The Legend of Zelda: The Case for Returning to the Early Zelda Eras
The upcoming installment in The Legend of Zelda series endeavors to offer fans an "entirely new" adventure, potentially delving into an era within th...
The upcoming installment in The Legend of Zelda series endeavors to offer fans an "entirely new" adventure, potentially delving into an era within the intricate Zelda timeline that has yet to be explored.
A revisit to a bygone era within the official Zelda timeline has the potential to blend traditional and contemporary gameplay mechanics, effectively bridging the divide between long-time Zelda enthusiasts and newcomers alike.
The official timelines of The Legend of Zelda present abundant untapped potential for captivating narratives, either by filling in gaps in the lore or potentially remaking earlier games as an interim measure until the release of a new mainline installment.
After a prolonged period of dormancy from 2011 to 2017, The Legend of Zelda series finds itself in a state of boundless possibilities for the future. Series producer Eiji Aonuma himself has acknowledged the team's objective of delivering an "entirely new" experience in the forthcoming entry. While it remains uncertain whether this entails the conclusion of a trilogy that commenced with Breath of the Wild, a franchise as renowned and storied as The Legend of Zelda has numerous potential directions it could explore in its next iteration. One such path is a potential return to a previous era within the intricate Zelda timelines.
Since the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and the publication of the Hyrule Historia lore compendium, fans have gained a clear understanding of the interconnectedness between each game in the series, particularly following the pivotal events depicted in the conclusion of Skyward Sword. However, the placement of Breath of the Wild (BotW) and The Legend of Zelda: Theories of the Kingdom (TotK) within the timeline remains less definitive. Speculation arises as to whether these games form a distinct chronology of their own or if the "Age of Calamity" occurs after the branching timelines of Ocarina of Time converge back into a unified continuity. With the future of the franchise unrestrained, there is a compelling argument for a new Zelda installment that transports players back to a previously explored era.
A Return to Zelda's Previous Eras Could Mix Both Old and New Mechanics
Breath of the Wild marked a crucial advancement for The Legend of Zelda, steering the franchise in a new direction following underwhelming sales of Skyward Sword, despite its significance in the overarching series narrative. This innovative endeavor proved to be a resounding triumph for Nintendo, as Breath of the Wild's sales surpassed the combined figures of all other 3D Zelda titles. However, some dedicated fans expressed their frustration regarding the absence of traditional dungeons and the presence of breakable weapons, both of which were partially addressed in this year's release, Tears of the Kingdom.
A revisit to a previous era within the official Zelda timeline offers a compelling reason for the development team to further advance the "best of both worlds" approach showcased in Tears of the Kingdom. This presents an opportunity to creatively merge the classic 3D Zelda formula, which originated with Ocarina of Time, with the contemporary mechanics and open-world freedom found in the Switch's Zelda titles. Such a venture has the potential to bridge the gap between long-standing Zelda enthusiasts and newcomers, as the harmonious integration of traditional and modern Zelda gameplay elements holds vast potential for exploration and innovation.
The Legend of Zelda's Earlier Timelines Still Have Plenty of Unexplored Territory
Irrespective of the specific nature of the forthcoming game, the official timelines of The Legend of Zelda present abundant opportunities for captivating narratives within that universe, stories that have yet to be explored. A game that delves into the untold events between the "Golden Era" of Hyrule and the "Era of Decline" leading up to the original Legend of Zelda, or an adventure set in the aftermath of Twilight Princess, could serve to shed light on unanswered questions regarding the series' lore that currently lack official canonical explanations. Another potential approach for a game set in an earlier era could be a remake, with one of the most probable candidates being the often regarded "black sheep" of the series, Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link.
Given the technological constraints of its time, which hindered the effective storytelling and somewhat convoluted gameplay mechanics of Zelda 2, it can be argued that no other Zelda game from the earlier eras is better suited for a comprehensive remake. Nintendo has already demonstrated their ability to remake games from this era with the release of Link's Awakening in 2019. Even if the upcoming Zelda release from Nintendo is not a mainline entry, a remake of an earlier game would serve as an ideal interim experience to engage and entertain fans until the anticipated new Zelda game finally arrives.