Legend of Zelda Wii U: An In-depth Look at the E3 Trailer

The E3 Zelda Wii U teaser trailer was nothing short of stunning and despite Aonuma’s intro facts, left many of us begging for more. Don’t worry though, the trailer is packed with hints and hidden gems that are easily missed first time around.

Aonuma’s Introduction

Just to make sure we cover all bases, let’s start with the quick facts Aonuma gave us before the trailer kicked in.

  • The Legend of Zelda Wii U will be a seemless open world.
  • If you go far enough, you’ll be able to reach the mountains in the distance.
  • You can enter any area from any direction.
  • There will be no set path, players must decide where they want to go and how they will get there.
  • Strong enemies will appear in peaceful settings.

Scene 1 – The World of Zelda Wii U

So as Aonuma slowly vaporizes into the background, the first scene of the trailer begins to play. Showing Link on horseback and a new monster attacking, Scene 1 gives us our first glimpse of the new graphics, art style, open world, and the NPCs that inhabit it. Forgotten what it looks like? Here’s a refresher:

The legend of Zelda Wii U Open World

I’m going to skim briefly over the aesthetics as this is something I doubt anyone missed:

  • Looks like a cross between Skyward Sword and Wind Waker.
  • Cel-shaded art style.
  • Semi-realistic looking characters and environment.
  • Lots of vibrant colors
  • Nice lighting and textures.
  • …and yes, the trailer is actual gameplay footage on a Wii U.

The Zelda Wii U environment is impressive, everything moves and feels very natural. You can tell the development team spent a lot of time on the minor details. Blades of grass, flowers and leaves all sway individually with the wind. The sky is full of clouds that cast moving shadows across the fields and mountains. The terrain itself is scattered with rocks, trees and mountains; there are even houses pumping out chimney smoke that shifts with the wind.

Overall it looks great, but let’s take a closer look. Here are a few things you might not have noticed.

Zelda Wii U Analysis Scene 1

On the horizon, nestled between the brown mountains is a what looks like an active volcano. Given that fact it’s been featured in eight Zelda games, I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to says that we’re probably looking at Death Mountain. Hey, we might even be treated to some HD Gorons… wouldn’t that be nice.

Moving left a bit and looking just below the horizon there’s a nice white blob. Don’t be surprised if you missed this on the trailer, it’s pretty small and tucked away in the hills. When we look a bit closer our white blob isn’t just a blob, it’s got quite a distinctive shape. Y’know… a Hyrule Castle kind of shape.

So if we’ve got Death Mountain and Hyrule castle, then this must be Hyrule right? I’d lean towards yes. If we look to the far left of the screen there’s a large body of water with light reflecting off it. This could well be Lake Hylia or the river to Zoras Domain.  The water meanders to the right as we get further away, then left in front of the split rock. Lake Hylia might just be hidden round that corner.

Back to that split rock. It looks like something reminiscent of Ocarina of Time, where cracks in the rocks were used to filter the player into specific areas. If that white blob is Hyrule castle and that volcano is Death Mountain then my moneys is on it leading to Geudo Valley. Then again, it might just be a split rock.

Onto the final highlighted section. There is an fenced off area with a wooden entrance in the middle of the field, this is probably Lon Lon Ranch. Seeing a Link is on Eponaback, I mean horseback, then it makes sense for their to be a training area to get to grips with riding.

NPC Behavior
There’s just one more thing I want to mention about the opening scene of Zelda Wii U and that’s how well it showed off NPC behavior. Just before the monster slides into shot you can see a flock of birds fly to safety out of the forest. Then as the monster shoots a beam towards Link, the farmer and his goats (on the right) run away to avoid being caught up in the battle. It’s subtle elements like these that make a game feel really natural and show how much thought went into the development.

Scene 2 – Chase Scene

In the second scene, we see Link riding through a narrow pathway with the monster in tail. As the monster turns the corner it smashes into a wall in the background, then continues firing it’s lasers towards Link.

Particle Effects
During this scene we get a good look at some of the particle effects used for explosions and smoke, which have vastly improved from previous Zelda games. I’m not exactly and expert in this area, but overall I’m impressed. The flames look very realistic and during explosions embers of grass and mud are thrown into into the air. The smoke clouds disperse in a very natural way and the laser beams look fantastic.

There are a couple of other things worth mentioning in the second scene. Don’t take them too seriously, but Nintendo could be dropping hints about the story-line.

Subtle Hints of Ganondorf?
Remember the wall that the monster smashes into at the beginning of the scene? It could actually be a statue of Ganondorf, or a leaning ruin of one. Let’s take another look:

Ganon Statue Zelda Wii U

It’s hard to tell with the ray of light covering the back half, but the shape does vaguely resemble Ganondorf from Wind Waker. The shape of the head seems about right, there is a collar and a mark for the sleeve of his arm. There are also patterns on the stomach which could match the gold trimming and patterns on his cloak.

Another possible Ganondorf hint can be seen in the black smoke created by the monster as it turns the corner. As the smoke disperses it forms the shape of Ganondorf’s head and shoulder. This may just be pure coincidence, so make of it what you will.

Ganon Smoke Zelda Wii U

Scene 3/4 – Link Reveal & Battle

There are two things that really stand out in the final scenes. Firstly we get a sneak peek at some of the items we’ll be able to use in Zelda Wii U. Followed by decent close-up shots of Links appearance.

As Link rides towards the bridge we get a clean side shot of the him on Epona, there a number of items strapped to the rear of the horse that are clearly visible. We then see a few more when Link confronts the monster and also when he leaps off the horse. They are:

Zelda Wii U Shield
Wooden Shield with Iron Trim
The wooden shield is strapped to the rear side of Epona at the start of the scene. It looks extremely similar to the Banded Shield from Skyward Sword but with different markings. Like the Banded Shield, it may be an upgraded version of the Wooden Shield.
Exploding Arrow Zelda Wii U
Bomb Arrow
Link pulls out at arrow with a sparking bomb attached to the end, in order to fight the monster. Like in Twilight Princess and Links Awakening these are probably made by combining bombs with arrows. In the trailer Link draws 2 at the same time and fires them in quick succession. Bomb arrows have green tips on the feathers.
Rolled up Mat
Rolled-up Mat
Strapped to the top of Epona’s rear in a large bag. This item might be a sleeping bag or simply just decoration. It could be possible in The Legend of Zelda Wii U there is an option for Link to sleep through the night or to regain health.
Hero’s Bow
Used by Link in the trailer to fire arrows. This bow strongly resembles the Hero’s Bow from Twilight Princess, despite having a slightly different pattern on the riser. It also features a red grip similar to the Bow used in Skyward Sword
Saddle Bag for Epona Wii U
Saddle Bag
A saddle bag attached to Epona throughout the trailer. The bag is embossed with either Hyrule’s Royal Crest or the Hylian Crest. This item might be used for storing items on horseback, then retrieving them later. In a similar way the item bank works in previous Zelda titles.
Link's Quiver
The Quiver seen in Zelda Wii U is strapped to Link’s back and attached to the lower belt. It has has a similar shape to the Big Quiver from Twilight Princess but only one strap wrapped around it instead of two. The markings on the Quiver are completely different to those on the Big Quiver.
Adventure Pouch
Adventure Pouch
This pouch is strapped to Link’s belt as he jumps to fire an arrow at the monster. The Adventure Pouch also appears in Skyward Sword and A Link Between Worlds, where it is used for storing additional items. Zelda Wii U may also follow this type of storage system.
Trigger Arrow Zelda Wii U
Trigger Arrow
The arrow Link fires to close the trailer. The arrow head has a built in mechanism which reveals a trigger. When the trigger is pulled the head flicks open and begins to glow blue. This arrow is kept separately from the others and is seen strapped to the side of Epona. The trigger arrow has a red tip on the feathers.
No Sword in Zelda Wii U Trailer
No Sword?
There is no sword or sheath seen in the trailer. It may be that The Legend of Zelda Wii U is the first Zelda game not to feature a sword. Update: Link does in fact have a sword, it is seen strapped to the back of Epona in a few scenes.


While Link is crossing the bridge, the monster slides into shot and smashes the other end. Link whips off his hood/scarf combo to battle. It’s not clear if the hood is a use-able item to or simply something included to conceal Links appearance until the end of the trailer. What is interesting though, is that freezing the trailer as Link removes the hood unveils a new marking.This marking seems to resemble a laughing tree and may be tied to the story-line in some way. Could it represent a Deku sapling or maybe an evil tree that has cursed Hyrule?

Legend of Zelda Wii U Hood Markings

Link’s Appearance
After firing two bomb arrows, Link leaps from Epona to fire the trigger arrow and close the trailer. During this scene we get an excellent view of both front and back. These two frames alone give us a lot of insight into the new Link. Yes it is Link, Aonuma confirmed this in an interview with MMGN. Here are the stills:

Links Appearance in The Legend of Zelda Wii U

The first thing you may have noticed is that Link’s not wearing his usual green attire. Also, the blue tunic looks remarkably similar to the one worn at the start of Wind Waker (minus the giant lobster motif). Either Aonuma has decided to drop the traditional look, or this is early game footage. There is also potential for Wind Waker story-line tie-in.

Another thing that stands out is Zelda Wii U Link is right-handed! This has only occurred in two other games: Twilight Princess (Wii) and Skyward Sword. Why? So that the Wiimote/Nunchuk controls felt more natural for right-handed people. Could this mean that the new Legend of Zelda will have optional motion controls? Or has Link become right-handed forevermore?

Overall the new Link works really well. He may of lost his hat and gained an extra belt, but the new art-style easily makes up for that.

That about sums up ever thing I spotted in the trailer (and yes, I know I didn’t show the monster), but if you’ve got any suggestions or think I’ve missed something out then be sure to let me it in the comments.

The Legend of Zelda Wii U will be released in 2015 and is available to Pre-order on Amazon.

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