I haven’t loved a Zelda since Ocarina, but I’ve got high hopes for Breath of the Wild.
Although Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was technically my first of the franchise, Ocarina of Time was the first time I fell in love with the series. The oddball second NES game was too difficult for my feeble young mind, but Ocarina came around when I was 14 and ready to dive into its version of Hyrule headfirst.
The open world hub felt massive, the fishing immersive, and the quest for the Master Sword was a memorable evening indeed.
Since then however, I’ve bounced off of each Zelda fairly quick. I assumed I grew out of it, but had always hoped I’d feel the love one more time. Breath of the Wild appears to be shaking up the formula enough to warrant another look.
Here’s what I hope Breath of the Wild gets right.
Fill that world
We’ve heard Breath of the Wild and many other games claim how big their open worlds are, but size is meaningless without engaging content. Wind Waker and Skyward Sword had large maps as well but the majority of the explorable areas were devoid of anything worth doing.
Wind Waker’s fetch quests were mercifully shortened in the HD remake, but still exist as an example of what not to do. Three triforce pieces are a great goal. Please don’t subdivide it into a dozen more errands.
When I went back to the first Zelda, I was shocked at the demanding combat. Link had to nimbly avoid a bullet hell of danger as enemies and projectiles flooded the screen. I understand why Nintendo slowed the pace for the first 3D iteration, to ease gamers into a new way of playing. In 2017 however, 3D gaming has been the norm for 20 years and I’d love to see a return to frantic combat. If you’re rolling your eyes because the last three Zeldas have provided this, please inform me in the comments and I’ll give them another go.
The first Zelda dropped you in a world with zero guidance. If you went the wrong way and missed the sword you were screwed. Again, Ocarina made a change to this formula to assist gamers controlling Link in 3D for the first time. There’s a tutorial for most of his basic moves but you can still be in the first dungeon in less than fifteen minutes.
Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword have bloated introductions that made their openings a chore to play. Extended story scenes and mundane errands around a village are elements I don’t want to see in BoTW.
Worth Waiting For
This is the first Zelda I’ve been excited for since Wind Waker. I’m glad to see Nintendo try something new with the franchise and I believe they’re conscious of making a new first impression. They walk a tightrope of meeting fan expectations while keeping the series fresh. If Nintendo can make this open world feel like more than an errand list, they stand a good chance of winning this old fan back, and a few new ones to boot.