Legend of Zelda is a classic game franchise, and everyone has a favorite iteration. For some it’s the original from 1986. For others it’s Link’s Awakening, which debuted on Game Boy in 1993. And then there’s 1998’s Ocarina of Time for N64, the first 3-D Zelda game. After that you get into the whole Wind Waker (2002), Twilight Princess (2006) progression. They’re all charming in their own way, but even if you know nothing about Zelda, you can appreciate the HD graphics in the forthcoming Wii U version (preview from the E3 conference above). Link’s world has never looked so lovely.
First of all, let’s just talk about those high grasses. You can see every individual blade gently swaying in the wind or *spoilers* being engulfed in fabulously realistic flames. Producer Eiji Aonuma explains that this Zelda generation has the series’ first completely open world, in which anything (from distant mountains to castles) is accessible from any realistic angle. But as he’s talking you may be distracted by the gently rolling mist, swaying trees, or delicate flowers behind him. And when the action starts, the horse Epona’s movements have never felt more natural. The game will debut in 2015, but it will need more than good looks to wow fans: It takes something special to elevate a Zelda game to cult favorite status.