Halt! Nintendo, did you not hear me? I said HALT!
Look, here’s the thing, I highly doubt that any but the most avid Zelda fans are anywhere near my own level of excitement over Nintendo’s E3 2019 announcement that Zelda: Breath of the Wild II (BOTW II) is in the works. That said, and even bearing in mind that we are only half way through 2019, I am genuinely concerned that I may not have the capacity to complete the first instalment of Breath of the Wild (BOTW), before the BOTW II 2020 release date.
Zelda’s depth, breadth and scope are of increasingly gargantuan proportions, hence BOTW’s much needed space-time compressor that is the inspired shrine teleportation system, similar in its workings to the fast-travel sail system in Zelda: The Wind Waker. If one truly sets out with the aim of fully finishing a Zelda title – completing every side quest, defeating every foe and collecting every item – they are in it for the long haul, not least of all for the current incarnation of BOTW.
Don’t get me wrong, fellow Zelda fans. My increased sense of urgency in no way, shape or form serves to undermine the prestige of the Zelda series, nor the enjoyment both I and innumerable other Zelda fans the word over take in playing through any one of the genre-defining Zelda titles. In fact, it is the very scale of the Zelda games, coupled with the imagination and ingenuity of the great minds behind them, that have led to Zelda becoming the greatest contender for Nintendo’s flagship video game franchise.
Indeed, Zelda is a game series that just keeps on giving, and whilst we all have our favourite titles, most would agree with my stating that Zelda has enjoyed a continued upward trajectory from inception to date, with each instalment somehow outdoing at least the majority of its predecessors. Be it with improved gameplay mechanics, enhanced graphics, ever-more imaginative concepts, or any combination thereof and more – every time I fire up a new Zelda game, I’m beguiled at the thought of what new features await.
As for Breath of the Wild, I’m hopelessly head over heels, and positively addicted. What a truly wonderful gaming experience it has been, and what joy I felt upon learning that work is under way on a sequel. From the inspired additions of the glider and the weapons inventory, to the exquisitely imagined landscapes and inhabiting characters, BOTW truly is a chart-topping entry in the gaming world, and deservedly so.
I have no idea what is in store for Zelda fans upon BOTW II’s release, though I am only too happy to speculate, or to put it more accurately, set out my wish list! As fantastic a game as BOTW has been, and in spite of a wide variety of shrine challenges and boss battles, the sheer size of the game and the demand for ever more Spirit Orbs and Korok Seeds has meant that – for me at least – the content and challenge offering has started to feel just a tad repetitive.
There is part of me that yearns for a greater reliance on low-tech environmental manipulation and corresponding problem solving – distinct from the essentially magical functionality of the Sheikah Slate – such as has been seen in previous Zelda games. I want to see a return of vine swinging, boomerang sequencing, boulder / block pushing, and the like. These are the types of hands-on endeavours that allow us as gamers to feel a true sense of immersion, and I do feel that this has been somewhat lacking in BOTW.
Another item on my wish list, and one that has already been hinted at during E3 2019, is a move towards a somewhat darker narrative, and more foreboding gameplay. This approach to Zelda played no small role in driving the success of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and there was something just so gripping about such dark and malevolent foes, inhabiting such otherworldly labyrinths, bereft of life and vitality. As we have all seen from the teaser trailer unveiled at Nintendo’s E3 2019 conference, the threat and horror has been turned up a notch or ten, and as far as I’m concerned, this is a welcome development, and an exciting prospect for a darker BOTW II.
My final wish is, quite simply, I want more Rupees! That’s right, look, even a brave and benevolent champion such as myself (or Link) needs to see a return for my (his) efforts, and I do feel that pecuniary reward in BOTW has been somewhat eroded by inflation, per the Mercantile Price Index (yes, I just made that up)!
Don’t get me wrong, the bustling and buoyant market in BOTW allows for the continued exchange of foraged goods for the almighty Hylian Rupee, and there are of course other means such as rewards for favours performed for NPCs, as well as booty prized from treasure chests scattered around Hyrule. That said, however, as with my first gripe, I do feel that more variety is needed in the peripheral quest for riches. More seafaring treasure hauls, more Rupees discarded in the overgrowth, just… more Rupees! This end to austerity would certainly assist first time buyers aspiring to take the first step on the ancient weapon and armour ladder.
All said and done, minor gripes aside, I’m just one big ball of excitement. I will inevitably welcome BOTW II with open arms, ready to accept into the warmest of embraces whatever Nintendo, Eiji Aonuma and Hidemaro Fujibayashi bring to the table with this eagerly anticipated installment. It’s safe to say that with Zelda’s indomitable track record, BOTW II is all but certain to impress and inspire Zelda fans, both old and new. For now, however, I must turn my attention back to completing the current BOTW, leaving no shrine unconquered, no foe undefeated, and no dark Hylian dictator unvanquished – all in time for the BOTW II 2020 release date. Wish me luck!