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Back to the Drawing Board
With the latest offering in The Legend of Zelda franchise just getting settled down, it’s time for the development team to start moving forward, or maybe in terms of the timeline, backwards. While Breath of the Wild is surely going to remain a long time staple in the Zelda series, solely because it offers so much more than any previous entry, the team does need to move on. The issue is, how do you move forward from this in making another Zelda title?
First of all, the easiest option for a follow-up is to create a game that’s very similar in nature to Breath of the Wild, and essentially a direct sequel. If it worked once, it ought to work twice, and why fix what isn’t broken? This is a very familiar formula for the Super Mario series, with Super Mario Galaxy 2 essentially expanding on the first entry, and making a few improvements here and there. This method, however, is not very often seen with the Zelda franchise, as the team likes to really make each game purely different from the last.
Of course there are exceptions, such as Majora’s Mask, Four Swords Adventures, and A Link Between Worlds. In the past, the biggest change between two subsequent entries was the stark difference in the cell-shaded lighthearted Wind Waker to the dark and ‘realistic’ Twilight Princess. In my opinion, making a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild might not be the best idea, as the game itself stands alone very well on its own, and offers a lot of content to leave the majority of people satisfied.
The most likely option, is that there will be another redesign. I don’t really mean this in the sense of the content of the game, but more an art style or tone change. The next game can be a little bit more of a dystopian future, or something as simple as Four Swords Adventures 2. Given the portable nature of the Switch, a multiplayer game like Four Swords Adventures would actually suit it quite well. It needs to be said that it's important for players to feel like the series hasn’t regressed into something stale and old, so the finished product does have to feel like a new experience.
The next option, is to once again go crazy and really evolve The Legend of Zelda. For various reasons, I’m not a game designer, and one of them includes not having the best ideas. Personally I don’t know how you could really create a completely fresh take on The Legend of Zelda without crossing over into uncharted territories. Some of these territories might include making a game that plays more like a “proper” RPG, or, while highly unlikely, making something akin to an MMO. Given Nintendo’s current push to compete with other online services, a Nintendo MMO doesn’t sound too far-fetched, but I doubt we’ll see one spring from The Legend of Zelda anytime soon.
With whatever direction Eiji Aonuma and team decide to take The Legend of Zelda, we already know we will get a fantastic game out of it. It won’t be easy to top a fantastic game such as Breath of the Wild, but I am confident that they can at least match it. Until then, I have a lot of time left to spend playing a masterpiece.