Saturday, May 14, 2016

An Ocean of Grass


In exactly one month the curtains will fall and we will finally see a presentation of the new Legend of Zelda game for the first since the Game Awards 2014. Back then the game certainly looked amazing, but also gave reason to be worried about its contents. The world felt empty.

It felt somewhat like The Wind Waker, but instead of sailing through the Great Sea you were riding on a horse through an ocean of grass. Now Link's tunic is blue and the water is green, but the game feels the same. And with The Wind Waker they certainly gave Zelda a feeling of vastness for the first time, a massive open ocean waiting to be explored. This world did have its problems, though, because Nintendo didn't manage to fill it with enough unique content. Instead they came up with certain structures that they simply copy pasted all over the map: the Fairy Islands, the Eyed Reefs, the Pirate Lookout Towers, the Submarines and so on. The world felt repetitive.

Twilight Princess wasn't as bad, but its Hyrule Field still felt quite empty and had some repetitive elements as well, such as the Rupee Rocks, Dig Caverns and Golden Insects. And while the surface world of Skyward Sword and the town of Skyloft felt dense and well crafted, the game still had a "sky ocean", where its islands were even less interesting than the ones in The Wind Waker. The world felt lazy.

Now, in the footage of the new game you could already something like lookout towers that are probably repeated multiple times. And to fill such massive game worlds with content is certainly no easy task, which is why the developers rely heavily on the repeated structures and elements. It's a problem of other open world games like Skyrim as well. If you have seen on Skyrim village, you have seen them all. And the most interesting and richest in variety 3D Zelda game world was also the smallest - Termina. The world felt dense.

Of course having a massive world like in the new Zelda game is also very exciting and only going for small overworlds in Zelda is not a permanent solution. Zelda has to try something new and different, something epic. And Nintendo most likely has heard the complaints after the Game Awards 2014, which is why the game got delayed last year. They probably wanted to make the massive world more interesting and rich in content (besides developing a NX version of the game). They will have had two years for this task, which is a long time - they created entire Zelda games in the same time frame. And I'm eager to see what they came up with. How the world will feel next month.

1 comment:

Gizzly said...

Nintendo has to go back to the big amount of unique side quests the way they had them in Majora's Mask. In my opinion searching for heart pieces, souls, gold insects etc. isn't nearly as interesting as going through a bunch of little story lines that might even have nothing to do with the main story itself. This requires a bunch of also very unique side characters. Imho the reward system of MM was also quite revolutionary since every mask you got offered new gameplay content. Much more motivating than a heart container more or less if you ask me.