Breathing in the Wild – Map Design

The next element that I analysed for Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the map design and how it assisted the usage of associated map features in the game. Zelda encompasses an ‘open-world’ map which can be identified as “An open world is a nonlinear virtual world in which the player has the agency to roam freely and tackle objectives in the order they choose.” (Vidqvist, 2019). 

The game’s map design is also known as an epitome of ‘Ubisoft’ created maps. This means that the maps are “featureless maps packed with objective icons” (Battery, 2019). 

“This design approach has an effect on how players navigate game worlds. A reliance on markers, compass points and mini-maps lessens the importance of the actual physical geography, and makes this geography both less memorable and less important to the game experience.”

(Battery, 2019)

The map impacts players and their ‘formative experiences’ as they start to navigate with the map using pin-point destinations, interacting with icons and noticing when domains are crossed. Zelda has incorporated many Ubisoft map features such as settlement markers, fast-travel points and the ‘infamous’ ubisoft towers which are beacons that unveil portions of the associated domains map. (Battery, 2019)

Binocular features and waypoint systems for exploration are both also features that are conventional in openworld games. This allows the player to look from Links perspective into the distance and pin-point the place they want to travel to without attempting to on the map. However in turn the point placed through the binocular feature corresponds onto the map so the player can see the nearby other landmarks. 

The map design for zelda is innovative as the interactions to ‘walls’ cease. Link can approach just about any wall and climb up it, “Generally, walls in games can be considered an obstacle to be circumvented, but Breath of the Wild turns this on its head. Walls become a possible path for the player to take.” (Vidqvist, 2019). The game provides stamps and pins for the player to use to their discretion, which is the same for the direction the game partakes. There are fifteen regions to explore in Botw but it is up to the player where they go and whether they want to go there. 

Zelda breath of the wild employs an effective aesthetic design that is realistic in domains, weather and more. The design strategies such as triangular/rectangular reveal important landmarks when the player is located up high whereas tall geographic landmarks loom over the player when on the ground. These design techniques guide the player somewhat in their explorative journey. The aesthetics of the map design are runic, realistic and provides an ancient like atmosphere. All these components assist the aesthetic harmony of the game.

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