Sometimes in sports, an all-time great athlete comes along and changes the entire fabric of a franchise, altering the definition of success. So in the world of sports, there is nothing more difficult than being the person who follows someone like that because the expectations are impossibly high. In a way, they are almost predestined to fail.
This is what it feels like to look at the monumental expectations everyone has for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Not only is it one of the first direct sequels we got from Zelda given that spiritual footprints, but it’s following a game that in every way broke the established 3D Zelda formula. Since then ocarina of time First appearing on television screens in 1998, there was a set formula that all major 3D Zelda titles followed for nearly 20 years. breath of the wild changed that. It removed everything from the themed dungeons to the plethora of items, and even the bombastic overworld theme. It was a completely different game and everyone loved it.
Well, almost everyone, there was a sect of fans who were not happy with those changes. The reason Zelda didn’t bother to change the formula for almost 20 years is that it worked. Fans relished the chance to play with that familiar formula again. They didn’t want them to rebuild the wheel, they just wanted to solve puzzles, explore extensive dungeons with a themed element at the end, and then beat the big bad at the end of the game. It was simple and addictive, but breath of the wild walked away from it. This raises the question: where Tears of the Kingdom do you see from here?
The choices are clear: do the impossible and follow the path of one of the most beloved open-world games of recent times, or go back and try to recapture the tried and true. Zelda formula that BOTH OF THEM walked away from? Considering this is pretty much a direct sequel to the original, we can probably safely assume that it’s going to be primarily focused on giving us more of what that game gave us, which means Tears of the Kingdom is likely to solidify the gameplay of BOTH OF THEM like the new normal.
Does this mean there is no chance for the game to appeal to both Zelda factions? No way, there are a lot of things that kingdom tears can do to try to recover some of that classic Zelda spirit without breaking what he made BOTH OF THEM very popular. For starters, the biggest change has to be in the main dungeons of the game. A criticism that even big fans had to BOTH OF THEM it was how their four main dungeons, the Divine Beasts, were too similar and short. This was obviously designed to help complement the freedom players had to go where they wanted, but since none of them were curved by difficulty or progress, it left players feeling disappointed rather than fulfilled.
Another addition they can make to bring back some of that classic 3D Zelda nature is bringing items in a big way. We already know that this game will allow us to traverse the skies, and hopefully that will mean new elements to explore.
Sure, bigger dungeons and new items would be a great way to appeal to longtime fans, but there are still plenty of fans out there who loved it all. BOTH OF THEM and I want to see a continuation of that. To begin with, let’s talk about the density of the game world. It won’t be surprising to see many places repurposed in Hyrule, so make them feel alive. A denser world will refresh the experience even as players re-explore familiar settings. The skies that play a larger role should also allow for some new locations in addition to the repurposed areas. We might even get a chance to go underground if the first trailer is any indication.
No matter what Nintendo does with Tears of the Kingdom however, it seems a certainty that it will be one of the best games of 2023. It is definitely one of the most anticipated. even the worst Zelda games are considered good by any regular standard, it’s when we start comparing them to the entire franchise that the conversation deepens. unfortunately for Tears of the Kingdom, his legacy will always be associated with how he followed up on one of the greatest games ever made. An impossible act to follow, but one that fans will enjoy just the same.