Where Next for Zelda?

Look beyond the Sky, and try to gauge just where Nintendo may take our hero next.

By Lewis Hampson. Posted 11/14/2011 14:00 4 Comments     ShareThis

These elements only mean anything if they actually work and if there is any need for them in the first place. Xenoblade Chronicles did not need first person, neither did Dark Souls, both of which are two of the most highly regarded games to come out this year, and both are distinctly Japanese in their philosophies. Nintendo are not the kind of company to follow trends, and are (quite rightly) proud of their games’ heritages, so to see a move away from third person action adventuring is difficult to imagine but should not be discounted altogether. Of course the title, “Where Next for Zelda?” has many connotations, most notably in the literal translation of “where”. Skyward Sword takes link to the new realm of Skyloft and with it a whole slew of new enemies and characters can be conjured to populate the new land that Link will encounter on his journeys. I am happy to see a new setting take the weight off Hyrule for a moment, and undoubtedly new settings and locales will be one of the driving factors for change in the series going forward.

Skyloft, Link’s latest locale.

As I mentioned earlier, Mario has breached the stratosphere and headed into space for his latest adventures on Wii.

Not only has the move away from Mushroom Kingdom been a welcome departure from Mario’s renowned stomping grounds but it has also given the series a chance to branch out, proving that, given the right environment, something as inherently familiar as a Mario platforming game can be made to feel fresh and exciting all-over again. Skyloft, of course, is not the first foreign land we have explored with Link away from Hyrule, but is it enough to truly drive the series forward. Many reviews seem to think so and I really hope Nintendo runs with the idea, creating new settings (as well as good old Hyrule) for future titles in the series. Placing Link in unfamiliar territories could be just the kind of catalyst to propel the series forward into the next generation, offering us fresh ideas and quests to undertake in new worlds, born from the imagination of the Zelda team.

Just where the future will take Link remains to be seen, but hopefully with the (so far) unbridled critical acclaim Skyward Sword has received, Nintendo will take him off the beaten track, deep into new realms of discovery, when considering his next adventures. One aspect I have been mulling over in regards to the Zelda series, and indeed Nintendo themselves, is the lack of online in anyway shape or form. I understand that it’s not just Zelda games which have a non-existent online element, indeed many action RPG games do not incorporate any notable online aspects. However one game has changed the perception of online in an RPG. Demons Souls introduced us to innovative online features, the likes of which would not be out of place if they were dreamt up in the mind of Miyamoto himself.

Summoning other worldly players who you see in flickers of their ghost form as you traverse the bleak landscapes, is a feature which deserves the praise heaped upon it in reviews. Because of this online feature both Demons Souls and its sequel offer us gamers something completely new as we tackle the unforgiving worlds. Solitude in these games is extremely important to the overall feel the game gives you. Being the lone hero in Zelda is something we are instinctively used to. Hell, Link is so alien to other characters that he can’t even bring himself to talk, let alone have someone tag along for his quest! (Navi doesn’t count.-Ed) What From Software did with Demons Souls was to retain the feeling of loneliness that comes with this style of game, whilst injecting it with mere flickers of ill-fated souls, toiling through the same dungeons but in another dimension altogether. Being summoned into their world or vice versa, gives us a little bit of comfort (and much needed help) as we struggle through. In the act of summoning and being summoned, From Software have discovered an online formula which retains a feeling of isolation whilst opening the doors to the myriad of possibilities that are available when you have one or even two helpers by your side.

Incorporating something similar into the Zelda franchise would of course be a big ask, but it is not altogether out of the realms of possibility. Maybe the next Zelda can have a Four Swords-style multiple character feature, not necessarily four Links, where we connect online with friends to quest together or split up to solve conundrums within the huge puzzling temples of the next Zelda. Whether you are a fan of online connectivity in these games is another matter entirely but the idea of such features, and how Nintendo could implement them, is (for me anyway) a mouth-watering possibility which I would love to see realised.

Maybe Dark Souls-inspired mulitplayer could enhance the Zelda experience?

What it all boils down to is personal preference on behalf of the gamers and developmental ideas from the Zelda team in Kyoto. Sometimes the best ideas are ones we did not even know we needed, and if anyone has expertise in this type of development it is Nintendo. I have complete faith in Nintendo and what the team in charge of Zelda is capable of achieving.Hopefully, they can make that game changing breakthrough, the likes of which we have not seen since Links jump into 3D all those years ago. Skyward Sword by all accounts, should be another masterpiece in the evolution of the series. It is a title built from the ground up to work with Wii, and should be a fitting send off for the console before next years launch of Wii U. From what I have read, motion control has been utterly mastered by this game and I am looking forward to rediscovering the promise that Wii offered me when I took the plunge back in 2006.

What do you think about the path Zelda should take for the future? Are you happy to see the game remain on its tried and tested path of greatness, or would you like to see something wholly new altogether? Let us know any ideas or thoughts you may have in the comments section below, and get your brain thinking about the future of this fine series, as we enter the final furlong before Skyward Sword.

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4 Responses to “Where Next for Zelda?”

  • 7 points
    Katharine Byrne says...

    Apparently Miyamoto originally intended Ocarina of Time to be a first person experience, so they may well revisit that concept at a later date! At least it shows that they’re not completely adverse to the idea. I think I’d miss seeing Link running around in front of me though…

    I would really like to see a more integrated dungeon/overworld style as you discussed, but at the same time, the traditional narrative of Zelda doesn’t lend itself so well to the idea – usually Link has to go and find something specific which 9 times out of 10 is meant to be sealed away in a temple, making it hard to deviate away from the world structure they’ve used in the past. Perhaps Zelda’s traditional story arc also needs a shake-up to rectify this problem, but I think it might be some time before that happens!

    • 9 points
      mizuinu says...

      It is true he mentioned it back then during OoT production.
      However I am glad (and I bet everyone is) that they didn’t stuck to a generic first person Adventure game.

      It might lend well to the Metroid Universe and at least in Metroid Prime, you can still see Samus when she do the Screw Attack and the famous morphball.

      If you notice in Skyward Sword, whenever you are in FPS view, you can now move like in a FPS Wii games. It is neat to wander and see around and at the same time, the game prevent you from falling into a ledge. A nice feature.

      However Zelda as a main 3rd person view is much better in my opinion. Seeing Link move around in motion is more immersive.

      After playing The Elder Scroll series….I would prefer 3rd person view but in TES as it is, the animation is horrendous and the control is not as good as Zelda game. No choice but to revert back to the FPS view.

      If they decide to offer FPS Zelda with Wii motion…. how can you move the camera and swing too, I guess you would have to toggle combat move and exploration mode…fighting in TES games are dull personally and not the highlight of why I love about those game.

  • 360 points
    M. Noah Ward says...

    I agree… so much of Zelda is “collect this item because you need it in the very next area, and then you get this item for the area after that, and then this item…” In a way, the story and entire game is dictated by the order of collecting accessories.

    If the game took a more Mega Man approach, where you could try any dungeon you want in any order (except for the very last one of course), and be suitably advantaged or disadvantaged elsewhere, that could lead to a more open world and freeform game.

    • 9 points
      mizuinu says...

      Well that partly due to the fact that the dungeons layout are based on said equipment. Due to that fact, if they decide to let you tackle all type of dungeons, you would need to do lot of backtracking and that become tiresome.

      After Zelda, a lot of game are based on that model, a semblance of freedom but you need to tackle said stage in order to proceed.

      Sometime the game will offer some change and offer you some change, it really in my opinion change from the enjoyment from the game.

      In Zelda, you need items to proceed, in other game, you acquired skills and ability to defeat foes.

      To spice thing up, they will give you the option to wander aimlessly to do some exploration and what not, sub quests etc.

      In the end, they are all linear in the main story arc, you can alter it if they give you the option in order to get a different ending.

      But really, that only the coating, the shelf.

      Yes, unlike book and movie, videogame is an interactive form of art, so we have a bit more freedom to do what we want if the developer choose to let us but like in real life, to move up, you have no choice to follow a few select path, there is only so much you can deviate, the majority of the people will proceed with higher education to improve their life, or opt for other measure. They can be only be that much option!

      In the end, we want to be entertained, if the developer did they job well, we won’t notice that same trending.

      Also don’t forget that Skyward Sword is ONLY the 7th main console Zelda in 25 years. I only play on console, (Links Awakening and Phantom Hourglass are the portable exception), so waiting for 5 years after TP is a long time and the experience is incredible! Now I need to wait another 4-5 years for a new Zelda! In the mean time, we already have 4 Assassins Creed console game in 4 years…no wonder I am more impatient to play Link latest adventure than Ezio or Altair!

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