I'm playing Fortnite, but it looks like The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. Granted, I'm in control of an avatar ripped straight from Epic's last-person-standing murdergrounds, and the world around me boasts the same vibrant, cartoonish aesthetic that characterizes the battle royale's The Island setting. But the substance of the lands ahead – the locations, the points of interest, the rolling hills, and rocky mountain ranges – they all mirror Hyrule. And that is simply because I'm playing Jekyll_H_Y_D_E's 'Zelda: Breath of the Wild' custom map in Fortnite Creative. And it's wonderful.
Because from up here, atop the hanging cliff that sits before the Shrine of Resurrection, I can see everything. The Great Plateau, sunkissed and sparkling, stretches out before me. To my right, the grassy pathway winds downward, past Eastern Abbey, to the crumbling remains of the Temple of Time. To my left, way off in the distance, Mount Hylia rests proudly, its dusty white peaks poking at the clouds above. And straight ahead, of course, stands The Great Plateau Tower, a piercing monolith that defines the Hyrule skyline, which is where I'm heading next.
I've been pining for Zelda Tears of the Kingdom since its official name and launch date unveiling last month – and while I've thought about yet another return to Breath of the Wild in the intervening weeks, I've instead found new life in these recognizable plains via Fortnite. And, I must admit, this re-interpretation strikes the perfect balance between familiar and fresh.
Art imitating art
This isn't the first time I've found myself using Fortnite to revisit older, classic titles that have been reworked inside the battle royale game's Creative mode. Earlier this year, I met the Fortnite creator who's rebuilt the Resident Evil mansion with chilling accuracy – spending several hours fumbling around xVonKlutch's slant on OG Resi's Spencer Mansion. That wonderful creation is pretty much a 1:1 scale reimagining of the 1996 survival horror's zombified haunted house, complete with near-identical puzzles, as well as that unforgettable 'Itchy, Tasty' diary entry. For fans of the original game, this Fortnite-flavored take on such an iconic video game setting is any fan's dream, each room of which is packed with nostalgic nods to what made the source material so special over 25 years ago.
Given the fact 2017's Zelda Breath of the Wild has considerably more moving parts than that of Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine's maiden adventure, a similar like-for-like recreation is out of the question here. But Jekyll_H_Y_D_E's in-progress Zelda: Breath of the Wild in Fortnite Creative is an impressive undertaking nevertheless. Besides the attention to detail regarding landmarks and their locations as noted above, enemy camps are brimming with adversaries who steadfastly guard their treasure, NPCs have set up shop in the same spots as per the original game, and, most importantly, shrines offer a series of physical puzzles that require brains and brawn to be overcome. The latter are definitely where this fan-made project shines, and while the solutions don't always match the original, each one that I've played so far puts a clever spin on its source material – leveraging similar eureka moments at the opposite end.
I'm now pretty close to unlocking the glider, which should make the next leg of my time in Hyrule-via-Fortnite even more interesting. One of my biggest bugbears in Breath of the Wild is what I reckon to be its lackluster stamina-driven climbing – and while I've had a right old moan about this particular mechanic in the past, the absence of climbing (besides ledge hopping) altogether here is pretty stark. On the other hand, the omission of Breath of the Wild's other most divisive feature – its constantly breaking weapons – actually feels like a small reprieve.
Which I think speaks directly to why I've enjoyed my time mucking around in this Breath of the Wild-alike so much: it's an impressive but imperfect variation of something so familiar, and as such feels both native and novel all at once. Again, when Tears of the Kingdom finally got an official name – beyond simply Breath of the Wild 2 – and a release date last month, I was over the moon. And while the most obvious move in order to chase and capitalize on that buzz might have been to restart Breath of the Wild for the umpteenth time, finding so much joy in a world that's otherwise so far removed from its source material has been a surprising delight. I dunno, it feels a wee bit similar to seeing a cover band live – you know it's not as good as the real thing, but once you get over the fact the lead singer looks nothing like the frontman they're impersonating, the fact that they can sing like them and mimic their mannerisms lets you get lost in the music.
I'm now fully, unashamedly lost in Jekyll_H_Y_D_E's 'Zelda: Breath of the Wild' custom map in Fortnite Creative, and I have no plans to be found any time soon. Give me a shout in May 2023 when Tears of the Kingdom arrives, yeah? Perhaps by then Fortnite Creative will have its own fan-made slant on Link's next adventure that's worth plundering too.