Breath of the Wild showed us how the Zelda series could successfully evolve in the modern gaming landscape, adapting many different gameplay mechanics innovated in other popular franchises. Though the game demonstrated the charm and polish that only Nintendo could achieve, we can still see how Breath of the Wild built itself on a framework of fresh ideas produced by other games over the past decade. It features the open-world sensibilities of the Elder Scrolls series, the crafting of Minecraft, the climbing of games like Assassin’s Creed, and much more. We’re all happy to see The Legend of Zelda evolve by learning from younger game series; and for all lessons learned during Breath‘s development, there are still more to master.

I, for one, believe that the Zelda series still has a lot to learn regarding the possibilities of online gaming, beyond just direct competitive or cooperative multiplayer. Over the last decade, many budding developers have found interesting ways to enhance their games through an online ecosystem, with even guided, story-centric titles having benefitted from online connectivity.

For example, Journey by thatgamecompany allowed players to occasionally run into each other over the course of an adventure; players could choose to help each other out, in the most simplistic of ways, or go their separate ways. As well, From Software’s Souls series allows players to leave messages for each other, summon others for help during a fight, or investigate the places where others have perished. These online features were effective and non-intrusive. I feel that The Legend of Zelda could easily employ multiplayer in a similarly creative fashion, in a way that enhances our adventures through Hyrule. Wind Waker HD‘s Tingle Bottles were a step in the right direction, but there are still many possibilities for the series to explore.

This is of course one example. Do you think The Legend of Zelda could learn any lessons from other modern game series? Do you have any gameplay innovations you’d like to see in the series down the road? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Jebradiah Drake

    Hmmm… not sure. Honestly I feel like it’s learned a little too much from modern games and that’s caused Aonuma to want to warp the series into something entirely different. I’m sure there’s something out there any modern gaming that the Zelda series could benefit from, but right now I’d prefer them to stop borrowing from modern gaming and focus on recalling their roots with the next titles. Either that or replace Aonuma I guess.

  • Xaragon

    The core Zelda gameplay is strong as it is in games like OoT, MM, TP, etc, but if they want to expand on other things that are secondary mechanics, they should look toward other games, not just from modern games, but older games as well.
    They can look to Metal Gear for stealth, they can look to RPGs for crafting, they can look to other action adventures, RPGs and Hack&Slash games for combat ideas. It’s really not bad to learn from the best.

  • Christian Beach

    I know there have been a lot of ideas Zelda could take from Skyrim, but the one I feel Zelda could really take from it is the balance between an open world and linear story quests. Breath of the Wild managed to do something close to this, but the non-linearity of the story really caused the narrative to suffer. Skyrim, on the other hand, allows the player to branch off the linear storyline at any point to go do literally anything and everything else, and then return to the story whenever they want.

    Essentially, if Zelda is going to be more open-world from now on, the balance of the open world and a linear story is pretty important.

  • Jebradiah Drake

    This.

  • Ikewise

    The devs could learn to add control, audio and graphics options for one thing!
    Being mostly a PC player, it still amazes me that some devs, let alone a big company like Nintendo, believe players don’t need those basic features that should be in any game.

  • pedrobrvs

    There’s one thing I wish Zelda would learn from other series and it is how to make good companion characters.

    You see, I’ve realized that, although the companions in Zelda games are always memorable (for better or worse), they have always behaved like nothing more than a glorified item. Take away the cutscenes and they become mere tools to realize certain actions, at best.

    Breath of the Wild, by introducing Zelda to the modern open-world scene, could’ve been the game to change the way companions are handled.
    Personally, I think they should behave like party members in an RPG. Technically self-reliable people that help you out in puzzle solving and combat, and provide banter and companionship. They’re people tagging along, not plot devices that you pull out of your pocket when you want to know the name of the monster you’re facing.

    There are many open-world games with fun companions.
    Dragon Age Inquisition, for instance, brought the already great parties from past BioWare games and applied it to a larger scale, open-world-ish experience.
    Final Fantasy XV centered its experience on the interaction of the party members, making the theme of a “road trip with friends” the core of it’s story.
    Even Skyrim has some good companion characters. They have the emotional depth of a teaspoon, but it’s a world where everyone has the depth of a teaspoon and Skyrim offers something unique in letting you constitute a family of sorts with them, buying a house, adopting children…

    Another thing I’d like Zelda to learn is to have more interiors and “civilized” environments. The wild Hyrule of BoTW is gorgeous, but my favorite bits to explore were always the ruins of civilization, the buildings and garrisons and promenades, that felt so few and far between. This game might be the only open-world game in recent memory to have a distinct lack of caves and interiors (by comparison).

    Although the dungeons of the other games always left me with a claustrophobic, constrained sensation after a while, and the overworld was an extremely welcome break from spelunking on those dark and damp spaces, BoTW gave me the opposite situation. In BoTW every time I found a stable, some ruins, a town or some other sign of civilization, I felt absolute relief.

  • pedrobrvs

    I disagree. If anything, Zelda has been the first step towards a way to make stories work in a truly open-world environment.

    Open-worlds have always had this dichotomy between the open exploration and a linear story. It’s a strange contradiction in saying “you can go where you want, when you want” and “you must complete these quests in this order in order to experience the bulk of the game”.
    While Skyrim is slightly better than most open-world games, because it’s main questline is just one of many that get the same treatment, it’s still a questline that has to be followed linearly even when there are many steps that are superfluous and could be skipped.

    It’s terrible to play an open-world game and see that it tries to streamline you into a story that isn’t as interesting as it should be anyway because rather than focusing on the story, they had to spend their resources in a half-baked, bloated open-world so they can slap another buzzword on the game. It happened with Dragon Age Inquisition, it happened with The Witcher 3, it happened with Final Fantasy XV.

    Trying to make an open-world game center around a plot is a stupid idea that drags down both the open-world and the plot. It wants you to explore but at the same time it wants you to follow a line? That’s dumb.

    Oh okay, it lets you “pause” following the line so you can do what you want before resuming the “following the line” deal. That’s even dumber.
    It feels like two entirely different games trying to one-up each other. It’s a constant break of the flow of the game

    Zelda introduces this neat idea that the player should have agency over how the main plot progresses. In it, the main story becomes integral part of the exploration, and vice versa. Everything you do in that game feels like necessary steps to prepare yourself to defeat Ganon.

    Everything in that game is part of the main quest. And you decide not only whether to take part in it, but also when and how. You set the quest for yourself. You define the plot-line.

    And I think that for open-world games, that’s the best way to go. Turn the main quest into a series of interchangeable “chapters”, make it comprised of small self-contained stories that still advance the plot.

    Zelda started proving this sort of thing works in an open-world environment, even if there’s room for improvement.
    You know a game that does this idea of episodes well? Kingdom Hearts. Specially the first one and the one on the GBA.
    Every world you visit is it’s own self-contained short story but it still helps building the overarching plot.
    In KH1, every world introduces a new idea regarding the nature of the heart, the worth of friendship and Sora’s resolve to find his friends.
    In Chain of Memories, every world is an argument, a thesis towards the nature of memories, about how memories can be manipulated, about the emotional value of memories..

  • That’s because Nintendo is one of the few companies who do their homework before releasing a game.

  • Vados

    The story in BotW didn’t really suffer because of the non-linearity. It suffered because the ending was just the setup for the DLC, which made it feel rather weak.

  • Jebradiah Drake

    Wait it was? There weren’t a lot of loose ends to tie up, but whatever closer we ended they pretty much gave us.

  • Ikewise

    Sorry but what they think are the optimal settings largely differs for most people.
    It’s as if they think we are too unknowing to tinker with basic options, which is an antiquated mentality (even for console games).

  • Terminatwilisamieru98

    About companions, Twilight Princess solved the problem with Midna. You can talk to her and she interacts with the player in the whole game (even when it’s subtle). Definitely Midna isn’t an item, she has feelings like a real person.

    The real issue is when companions don’t have consistency in their quality of development, personality and gameplay aspect, and, they are forced in a game for no reason. This explains why playing Breath of The Wild feels free after the abomination of Fi that ruined Skyward Sword for some.

  • pedrobrvs

    Not really. Midna can still count as an “item”.
    She has a definite presence in-game as the main character of the story and it’s my favorite character in the franchise, but in terms of function and purpose for the gameplay, she does little more than allowing you to warp and turn into Wolf Link, then as a “peripheral” to wolf link, allowing him to do things that could’ve been done with an item, instead of a character.

    I want companions that have a sense of agency to them even within the gameplay. They’re not pokedexes, they’re not warp items or aiming tools. They’re there besides you, and can do things without either you or the story prompting them.

    They’ll sit on a bench while you deal with your business inside a building, they’ll attack and handle themselves in a battle. They’ll comment on their surroundings without being an intrusive “pay attention to me” way like Navi, Fi and even Midna does. Heck, if there could be more than one, they could strike conversation with each other behind you.
    They’re your team, not your tool.

  • Terminatwilisamieru98

    This retrospective of Ocarina of Time by KingK explains the pros and cons for true open world design or this linear-nonlinear thing. Here at 3:21 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfSpjJnFDPQ

  • Terminatwilisamieru98

    It seems that the open world itself was very demanding to develop for the team of Nintendo and Xenoblade during this many delays, this may give the idea of lack of polishment in the rest of the areas of the game.

    Wind Waker originally it was going to have more content but it was cut from the game by development time problems, maybe because of the great sea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWmdGcQffrg

    They must polish the story, something in the leagues of TP, MM and SS but better. Character interactions like Majora’s mask. Avoid extending the game by non-significant content that hurts the overworld and avoid a ridiculous size (Wind Waker’s Great sea). A sence of urgency to save the world, more villan presence, then a zelda game will have more emotional impact and will be more balanced in all areas, not just the overworld.

    The music must have more presence, can’t compare to the rest of the series even when the style is unique.