As someone who has played the majority of Zelda games, there’s one thing I’ve noticed through the years:
Things seem to be getting… easier.
Now, I might be the only one with this opinion, but the thing I remember most when I first played Ocarina of Time, was how challenging it was! Some of those bosses like Phantom Ganon and Twinrova could dwindle your hearts with only a few good hits, especially if you didn’t know what you were doing. And don’t get me started on the difficulty of Majora’s Mask. I still have nightmares about that fish boss, Gyorg. Even with four bottled fairies, I was toast on my first attempt to conquer him as a kid.
But as for more recent games like The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess? Apart from a few puzzling puzzles *ehem* (Master Sword statue puzzle) and impressive dungeons, I sort of just fly through them, easy peasy–as I think a lot of long-time players of the series do. (And I think we can all agree that while Skyward Sword is fantastic, the most difficult part of that game is the motion controls).
Sure, Breath of the Wild starts out challenging. I mean, when I first ran into a Guardian on The Great Plateau, I panicked and ran for my life. But when I met them again after getting the Master Sword, bigger stamina wheels, and endless plates of food to restore my hearts, all that intimidation was gone quicker than the flash of an Ancient Arrow meeting its target.
Although most new games offer a second “Hero Mode” challenge after playing the adventure through once, I would love if the first adventure of the next installment of the series was challenging enough that we didn’t even need the option for a harder mode. For example, Age of Calamity, though technically not a legitimate Legend of Zelda adventure, really surprised me with how difficult it was, even on “normal” mode. The frustration I felt on hard mode with limited healing items and enemies that dealt massive damage really got me using my brain and leaning on defense in a way I haven’t in the main series for a long time. After playing through that adventure, I really felt that longing for a real challenge that I haven’t felt deeply since the Nintendo 64 games.
With that being said, It’s my hope that Breath of the Wild 2 and future games get a little more innovative with puzzles, monsters, and dungeons. I want to feel that deep satisfaction and sense of accomplishment after completing a Water Temple-level challenge that required me to think, tested my patience, and made me bring some new skills to the table. Because after all, isn’t that what we love most about the series?
What do you think? Is Zelda getting too easy? Let me know in the comments!