In a translation of the new Zelda book Master Works, we discover that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild could have been released earlier – but the extra development time was crucial.
It may be easy to gloss over now, but Breath of the Wild had a long road to completion on both Nintendo Switch and Wii U in March 2017. We first heard word of the game in a Nintendo Direct back in 2013, nearly 5 years ago! Our first visuals of the game came at Nintendo’s barnstorming 2014 Digital Event at E3, but the game was delayed numerous times from the 2015 date we were given at that point.
While 2015 sounds ridiculously optimistic now, it turns out the game was at a potentially complete point some time before launch. The new Zelda book Master Works contains a lot of new information about the development of Breath of the Wild. Thanks to the work of Matt Walker and Source Gaming (full translation summary here), we have translations of the book, in particular a point where series producer Eiji Aonuma talks about finishing the game.
In this translation, Aonuma discusses how they were given a lot of time by Nintendo to create and hone Breath of the Wild:
“Only now can I finally reveal that we could have actually released the game earlier, but I couldn’t hold back the urge to make the world even better. That feeling was so strong, that I didn’t know just how long development would continue. That was a truly happy period for me, and even though we spent a large amount of time on it, none of that time was wasted. We were constantly moving forward, even if there were some trial and error along the way.”
They were very aware of the disappointment the wait, which was extended by more than one delay, could have caused fans. While the game could have been released earlier, the extra time they took was crucial in producing the Game of the Year at many outlets (including Tanuki Bridge!).
Furthermore, the closing segment of the translation has Aonuma confirm that they are working on the next Zelda game right now. Unsurprising, but worth noting!
Once again, make sure you check out the translation at Source Gaming – there is a lot more interesting information about Breath of the Wild over there.