The Legend of Zelda director Eiji Aonuma appears to be seriously considering to make all future games in the franchise open world entries. His statement was concise and very simple. He simply said that “open-air” may be a standard of future titles in the series. However, this may have an outstanding effect on Link’s future with the series as a whole, especially if some open world elements outside the franchise are added.
Breath of the Wild released as the latest in the hit gaming series. The game had a release on the same day as the Nintendo Switch. This makes it one of the landmark titles for the new hybrid device. It is also the last title Nintendo will release for the Wii U as it stopped production. This puts a lot of pressure on the game, but reviews appear to say the title has met expectations. It actually garnered the most number of perfect scores for a video game in Metacritic history.
However, it may be important to consider that like other games in the series, the recent title takes a lot of trends from its predecessors. Link will have to save Hyrule from the tyrannical Ganondorf. Various allies, including Princess Zelda, are present to help him with his journey. Interestingly, the “perfect scores” from Metacritic seem to indicate that the open world formula is a good medium for these trends.
The new title depicts Hyrule as a massive kingdom with various kinds of environments. Link gets thrown smack in the middle of Hyrule from the start, which means it is up to the player to find out how things work. This adds a kind of depth that makes each experience a bit “personalized” for gamers. They can climb mountains, fish in oceans, and even tame wild horses. Not only that, but Link will have to use various tools to craft his own equipment. He can finish the game without the fabled Hyrule Shield and Master Sword. In fact, he can finish the game with weapons from opponents. Players also have the choice to select the dungeons they want to pursue. This means they are free to explore Hyrule without being pressured by the main story. These elements may have added a new kind of “thrill” for both veterans and newcomers.
The Legend of Zelda: Open World Appeal
Aonuma’s announcement came courtesy of a short interview with Famitsu (as translated by GoNintendo). It may be taken into consideration that Aonuma did say he “thinks” future Zelda games being “open-air” may be the new “standard.” Players may want to take this with a grain of salt, as there is no telling what direction the new games may take. However, knowing that open world gaming is a consideration can give a relatively good idea on what to expect. After all, despite Breath of the Wild’s “perfection,” it may still have some things to improve.
For instance, future games may include more non-playable characters (NPC) to interact with. A full-blown “functioning” kingdom with horses, carriages, and interacting people may be a good addition to a future game. This puts the series more on the lines of other popular open world titles such as Grand Theft Auto. Perhaps a more interesting addition is an alignment system, which can allow Link to have different “methods” of interacting with NPCs. This gives a Fable spin to the franchise.
Interestingly, it may not come as a surprise that future Zelda games may in fact include open world elements. The entire “open-air” concept is not entirely a new addition to the franchise. In fact, Skyward Sword already featured expansive overworlds for Link to explore. It was Breath of the Wild’s full open world experience that may have jump-started a new appeal for the series.