The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a fantastic game. Routinely named one of the best in the series, Zelda: BOTW made it to the top of many fans’ lists as the Best Zelda game so far. With an aggregate score of 96 on OpenCritic, and being named 2017’s Game of the Year, it’s no wonder the title has earned so much popularity.
However, even as the months rolled on, I was always critical. Was it really THAT good? And sure, while I did thoroughly enjoy it, I definitely didn’t find it perfect. Now, two years later, Nintendo teases a sequel, leaving fans to wonder: What will be different? How can it possibly be made better? Well, here’s a list of features I think would answer that question, and truly make the next game a 10/10 on my scale.
One of the biggest gripes I’ve heard about Breath of the Wild is with its rainy weather system. In a game that revolves around climbing, why on Earth does it have to rain so often? Rain makes it 3x harder to climb anything, and if it starts while you’re halfway up a cliff, guess who’s about to find out if he can bounce from 30 feet in the air? Answer: you, and believe it or not, with ragdolling you bounce like Tigger!
While I have also personally felt this gripe, falling many, many times, I also really enjoy the weather system. Weather further creates a believable environment for the player, and is something that not all game developers feature in games. However, it is always annoying to have progress inhibited when trying to get somewhere that you may have easily reached in with sunnier skies.
What I would propose could make this system better is to have a method of manipulating the weather around you. It’s certainly not a new idea, as the Zelda series has featured a number of magical instruments that do that effect: the whistle from the very first Legend of Zelda, the Ocarina of Time, the Wind Waker; they all are able to manipulate wind and weather. Why not have an “Ancient Drum” or something that can send all that pesky rain away and let a guy climb in peace?
Maestro! …Where’d ya go? Come Back!
This has been one of the largest complaints I’ve read in reviews of the original Breath of the Wild– where’s the music? Now, I’m all for piano music. I love studying to it, or even playing some during my spare time. However, when I am horseback riding across the plains of Hyrule or climbing up a mountain, piano does not fit my fiddle. I want some bold percussion, some grand symphonies, heck I’d even take a kazoo accompaniment over being “piano or nothing.”
That being said, the Castle Theme in Breath of the Wild is one of my favorite tracks of the entire series, and ultimately had given me hope still for the game. It has all I could have asked for: an original track with bits and pieces of previous Zelda tracks to refresh and excite the adventurer. Thankfully, towns and villages also had slight background music which were often remixes of previous Zelda tracks, but the outside world was just so, so quiet.
What I would love to see in BOTW’s sequel is better balance and involvement between moods. Similar to Twilight Princess’ Day and Night themes, why not have different musical pieces to accompany different weather patterns? Piano goes great while accompanying rain. Or, if the team wants to continue to innovate, how about a different theme for a different time of day, such as a calm musical piece with flute and piano in the morning, then an adventurous theme in the afternoon? Music can die down when in the presence of an enemy or animal, but when climbing a cliff face, it would be awesome to have something to listen to…
What Was that Combination Again? An Apple, an Acorn, and a Radish?
There is at least one feature that I felt BOTW nailed in its innovation: the cooking. I thoroughly enjoyed learning what dishes could do what, what ingredients made or broke a dish, and what Link’s reaction would be when eating a particularly…bad dish. Sometimes, certain rare materials even made a dish extraordinary, changing a dish from merely healing 3 hearts to granting full health. And with all of the dish names and graphics, one can tell that the developers put a lot of effort in the cooking mechanic. It’s just too bad I’ll never actually see them all.
The change to this design would be simple, but effective: add a recipe book. It would make perfect sense for an addition to Link’s Sheikah Slate to merely have one more tab next to his ingredients labeled “Recipes,” and go from there. That way, there’s one more (and arguably more worthwhile) list to complete than, say, collecting 900 pieces of Korok poop.
Legend of Zelda AND Link
A hot topic of fan debate and conversation in recent months has been over the plausibility BOTW’s sequel to be multiplayer experience, to which I say…YES, PLEASE!
However, with this change I propose a catch: Zelda can’t climb.
I can already hear the axes grinding. “What do you mean Zelda can’t climb? She can probably do everything Link can and then some!” to which I would agree to an extent. However, wouldn’t it be cool to have two different loadouts, with varying playstyles according to the character?
Throughout Breath of the Wild, players become accustomed to the Sheikah slate for being the source of their bombs, block movement, and other inventory-saving needs. And it should definitely return to Link’s belt for the sequel. However, Zelda has magical powers Link doesn’t have. Instead of bombs, I think it would be incredible for her to deliver an extra-potent blast of Din’s Fire, similar to it’s appearance in Super Smash Bros. For an inventory item, I think it would be great for her to, instead of climbing, have access to the Hookshot, a Zelda staple I passionately missed in Breath of the Wild. Weapon-wise, Zelda could use the same weapons as Link, albeit wielding the unbreakable Hero’s Bow and replacing ancient arrows with powerful, unlimited but rechargeable light arrows to counteract Link’s Master Sword and its required charge. With these changes, an already seemingly inexhaustible game just got twice the play value via two different playstyles.
Oh Look! … Another Bokoblin.
One of my biggest gripes about Breath of the Wild is its enemy variety— namely, that there really wasn’t much variety. Sure, there are still 88 different types of enemies in the overworld excluding bosses, but they all can be categorized as just slightly varied forms of the same 13 enemies, by my count. (Bokoblin, Lizalfos, Moblin, Wizzrobe, Chuchu, Guardian, Keese, Octorok, Lynel, Yiga, Talos, Hinox, and Molduga.)* In a game the size of Breath of the Wild, I unfortunately found myself bored with fighting these same enemies, particularly Bokoblins, over and over. I squealed with glee when I finally was able to fight Lynels and Moldugas without being one-shotted, mostly because finally there was something new for me to fight and learn, more than just another variance of the same Moblin.
What I would love to see in Breath of the Wild 2 is more enemies from previous games, which would make sense with what I hope is the return Ganondorf the Gerudo King. I would be absolutely okay with more original enemies, such as Corrupted Monks or something, but I find myself missing more of the Zelda staples like Skulltulas, Tektites, Armos, and especially Ironknuckles/Darknuts and Redeads/Gibdos. Considering that this sequel isrumored to be darker than Majora’s Mask, I don’t think it would be a stretch to see some spiders and other nasty baddies return to the series.
*Twilight Princess has 82 common enemy types, and even Ocarina of Time has 62, but most of those are actually unique, rather than the “same but tougher.”
Water, Lightning, Fire, or Wind-type Ganon
On a similar thread to “Oh Look! … Another Bokoblin,” Something I had woefully missed in Breath of the Wild was proper boss battles. Sure, we had the 4 battles against the (insert element here)-blight Ganon, but it was kind of stale to keep coming to fight another pokemon-esque “eeveelution” of the same opponent, and the predictable end-game battle against Calamity Ganon. That being said, Nintendo had definitely made a step in the right direction with the Sage battle in the DLC. That boss is tough, but satisfying. Other than that, the only “boss” in the game is the Yiga King, which was entertaining, but also easy.
Again, similar to the previous heading, the return of the King of Thieves could mean a return of our beloved previous bosses: we could finally have the Gohma battle we were teased at E3, 8 years ago. I personally would be ecstatic to see a remade Phantom Ganon from Ocarina of Time, which is 20 years old now. More original bosses are absolutely okay as well, just as long as it’s not another series of Ganon blobs.
Divine Beast vs. Ancient Temple
I thoroughly enjoyed going through the Divine Beasts in Breath of the Wild. They had challenging puzzles, and I loved their modern format versus the original “find the item” formula. However, I didn’t understand why full-sized dungeons had to be scrapped, especially with 180+ single-puzzles of varying elements laying around Hyrule. There are many mixed opinions on the shrines, with some praising its ease of availability and others critiquing the sheer number of them there are.
I was fine with shrines, and, over the course of the game, I did find all of the shrines and complete them. However, what really irked me were many of the quests for the shrines. I can’t say how many times I was duped into thinking I was going to find an “ancient treasure” of some sort, only to be disappointed to find it was another shrine.
In Breath of the Wild’s sequel, I want to see some dungeons and labyrinths return. The game doesn’t have to change it’s formula from the original, but to have some real labyrinths/dungeons like Ocarina of Time’s Forest Temple can’t hurt anything in my mind. Having even 4 dungeon levels in exchange for 40+ shrines would add some variety and gameplay that fell short in Breath of the Wild.
The Little Things
Most of the previous headings were topics I feel strongly enough about to actually lower my score for the first Breath of the Wild, but there are more, smaller topics that BOTW2 can carry on from the original. Here is a short list of those topics:
–Ruins No More! I would love to see Hylians rebuilding from the ruins you find in Hyrule, or even to see their backstories via more memories.
–Continue My Story! In BOTW’s sequel trailer, we were teased that Zelda and Link are together questing in a new location. We don’t know where that is, or when. I really want to see Zelda interacting with the Zora people post-Ganon, which we were cliffhanged in the true ending of the first Breath of the Wild. In fact, the journey there in BOTW2 would be a nice tutorial level for the new character loadout system I listed earlier.
–Weapon Convenience. I didn’t mind BOTW’s weapon system. In fact, I enjoyed the inventory management. However, It would have been nice to be able to store weapons somewhere for backup when I battle that one Lynel that destroys all of my items. Or, sell weapons when I’m short on rupees and extra on Gerudo Greatswords.
–All Dat Drama (Romance?). The memory of Zelda crying in Link’s arms is one of the most beautiful scenes in all of gaming. I would love to see more of that deeply personal connection between the two characters.
–Link, Sit. Link, Speak! Normally, I’m against Link speaking. However, imagine the bomb-drop of beating the game, and Link, being silent all game, finally saying some tired one-liner, like “We did it, Zelda. It’s finally over.” And then roll credits. My shock value would be over 9K!
–I Love Me Some Fanservice. That was probably obvious from most of the points in this article. However, I really don’t mind being surprised. I wouldn’t complain to have more callbacks of different forms in BOTW’s sequel. I’m just a fan that loves to see references to games I love.
So there you have it: my list of topics that I feel BOTW 2 can do better than the first. It’s fun to think of the possibilities a new, vague trailer can introduce, and Nintendo’s E3 2019 Zelda trailer is no exception. I have already seen some YouTube videos with people attempting to translate the weird, blue flowing runes in the trailer, and others playing the trailer backwards, trying to decipher what music is playing backwards throughout it (it was decided to be the Game Over theme from the very first Zelda game).
Either way, from the little things alone, anyone can tell that Nintendo is paying a lot of attention to detail while they’re making their games— it’s a major reason why we all love them. I very much hope they are taking note of what the fans are hoping and writing over, to deliver yet another fantastic masterpiece. Either way, I look forward to hearing more from them in these months (years?) leading into BOTW 2’s release!
In this next installment of My Favorite Level, Michael Mendis discusses "Halo," the iconic level from Halo: Combat Evolved!
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