The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a very good reason to own wither a Nintendo Switch or Wii U right now, but you’re out of luck if you’ve chosen to invest elsewhere. Like a PC perhaps, where new games and unforeseen workarounds are sometimes just a few bits of software away. The emulation team over working with the Wii U CEMU emulator have managed to sort of do just that with the latest Zelda epic, showing off Breath of the Wild running on PC for the first time.
Using the Wii U emulator and a copy of the game, the group have managed to get some of the opening portions of the open-world title running on a rather beefy PC. Given the intricacies of the emulator and the design of the game never accommodating for this hardware, it runs pretty badly right now. The game barely reaches over 15FPS, and is riddled with bugs. But the team is determined, saying that a fully working version should be ready in a few months.
The efforts are funded by Patreon, where this particular team currently sources over $7000 a month to continue work on their emulation. It brings up questions of piracy again though, because that’s essentially what this PC version of the game is. Despite the files coming from a (presumably) legally purchased version of the game, the files that will eventually make their way onto the internet for everyone else to enjoy are very illegal, and a big part of why Nintendo views emulation as a major threat.
Will its players on PC have bought a Switch to play Breath of the Wold otherwise? These are the sorts of arguments that plague emulation of older games, where previous or current owners of cartridges see emulation as a workaround to play titles they’ve already purchased. In this case, the only conscience cleansing workaround would be to purchase a Wii U or Switch and a copy of the game before booting it up on your desktop. A likely minority scenario for most involved.
Either way it’s interesting to see work progressing so quickly, given that emulation of more modern, powerful titles requires a lot more work than just getting Mario Sunshine to run at a smooth framerate.