- Breath of the Wild’s Sheikah tech is a genius design that adds depth to exploration and narrative justification, but it can be achieved in more seamless ways.
- A tech-less future for Zelda games could create a more grounded and consistent tone, elevating the overall product and offering a fresh experience.
- Tears of the Kingdom fully embraces technology, but future games could benefit from toning down the emphasis on tech, separating themselves from Breath of the Wild and creating enjoyable mechanics without futuristic inclusions.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is one of the pinnacle titles of a 2023 year that will be remembered as one of the all-time greats for gaming. It managed to stand out, even among the likes of Baldur’s Gate 3 and Alan Wake 2, which is a testament not just to its own quality, but the quality of its predecessor, Breath of the Wild. Each is a genre-defining experience and sits proudly in the upper echelon of Zelda offerings.
They have plenty of similarities, and a few crucial differences, and something that sits in both categories is the use of technology. Sheikah tech is used in the 2017 game, whereas the Zonai are the central focus of Tears of the Kingdom, and while they are interesting narrative inclusions and are important to establishing a sense of progression, ditching the focus on technology could have big benefits in the next game.
As Tears of the Kingdom has been confirmed to most likely not receive a sequel, it may be time to do away with one highly divisive mechanic.
Breath of the Wild’s Sheikah Tech is A Necessity
Breath of the Wild is an awe-inspiring take on the open-world formula, and one that achieves its remarkable success in large part due to its unwillingness to give the player all the answers. It’s a genius design that warrants trial-and-error exploration, with curiosities around every corner. Sheikah tech is seen all around in the form of shrines, and the Sheikah Slate ensures Link’s journey is not completely without a driving force.
However, the way technology is used feels more like a means to an end rather than an essential piece of Zelda lore. It’s rarely explained in any fine detail and largely serves to put conventional gaming elements into the title to make it feel familiar. Having an interactive map on hand, a place to document collectibles, and puzzles to solve in the space had to be narratively justified somehow, and presenting it as ancient technology was a viable way to achieve that, but it can be achieved in other, more seamless ways.
Zelda’s Tech-less Future Could be a Breath of Fresh Air
The reality is that there are other ways that such inclusions can be justified without the use of technology. It always feels strange in Breath of the Wild or Tears of the Kingdom to seek shelter from the rain in an abandoned house or nearby stable, only to pull out a magical device with a screen to tell Link about all the things he’s seen and the places he’s visited. With technology, there’s a complete tonal disconnect, so presenting those conventions in a more grounded way could elevate the overall product and create a more steady tone.
That’s not to say the next Zelda game has to only include sticks and Deku nuts to keep Link alive, but adopting a more humble focus could shake up the series and be the change that it needs to stay fresh. Twilight Princess and The Wind Waker, as well as a handful of others, have far less of a focus on technology and have their own much-loved style because of it.
Technology and Tradition Became One in Tears of the Kingdom
Tears of the Kingdom completely submerges itself in its tech, as the Zonai race left behind a wealth of resources and devices, helping the 2023 game to feel like an advancement over its predecessor. Given this is the second form of tech that this timeline of Zelda has established, the next game will have to either do the same again and create yet another or expand on the Zonai, unless it reduces its input drastically. Perhaps the next Zelda could be centered around the fall of technology, and how Link and friends have to survive without it.
A Lack of Technology Could Shape Zelda’s Future
Games like Far Cry Primal show that there’s fun to be had when the gimmick is specifically a lack of technology, and while that seems like an elaborate comparison, what it means is that mechanics that emphasize less futuristic inclusions can be just as enjoyable, and make an otherwise familiar format feel a lot fresher. Zelda is far from the tech-crazed settings of Night City in Cyberpunk 2077 or the Normandy in Mass Effect, but toning down the little emphasis it has on tech could reap big rewards – if anything, separating it from the looming shadows of Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
- May 12, 2023
- Rated E for Everyone 10+ for Fantasy Violence and Mild Suggestive Themes
- How Long To Beat
- 59 Hours