-ZELDA. I’m not the type to gush about trailers or speculation. (Well, except that one time I’d prefer you’d all forget. Bleh, why did I link that?) That being said, I figure I might as well do a brief overview of my feelings on Zelda: Breath of the Wild, because I’m also not the type to keep things under 200 words without being violently ill.

So all Zelder Scrolls jokes aside, I really am excited to see the series branching out and trying something new. There are plenty of ways it could screw things up, of course. The Zelda series doesn’t have the practice with truly open-world exploration, crafting and heavier RPG elements that it does with its tried-and-true formula. It could be that one of the most consistently quality series in games is setting us up for a confused mishmash of poorly applied modern gameplay that dips below usual standards. But you know what? I’m glad they’re trying. I’ve never been one of those people to whine about how Zelda doesn’t change. It sticks to a formula, but the iterative changes like new items, dungeons and some minor mechanical tweaks each game have always been sufficient for me. Yet despite that, sometimes you simply need to try new things, to see if the result is even better than what you had before, or at least good in a different way. So long as they keep the basic core of what we liked before, which they seem to be doing, I’m not that worried.

If you’re looking for a categorical point-by-point on every new feature or news development, look elsewhere. I said I’d do a bit of speculation but I want to let this waterfall of information stew for a bit before I come to conclusions. A lot of it would just end up with me saying “wow, how about that? That could be cool, or they could screw it up! Yup, those sure are the two options.” Plus, the point of these weekly update articles is to get something out there quicker so I can invest my time elsewhere, like into watching that trailer another couple of hundred times.

If I could get real and drop the hyperbole forever and for all time (sorry), I really do like that trailer. Granted, some of the gameplay in the center seems standard, early in development and/or not particularly gripping. But apart from giving us an idea of the new direction, there are two things that make this trailer. The first is that it's god damn gorgeous. I’m sure some will disagree, I’m aware that the game isn’t technically the best at 720p. But I find the visual design simply phenomenal. A wide variety of sweeping vistas that are extremely colorful and varied, that I can only describe as “majestic as fuck.” But what really cinches it for me, as with all good trailers, is the music.

It takes its time to build. The soundtrack is extremely sparse for the first half, which so far seems indicative of the game itself. But from the moment Link jumps about a minute in, the sound is pure gold. I still can’t listen to sweeping sounds accompanying the vistas around 2:20 without getting chills. There’s a similar feeling at the cathartic ending featuring a single piano note and an image of a rusted master sword. From start to finish, the audio in this is simply beautiful.

So yeah, I’m excited. Zelda games are some of my favorites out of the hundreds I’ve played, after all. But I’m trying not to get too excited when this is a year or so out, and when they seem to be deliberately leaving some surprises for us to discover ourselves. So I’ll leave it at that and abstain from talking about any gameplay features for now. No, I won’t even talk about how you can snowboard on your shield at-will while firing arrows. Definitely not gonna mention how awesome that is, and you can’t make me, so there.

So cool.

At least, it would be if I were talking about it.

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