Posted on January 24 2015 by Jeffrey Edelstein
One of the most tantalizingly possible features for a future Zelda title is multiplayer. Ever since the admittedly underwhelming Four Swords and Four Swords: Adventure showed fans that there is a way to experience Zelda with your friends by your side, there has been a lingering idea that it could be brought back and improved, taking advantage of advancing in technology and present innovations in adventure games. From a Dark Souls-esque online system, to a true co-op adventure, there are many ideas that seem like they could work well in furthering the appeal of these games. When it comes to considering the necessity of such a feature, however, the conversation changes slightly.
I am fully of the opinion that Zelda games are best played on your own as they are now. While it can be interesting to play with a friend beside you, the urge to take the adventure in the direction you want it to makes passenger-seat gaming a bit of a frustrating bore with Zelda. Most of this is due to the increasingly open (read: increasing numbers of sidequests) world of the games, easily spawning differences in opinion in regards to where one’s quest should go next when two people are controlling one Link, or in the case of Four Swords, one screen.
In my experience, this problem is only augmented when one person has played the game and the other has not. The traveled player just wants to get to that next “exciting” part, but the new player is still marveling in wonder at this brand new world, and we certainly can’t blame them. For many of us, that aspect of exploration is the very first step in all of our adventures. But with one player trying to take their time and the other wanting to rush to their favorite boss fight, everyone leaves the session feeling somewhat frustrated.
In order to not impede on the joy of building an adventure all one’s own – a key component of Zelda – a more passive multiplayer system seems most plausible. Unlike the other system in which players interfere with one another’s journeys, each individual is free to roam as they wish, involving themselves in the other’s adventure with advice, items, and guidance at times. This overlap could be expanded at times when both players agree it would be for the best (perhaps in a particularly frustrating battle or puzzle), but the maintenance of freedom in one’s quest in paramount. Not even one’s friends should interfere.
There are likely other potential paths to a Zelda title with a multiplayer component, such as those that utilize the Wii U Gamepad to great success. Even then, however, I’m not sure that such a feature could successfully be implemented without feeling gimmicky. Do you agree? What comes to your mind when you hear (or read) “Zelda multiplayer game”? Does Zelda need another multiplayer experience? Join the Daily Debate!