WARNING: CONTAINS ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD SPOILERS
I feel like the last owner of a Nintendo Switch to have done so (at least amongst those who didn’t buy theirs for Animal Crossing during the lurgee lockdown), but tonight I finally completed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Like everybody else, I think that it is one of the greatest video games that has ever been made, and part of what caused me to take so long to finish it was my reluctance to stop exploring the stunning world that Nintendo had created.
It was announced almost a year ago that the ‘sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is in development’, although whether we’ll see the game itself any time soon is yet to be made known. Nintendo’s schedule has been curiously empty, with titles such as Metroid Prime 4 and Bayonetta 3 not even have a predicted year of release. Nintendo have long had a habit of announce a game far too early.
Although we know very little about the game as of yet, one very important that we do know is that it will be a direct sequel, and while it may not be called Breath of the Wild 2, it is justified to be known as such for the time being. As amazing as Zelda: BotW is, there are elements that I would like to see changed in the game. Some are due to imperfections this time around, and others due to how I think a sequel should follow its brilliant predecessor.
THERE SHOULD BE A WIDER RANGE OF ENEMIES (WITH SOME EXCLUSIVE TO REGIONS)
My biggest pet irritation was the fact that there were so few kinds of enemies. 90% of threats came from Bokoblins, Lizalfos, Moblin, Octoroks and their undead ‘Stal-‘ equivalents. As the game progressed, they changed colour and got stronger, and that was about it. The closest that the game got to enemies exclusive to regions were the Yiga (who nonetheless appeared around Hyrule, even though their hideout was in Gerudo Wasteland) giving the aforementioned creatures elemental equivalents, for example Ice Lizalfos.
Of course, this is mostly justified. Except for the Guardians, the enemies seemed relatively independent of Calamity Ganon, even though he takes responsibility for reviving the monsters. This was a game about Link exploring and taking on the environment and not its creatures. There was no reason for the whole of Hyrule wanting to kill Link. 99% of Hylians treat you well. The only true moment of Link vs. Big Bad was the final battle at Hyrule Castle. Nonetheless, this got slightly repetitive and may require a few more species.
A MORE PROMINENT RETURN FOR THE CHAMPIONS’ “SUCCESSORS”
I need to be careful how this is worded, because I do not mean that a second generation of Champions needs to be established. This might be the sequel, but the premise does need to evolve from its predecessor. That said, every Champion had a counterpart who would help you en route to each Divine Beast – Teba of the Rito, Prince Sidon of the Zora, Yunobo of the Goron, and Riju of the Gerudo. This is a great cast of characters to make a return and to give much more prominent roles in the next game. After all, everyone went wild for Sidon (in unusual ways…). Also, both Teba and Yunobo seemed less developed than the other two, so that too is waiting to be resolved.
THE VILLAIN SHOULD HAVE MORE PHYSICAL PRESENCE AND A SPEAKING ROLE
Calamity Ganon might have been Evil Incarnate, but did he (or it?) personally make you hate him? Calamity Ganon was more “The Dark Side of the Force”, whereas Ganondorf is its Emperor Palpatine. The game chose to mourn the deaths of the Champions as opposed to emphasise Ganon’s personal villainy. Calamity Ganon might have killed the Champions and wreaked havoc upon Hyrule, but Ganon’s only physical presence until the final battle was the trail of red and black goo splattered across the land. This didn’t necessarily take anything away from the game, as the mystery of what the true appearance of Calamity Ganon was kept under wraps, although I admit that I was a little disappointed. Awakening dead spirits to open the way to an underground dungeon for you to fight a giant spider that excretes poisonous gunk was uncannily similar to Metroid Prime.
This mystique factor should be lowered in favour of a well-written, more human character whose appearance and history is known by at least the halfway point. If the next game serves as a direct sequel, then this villain will inevitably be standing in the way of the rebuilding of Hyrule, set in the present and not based around memories. And with both Link and Zelda alive and well, we will see their hardships in real time. This will allow for a more detestable character with a more cunning plan, creating new gameplay mechanics and justification for any improvements. For example, I mentioned that very few characters actually want to stand in your way. With whoever this character is at the reins, maybe they could possess wild animals to become enemies. I’m sure that Nintendo are capable of coming up with something more creative than turning animals into zombies, but hopefully you catch my drift. This villain needs purpose beyond merely existing.
Unfortunately, I imagine that to create such a story may require the introduction of a linear narrative – something counterintuitive when making an open-world game. Whether or not this should be Ganondorf is open for debate. Or perhaps Ganon could possess somebody else’s body given that he is the embodiment of malice. I can’t believe I’m using this as an analogy, but… think Bane in The Matrix Revolutions. Sorry, I like to pretend that film never happened too, but it’s the best example I have.
A NEW RACE: WHO OR WHAT WERE THE ‘LOMEI’?
I was about to say that this was recurring, but really the name appears just three times in the game. I think I just spent too long in these three destinations that it left a mark on me. Looking at the map of Hyrule, there are three structures that stand out just as much as Hyrule Castle – the Lomei Labyrinths. However, what does that name mean? It is not a term that we have heard before, but given its physical presence, it sounds very important.
The game was full of references back to earlier games, for example there were many places named after old characters. It also saw the return of races such as Gorons, Zoras, Sheikahs, Gerudos (Sav’aaq!) and of course Hylians. However, the key term here is ‘return’. Perhaps it is time for something new. In my overexcited imagination, even though ‘Lomei’ is probably five letters plucked out of nowhere, it could not only be a new character who they structures are named after, but perhaps the groundworks and name of a whole new race. They built striking mazes in the middle of the ocean and in the northernmost tundra, but why? It’s an opportunity too good to waste, even if I don’t fancy getting lost again.
DO NOT MAKE THE GAME A RESCUE MISSION
The Legend of Zelda series certainly isn’t all about Prince Charming Link rescuing a princess, but coming to think about it, this was the disguised structure of BotW. To aid Zelda was a secondary mission, not just for her welfare, but because she was required to deliver the final blow in the primary mission to destroy Ganon. It is a structure that we have seen before in Ocarina of Time, as she was the Seventh Sage, and represented one third of Triforce. Although Zelda hadn’t truly been imprisoned this time, the opening of the final battle is the same – both Ganon and a distressed Zelda are waiting for you.
I mentioned before that if this is the sequel then it will presumably begin with a healthy, well and free Link and Zelda working closely. In fact, Eiji Aonuma has managed to avoid answering questions on whether Zelda may even be a playable character. As irritating as her accent might be, she must not simply disappear early in the game, and make most of her appearances in memories and in voice (“THABLUDMOONRISESWUNSAGEN. PLEEEEEEASE BE CAREFUL…”). She needs to be more accessible in person, as you are both facing a new crisis together.
WEAPONS SHOULD STILL BREAK, BUT THE SYSTEM NEEDS ALTERING
I am well aware that this mechanic irritated quite a few players, but I quite liked the fact that your weaponry could break. However, there were moments where it felt that weapons were too weak. This is understandable, because it is difficult to find an equilibrium between it being a realistically rare, trivial event, and snapping almost as regularly as arrows. Still, I feel that this needs to be revised more, and for the weapons to last for longer. I think that one way that this could work, would be for weapons to get progressively blunter (and therefore weaker) before they broke, so that there was still reason to keep an eye on its durability.
A way to gauge how much longer a weapon can last wouldn’t go amiss either. Weapons were either good, weak (blinking red on the menu) or broken. This was particularly irritating when getting a weapon out that had long gone unused, only to be told it is weak after hitting an enemy only once.
This would also allow a period of time where a weapon could be repaired – perhaps include a location where a weapon that is worse for wear, but not yet obliterated can be fixed at a price.
A LARGER EVENTIDE ISLAND-STYLE SECTION
Speaking of weapon problems, the Stranded on Eventide side trial was one of my favourite parts of the game. It was at this moment that my mind was completely boggled by the game’s scale. I wasn’t even sure that the area was accessible, and thought to start with that it was scenery. The task sounds like it should have been a nightmare. All supplies are taken away (all weapons, food and even armour), and players were faced with a relatively short survival mission – collect orbs from around the tropical island to find the shrine. This required a lot of strategy and stealth, as one was limited to tree branches to take down Bokoblins. This would allow you to get stronger weapons, and eventually one had to take on a Hinox.
A much harder example comes in the form of the Trial of the Sword DLC, which is a long, and very difficult trial that goes by similar rules. Link having to work his way from the ground up in a difficult environment, with a scale somewhere between Eventide Island and Trial of the Sword, could make for a great, challenging segment that is more than just switching to the right armour for the climate.
Seriously, I got sick of switching between my Desert Voe and Snowquill gear…
IF WEAPONS CAN BE DESTROYED, THEN SO SHOULD OTHER PERISHABLE ITEMS
This could be the equivalent of how everyone hated the breaking weapons, but hear me out. I went into the final battle with pockets full of health-replenishing meat skewers and hearty simmered fruit. I was well stocked with the best weapons in the game, and had accumulated thirty Ancient Arrows, which I would shoot with my new x3 Lynel Bow. In short, it was one of the easiest final battles ever. It was inevitable that all of this would be available after extensive exploration when completing side-quests.
Just as I mentioned that weapons could get blunter, what if metal could rust (after all, you could pick up rusty weapons and shields, and get them repaired)? What if the fresh food became ‘dubious food’ over the course of days or weeks? This would need to be carefully planned, otherwise it would become the most irritating thing ever, but if implemented properly, this could be a great way to prevent hoarding.
On the subject of food, this is a little necessity that I was disappointed was missing from the menu. The closest that the game came to this was the ability to select already prepared meals and be able to read its ingredients. Sure, it’s not that difficult to play with a notepad by your side, but the fact that one had to experiment with (and potentially waste) ingredients was a disappointment. It would have been far more practical to have given Link an incomplete book of recipes to be added to throughout the game by other Hylians’ recommendations.
Do you agree or disagree with any of the above? Leave a comment below.