Editor’s Note: This post discusses The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and may contain mild spoilers.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is here and many are praising its success with some saying it provides a glimpse at what the future may hold for the franchise.
Of course, it was The Legend of Zelda Producer Eiji Aonuma who started this conversation after a recent interview with Game Informer where he suggested that Breath of the Wild is the new standard for the franchise moving forward.
With Ocarina of Time, I think it’s correct to say that it did kind of create a format for a number of titles in the franchise that came after it. But in some ways, that was a little bit restricting for us. While we always aim to give the player freedoms of certain kinds, there were certain things that format didn’t really afford in giving people freedom. Of course, the series continued to evolve after Ocarina of Time, but I think it’s also fair to say now that we’ve arrived at Breath of the Wild and the new type of more open play and freedom that it affords. Yeah, I think it’s correct to say that it has created a new kind of format for the series to proceed from.Eiji Aonuma
It’s important to note that Aonuma never said this is the concrete path forward, but rather seemed to suggest that Breath of the Wild will serve as the new basis.
Is is the right move to embrace the open-world format moving forward?
When Ocarina of Time released in 1998, it was genre-defining. Up until that point, the franchise had only been in 2D top-down perspectives. Ocarina of Time ushered in a new era in 3D gaming and laid the foundation for future Zelda games.
All mainline 3D titles followed the layout of Ocarina of Time though they all did incorporate their own quirks around that formula. That all changed in 2017 with the release of Breath of the Wild.
Six years later and Tears of the Kingdom is more like Breath of the Wild than Ocarina of Time. This leads to one of two options: either Breath of the Wild is the new standard or Nintendo will follow this thread for a few games before returning to its roots.
Nintendo could be setting up a Metroid Prime-like approach where it has a line of games so different from the others and they largely keep to themselves. I don’t think this format is the approach.
I think it’s more likely that 3D Zelda titles will continue in the open-world format. What makes this approach so exciting is there will be chances to mess with this style so not all future 3D games are the same.
Look at all the 3D Zelda titles up until Breath of the Wild, they all had the same foundation but little gameplay mechanics that make it different enough to feel fresh. This is even the case with the short turnaround between Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask.
I think 3D Zelda games will follow the Breath of the Wild formula from here on out. That said, I don’t think the old method is gone. This is where top-down 2D games come in. If we’re going to stick with the established format, then we’ll get them in the form of future 2D titles.
But what do you think? Do you think Breath of the Wild is the new standard? Do you prefer gameplay similar to Ocarina of Time or Breath of the Wild? Let us know in the comments below or head over to our Discord channel to join the conversation.
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