We’ll be seeing Zelda in less than a week from now (probably in a few days if it leaks, because of course it will) so here’s a few things I’d like to see in the new Zelda game:
Stealth has been a part in most entries in the series. 12 entries in the franchise feature some form of stealth section, so it’s probably safe to assume that Zelda U will feature it as well. After playing Metal Gear Solid V, I felt that it achieved the pinnacle in 3rd person gameplay. The game feel and scenarios achieved were truly outstanding despite the game being released in an unfinished state. It would be a shame if Nintendo couldn’t implement some ideas or at least concepts from that game despite releasing over a year later (3 years after Ground Zeroes).
Stealth sections could greatly benefit from Link’s arsenal of tools and it could add more gameplay variety and ways to play which is something I believe they’re striving to achieve. Imagine having to sneak by powerful robotic enemies like in the first trailer due to their overwhelming power and later being able to return with a tool (again, like in the first trailer) to be able to take them down. Another scenario could be entering an enemy camp that’s filled with a massive amount of enemy combatants in order to capture the camp and free imprisoned villagers. While you’re able to brute force your way through them, it would be very difficult and recommended to try stealth. Freeing these bases could provide fast travel points and perhaps open up new towns where you can buy more supplies and talk to people. These are two scenarios that I think could be beneficial in a big open world setting.
Zelda games have always had rather simple but satisfying combat. It has admittedly not changed too much since OoT outside of some added bells and whistles, and it’s not bad, but it could benefit from some change.
The bow has been very prominent in all the marketing material for the new game, likely being a major component in the game. Based on the little footage we’ve gotten, I can assume a few gameplay mechanics already set in place. Bullet time slow motion can make shooting more effective and usually feels good in games like MGSV or Watch_Dogs. I imagine that jumping off of Epona won’t be the only time this will be activated and it could make for a cool addition. I also noticed that Z-targeting has been altered while shooting. Instead of just aiming at an enemy and making all shots land exactly in the same spot, Z-targeting will instead aim you to the general trajectory of an enemy and you can use gyro controls to fine tune your aiming. A first in the series and it could allow for new gameplay opportunities. Maybe shooting at an enemy’s head will do a considerable amount more damage while being harder to land or maybe you’d need to aim at different parts of an enemy’s body to take off their armor to make them easier to hit with a sword. It shows potential in this regard and I hope it turns out well.
Sword combat has been a major part of Zelda since the beginning, but as mentioned previously, it hasn’t changed much as of late and it’s the aspect of the game that we have the least amount of info on as of writing this article. TP is probably the most recent low point in the series in terms of combat having most of the advanced moves being optional so no enemy is built around these mechanics. Wind Waker is very flashy and satisfying, but the enemies go down too easily and there are very few big enemies which feel better to take down. Skyward Sword’s is pretty good, but Nintendo will need to go back to the drawing board since they’re ditching Wii Motion Plus controls for this game. I think combining all 3 of games could result in an interesting combat system that would fit the modern standards fans have. The advanced arsenal of moves in TP with WW’s flashy combat and Skyward Sword’s parry move should be pretty fun. Maybe combine the parry move with the bullet time slow motion from the bow combat to make something cool and new. Taking some minor elements from what makes action games so good could improve the combat quite drastically, this includes making enemies more aggressive. Late in the game enemies don’t pose a threat since they do little damage in comparison to the amount of health you have and they’re usually not very aggressive. Making them charge at you more instead of waiting and having them do more damage would make players have to change up their fighting style to get through the challenges put in place. Games like Bloodborne have a very similar moveset to Ocarina of Time’s combat but it works out better due to the aggressive nature of enemies.
Since the beginning enemies would drop cartoony hearts for health and large gems called rupees as the game’s currency, this has been a tradition that’s been upheld by every single Zelda game to date. While there’s nothing wrong with it, maybe some experimentation could help improve upon the game’s world building to increase immersion. Enemies could stop dropping hearts and rupees which could provide higher value to chests containing only rupees. Link could recover his health via apples (as Miyamoto stated), having trees regularly bare fruit would make them feel more important and give the world more depth in a way. Additionally, it would also raise the value of each rupee if you had to buy each potion or if you had to buy food. It’s an interesting idea, I feel.
It does bring up some issues as mentioned previously (why would I fight this guy if I’m not getting much in return?) there are a few ways to remedy this. Perhaps successfully executing some moves would recover some health like in Metal Gear Rising. It would add a nice risk reward system as well which could add to the combat system. Resting in tents might be able to recover all of your health as well, but maybe you can’t set up camp everywhere. FFXV does something like that with mixed results. Additionally, enemies might drop more valuable collectables which could be used to make food, gear, weapons, or upgrade items. Adding more incentives to fight is a bit of a must for Zelda which has admittedly been lacking in that regard.
Interacting with NPC has been another staple of the Zelda franchise but not one that has been built much upon since Majora’s Mask which is arguably the best execution of that system in the franchise to date. While a 3 day system might not be the ideal way of recreating it, a real time day/night cycle might be good enough. Having people do different activities thought the day breathes life into a fictional and digital world. Majora’s Mask system of rewarding the player for helping out each NPC is a good one. You’re usually rewarded with something more tangible than exp points or just money, often you receive a heart piece or a priceless mask you cannot obtain anywhere else. This is a good enough system that doesn’t need much changing. Having deeper interactions similar to sidequests in the Witcher would help flesh out the world more, and being fully voice acted as the rumors indicate is a step in the right direction.
Speaking of Majora’s Mask, new equipment like the masks in Majora’s Mask or the tunics in TriForce heroes seems like a good idea that should make a return. Skyward Sword had badges that didn’t display on you, but the idea is the same. Small powerups that you can wear just one or two at a time that slightly alter how the game plays. Nothing as extreme as the full transformation masks are needed, but maybe something like an invisibility hood that makes you invisible while standing still would be a good addition. I’m guessing Link will be able to equip more gear as the game goes on based on the hood in the footage we’ve received thus far.
I have a few more thoughts I want to share before the game comes out such as the fear of open world design ruining games, the benefits of linearity vs nonlinearity, among other topics. Other than that, I just hope the game is as good as possible. It’s not often we get a new Zelda, in fact they take way too long to come out, I really hope this game turns out great and I’m looking forward to the e3 showing.