Allen explains his ideas to improve the new Zelda formula that Breath of the Wild established.
When I started playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I thought it could be my favorite game of all time. It had everything that I wanted from a video game: an engaging open world, a beautiful art style, and creative game mechanics. I had very few complaints for the first half of the game, but by the second half, some of the charm had worn away. Minor gripes soon grew into full-blown frustrations, but rather than just complain about what I disliked in Breath of the Wild, I thought I’d offer some ideas to improve the inevitable sequel.
IMPROVE THE WEAPON SYSTEM
The first step to improve the weapon system is to remove weapon degradation entirely. Imagine playing Fallout or Skyrim and having your weapons break all the time because you couldn't repair them; it would make no sense. I would argue that it makes little sense in this case as well. In fact, it makes so little sense that the developers had to essentially cheat by giving the Master Sword a cooldown instead of allowing players to have an unbreakable sword.
In place of breakable weapons, I propose one of two ideas. The first idea already exists in the game: have weapons tied to your hearts or to your stamina. This weapon system would reinforce existing systems (the upgradeable health and stamina containers), and encourage players to find all the Shrines they could. Heavier weapons could require a minimum amount of stamina to wield while magical weapons (ice rods, flamespears, etc.) could require a minimum amount of hearts. If the developers really wanted to get crazy, they could do a combination of both.
The second idea would hinge upon different weapon classes and different instructors. Imagine if all weapons of a similar type (claymore, shorts swords, axes, bows, etc.) had the same starting damage points. Then imagine if instructors for these different weapon sets appeared throughout the game. Perhaps these instructors would appear in a few different places much like the Great Fairies, and each time they would raise the damage points for a particular class of weapon. As someone who enjoyed studying under Orca in Wind Waker, I think there’s a lot of potential for this idea.
IMPROVE THE REWARD SYSTEM
Opening a treasure chest in a Zelda game triggers an almost Pavlovian response in most gamers, but in Breath of the Wild, I found myself frequented disappointed by the game’s rewards. When hidden treasure chests abound in the open environment, it’s more than frustrating to fight your way through ten high-level enemies only to be rewarded by a measly 100 rupees. Or how about unravelling a mystery to uncover a Shrine only to receive another Flamespear that you know will soon break? What about the villagers that seem content to shower you with a few rupees no matter how large the task? Clearly, there’s something missing from the game.
While rupees make a fine reward under most circumstances, I think there needs to be another kind of reward for the more difficult side quests and larger enemy encampments. If weapons weren’t degradeable, they would make a fine reward in most cases. Additional outfits or perhaps customizable weapon slots would be another idea. Finally, I would have enjoyed a bit more complexity to the sidequests. Only a handful of quests continued beyond a single encounter, and these quests were some of my favorites (I’m thinking about naming my next son Finnson). Why not allow additional quests to open after Link has completed an initial quest? In other words, make additional quests a reward for players, and allow them to feel that they have more of an impact on the world of Hyrule.
IMPROVE THE DUNGEONS
Many people have complained about the lack of traditional dungeons in Breath of the Wild, and all those people are wrong. Breath of the Wild doesn't need traditional Zelda dungeons any more than Tingle needs a red speedo. It needs more areas like Hyrule Castle.
It’s a shame that most people (like myself) wait to experience Hyrule Castle until the end of the game, because it challenges the players in a different way. The flat topographical map disappears and is replaced by a circuitous 3D map showing multiple entrances and exits. Instead of corralling players from room to room like a traditional Zelda dungeon, Hyrule Castle gives players a number of choices to explore the area. Impatient players can skip all the exploring and Guardian battles and reach Ganon in a matter of minutes. I chose to explore the inside of the castle before making my way to the outside. After fighting the umpteenth Guardian, I dove straight into the final boss battle, but I wondered what would the game have been like with additional structures like Hyrule Castle?
What if instead of freeing the Divine Beasts in each area, Link was freeing the regions themselves? Imagine finding Zora’s Domain under the control of Ganon and fighting to break the curse upon the land. Players could enter and exit the area as they wished, but the blight would remain until they faced the area’s boss and defeated them. One of my favorite games of all time, Okami, implemented a similar system to great effect. Watching a blighted and withered landscape suddenly bloom before your eyes offers a thrill that few games can match, and I think the system would fit well in a Zelda title.
The first time I discovered a Korok, I literally squealed with delight, but by the 200th time, I pressed “A” to continue. I’m not necessarily criticizing the Korok upgrade system; I’m referencing the sense of déjà vu that happens late in the game. I will say that discovering a Shrine was always a treat, and that’s mainly because I enjoyed the bite-sized puzzles that each one contained. I just wish there was more diversity in the secrets you find throughout Breath of the Wild. What if each area had upgrades for a particular weapon set or a particular outfit? What if more scattered memories existed that went into greater detail about Link and his past? What if the game had more complex environmental puzzles or if there were puzzles that required players to travel across the map to solve them (a la the Dueling Peaks Shrines)? There are plenty of opportunities for Nintendo to surprise gamers, and with Breath of the Wild as a solid foundation, the next Zelda title could very well be my favorite game of all time.
Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Allen Brasch is an aspiring writer who loves good science fiction, fantasy, and horror. When Allen's not writing or gaming, he's talking about all things geeky on his podcast, Devil May Play.