Fans of the gaming classic Legend Of Zelda can once again rejoice with Nintendo announcing an open world Zelda, which shows plenty of room to innovate on their old formula. The game will be available for the WiiU, but no confirmed title or release date has been set yet. Nintendo has also, unsurprisingly, announced sequels and tie-ins to many of their other popular series, hoping to boost the sales of their somewhat under-performing console.
Legend of Zelda debuted on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1986, quickly growing to be a classic and launching one of the biggest franchise in the gaming history. Exploring dungeons, traveling through time, and even sailing the seas, the elf-like protagonist Link has seen countless iterations through the years. His games have often been a much-anticipated launch staple of every Nintendo console. He also made an appearance in a number of other titles (such as Smash Bros), action figures and even his very own cartoon.
The newest announcement once again attempts to bring a breath of fresh air into the franchise. While most of the previous Zelda titles had some degree of free-form exploration (such as the seas in Wind Waker or the city in Majora’s Mask), they still mostly boiled down to following a linear story in areas usually designed to be completed just once. The new E3 announcement by Nintendo promises an open world Zelda, however, and thus shows the company has plenty of room to innovate further. While the brief video showing Link horseback riding through open fields does not reveal much, it definitely gets the creative gears spinning and the mind speculating.
Open-world games have become a popular genreover the years. Skyrim surpassed 20 million sales in January, for instance. Much like the other titles in the Elder Scrolls series, it gave the player full agency in the vast fantasy world, with absolutely no restrictions aside from technical limitations. Many have never even beaten the main storyline, too busy completing the intricate guild side-quests, building virtual houses and farms, or slaughtering various critters. Replacing Skyrim’s hero with iconic Link and scrapping the somewhat unbalanced combat and equipment with the Zelda’s refined fighting system and items sounds like a wonderful next step for the series. It could also potentially tap into the fans of the other free-form fantasy classics like Gothic or Two Worlds.
Nintendo also mentioned another Zelda tie-in, Hyrule Warriors. It is developed by Dynasty Warriors team behind the popular tactical fighting series set in ancient China. However, they are replacing the experienced Chinese battle generals with Link himself, fending hordes of enemies in the world of Hyrule. Again, a new interesting spin on an old but polished formula.
Aside from Zelda, Nintendo has also unveiled numerous other titles. Yoshi’s Woolly World features Mario’s dinosaur sidekick in a cooperative, wool-like world similar to the previous Kirby Epic Yarn game. They also mentioned Mario Maker, a new toolset that would allow the fans of the genre to craft their very own 8-bit levels and bring them into full HD glory. Splatoon is a novel four-on-four multiplayer game where the two teams compete to paint the world with their colors. If done well, this new title could potentially prove as addictive as the Smash Bros series.
In the past, E3 has been sometimes criticized for too much gloss and not enough content. However, this year is definitely proving very exciting for gaming and tech fans alike. Nintendo announcing open world Zelda and Hyrule Warriors shows they still have plenty of room to innovate their franchise. Hopefully, the new titles can rise the popularity of WiiU, as its low sales have discouraged some publishers (such as Ubisoft) from porting their titles to the console.
By Jakub Kasztalski