The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been deservedly praised for everything it accomplished, but it wasn’t perfect. Its sequel could improve on the few issues that players had, but we haven’t seen a peep from the game since its reveal at E3 2019 and select details from Nintendo interviews. As a result, Nintendo has left us with a lot to speculate on (and grasping at rumors) when it comes to one of its most anticipated games. Meanwhile, the recently released Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity has done a good job in providing a fun new experience to tide Zelda fans over. As a Musou game and a prequel to Breath of the Wild, Age of Calamity is trying some new ideas that set itself apart from its siblings. Could the Breath of the Wild sequel learn anything from Age of Calamity?
Bring back tighter narrative focus.
Breath of the Wild took a hands-off approach to its storytelling for understandable reasons. Cinematics were minimal and mostly relegated to the optional memory sequences, meaning that the story wouldn’t get in the way of player freedom unless they wanted to actively seek it out. While many enjoyed this approach, it’s a far cry from the heavy story focus that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword had, for example. With cinematics that bookend each story mission, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity has a lot of lore to chew on, and it’s exactly what many fans wanted after Breath of the Wild’s approach.
The few snippets we’ve seen of the Breath of the Wild sequel already hint at interesting plot points such as the potential return of Ganon and a story focused on both Link and Zelda adventuring together through an underground Hyrule. With a greater emphasis on voice-acted cutscenes, set pieces, and character moments that build upon what we already know from Breath of the Wild, a Breath of the Wild sequel with a well-directed story could be just the ticket to set it apart from its predecessors.
Bring back… music.
Now, this isn’t to say that the music in Breath of the Wild was poor by any means. The small piano notes and quiet themes that accompany you on your journey suited the game perfectly, giving way to more traditional themes in towns. However, if the Breath of the Wild sequel is aiming for a slightly more action-heavy tone, then it’ll need a different approach to music to accompany that. Whether they’re remixes of Zelda themes or original tracks, the battle music in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is decidedly more upbeat and high-energy. It’s just the kind of backing track you’d want while taking on hordes of enemies, and it could have a use in the Breath of the Wild sequel too.
New arrangements could be introduced for each character, giving them all a distinct tone when they appear on screen. Darker-sounding overtones could add tension to combat with Ganon’s minions when the stakes have never been higher, and perhaps Breath of the Wild’s ambient themes could break up the tension while giving players a sense of nostalgia and familiarity with this version of Hyrule. The Zelda series is known for fantastic soundtracks, and with the right mixture of the somber tones from Breath of the Wild and the high-energy tracks of Age of Calamity, the Breath of the Wild sequel could create something entirely unique.
Let us play as Zelda.
As a Musou game, Age of Calamity naturally has a wealth of playable characters to choose from. This isn’t anything unique for a game of this genre, but by comparison, it’s rare for a mainline Zelda game to give the player control to anyone not named Link. As a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild, we know that the same Link and Zelda will be on some kind of journey together. Is there a possibility that we could play as the princess herself in the sequel? Having the option to play as Zelda could be a great way to add both gameplay variety and potential cooperative play to the game. If both are switchable during gameplay, then it could open the doors for new ways to design both puzzles and combat encounters.
With a different set of abilities, Zelda may be able to solve puzzles that Link can’t or provide some unique attacks based on her knowledge of runes in combat. Much like in Age of Calamity, you may only be able to control one character at a time, but maybe you could command the other character to specific positions. As a pair, they could also use team-based moves such as helping each other to platform through the land with ropes or deflecting one of Zelda’s runes off of Link’s shield for a special move. Whether she’s a character all her own or implemented in cooperative gameplay, the addition of an alternative playable character would be one of the most interesting new mechanics the series has ever seen.
Consider some light combat combos.
There isn’t much wrong with how combat works in Breath of the Wild. It isn’t a character-focused action game like Devil May Cry, so it naturally focused on simple mechanics that could be combined with player creativity based on the physics of that game world. That said, Age of Calamity has shown how it can feel to wield excessively powerful attacks in a Zelda setting, and it may be jarring to be mechanically restricted once again once the Breath of the Wild sequel is finally upon us. While not to the same extent, some added combo attacks could add a lot to the Breath of the Wild sequel.
Granting Link select combos to deal with different enemy types would add extra variety to combat while also letting the player feel more powerful with the legendary Master Sword. Combos that let Link get airborne could help to deal with flying enemies, while shield surfing could be used to get some good damage in on a larger foe. If Zelda is playable, rune abilities could be tweaked and expanded upon to various effects to introduce even more creativity than what was already offered in Breath of the Wild.
Offer weapon repair and upgrade.
Weapons and their durability were a hot topic for many fans of Breath of the Wild. Some were fine with the system, but others lamented the fact that all weapons broke sooner than later. In Age of Calamity, weapons don’t break and can also be fused with other weapons to improve their stats. Taking a page from this, could the Breath of the Wild sequel implement a new system that ends up being the best of both worlds? Weapons could still have a durability factor, but with expanded options to repair or fuse them for a hefty chunk of rupees, this issue could be sidestepped.
This way, getting duplicates of the same weapon would also be more rewarding for players, as it could let them fuse said weapons into something stronger rather than just discarding a duplicate weapon to save inventory space. Players that enjoy the difficulties of improvising with less durable weapons could still play the game like that, while other players who get attached to specific weapons could spend their resources to keep them around for longer.
How do you want the Breath of the Wild sequel to learn from Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity?