Breath of the Wild was breathtaking, but will Nintendo try to trump their first proper Zelda open world game with another?
Open world games are a tough balance. Make the world too small, and players will complain just that. Make it too large, and you’ll find yourself getting lost and not being able to complete missions. At that, some would say that there is no such thing as “too big” when it comes to an open world map.
Whichever way is best, we’re of the mind that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild did a lot of things right in the open world genre*. However, lightning would need to strike twice and be caught in a bottle in order for Nintendo to reach or exceed the same level of greatness with another Zelda open world game.
Part of what made Breath of the Wild’s build so great was that nearly all exploration was rewarded. As Link, you travel around all of Hyrule to complete shrines of varying difficulty. As you complete four shrines at a time, you are able to upgrade either your stamina wheel or maximum hearts.
If you are satisfied with the max hearts and stamina on your Link, you can then venture out to farm goods for clothing upgrades. It’s an impeccable formula that keeps every new area feeling fresh and interesting, no matter the objective.
Would there be justification for making another Zelda open world game, just to have us do all of the same heart, stamina, and clothing upgrades?
Conquering the impossible
The most exciting part about Breath of the Wild was being able to climb on nearly any surface.
That tall dual mountain peak that you see off in the distance? Yep, you can climb it. How about structures like Hyrule Castle or The Temple of Time? Go right ahead… as long as it’s not raining.
Rain added a distinct difficulty to climbing in the wild, as it made surfaces slicker than a greased up Bokoblin.
Still, it was super rewarding to feel like you’d been able to reach the summit of a peak with pure resistance and resilience.
The physics of Breath of the Wild gave you the opportunity to reach even higher heights, making everything in the tangible map accessible (with a little help from some Octo Balloons and ingenuity).
Herein lies a goldmine for any potential Zelda open world game. While we’ve already climbed up various famous locations in Hyrule, such as Death Mountain and Zora’s Domain, there are endless possibilities on variations of existing locations that can make climbing up high always worth it.
Build your own experience
Yes, you can access the Calamity Ganon battle as soon as you’re done with the Great Plateau tutorial shrines. No, you should not.
Speedruns of the game currently run around 40 minutes, which is massively impressive mostly for the fact that you’re so underpowered at the start of the game.
Any player can walk through the doors to access the Calamity Ganon fight, although it’s not advised to do so without defeating some of the Divine Beast Dungeons. You will not only get your ass royally whooped by Ganon, but you will also be missing out on some truly beautiful story beats and dungeons.
However, you can play Breath of the Wild exactly as you see fit, which is a fairly unique approach to gaming, even in open world games. With this freedom, Breath of the Wild opened up a Pandora’s box of options for the Zelda series’ future.
Will we always be able to access the final fight in the game within the first hour of gameplay? And if so, is that a good thing to repeat?
This and many other unique elements introduced in Breath of the Wild are obstacles in the minds of the creators of the next potential Zelda open world game.
For if you repeat your greatest hits and never produce much unique thought and innovation, is it even worth creating a new game?
*While The Legend of Zelda for the NES could be classified as the first open-world Zelda, no Zelda game was as massively open-world as Breath of the Wild, including Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Skyward Sword, and Twilight Princess. We’d only consider Wind Waker to be the closest thing to being massively open world before Breath of the Wild, but this all of course can be debated, hence our usage of the word “proper.”