As much as we love them, it’s hard to deny that most every game in the Zelda franchise follows a highly formulaic structure. Start off in a small, cozy village, something bad happens, get a sword, collect three major items, a plot twist happens, collect a few more items, final dungeon, Ganon, game over. Usually the boss fights at the end of the dungeon require the item you just found to complete. The slingshot is ignored as soon as Link gets the Hero’s Bow. I’m not being critical, of course–after all, it’s the Zelda formula that holds up the games we all know and love–but we have to accept that innovation is required in the franchise to ensure that it avoids stagnation, and apparently Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma agrees.
In the most recent Nintendo Direct, Aonuma announced that the team working on Zelda Wii U was considering a non-linear dungeon structure and some sort of multi-player feature. Freelancer Brett Phipps has had his own say on IGN, suggesting that Zelda Wii U could learn a trick or two from From Software’s Dark Souls, the open-world spiritual successor to 2009′s PS3 exclusive Demon’s Souls. What features of the notoriously difficult RPG does Phipps think that the upcoming Zelda title should appropriate? Hit the jump to find out!
Phipps picks out three core components of the Souls formula that Zelda Wii U could pick up. Firstly, the “innovative multiplayer” in Dark Souls. The multiplayer featured in Souls unobtrusively benefits the single-player campaign rather than stand out as an independent game mode. Bloodstains on the ground signify that another player has died at that point in the world, and the player can touch the bloodstain to watch the means of their death in order to try and avoid succumbing to the same fate. Dark Souls also allows players to leave messages for others, as hints, warnings, and even secrets. Phipps points out that Miiverse is a perfect platform on which to base this sort of indiscreet multiplayer. In his words:
“Imagine a Zelda where, instead of ‘HEY! Listen!’, you could look at the notes left throughout the landscape by other players through Miiverse. A simple touch of the GamePad’s screen could bring up whatever hint or clue has been left to alert you to whatever peril has befallen them in their journey.”
Phipps’ second point also involves the potential multiplayer aspect of Zelda Wii U. In Dark Souls, if you are stuck on a section, you can summon another player into your game to help you, but doing so has an inherent risk that the player you summon kills you and steals your stuff. While Phipps is sure to clarify that he doesn’t think this sort of feature would be totally suited to a Zelda game, he notes that a boss in Demon’s Souls, Old Monk, is actually controlled by another human player, and suggests that maybe Zelda replicate this idea with another player controlling a boss such as Shadow Link. He also mentions the possibility that some puzzles need more than one player to complete, so you’d be required to invite other players to help you out.
Finally, Phipps compares Dark Souls’ incredibly open world setup to the original Legend of Zelda, and questions why the next Zelda game can’t go one step past a non-sequential dungeon order, even suggesting that items apart from rupees and pieces of heart be available out side of dungeons such as the Cane of Byrna in A Link To The Past.
Let’s not forget that the Souls series is known for its brutality, of course, and Zelda is never going to come anywhere near Souls levels of difficulty. But both Demon’s Souls and its successor Dark Souls are also known for their innovation, as anyone who has played them will confirm, and Phipps makes a great argument for why the Zelda series should adapt some of what has made From Software’s series so successful.
What do you think? Should the team behind Zelda Wii U stick to what the series has been doing well, or should they look to shake up the formula? Do you think the ideas from Dark Souls would fit into a Zelda game? Let us know in the comments!