We don’t know that much about
The Legend of Zelda: Wii U. Our information and glimpses have been few and far-between. We know that it is open world and we know it has a day and night cycle. We know it has a different animation style and we know Link looks way different. We also know that it’s for the Wii U. That’s not a lot to go on. However, that does not stop people from speculating about this forthcoming game. There are fan theories and fan art galore and it might be possible that this could be the best Zelda game to date. However, there are a few things that this game must have in order to contend with the biggest games of this generation. Otherwise, it might not hold up.
Yes, we know the game will be open world. However, we know very little about the world that we will be traversing.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds showed us how a nonlinear game would work in a Zelda game. The difference between that game and Zelda U is the dimension of the game. ALBW benefits from the top-down perspective and lower graphics as this lets multiple enemies be on the screen at the same time. However, that kind of thing isn’t going to fly in a third person Zelda game. Some of the biggest open world games right now are the Elder Scrolls series and the Fallout series. There are several aspects that I think the Zelda U team could borrow from these games that would improve the open world.
One of the things that I love about
Skyrim and Fallout 4 is that while walking around the open world, you can run into characters or enemies that provide you with sidequests or things to fight. For example, in Fallout 4, while walking across Boston, you can get a radio signal that triggers a sidequest (a very long and lengthy one at that) for the Brotherhood of Steel. In Skyrim, I was running down a mountain when a random person ran up to me to tell me that they had just broken free from a prison camp and that I should go take care of the bandits that held them captive.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think
Zelda needs radio signals or prison camps. I also understand that, while appearing random, these things are predetermined. Regardless, they add so much flavor and depth to the open world. Recall from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker how, as you were sailing, you could run into NPCs that would give you treasure maps. The idea is to expand upon that in a way that makes the world come to life.
Exploring was one of my favorite parts of
Wind Waker. While the sailing was very long and drawn-out, even with the new sail in the HD version, finding an island in every quadrant of the sea was a fantastic part of the game in my opinion. Now, imagine going through Zelda U and finding random caves full of treasures or sidequests or enemies or so on. Imagine finding other villages aside from Kakariko or Ordon.
This is an area that I feel this new game cannot avoid. With so many new games coming out with huge, expansive open worlds with so much to do,
Zelda U cannot fall
behind in this. I love being able to find other settlements or caves in Fallout 4. It gives the world a living feeling, letting the player know that there is always something new to find. However, Zelda has not done too good a job of this, as of late, with the 3rd person perspective games. In fact, this was one of my biggest problems with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. There was a lack of things to do in the world. Whether by sky or land, it was quite void of objectsives other than the main quest.
While I do not think that we need an open world that is the size of a 1:1 replica of Texas, I do think that it needs to be big enough to explore. A big open world requires things to do, though, thus, the encounters. It can’t just look pretty.
Before I discuss this, let it be known that I don’t think
The Legend of Zelda needs to jump on the moral choice bandwagon that games seem to be hopping on. Nor do I think it needs alternate endings (although that would be nice.) I do think, however, that Link’s dialogue should be expanded beyond “Yes” and “No.” These decisions could just be how Link responds to each character. In Skyrim and Fallout, when you converse with most NPCs, you are given several options to choose from, whether that be to respond harshly, sarcastically, heroically, or something else, the player has some sort of say in what the character responds with. This lets the player have some say in how he or she is viewed in the game. A very bare-bones example of this exists in Xenoblade Chronicles X, where the player can choose simple commands such as “Look interested” or “Look away,” which somewhat attempt to follow this function. However, they lack any feeling of a natural conversation. In this area, Zelda should follow the Bethesda examples moreso than their in-house developer, Monolithsoft.
I agree with many people that
The Legend of Zelda does not need voice acting. I also agree that if it received it, Link should not be voiced. He is, as Anouma has stated, the Link between the player and the game. As such, though, giving the player more free-reign on how he or she plays as Link could only deepen the immersion. As I was reading the comments on my last article, someone mentioned that in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, you have the option to say “No,” but it does not progress the game and you essentially have to choose yes. However, imagine talking with an NPC and responding sarcastically or affirmatively. This could affect how people see Link in the game while not actually affecting the ending of the game or how the game is basically played. Also, breaking pots might actually get you in trouble! Try lying your way out of that one.
Overall, this is another area that I do not think that
Zelda can afford to skimp on. The “silent protagonist” days are dwindling down. I found it very odd that in XC X, while you chose a voice actor, the main character never really spoke outside of battles. Again, while I do not think that Link needs to or even should receive full voice acting, I do think that he could only benefit from dialogue options beyond the standard ones that we have received for so long. Silent protagonists just feel very awkward and, in my opinion, feel more like observers than interactors in the story.
While side quests have not been a huge part of
The Legend of Zelda series, there is one game that did them very well – The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. However, instead of a three-day cycle where everything is reset, the side quests in Zelda U should have a lasting impact on the characters and maybe even the game. One of the great things about MM, as well, was The Bomber’s Notebook, which let you keep track of your side quests and whether or not they were complete. They can be as long or as short as the developers see fit. Either way, I do think that a healthy mix of both is what the game needs.
These sub-stories not only add more to do, but they also give the NPCs more life in the game. Instead of just standing around and repeating one line of dialogue, the characters actually come to life. In Majora’s Mask, the player really got to know each character along with their struggles, their pain, their likes and dislikes, and what their biggest concerns were, among other things. This added a level of immersion not really found in other Zelda games. This simple factor made this game stay with me and Zelda U could really expand upon it by making more and making them bigger.
These are three things that I think Zelda U needs in order for it to compete with the bigger, open-world fantasy games that have come out in the past years. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below!