- The Legend of Zelda franchise continually evolves to keep the gameplay fresh and exciting, with Breath of the Wild setting a high standard for future entries to meet.
- The expansion Tears of the Kingdom introduces new abilities for Link, a new open world to explore called The Depths, and the potential for revisiting and updating older locations in Hyrule.
- The game’s non-linear exploration and graphical improvements challenge future entries to meet the demanding precedent set by Tears of the Kingdom, while also presenting opportunities for Nintendo to delve into unexplored areas of the franchise.
The Legend of Zelda is a franchise that depends on exploration, as adventure is at the core of its gameplay. From the first game on the Nintendo Entertainment System to this year’s Tears of the Kingdom on the Nintendo Switch, Hyrule has proven to be a land that can be portrayed in a diverse set of ways. As the series entered the realm of non-linear gameplay with Breath of the Wild, exploring open worlds felt like such a natural progression for the series. Moving forward, however, it will be interesting to see how Nintendo will continue to take the franchise to new levels.
The evolution of each mainline game in The Legend of Zelda series is a testament to how developers find new ways to keep the 38-year-old franchise fresh. Yet, the sheer comprehensiveness that the last two entries have had will give any future entry an even higher standard to live up to.
What to Expect From the Legend of Zelda Franchise in 2024
The Legend of Zelda franchise quietly enters 2024, but it’s likely to be a major year for the franchise for a couple of reasons.
Tears Of The Kingdom’s Expansion Of Breath Of The Wild
Despite Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom’s graphical similarities, the latter has undergone tons of improvement to truly cement itself as a sequel. For starters, Link has access to a plethora of new abilities, despite the loss of his Sheikah Slate. He can Fuse items with materials that can be found throughout the overworld, and use the Ultrahand to move items with ease to create practical items such as bridges and vehicles.
Most notably, however, players can now explore what lies underneath Hyrule with The Depths. It parallels the top of Hyrule in an inverted way but essentially acts as an entirely new open world to explore. It’s one of the more challenging parts of the game, yet its traversal is incredibly rewarding. The addition of new maps to explore in a non-linear manner sets a demanding precedent for the inevitable next game in the franchise, particularly if Breath of the Wild’s graphical style is abandoned.
How Previous Legend Of Zelda Games Can Act As A Blueprint Moving Forward
Previous entries in the Legend of Zelda series have had access to dedicated areas that act as a hub for Link’s exploration. The Wind Waker’s Great Sea and The Ocarina of Time’s Hyrule Field are examples of maps that the player can explore in detail, not just to progress further in the game.
For future entries in the franchise, older locations within Hyrule can be revisited and updated, similarly to The Depths in Tears of the Kingdom. Traversing The Great Sea in particular was a massive shakeup for the franchise, yet it would be fascinating if water exploration was revisited on that scale and modernized to the open world genre.
The Dark World in A Link to the Past is similar to The Depths in that they are both bizarre mirrors of Hyrule. Returning to that framework with more non-linearity could work well, as Twilight Princess was able to recreate the iconic parallel following the main themes and atmosphere of the game. The Legend of Zelda franchise has so many iconic, complex locations that haven’t yet been explored on a deeper level, which could be a great opportunity for Nintendo to tackle in the series’ next entry.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is the sequel to the beloved open-world adventure, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This installment once again sees Link and Zelda battling to protect Hyrule from falling to Ganondorf. This new adventure takes place in the same land of Hyrule as Breath of the Wild but sees something called the Upheaval, which allows link to travel to Sky Islands, as well as deep into the Depths beneath Hyrule. Players can use special abilities to fuse together weapons, and build items to help them progress through the release.
- May 12, 2023
- Rated E for Everyone 10+ for Fantasy Violence and Mild Suggestive Themes
- How Long To Beat
- 59 Hours