Breath of the Wild – the latest Zelda title in case you’ve lived under a rock since last March – featured a wide open world structure alongside the traditional game elements we know and love. The rise of open world games is definitely a huge trend now and it’s changed gaming a lot – nobody likes loading screens, and although non-open world games obviously haven’t lost their appeal, more of them aren’t a bad idea either.
That works out quite well, as director Eiji Aonuma has made a very defining statement on the success of BOTW: Apparently it has taught him how important player freedom is in experiencing games. A statement like that from the series director gives us hope: It probably means future titles will stay open world too. Here is the whole quote:
You know… for me… especially just in terms of the Zelda series, the incredible freedom that this game offers you and how well that’s been received… to me, it means that level of freedom is something that needs to be maintained in Zelda games going forward. My eyes have been opened to how important that is. Going forward, I think we would definitely consider that way of thinking when we create something in the future.
Hearing that from him sure does make it sound like Breath of the Wild revolutionised future Zelda games. We wouldn’t expect anything less from a game that won the Game of the Year award to be fair – especially when it spent half a decade in development. Given the amazing result that isn’t entirely surprising, but it is a very long time to be waiting – the game even won some awards relating to just how anticipated it was by fans and critics alike.
Quite often when an established series tries to take things in a new direction, it goes horrendously wrong – introducing new mechanics, elements and playing styles can make or break a series. Unsurprisingly, that is why many big game titles don’t do it. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to what works, but Breath of the Wild brought a breath of fresh air (we’ve been waiting for months to make that pun) to the series.
A detailed physics engine, great voice acting, stunning visuals and the aforementioned open world make this game not only a stand-out in the series, but in games overall. Critics have called it one of the best games ever made and a landmark in gaming – it certainly was for Nintendo, as it managed to break several different sales records around the world. In Japan it even outsold the competing Horizon Zero Dawn – it didn’t quite manage that in other parts of the world, but it came close even in the UK, where it ended up being the third largest Zelda release after Wind Waker and Twilight Princess.
That is despite the fact that it was not released for the PS4 or Xbox One, but is only available for the Nintendo Switch and Wii U. For most games that would have been a rather huge issue, but not so a Zelda game – of course not, a lot of gamers grew up with the Zelda series. That makes it all the more impressive just how well a game that deviated from previous titles did.
Regardless of the success of this title, the announcement that we can expect more open world Zelda games – not that he said it in that many words – is exciting – will they be as successful as this one? Will they be available for other consoles or the PC? Probably not, but we can always hope for the best.
If you haven’t tried Breath of the Wild yet, you definitely should – with scores like 97/100 by Metacritic the game really does live up to its hype. In fact, that Metacritic score is on the low end – sources like Edge, Destructoid, Eurogamer, Famitsu, GameSpot and GameInformer all gave it a perfect score – as did IGN.
Which Zelda game is your favourite? Do you think Breath of the Wild got too much credit…or maybe not enough? Do you think there should be more open world Zelda games or did you prefer the more traditional titles?