Windbound Interview: Zelda Influence, Ship-Building, “Limitless” Islands

Windbound will have players braving storms and exploring uncharted islands that are a mesh of a striking art style with vibrant colour palettes. To just say that the upcoming survival-focused adventure has drawn comparisons with notable games like Breath of the Wild would be an understatement.

Speaking with SegmentNext in a recent interview, Mitchell Clifford, co-founder of 5 Lives Studios, stated that Windbound was already in development when Breath of the Wild was released.

The small team of only three full-time artists had already decided beforehand the kind of aesthetics that the developer was gunning for. Hence, it wouldn’t be fair to call Windbound a clone of Breath of the Wild where the visuals are concerned. Clifford though did confirm that Windbound did drew inspirations from a lot of sources including not only The Legend of Zelda but also the acclaimed cel-shaded animated works of Studio Ghibli.

When asked if the inspirations from The Legend of Zelda went into gameplay as well, Clifford stated that “there were a wide range of influences for Windbound” and The Wind Waker was one of them. While the online comparisons with The Legend of Zelda are not surprising, Clifford noted that Windbound “takes a pretty different focus in the form of the survival and crafting elements which you don’t really see much in the Zelda series.”

Something of great interest is that Windbound will release with two different modes, one of them being a storyteller that “eases back on the rogue-like elements of the game and allows it to be enjoyed a bit more like a crafting/adventure game.” The other survivalist mode will offer more challenges to make survival difficult.

Dragging in Breath of the Wild once again, boats are another gameplay element that Windbound focuses on. However, the nautical features go much deeper in comparison, which incidentally is also something that Nintendo is rumored to be doing for Breath of the Wild 2.

Windbound will start out with just a hand-made canoe but with several modifications and upgrades, players can gain access to better ships in order to sail further. The terrain will also indicate what kind of a ship players need, tasking them to find new crafting materials to make stronger hulls and decks against shallow coral reefs for example.

You’ll find yourself dismantling parts to rebuild them with new components you’ve found. You can add armor to increase durability, place crafting stations, expand your item storage, and just generally reshape your boat to better suit your needs.

You might actually prefer to forgo the increased durability of wooden hulls in place of the lighter materials and the increased speed. You’ll want to make sure it’s stable though, or you’ll end up going for a swim!

5 Lives Studios invested a lot of resources into Windbound’s procedural generation systems. Clifford noted that it was important to generate the in-game world at run-time while making sure everything still looked hand-crafted. Hence, players can expect to explore a completely different world in each of their playthroughs. However, the number of procedurally generated islands will depend on progress.

As you progress through Windbound, you’ll reach new ‘Chapters’ where the play area expands, new biomes and creatures appear, and more islands fill the space. Early on, the play area is relatively small, with around 4 or 5 islands, but by the final chapter, the world is kilometers wide, with islands of all sizes. Also, if you meet an unfortunate end and have to retry, the world will be different again, so you’re theoretically looking at a limitless number of different islands to visit.

Windbound is scheduled to officially release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch on August 28, 2020. The game is already listed on Steam for those interested in adding another potential purchase to their ever-growing wishlists. The option to pre-order should unlock fairly soon. There are no current plans to re-release the game for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.