There is a rumor going around that the The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel will feature a more linear experience, with Link potentially having to clear the land of Ganon’s evil essence one section at a time. As someone who adored Breath of the Wild and enjoyed everything about it (besides weapon durability), I’m looking forward to a new jaunt through Hyrule in the Breath of the Wild sequel. And if the leak’s claim of linearity is true, it just increases my excitement, even though it seemingly contradicts what makes the original so amazing. Here’s why going linear could be such a good thing.
From point A to point B
Traditional Zelda games are, for the most part, pretty straightforward. The world starts relatively small, and NPCs point you toward locations and quests. Likewise, Link usually tackles dungeons in a set order, and the items he finds open up the world little by little. You need the Magic Hammer from the Palace of Darkness in A Link to the Past before you can pound in obstacles to progress further into the Dark World. Breath of the Wild did away with all of that, giving Link a few required abilities at the very beginning of the game and setting him loose upon an almost fully open world.
We can go back and forth on the merits of both styles of game until the end of time, but I would argue that this would be a transformative experience in the Breath of the Wild sequel. If Link needs to open up the world himself, there’s a sense of accomplishment and progress with each new tool. Personally, I’m hoping for combinations of techniques to be a major theme in the game, as these tend to be some of the best parts of Zelda games. For instance, using the Scarecrow’s Song in Ocarina of Time to summon a target for your Longshot is exhilarating the first time you figure it out. Likewise, combining the Stasis and Bomb runes in BotW was a fun way to experiment with the physics.
A clearer story
Another thing I loved about Breath of the Wild was the way it told its story. Link must figure out the events that brought him to where he is now, separated by a hundred years. All he really has to go on is a handful of photographs and the knowledge that, if he just finds those areas again, he’ll remember them. Unraveling the tale out of order across the vast gulfs of space and time somehow made the task seem so much more important. Link remembers his entire history, one event at a time. It was perfection.
However, he can’t do it again. Seeing as how the Breath of the Wild sequel is a direct sequel, with the same Link, how could they add new memories to weave together a new tale in a satisfactory way? The game’s story needs to be firmly rooted in the present this time. By partitioning off the world, Nintendo can tell a rich story about what Link and Zelda are doing now, rather than what they did back then. Without a certain amount of railroading, it would be impossible to corral the player into necessary story beats.
A breath of fresh air
Hyrule in Breath of the Wild is huge and a wonder to explore, but some places warrant revisiting more than others. I often revisited areas that I found particularly breathtaking, like the jungle or the deserted island. In the end, however, I never wanted to see the Hothian hellscapes that were the Hebra and Tabantha areas again. A new storyline in the Breath of the Wild sequel could reinvigorate these areas by making them more relevant to the narrative. Using new tools to get around them could also inject a much-needed measure of fun into the vast-yet-empty stretches of land.
There are very few Zelda games I didn’t love with all my heart. I trust Nintendo to make excellent games in the series into perpetuity. Regardless of leaks, if Nintendo does happen to be making a linear title with the Breath of the Wild sequel, I say bring it on.
How do you feel about the prospect of a linear Breath of the Wild sequel?