I am excited. I am ecstatic, you could say. I adore The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It has the highest score of any game I have reviewed, and I can't think of many games I haven't reviewed that are better. It is a once in a generation, landmark title. Until the sequel releases, of course.
So how could I not be excited? The small teaser that showed us hints of what to expect from the next big Zelda game is made for fans like me. Laser focused. Seeing a corpsey Ganon dangling in a dank tomb - I live for it. But I am worried about this game.
Breath of the Wild was a once in a generation game, and by doing it twice, they very well might be making a massive mistake. And that's because Zelda head-honcho Eiji Aonuma told us that the game will take place in the same Hyrule.
The same old world
Let's be clear. The Hyrule created for Breath of the Wild is incredible. It is a character in its own right. It is meticulously designed, and traversing it remains exciting and engrossing until you finally run out of land to explore.
Each vantage point in Hyrule is made so you can see points of interest off in the distance, and mountains give you the ability to understand your place in the world without ever needing to look at the map. After all, the thing you'll spend most of your time doing in Breath of the Wild is exploring and traversing Hyrule, so it has to be good.
But that's exactly it. We have traversed this Hyrule. It was wonderful, it was unforgettable, and another Zelda game isn't going to have the same kind of impact if it reuses that same world.
Now, let's be fair. A whole new Zelda game is likely going to make big changes to Hyrule. New areas will surely open up, new dungeons, new collectibles, a whole host of new things. This is an all new game, after all.
But if the world remains the same, then traversing it isn't going to be anywhere near as engaging or thrilling as the first time. It'll feel the same as Breath of the Wild does to me now, after well over 100 hours of play. Somewhat tedious.
They could potentially salvage this. New ways to traverse the world, for example, other than the simple glider, shield surfing, and Zora suit. The motorbike was a fun addition to Breath of the Wild, but just throwing that in here by default won't really cut it.
If they let you skip through the world too quickly, it begs the question of what is the point of it being there. But if they force you to slowly move your way through the same Hyrule all over again, this is going to get tedious fast.
The only real solution, in my mind, is a new area. It could be connected to Hyrule loosely, somehow, via a bridge, and you could hop over there and there's an expansive landmass. It would need to be at least a third of the size of Hyrule, and it would need to be densely packed with interesting things.
But instead, I think Nintendo will take another route. It's obvious what it is, because they've done it dozens of times before, and that dark magic in that Gerudo tomb is very telling. Oh yes, it's going to be a dark world.
It's perfect. A reuse of the map of Hyrule, but from a completely new perspective, with new towns, twisted inhabitants, and much more. A Link to the Past had a full dark world, and so did A Link Between Worlds. Not to mention the dark world in Twilight Princess. This has precedent, and would make reusing the same Hyrule much more fascinating.
This is what Nintendo needs to do, or rather, what they must be doing. To simply reuse the same Hyrule from Breath of the Wild makes no sense. Aonuma and his understand how important the feeling of exploration was the Breath of the Wild, and forcing players to retread it would ruin it. But this is how they can revitalise that experience.
In truth, we're unlikely to find out what's really happening with Breath of the Wild's sequel for a while, but believe me, this game needs more of a world to it than the same Hyrule more than anything, and Nintendo knows that. Surely. Probably. I hope.