The Entertainment Software Rating Board stamps The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild with an E10+ rating, but the ‘Use of Alcohol’ descriptor has fans asking questions.
Nintendo’s fantastical forthcoming title The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has captured the attention of many, promising to hold it tightly until the title hits the Nintendo Switch on March 3. With confirmation that the title will have a season pass, a gorgeous hour-long gameplay footage reveal, and the news that, reportedly, Link won’t speak in the upcoming game, long-time Zelda fans and newcomers interested in the franchise have both been waiting with bated breath to hear more details. Today’s news is quite interesting: though Link may not mutter a single world throughout the game, he will encounter “mature” themes, most notably alcohol.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the organization that provides games with age-centered ratings, released its official rating for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The consensus? E10+. This is quite a common label seen in the Zelda series, as six other installments have been marked E10+ as well. Such a rating signifies that the game is suitable for everyone (“E”) above the age of 10, a far cry from the series’ thirteenth installment, Twilight Princess, which was rated “T” for Teen due to “Fantasy Violence” and “Animated Blood.” While all seemed normal on the rating front, one content descriptor in particular given by the ESRB left fans wondering what would transpire in Breath of the Wild.
The full list of descriptors for the Nintendo Switch title is short. There’s the usual “Fantasy Violence” tag, followed by “Mild Suggestive Themes” and “Use of Alcohol.” As for the suggestive themes, the ESRB explained that the body shape of some of the game’s fairies may be unseemly for younger players: “The game contains some mildly suggestive material: fairies with moderate cleavage and/or exaggerated-size breasts.” Additionally, Breath of the Wild will include dialogue that’s a bit risqué, with lines like, “I get to see a young hunk draw a bow again?” and “If I have to have something pounce on me, why couldn’t it be a lady?” What many have found interesting about the ESRB making explicit mention of these “scandalous” characters and the slightly “racy” talk is that non-3D versions of previous games were rated E and were never flagged for either.
But what about the alcohol? Can Link actually get drunk in Breath of the Wild? Maybe, but probably not. While the ESRB’s rating summary mentions that “a shop owner tells Link that she only serves ‘drinks that are definitely just for adults,'” it isn’t known if it’s Link himself seeing if he can buy a boozy beverage. There’s a definite possibility Link could simply be wandering around the shop and inquires about a more innocent drink. What players do know for sure, however, is that during gameplay, Link has the opportunity to encounter a drunken non-playable character “that occasionally hiccups.”
Many have seen the ESRB’s rating of Breath of the Wild, particularly the reasons behind it and the calling out of certain gameplay aspects that have previously existed without being mentioned, as indication that the board is becoming stricter. In the past, the ESRB has been criticized for its somewhat unbalanced, even partisan views on sexual content and violence in video games. With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild being flagged for what many see as minor elements, some regrouping and reconsideration on the ESRB’s part may be in order.
Ratings aside, Breath of the Wild‘s influence is undeniable, the series’ popularity is admirable, and it’s practically guaranteed many fans will be pleased with it upon release – even if Link does down an “adult drink” after a long day.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is set to release on March 3, 2017 for the Nintendo Switch and the Wii U.