With the Wii U’s release occurring within the last few months of this year, fans are just starting to become excited at the prospect of Nintendo’s new console. A specific release date and price are expected to be announced this month for the hardware, but the Wii U is really only as good as its games. We know big-name titles like New Super Mario Bros. U and Pikmin 3 are en route for the console’s release window, but it’s what follows their release that has us the most interested.

Other Nintendo-owned triple-A franchises will come to the Wii U at some point, and the most desired of all is undoubtedly The Legend of Zelda.

According to Wii U Daily, an anonymous source that has provided accurate information in the past pertaining to Nintendo’s ‘next-gen’ console has given them exclusive details on the next Legend of Zelda game. The Big N allegedly plans on releasing the first ever high definition Zelda in 2014. Furthermore, it’ll feature some radically different changes that set it apart from any of its predecessors.

The first bit of news may be upsetting to some fans who were hoping for a return to the darker Twilight Princess-esque version that was demonstrated in the Legend of Zelda tech demo at E3 2011. According to the source, Nintendo has opted to stick with the same style that was present in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. This choice was made because the developers felt that their most recent installment hit a perfect middle ground between hardcore and casual gamers.

“Nintendo is sticking to the core values of Zelda, while trying to appeal to a wide range of gamers, casual and hardcore. They feel they’ve found the sweet spot with Skyward Sword, and they’re continuing this approach with the Wii U Zelda game.”

The Legend of Zelda Wii U Screenshots

We won’t be seeing this Link on the Wii U anytime soon.

Skyward Sword‘s artistic style may still be intact, but there are some substantial enhancements thanks to the upgraded power of the Wii U. Key third-party technology, such as Havok-enabled physics, along with a brand new engine built from the ground up specifically for this project, make this one of the most high-end Nintendo games ever released — if all of this information is accurate, of course.

“They’re using a new, state of the art engine that’s being built from ground up in parallel with the game. It’s got the most advanced visual features Nintendo has ever made, and includes a lot of third party tech like Havok for physics and rendering middleware from Umbra.”

Aside from looking spectacular, the overall scale of the game is also said to be upped significantly. As a result, Nintendo has invested a massive amount of money into this new Legend of Zelda, and it’s comparable to Rockstar’s own Grand Theft Auto in terms of budget and scope. As an example, some dungeons are said to be so large that they’ve been broken up into three different sections, and these can take even the most skilled players hours to complete. On top of that, there will be side quests and mini-games to occupy players while they’re not engaged in the main storyline.

“It’s a 4-year development cycle with a new console, new technology, new engine, etc. It’ll end up being the most expensive game they’ve made to date. It’s a huge investment for them [Nintendo] in money and manpower, this is Rockstar/GTA territory.”

The Legend of Zelda Wii U Screenshots

Hyrule is going to be a lot harder to explore, if these reports are accurate.

Wii U Daily‘s source went on to state that there are literally hundreds of people currently working on this project, and the first dungeon they made takes place in an immense forest. The raw power of the Wii U allegedly provides the devs, led once again by Eiji Aonuma, with an unheard of amount detailing options.

“The first test dungeon they made was a giant forest running on early and buggy Wii U hardware – the dungeon was bigger than the Hyrule field in Ocarina, and the whole thing is one dungeon. You use the gamepad to navigate, avoid traps, follow clues, etc. It’s dark, lush, with a ton of trees, foliage, some which you have to cut your way through. Its scope and details are unlike anything you’ve seen in a Zelda game.”

This immense Legend of Zelda game for is apparently only possible thanks in part to the 25GB Blu-Ray based optical discs that the Wii U console uses. To clarify, this does not mean that the system supports Blu-Ray, but instead utilizes Panasonic-made discs that are based on the technology.

As fans have come to expect, The Legend of Zelda Wii U will not support multiplayer in any form. It will, however, support the previously revealed Miiverse functionality; allowing gamers to leave notes for friends who get stuck on a puzzle. This functionality should help out immensely for anyone who’s intimidated by the apparent scale of this new Zelda, and it’s a great feature that should demonstrate the social applications of the Wii U technology.

“Online multiplayer was never on the drawing board, they’re sticking with the tried and tested Zelda formula. It’ll have some online features like Miiverse and some sort of system where players can leave hints and help each other in the dungeons. That’s about it.”

The Legend of Zelda Wii U Screenshots

It should look something like this… but in HD.

On top of all of the glitter and glam of the high-definition adventure, Link’s latest outing is said to feature some of the most remarkable innovation on the Wii U — making the title a true showcase, filled with the potential of the Wii U. One hardware feature was said to have been implemented into the Wii U GamePad just because the development team figured they “could do something cool with it.” Just what this addition is in particular wasn’t revealed, but one of the latest features added to the tablet controller was its built-in NFC functionality — a feature that allows inanimate object, such as action figures, to interact directly with games (i.e. Skylanders).

“Zelda designers started sketching out concepts as soon as Nintendo decided to include a screen with the new console. Everything in the game is built around the controller and its unique abilities. Every single feature in the controller is used to its full potential. Some of this stuff is still in early stages of development, but they’ve already implemented enough to show just what’s possible with the new controller. They showed some of this stuff to key third party devs behind closed doors last year to get them to realize the possibilities of the new tech.”

Nintendo originally planned to release the new Legend of Zelda in Q3 2013 to compete with Xbox 720 and PS4, but they quickly abandoned that goal after they tuned in to how large this project really was. Now set to release in 2014, this is the biggest game the Big N has ever taken on, and one that should appeal to almost every type of gamer. If any of this is legitimate information, then fans will have roughly a two year wait before they get their hands on it (maybe even longer given the company’s release habits with past iterations).

Regardless, with Super Smash Bros. 4 and a potential Metroid/Star Fox crossover on the way, there is still plenty in the pipes to keep Wii U owners content in the meantime.

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Source: Wii U Daily (via VG247)