Grand, awe-inspiring, and absolutely beautiful. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a dazzling tidbit during Nintendo’s live Tree House broadcast. However, it didn’t prepare me for for the real thing, and when I finally put my hands on the actual game at Nintendo’s E3 booth, my jaw dropped to the floor. It’s probably still there.

You’ve seen the gameplay around the internet already (and if not, you can find some of the video below), but let me just say that there is so much to this game that even the personnel at the Nintendo E3 keep discovering something new every time they oversee someone playing the game. As I was being walked through the game, the only direction given to me was “have fun exploring”. So I did. When I set out to the world, I instantly noticed how huge the environment was. Compared to the rest of the game, the area I had access to was a mere speck.

As I started exploration, I came across a shrine which, upon completing it, gave me the ability to glide from high places using a small, ornamented hang glider. “There are more than a 100 shrines across Hyrule”, my guide told me, and I continued my expedition throughout the grasslands, determined immediately to find them all. After tackling a couple more shrines, I was granted a magnet that can pick up and drop platforms, and some kind of freeze weapon. Putting two and two together, I inquired whether that means there are more than a 100 items and skills to unlock in Breath of the Wild. Of course, the Nintendo rep simply dodged my questions and I had no other choice but to press on and try to find out for myself.

My 15 minute journey with the game has put me through the grasslands, a forest and finally ending on some sort of snowy peak taken straight out of Skyrim. When I checked the map, I saw that I’ve barely made it beyond the edge of the area allowed in the demo. It would seem that the whole game world was open to me right there at E3, but time was the limiting factor. 15 minutes of travel and I barely made it out the demo area. Nintendo is serious about this new Legend of Zelda title.

Undeterred, I went back for another run at the demo, and this time I tested the game’s mechanics. At first I chopped down a tree, which became a bundle of sticks I used to start a fired. Then, I “accidentally” started a small wildfire while testing how the world around me reacted to being hit with a flaming stick. Sure enough – things do catch on fire. There was a brief moment of laughter when I swung at a bird and it instantly became cooked meat.

As I went on, I tried the Wolf Link amiibo, which summoned Wolf Link to destroy my enemies without remorse. I’m not sure whether Wolf Link is made to be overpowered just for the sake of the demo, but around 90% of my kills were due to the amiibo’s help. That is, until I once again reached the edge of the demo map, and spotted some sort of golem creature. “I’ve never seen that before” the confused Nintendo rep said while staring at the screen. I recently acquired a broad sword from a fallen enemy, and I had Wolf Link with me so naturally I attacked the stone giant. Because why the hell not, right? I soon realized that this was an area for much later in the game, as my sword barely even made the monster flinch. My amiibo companion went for the attack, to which the golem responded by swinging its arms in an arc and completely decimating my companion. Knowing that I’m out matched, I decided to make a run for it.

As I was making my was to a cliff, the Nintendo rep chimed in with “you can go down that snowy hill and snowboard down”, to which I replied with “you can snowboard in this game?!” Sure enough, as I went towards the cliff, I pressed the jump button and Link simply used his shield as a makeshift snowboard to get down the hill quickly and away from the danger. I pressed another button that made Link do some sort of jump trick, and the crowd that gathered around me started in awe. Even the Nintendo rep was baffled by the action and said that she wasn’t aware that players can do that too. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I did it by accident. As I finally run towards the sunset the demo ended with the crowd clapping behind me.

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is going to be a game that will put players in awe. After experiencing what the game had to offer on the E3 show floor, I can easily see the game as a serious contender for Game of the Year of whichever year Nintendo decides to release the full game in. Personally, it already has my vote, and I’m counting the days leading to its release.

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