Monday, July 29, 2019

Breath of the Wild 2: The Underground World Expansion?

screenshot of the Breath of the Wild 2 teaser trailer, where Zelda rides on an elephant through a dark cave

In various interviews around and after E3, series producer Eiji Aonuma has confirmed that the development of the sequel to Breath of the Wild ("Breath of the Wild 2") started as DLC ideas, where he wants to revisit that Hyrule again. And judging from the E3 trailer it seems like they are going to place this game in the same Hyrule again, but with an underground world to explore instead of the Sheikah Shrines and Towers.

Of course it is still too early to tell, since the game could offer so much more, but for the sake of this article we will assume that Breath of the Wild 2 mainly will be an expansion of the world of Breath of the Wild, where you explore Hyrule's underground.

This would be a risky move, because Breath of the Wild owes a huge part of its success to its completely open and wondrous overworld, which you can explore as you please and without limits (the Great Plateau tutorial section aside). You climb and glide everywhere and this makes the game so fun that it's a must buy for every Switch owner.

And the success shows: it's the best selling Zelda game of all time with over 14 million copies sold by end of March 2019 - probably some more by now. It's the first Zelda game to break the 10 million mark and it keeps selling.

But... a sequel will have a hard time replicating this success, if it re-uses the same world to do something different with it. Even if this expansion will be massive, it won't be able to carry the same sense of discovery and wonder that Breath of the Wild first had. Most people, who bought the first game, still won't have done everything there is already – they are probably still in the middle of exploring, searching for Shrines, hunting Koroks and so on. Or they were exhausted by it and stopped playing.

The main selling point of Breath of the Wild was its world and that's right there on the package. To many people the sequel won't have any real value, if it just comes with the same world again. Why buy something that you already have? For some new caves?

A game that takes the same world, but changes it in many ways, will mostly be interesting to the people, who have completed Breath of the Wild and can't get enough of it. But even then getting a completely new world would probably be more exciting than re-exploring the same world to discover the differences and a new underground world below it.

In addition Breath of the Wild looks best when you're out in the open. The engine of the game really was made for beautiful, open landscapes. It wasn't, however, exactly made for caves and dungeons, where for example the underground sections of Hyrule Castle can look somewhat dull...

So, here a lot of work would be necessary to make the underground sections look appealing, but it still won't have the same appeal as a beautiful new landscape. As already said, the main selling point of Breath of the Wild is on its package and the underground cave expansion sequel won't have that... It will have dark caves instead.

That being said, it still could be an interesting idea to add an entire massive underground world to the Hyrule as we know it from Breath of the Wild. It could be one massive maze, where you make progress by finding different entrances on the overworld. It could be similar to the Skeleton Forest & Skull Woods from A Link to the Past, but on the scale of the entire Breath of the Wild game world. This would allow for a much more classic, maybe even "Metroidvania"-style progress, while maintaining the freedom in the overworld of the predecessor.

At the same time it's also possible that they will expand the overworld itself. Instead of being stopped by an invisible wall in the middle of the ocean or the desert, you could now travel even further and explore new lands beyond the familiar Hyrule of Breath of the Wild... Maybe you can even use the underground to travel to entirely new places.

This is all yet unknown and there are lots of possibilities to make the sequel very amazing, but from what Aonuma has given us so far, there are reasons to be concerned if the sequel can really live up to the success of Breath of the Wild under these conditions.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Nintendo Switch Lite Announced

retail box of a yellow Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo just announced the "Nintendo Switch Lite". You can watch the presentation on Youtube.

It's a solid handheld, has a D-Pad, offers a longer battery life and costs exactly 100$ less than the Nintendo Switch currently. It also will be released September 20th, same day as The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. This heavily smells like a bundle and I won't be surprised, if they offer a special golden Zelda Edition here... Which would be a slap in the face for me, since I have been waiting for such a bundle for over two years now and this isn't exactly what I was hoping for.

Overall the Nintendo Switch Lite looks like an interesting deal and it's certainly a smart move by Nintendo to do this, however, it has one major downside: you cannot connect it to a TV, even if you buy a dock separately. If you could, I would gladly get one in a Zelda design...

It's also possible that Link's Awakening is getting such a bundle in a different form, so not necessarily a gold Zelda Edition console. It could be a Nintendo Switch Lite that looks like a GameBoy for example. This would be awesome, but not necessarily something I'd purchase.

Well, for the real deal I will probably have to keep waiting until the next game, either Skyward Sword HD or Breath of the Wild 2, and a potential New Nintendo Switch / Switch Pro / Switch Plus. Rumors for the latter always went hand in hand with the Nintendo Switch Lite, so you should expect an improved Switch model in the next years.