GamesBeat talked about the best games from the first day at the Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show in Los Angeles, one of the largest industry events of the year. Today, we have just one standout on our mind.*

That’s because Wednesday was Zelda day for us, GamesBeat reporter Jeff Grubb and community manager Mike Minotti. We each played the Wii U version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of Wild, which already stands out for how it shatters several conventions of Nintendo’s landmark fantasy series.

Zelda's open world has lots to discover.

Above: Zelda’s open world has lots to discover.

Image Credit: GamesBeat

Mike Minotti, GamesBeat community manager: This was pretty much our Zelda day, huh?

Jeffrey Grubb, GamesBeat reporter: Zelda!

Mike Minotti: I was looking forward to it more than any other game this E3. I’ve always enjoyed Zelda, and I was excited that the new one was taking a different direction with its open world. Playing it for a bit, I feel good about where Breath of the Wild is going.

The first thing I did was jump around. Jumping in a 3D Zelda game whenever I wanted to do so put me in a different mindset. For the first time, a new 3D Zelda didn’t just feel like an Ocarina of Time sequel.

Everything I did in that demo was atypical of what I’d think of when I imagine a Zelda experience. Usually, that series is all about dungeons, puzzles, and swordfighting. This time, I focused on exploration. I wandered around, discovering camps of enemies and climbing to places I didn’t expect to be allowed to go to.

Link's awakening feels like it's from a Japanese anime.

Above: Link’s awakening feels like it’s from a Japanese anime.

Jeff: Ever since Nintendo started changing Zelda, the game I wanted was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim plus Zelda. I wanted an open world with items I could equip and tons of new systems, such as cooking and crafting.

Now that I’ve played it, and it’s exactly what I’d imagine adding a Bethesda Softworks-like open world to Zelda would turn out. I keep remembering how I snuck up to ambush a group of moblins and then stole their weapons in the middle of battle. And as you kept telling me to switch to the sword, Mike, I stuck with the axe to wear it out before unleashing a pristine weapon.

These aren’t new ideas, but Nintendo figured out how to weave these into Zelda in such a manner that they feel like a natural fit. And to me, this means that these systems are more fun than in other games because they also bear Nintendo’s trademark execution.

Mike: Right? I’ve cooked food in tons of other games. But doing it in Zelda, where I had to start a fire and then select ingredients — and then toss the bundle in the pot as they stewed and jumped about — it was a lot more fun than cooking has been in other games. Functionally, it’s similar to other role-playing games, like in Monster Hunter, but it feels better in Zelda. I also love that, since I put a moblin tooth or whatever in with all my other ingredients, I ended up with a concoction called “dubious food.”

I’m not sure yet if it’s the best game I played at E3, but it’s the one I wish I could play more of right now.

Eh, who am I kidding. It was probably the best game I played.

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild E3 2016 08

Above: Watch out, Link!

Image Credit: Nintendo

Jeff: Yeah, I kinda don’t know how to feel now. I’m glad we’re doing this so I’m forced to think about it a little more. I’m just happy that I don’t hate it. My concern now is that I can’t possibly know if I love it until I’ve played it for hundreds of hours. What if the hundred-plus shrines stink? What if the world starts to feel stale and repetitive after five hours?

I can think of a million things that I can’t possibly figure out in a 20 minute demo on a show floor. So I’m in this weird space where I need to play more Zelda to figure out how I feel about Zelda.

At the same time, I think I agree with you that it’s probably the best thing I’ve played at E3. I know that’s weird to say when I’m not even sure how I feel about it, but that’s only because I demand so much and bring a ton of baggage to any new Zelda.

Mike: Learn to stop worrying and love the Zelda, Jeff.

*Managing editor Jason Wilson wanted to make a case for CD Projekt Red’s Gwent collectible card game and Neocore Games’ Warhammer 40,000: Inquisition Martyr, but Grubb and Minotti made him edit this instead. 

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