Many fans of The Legend Of Zelda series have criticized Breath Of The Wild for not having much overworld music in the game when you walk around as Link from area to area.
However sound designer for the game Hajime Wakai had done this for a very specific reason to make the player feel more immersed into the experience.
Right type of music
For a year I tried different types of music to go along with the battles and tried to include ways for the sound to interact with the gameplay itself. As an example let’s take the main piano theme.
In the other Zelda games there have been other instruments, such as harps and ocarinas becoming key items during the game, so the main instruments I initially thought of were portable. It might be a little crazy but I also thought of a Dulcimer… (Laughs).
But the idea with changing the usual Zelda score was to express this feeling of a large, open-world.
So, I thought: isn’t it OK to use a large instrument that isn’t necessarily portable? In the end I decided on a piano, which hasn’t been used much in the series to date. But even though I thought there were lots of things about the piano that made it ideal, I was still anxious over some points, and I remember composing while worrying whether or not it would work at all.
Lack of music in the open world
There was a logic behind having no music in the open world. In the trial and error process I even tried having the music from Twilight Princess playing in the world. But because this game is open on a much grander scale than previous games, I thought that even if we had a piece of music in there, it wouldn’t be able to match that sense of inspiration the player already finds in that world.
When a composer makes a piece of music he has a plan and idea of how he wants to player to feel, but if this insistence is too strong it can have an effect on the actual game. We would end up forcing a feeling of intensity onto players.
The music would be all stirring and dramatic, but then the player would think: ‘hold on a minute, all I did was throw away a mushroom…’