Six years after The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, its direct sequel, Tears of the Kingdom is finally in the hands of Switch owners. So obviously there’s no better time to start asking about the future of the series, and we’ve already gotten our first official tease for, what should we call it? TotK 2? BotW 3? Zelda 16?
The smallest inkling of Nintendo’s next Zelda comes from a flurry of new interviews published today with director Hidemaro Fujibayashi and producer Eiji Aonuma. “Oh — and it seems likely that Fujibayashi already has plans for the next Zelda game — though he hasn’t even told Aonuma about it yet,” tweeted Zachary Small, a contributor at The New York Times who recently spoke to both developers.
While it’s not a surprise that Nintendo will continue working on one of its most popular franchises ever, it is unusual to see a nod to the series’ future so soon on the heels of Tears of the Kingdom’s arrival. The next game will no doubt arrive on Nintendo’s next console — possibly a Switch Pro or Switch 2 — currently slated to arrive no earlier than April 2024. And what could we expect from the next game? While not even Aonuma knows, apparently, there were a few interesting quotes from the duo’s recent press tour to get fans speculating.
What will the next Legend of Zelda be about?
Will Ganondorf continue to evolve, and potentially even become playable at some point? “It’s very possible from here on out that we will be able to see further character development and changes to his personality as the series continues,” Aonuma told The New York Times. “Ganondorf is an ingredient that we use to supplement gameplay.”
What about Zelda? Fans have given up hope that the female protagonist will ever take on a more central and empowered role in a mainline entry. Could she finally take the spotlight in a new game? “We feel like what takes most priority is this idea of gameplay,” Aonuma told Vanity Fair. “If it turns out that the particular gameplay we’re trying to bring to fruition would be best served by having Zelda take that role, then it’s possible that that could be a direction we could take. With that said, of course, because we are not sure what the next gameplay experience is going to be, we can’t say what Zelda’s next step is going to be.”
Some players have also been divided over the open world pivot that occurred with Breath of the Wild. Tears of the Kingdom doubles down on that turn, making the explorable space even bigger, and introducing tons of open-ended abilities that incentivise experimentation, unlike in previous games where complex dungeons had carefully calibrated solutions.
“When thinking of games in the past that we’ve worked on, where there was a puzzle to solve and only one answer, that’s kind of the past way of developing games,” Aonuma told Game Informer. “Now, I’m happy that we’ve arrived at this method where we’re giving people lots of options, and there are many answers to a single problem, and all of them can potentially be correct. I feel happy that we’ve arrived at this type of development style.”
It certainly sounds like the team would be content to continue building off of that style of gameplay rather than revert back to the more linear, structured adventures of Ocarina of Time or Skyward Sword. Or maybe not. One of the most interesting comments Aonuma made had to do with how design ideas that get abandoned in one game can still come back in another.
“This is something I think Mr. Miyamoto has said in the past, but when you have an idea and try to make it work, and it doesn’t work out, you don’t give up on that idea,” he told Game Informer. “Instead, just wait for the right opportunity to arrive. Those ideas – and I think this is true of our developers – stick around in their heads; they keep them with them as they continue in their work. When those things pile up, and the right opportunity presents itself, we find the opportunity to implement those ideas.”
So what ideas have been piling up after completing work on Tears of the Kingdom? Neither Aonuma nor Fujibayashi are saying. ”I have a few in mind, but I’m not sure if I can share them here,” the latter told Polygon when asked. “I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise for people.” Aonuma didn’t budge either. “Yeah, no, that would cause trouble for me,” he said. “So please don’t.”
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