Everyone tries to crib Breath of the Wild's vibes and open world to no avail, but the former lead of Dragon Age is finally giving me what I really want: Zelda's wild physics and ability to climb anywhere

Giant armored man guy with flaming hammer in front of blue sky
(Image credit: Yellow Brick Games)

Eternal Strands, the first game from former Dragon Age lead Mike Laidlaw's studio Yellow Brick Games, has unveiled a new gameplay trailer at the Future Games Show today. Seeing more of it in action, I'm getting hopeful that somebody is finally cribbing the right answers off Breath of the Wild's test, mashing up immersive sim systems with action RPG combat like god intended.

Everybody's always trying to do the glider from Breath of the Wild, or otherwise their own version of a soft, painterly open world that isn't quite so "videogamey," but you're not going to beat Nintendo at their own game on that front. There's been far less imitation of what makes Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom Nintendo's most PC-like games: those rich simulated physics that allow for everything from realistic fire propagation to building an elevator out of two minecarts.

Eternal Strands Gameplay Trailer - Future Games Show Summer Showcase 2024 - YouTube Eternal Strands Gameplay Trailer - Future Games Show Summer Showcase 2024 - YouTube
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Eternal Strands doesn't look quite as extensive, but it's still nice to see someone else mixing immersive sim systems with a more hack n' slash RPG⁠—I love cerebral, sneaky, slower paced stuff as much as the next guy, but my people yearn for Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. The trailer shows off a frost magic ability that leaves giant ice crystals in its wake, seemingly able to cling to enemies or even block a dragon's fire breath. I also clocked a gravity gun-style telekinesis spell, and Eternal Strands looks like it's taking another page from BotW by letting you climb most surfaces⁠—including its many giant foes.

Magic abilities and spells having these tangible effects on the world is a secret sauce I wish more RPGs would use⁠. There's something so primal and satisfying to creating an icy surface in Dark Messiah or Divinity: Original Sin and watching enemies slip all over it⁠—doesn't that feel so much more like being a masterful, clever wizard than just doing 30-60 frost damage and inflicting a "slow" debuff? If Eternal Strands can deliver on that promise of physics-powered spellcasting, I'll be all-in on it.

Story-wise, well, there are certainly a lot of fantasy proper nouns in the trailer: "Enclave," "Weavers," "the Veil's Shadow." It's all the sort of stuff that I guess could  be part of an engrossing new fictional world, but could just as well wash over me and recede like the tide. Visually I'm pretty neutral as well: Eternal Strands has that kind of Blizzard/Riot, slightly cartoony, SoCal game development house look. That's not entirely my cup of tea, but I also can't deny that the sheer scale of these ruined vistas did stir a little something in my shriveled heart.

The fact that Eternal Strands has been all gameplay, no pre-rendered nonsense in its trailers is much appreciated as well. To me, that implies that we won't have too long a wait for the finished product, but Eternal Strands does not yet have a release window. To keep up with the project and support developer Yellow Brick Games, you can wishlist Eternal Strands on Steam

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.