Zelda: Breath of the Wild's Director on Difficulty: "We Should Let Them Die"

Zelda: Breath of the Wild's Director on Difficulty: "We Should Let Them Die"

The director of the latest Zelda is all about letting players suffer their failures.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a rewarding game, with a full open-world to explore and a host of secrets to find. Breath of the Wild is also harsh and unforgiving at times, offering lightning-quick deaths - literally - and other systems that seek to put Link in the ground before his quest is complete. According to game director Hidemaro Fujibayashi, that high difficulty is a big part of the experience.

Into the fire.

Fujibayashi notes that during development, testers were falling off the game's towers and dying. The team thought about making the towers a bit easier to scale, but they ultimately decided to let us die like idiots.

"There's actually kind of a fun to be had from falling and dying," Fujibayashi told The Verge. "You learn to be careful and to be cautious. And we felt that that gave a lot of players the emotional preparedness to take on the rest of the world. So we ultimately decided that we should let them die."

"They fall, they learn," added Breath of the Wild's art director Satoru Takizawa.

Fujibayashi said the team has done extensive testing with the game, using testing data to determine if the challenge was quite right in Breath of the Wild. Nintendo wanted the game to challenge players, but it doesn't need to be a full-on survival experience everywhere. Fujibayashi said he felt the balance was right the first time a playable version of Breath of the Wild was shown off to the public at E3 2016.

"There's a development tool that we use that takes all of the data from these monitor tests, and it centralizes it in one location so that you can see that data in real time," said Fujibayashi. "It shows how many hearts people have, or where people have died, or what path they're taking. And it's kind of on this one singular timeline so that you can see in real time where people are struggling, where people are really dying a lot, what path they're taking. So we took all of that into consideration as we tried to balance the game out."

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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