Originally Posted by chozen
I don't think Nintendo ever wanted to "stick" with one art style.
The only reason why BOTW looks like this is because their consoles probably can't handle that realistic style with open world.
Correct on the first part. However, the bolded part is false. The GameCube was more powerful than the Dreamcast and PS2. LOZ: Wind Waker wasn't a slight on its hardware capacity. "Photorealism" is just one of many "art styles", too. So, that approach wouldn't require more power. Case in point? You can see more impressive photorealistic art than any console can achieve from people on Art Academy: Sketchbook Other case in point? Xenoblade Chronicles X - that game is equally ambitious in scale, it is open world, it displays GamePad content at the same time, and you have big monsters and mechs. It adopts a more photorealistic approach to its visual presentation... and that's on the Wii U, which is less powerful than the Switch. Then you have other elements. It isn't just the open world. It's the scale of physics-driven gameplay, enemy intelligence. All of these things. Even the horses and wildlife are afforded enough intelligence to dodge oncoming obstacles, follow a route and jump rubble on a bridge of their own volition (i.e., without requiring the player to press a button to perform that action). You can even adopt outside-the-box approaches to puzzles - On Twitter, somebody used a chain of random objects instead of the piece that would complete a puzzle. All of those are underappreciated uses of hardware capacity.
LOZ hasn't ever been about photorealism, and Nintendo's approach to realism in this series has never been in the visual presentation. It was in the examples I listed above, and small touches, such as Link changing his stance when an enemy is close to him. Miyamoto once suggested that the development team went horse riding to get an idea of horseback gameplay - That was for LOZ: Twilight Princess. So, the approach is very different. For the visual presentation, it's a design choice, and it has been for quite a while. With Ocarina Of Time, it was a question of realising a 3D space, then making the characters look familiar enough. The transition to 3D was enough of a graphical advancement. Majora's Mask was always seen as an entry born out of Ocarina Of Time, so, it is natural that it would keep a similar look. Wind Waker uses cel-shading - At this point, they've overcome the challenge of realising the series in 3D spaces. While Twilight Princess is often considered to have more "realistic" visuals, Nintendo has explicitly stated that the development team had no desire to pursue such a direction - Instead, the team hoped to create something more atmospheric. Skyward Sword saw another element introduced, and this coincides with Hidemaro Fujibayashi's first directorial role in a 3D LOZ title - Visual presentation inspired by various art periods and movements; In this case, it was Impressionism. Breath Of The Wild is inspired by gouache paintings. The next LOZ will most probably continue in the same spirit.
I will never understand those who wish for photorealistic graphics in the LOZ series. These games would lose any charm they have, and would be infinitely poorer for it. Try imagining a photorealistic Goron, or Zora, or Wind Fish, or Moblin. LOZ: Breath Of The Wild thrives because it didn't only break conventions of the LOZ series, it challenged conventions of what constitutes an open-world title. It doesn't try to be a cinematic story. It holds tight onto the famous Iwata quote from his "Heart Of A Gamer" speech, that "Making games look more photorealistic isn't the only means of imroving the gameplay experience". It is unapologetically a video game, and celebrates the fact. To reinforce that idea, Nintendo even made a point of showing how LOZ very much returned to its NES roots, first with Aonuma's reveal trailer at E3 2014, then during Treehouse Presentations at last year's E3, and finally at this past Game Developers' Conference.