According to art director Satoru Takizawa, the most difficult character to create in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was Princess Zelda. Why? Because she was complex.
Takizawa-san explains in Nintendo’s multi-part documentary…
“The character that was most difficult… well that would be Zelda, by far. The reason behind that, well, it’s sort of obvious… I mean, she’s the heroine. Until the very end [of development], we were making subtle changes to her gestures, the lighting, the way her eyelashes look, stuff like that.”
“We were saying, ‘No she looks better this way, no, this way…’ until the very, very end.
“So I think that would make Zelda the most memorable, but also the most challenging character, no question about that.”
Takizawa explains that part of that challenge also comes from the fact that Zelda shows a lot of range throughout Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. He ruminates in words…
“This is just my personal opinion, but I think Zelda is in a really, really good place in this game. There’s a lot of range in terms of how she comes across. You’ll see times when she’s getting along with Link, almost a bit flirty, but you’ll also see a different side to her, and how seriously she takes her position, like in Twilight Princess. In Skyward Sword it looked like they could almost be lovers, but I just feel like in this game she maintains a really good balance.”
“I’m expecting her to be the most popular character.”
Princess Zelda in Breath of the Wild does have a wide arrange of expressions.
Within the lore of the game she has the most responsibility she’s ever been given in a Legend of Zelda title, with the entire fate of the world resting on her shoulders in a way that wasn’t quite present in previous games.
One of the things they avoid, however, is Zelda being a warrior. She readily acknowledges that Link is her “sword”, and as a the Champion of Hyrule his job is squarely in protecting the Princess while the other four Divine Beasts are designated to defeat Ganon.
Zelda in the game is actually assigned a very specific, lesser task, but takes it upon herself to do more than what’s required of her; it shows a different side of her character’s strength that oftentimes goes ignored when writing video game characters.
Despite Takizawa saying she was the most difficult and challenging to create, she also stands head and shoulders above the rest as the most diverse character when it comes to her range of emotions, her personality and her responsibilities in the game. Players get snippets of this as they unlock Link’s memories through Breath of the Wild, getting flashback sequences to see what Zelda went through to protect Hyrule, and protect Link. The story is easily one of the best told in the Legend of Zelda franchise, and a lot of that boiled down to Zelda’s design and the way her story arc unfolded, depicting a complex relationship she had with Link.
It’s hard to say if she’ll be the most popular character from Breath of the Wild, but it’s also hard to deny the importance of her role in the events that transpire throughout the game’s story, especially considering she isn’t a warrior and never once raises a sword for battle.