The problem most classic Nintendo games have is that they never really mix up the formula. There might be new gimmicks that make it feel different, but the core skeleton of the game is still the same. However, they have started to mix it up, and Pokemon Sun/Moon has shown how well it can do, while Metroid: Other M showed how it can go wrong. Nintendo has gone crazy mixing up formulas with Animal Crossing spin-offs and a Pikmin 3DS game due out this year, though the Pikmin one doesn’t look like it’ll keep the same ‘magic’ of the main series.
Through the trailers of the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, we’ve seen a breath-taking Hyrule with Link being on his own and just exploring the wonders of the world. It’s believed this will be more of a lone wolf story, which is a great way to mix up the story. We’ve seen Link walk into a town and then save the villagers from the terrors in a temple too much. The world also looks to be more interactive, with Link cutting down trees to make a bridge or even just climbing a mountain. The worlds in Zelda games always look remarkable, but this one actually feels like a functioning ecosystem where you can do more with it than just look at the nice trees. It’s around twelve times the size of the Twilight Princess over-world, which means this will be huge and a place that looks like it’ll be a joy to get lost in.
Making The Legend of Zelda a more in-depth RPG, with finding better weapons and armour, is something that’s been missing for a while. Having weapons that’ll break might seem like a pain, but one of the things that has lacked from Zelda games is a sense of difficulty. Sure, you might die a few times, but there is no real challenge. The breaking weapons is hardly going to turn the game into Dark Souls, but it’ll at least make you more aware of your equipment. It also suits the big world they’re going for. What would be the point of having a big area to explore if there was little to find? Scavenging would hardly be a fun prospect if all there was to find were hearts or rupees like usual. Here there will be an excitement of finding something new to help Link on his quest.
Another interesting development is the items. They are the benchstone of every Zelda game; if they are boring, the whole game suffers. While you get the regular tools, like a bow and a bomb, it’s the quirky items that are the most fun. From the trailers it looks like there will be plenty of these. Better still, they are not just used for the same puzzle each time. Items can be used to interact with the world or used to take out enemies. One item which creates objects that can be used to crush an enemy. This opens up a whole new level for the franchise. The items always lacked any real integration with the worlds. Sure items like bombs and the bow had regular uses, but most of them just took up space after the temple. Now they look to be utilised in a range of instances.
The Legend of Zelda stories have never really been the most shocking. They hardly have a Game of Thrones twist, with them following a “stop the evil threat” plot. This hardly looks to change the mould, but being solitary can do wonders for a story in a different way. Like we’ve seen in games like Limbo, having few interactions with other characters builds up a strong bond for the protagonist. Link has never been the one for talking, so I doubt he’ll start by talking to himself. This feels like a story of discovery where we know just as little as our hero, and we’re just trying to help him survive.
Linkle did split opinions, and while she has only featured in Hyrule Warriors, it’s likely she’ll be used in other titles. A great way to incorporate her into this story would be to make her Link’s sister. While they obviously won’t be tagging along in the adventure together, she could easily cross paths with Link while they are both on their adventures. This might be a little too optimistic for the character, but it’d still be good to see her get some time. Whether you like the idea of her or not, she’s still got a great design. Creating a co-op Legend of Zelda game could be a great way to utilise her while upsetting the fewest amount of people.
Whatever happens with the game, it looks remarkable. The bigger question will be if this is going to be a new direction for the series or just a one off experiment.