Alright folks, it’s happening. It’s not like, a surprise or anything, but it’s still a headline-mover in our world. Aonuma himself has confirmed, through Source Gaming, that work on the next The Legend of Zelda game is underway. All the DLC for Breath of the Wild seems to be done, so it only makes sense that Nintendo is shifting gears onto the next new idea. So it’s time for the fun stuff; it’s time for us to get our speculation gears turning and talk about what could possibly come next.
And what do we have to go on? Nothing, really! That’s the fun part! We know a couple things about Nintendo’s contemporary approach to games, and that’s about it. We know about what’s under the hood with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and we’ve seen bits and pieces of the process leading up to that game. We’ve seen concept art, some of material that we also saw come to life, and some that was left in the meeting rooms.
The first big thing to consider is structure. The Legend of Zelda ain’t what it used to be. For years and years, to be a The Legend of Zelda game generally meant following the same structural rules introduced in Ocarina of Time, with slight modifications. The handheld games would spin things around a bit, but core games all sort of looked and felt the same, give or take some waggle or color. But Breath of the Wild flipped the script. It’s a huge open world, built (as we learned during a pre-release GDC panel) with a modified version of the Havok engine. It’s super physics-heavy, with puzzles often being open for creative solutions outside of the intended answer. Could it be the new normal? Or is there no longer a bible the team has to follow?
And speaking of the handheld games, well, there isn’t a handheld anymore. Not in the sense that A Link Between Worlds, for example, was a part of. For a while, the status quo was big, core The Legend of Zelda on the consoles and a 2D or 2D-inspired Zelda hit handhelds in-between. While the 3DS is still sort of kicking, I wouldn’t expect an installment to show up there anymore. I doubt Nintendo would give its number 2 IP to Artoon or whoever. Instead we’re looking at the Switch, which checks both boxes in one device. Could we see a rotation still, but on the one platform? Or will things be a little more Wild West?
So here we are – Zelda speculation in its most pure form. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing if the whole Master Cycle thing goes any further. It’s silly DLC right now, but it’s also officially part of The Legend of Zelda lore instead of being a goofy Mario Kart thing. Perhaps we’ll jump into the far future, where the whole dang deal is motorcycles. Or perhaps it will remain a silly DLC thing. Who knows?
Again, it’s the fun part. We probably have two years or more before we hear about the next The Legend of Zelda, unless there’s been a 2D-style spinoff already cooking. We’ll see what happens!