At this point, the impact of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is undeniable. What’s also undeniable is the anticipation for its sequel. Ever since Nintendo announced it in 2019, fans have been eagerly awaiting any sort of update on the game. The hotly anticipated follow-up’s recent delay has no doubt only further stoked the flame.
It’s for good reason that people are so excited for Breath of the Wild’s sequel. The original was a fantastic game. However, one game’s greatness doesn’t give the franchise a free pass to rest on its laurels. A sequel is responsible for improving upon the original and pushing its concepts forward. If Nintendo aims to make even half as much of an instant classic as the original, some changes need to be made. Here are 5 things that I believe the sequel to Breath of the Wild can do to prove the 2017 smash-hit was more than just lightning in a bottle.
An Overhauled Overworld
Obviously, the most revolutionary aspect of Breath of the Wild was its open-world exploration. It’s a fantastic world where you tell yourself where to go and forge your own path. Truly a fresh take on what was becoming a stale genre. But it was also something that can only be done the same way once.
The same world won’t have the same surprises twice. If they want to blow players’ minds once again, they have to add to it. Every trailer we’ve seen so far seems to suggest that the developers are aware of that. Last year’s E3 trailer showed what appears to be a series of floating islands in the skies above Hyrule proper. This is a great start. Expanding and modifying the world like this is the only way they can recreate that magic once again.
Filled Out Dungeons
Unfortunately, most people seem to agree that Breath of the Wild dropped the ball in terms of dungeons. In a series known for intricate, puzzle-filled labyrinths, Breath of the Wild mostly focused on the puzzles. Dungeons in the first game are full of disjointed contraptions that fail to reach the head scratching heights of past installments. Veteran fans were highly disappointed in this aspect of the game, and I can’t say that I blame them.
This, however, doesn’t need to be the case. Fantastic level design is obviously not incompatible with the open world genre. For many people, it’s likely that the success of Elden Ring solidified this even further. All Breath of the Wild’s sequel needs to do is a return to form, something that Nintendo is no stranger to. Bring back the classic lock and key style the series is known for. The open world could potentially make dungeons even better than they were before. Hyrule Castle in the first game partially proves this, with its countless entrances and hidden pathways.
More Enemy Variety
Combat in the original Breath of the Wild took a few strides forward, and a quite few steps back. It was more twitchy and action-oriented than prior titles, while also giving the players many more options to improvise. However, for as good as the new system was, it failed in many ways because it fell behind in one key area: enemy variety.
Enemy variety is something that many games these days struggle with. Games nowadays are so large in scope that minute details often end up giving way to the bigger picture. This often manifests itself in fighting a very static selection of enemies for an entire game. Ironically, Zelda has the perfect solution to this problem, and has had it for decades now. The series has a ginormous selection of monsters to pull from, built up across countless installments.
It seems that Breath of the Wild failed to utilize this vast library of enemies in large part due to clashing priorities. After all, the game’s focus was largely on exploration, not fighting. Now that the foundation has been set, hopefully the sequel will be able to reintroduce some of the classic foes that fans have grown to love over the years. Enemies are the spice of a game’s combat, so it’s crucial that they get this right.
A Better Weapon System
Something else that weighs down the combat in the original game is the way weapons are handled. Every armament you collect won’t be with you for too long. Weapons are extremely brittle, often to the point of frustration. While the durability system itself isn’t inherently bad, since the entire game is designed around it, it can get annoying. What’s also grating is the inventory limit making you constantly throw perfectly good weapons out whenever you find a new one. Your arsenal in Breath of the Wild is more of a rotating cast than a selection of mainstays.
In my opinion, the best way to fix this would be by completely changing the way weapons work. Instead of making them break permanently, let the player repair weapons at a cost. The game already has something sort of like this in the form of the automatically regenerating Master Sword. It would also help to have upgrades to certain weapons to increase their depth. For the inventory issues, they could simply limit the number of weapons you can have equipped to quick-select at any moment. I’m not a game developer by any means, but I think at least some of these would be good changes to improve the weapons system.
A More Complete Story
As a fan of FromSoftware’s titles, it may come across as hypocritical for me to criticize Breath of the Wild’s plot. The way the first game tells its story, however, is open to improvement. Most of the cutscenes are flashbacks from 100 years before the game takes place. The majority of the characters featured in these sequences are long dead by the time the events of the game unfold. This would be fine, but the problem is that very little of interest happens within any of this story. It feels like what could’ve been a very short tale stretched out to a much greater extent than it needed. Whatever interesting events do happen feel like they received no buildup.
Fixing this would require taking a completely different approach to storytelling. This is something that Breath of the Wild’s sequel is already showing signs of, at least if the trailers released as of yet are anything to go by. A linear plot that moves at the same pace as the player moves through the game could work wonders for this sequel. One with more active characters, stakes, and plot threads. In the original game, it often felt like the story took a backseat and the player was just going through the motions. The sequel needs to pick up the pace and give us a more engaging plot.
The Purpose of a Sequel
I’ve been a fan of The Legend of Zelda for almost as long as I’ve been playing video games. It’s a series that I’ve loved for as long as I’ve known it. To me, loving something also means having high expectations and being capable of criticizing it. There is no doubt in my mind that Breath of the Wild 2 will be a great game. However, it’s up against one of the greatest of all time. If a sequel doesn’t improve upon what came before, it will always be remembered for what it wasn’t. If it does, it can go above and beyond and match its predecessor as a classic.