Published: Jun 20, 2016 12:00:00 PM

zelda-BotW.gifThis is a recurring segment, "Whiny Questions, Simple Answers," where I gather the whiniest question I come across on the internet in a given week, and provide a straightforward answer.

This week's question concerns the recently-announced The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

While its E3 demo is well-received, some are irked by its praise in comparison to western RPGs of late, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim most of all.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Is Copying Skyrim? Please. Bethesda Would Be So Flattered.

First, it's fine if both Zelda and Skyrim exist. One's availability does not expunge the other from reality.

Second, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will not be available until at least March, 2017. We cannot craft an informed criticism until then.

As for the comparison to Skyrim, Oblivion, Morrowind, and their sister-games in the Fallout series, if you think there's a direct influence, don't flatter yourself.

I'll explain. Japanese developers, Nintendo developers in particular, are isolationists. Western development styles come and go, and from Doom, to Halo, to Grand Theft Auto, to Call of Duty, Skyrim, and the modern character-shooters, Nintendo has shown no interest in mimcking any of them. Those game styles cover the good years and the bad years for Nintendo, and not once did they point to a game, let alone a western-developed game, and say, "Yes, these guys got our juices flowing."

Breath of the Wild does seem to be an expansive world with minimal indication of where to go first. That smells more like Dark Souls (our review) than the floppy, glitchy, buggy, first-person scrougers Bethesda Softworks develops to critical and financial acclaim. Listen to the interviews on the game from E3 2016 and the developers site certain anime films as their biggest influence (they don't say directly, but you'd have to be blind and deaf for 30 years to not notice how much Nintendo loves Hiyao Miyazaki and Princess Mononoke).

As it turns out, the Monster Hunter games, developed by Capcom in Japan for the last 12 years, have been occupying a genre that can only be described as, "Morrowind, But With Balls." They've sanded down the game-loop of resource-gathering, monster-fighting, and world navigation to an unrivaled smoothness. Run your fingers around a Monster Hunter game. You will get no splinters.

Why is this important? Because in those 12 years of existence, Monster Hunter has sold 32 million units worldwide. A Japanese company like Nintendo will not ignore the design traits from another Japanese game series that does that. There already was some mild resource collection in Skyward Sword (our review). This is the next logical evolution.

Breath of the Wild appears to be special because it is learning from the best. You could guess The Elder Scrolls series was an influence, but you'd be wrong.

-- Alex Crumb
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