The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild launched to critical acclaim on Friday, but those who have played it will tell you it’s the toughest Zelda game yet. The Verge recently caught up with director Hidemaro Fujibayashi who said the challenge is part of the experience. When the game was in development, Fujibayashi noticed that a lot of testers would fall off the many towers that are scattered all around Hyrule so the team decided to tweak things a little bit but ultimately decided that it was ok if players died a few times.
“When we saw that, we also didn’t see it as something negative,” Fujibayashi says. “There’s actually kind of a fun to be had from falling and dying. 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.” Satoru Takizawa, Breath of the Wild’s art director, adds: “They fall, they learn.”
“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,” Fujibayashi explains of the process. “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.” He also notes that he sees the fact that most players will find themselves lost in the vast world at some point as “a very positive thing.”
“When we watched people play at E3 we realized that they were playing in the way that we envisioned,” he says. “And when we saw that and people were reacting positively, that’s when I said ‘Alright, this is the right direction.’