Yesterday I polled our viewers to see if you’re happy with the art style of Zelda Wii U or if you would have preferred something more realistic like the Zelda tech demo from E3 2011. As excited as I was to see the Twilight Princess-inspired graphics demo three years ago, I’m much more thrilled with how the game actually looks. More than just that, I think the stylized look of Zelda Wii U will make it a better game.
With Zelda Wii U trading in the more linear format of recent entries for a vast open world, some Zelda fans are concerned that it will end up feeling too much like many other games in the same genre. The market is full of action-adventure/RPG titles set in dimly-colored worlds that strive for photorealism. A big part of why I’ve always loved Zelda is being immersed in the fantasy world of Hyrule, and the stylized look of the game has a certain charm to it that just feels more like Zelda to me. It may not be the most technically impressive graphics engine, but it’s beautiful and unique.
That’s not to say I want the whole game to be as vibrant and bright as what we saw in the trailer. This stylized look lends itself well to darker, moodier environments too, as showcased in a popular piece of fan art that depicts what the opening scene of the trailer could look like at night. Twilight Princess was a bit too dreary for my tastes, and Skyward Sword a bit too bright, but this new style could lend itself well to a variety of different atmospheres, and I’m hopeful to see lots of diversity in the game.
This new look for Zelda Wii U is less detailed than what we saw at E3 2011, but I think that’s actually a good thing. Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma wants the map to feel connected and dynamic, creating a game world that’s more immersive and alive than any other entry in the series. With a more detailed art style, this might not be possible. Wii U can handle a lot more than its predecessor, but it still has its limitations, and this simpler, less hardware intensive graphics engine will allow for a bigger, more intricate world with more areas to explore and characters to interact with.
Zelda Wii U may not have the most detailed or photorealistic graphics around, but it’s the right call. The art style that Aonuma and his team chose is beautiful, allows for a better game world, and will look great for years to come. It’s exactly what I want from Zelda.