During a talk at the Game Developers Conference, Nintendo gave everyone a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Breath of the Wild. What you’re looking at above is technically an early playable version of a game releasing in 2017.
“As you can see, this is a 2D Zelda, but we used this as a way to experiment,” said game director Hidemaro Fujibayashi.
“So you can say this is a legitimate prototype of Breath of the Wild,” he continued. “It’s very nostalgic.”
In the 2D footage they shared, you can watch Link burn down trees, cut and move logs into the water for transportation—all followed by their 3D equivalent. While verbs remained the same, the action gained a new perspective in the final version.
“I thought that the quickest way to bring this idea to life and to present this to the rest of the team would be to create this in 2D,” Fujibayashi said. “So I brought the character data to the technical director, Mr. [Takuhiro Dohta], who will be coming up after this, and asked him to make it.”
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) March 1, 2017
On Twitter, Nintendo also shared some other images from the talk that showcased more early concepts and ideas that didn’t make it into the final game, including aliens (seriously!) and biker Link:
Bonus: here are some real emails sent during the development of Breath of the Wild: