Adding a Wall Jump to Breath of the Wild

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

For a level design exercise, I was tasked with adding a wall jump mechanic to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I quickly laid out the specifications for the wall jump and focused on how to teach it to the player in an open-world setting.


Research

I haven't played Breath of the Wild (though I have played many other Zelda games) or own a switch, so I watched multiple Let's Plays on Youtube to learn about this game for the exercise. I detailed my observations about how the game taught the player through the level design while I watched.


Walkthrough Used: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLTDkTyrV8OQt1QDuH17aYpciPXcBQAItw


  • Start of game

  • Closed room, show where he needs to go, path on floor, controls on bottom of screen

  • Needs to perform action to move forward

  • Short (2 rooms)

  • Minimal narrative

  • Jump, sprint, stamina, and climbing

  • Link’s main abilities

  • Long hallway with ledge at end

  • Must perform to move forward

  • Controls pop up at bottom

  • Starting the open world

  • Immediately gives the player an overview and shows where they need to go

  • Natural barriers to guide and contain, cliff to fall, mountains to block, slope down

  • Small areas to test jump, sprint, climb, stamina

  • Teaching swimming

  • On path to main objective, used bokoblin camp to bring player to area, used sloping ground to guide them down

  • Puddles hint

New Mechanic - Wall Jump

To add the wall jump into the game, I needed to know how the mechanic would function. Focusing more on teaching it through level design, I quickly designed some specifications for the wall jump in the game.

  • “A secondary jump action triggered by jumping into a vertical surface and jumping again at contact”

  • Uses ⅛ of stamina bar per jump

  • Abilities that require endurance (sprinting, climbing, and swimming) or abilities that require power (swim dash, leaping climb) use the stamina bar

  • Max of 8 consecutive wall jumps

  • Can jump between walls up to ~5 units max apart

  • Can be performed on any vertical surface

  • Player can hold onto the wall in between jumps and climb (climbing stamina is still deducted)

Why Add a Wall Jump?

  • Improves Link’s mobility in the world

  • Reinforces exploration using parkour movements

  • Supports the core pillars


Level Walkthrough

Introduction

  • Wall jump is a secondary ability

  • Won’t have a gated tutorial like with the sprinting, climbing, and jumping at the beginning as the player leaves the Shrine of Resurrection

  • Player will learn the wall jump like how they learn other abilities such as swimming: by encountering the scenarios in the world and figuring out the ability themselves


Learn Through Experience

  • Swimming introduced without a tutorial through exposing it to the player in multiple areas

  • Most encouraged learning area was when the Old Man directs Link to the Oman Au Shrine (Main Quest Objective)

  • Bokoblin camp lured player to the far edge of lake with promise of spoils

  • Other ways around lake, but most direct to shrine is through the water, encouraging them to “test the waters”



Locations

  • Wall jump taught in the Isolated Plateau region

  • Spaces like as follows will be scattered around the region (red highlighted spots along mountainsides) encouraging player exploration and discovery but providing plenty of opportunities to discover the ability like with swimming

  • Most Encouraged Learning Area: Main quest objective to farm cabin added; Old Man directs Link up mountain to Owa Daim Shrine; Mountainside climbing replaced with wall jump


Example Overview

  • Classic wall jump setup with an incentive at the top helps players to identify the mechanic


Guiding the Player

  • Collectable rushrooms (purple mushrooms) guide the player up and serve as another wall jump identifier

  • Player can hold on in between jumps and climb/hold onto the wall to collect rushrooms


Rewarding the Player

  • A noticeable incentive at the top of the wall jump section attracts the player’s attention to the spot in the first place and rewards them for completing the challenge

  • Shrine, chest, or hidden korok


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Claire Yeash

Game Designer and UX Researcher