Linear Zelda games may not return, Aonuma reiterates focus on freedom and choice


Classic old-school Zelda games may become just a link to the past as Nintendo focuses instead on freedom, choice, and player agency.

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It sounds like the open-world formula in Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom will now be the standard for future Zelda games. In a recent interview with IGN, the Legend of Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma indicates that linear and restrictive games with a set progression path are relics of the past.

“So I am in complete agreement with what Mr. Fujibayashi said in that games where you need to follow a specific set of steps or complete tasks in a very set order are kind of the games of the past,” Aonuma told IGN’s Kat Bailey.

“…The games of today are ones in which that can accept a player’s own decisions and give them the freedom to flexibly proceed through the game, and the game will allow for that. I’m in complete agreement with that as our design philosophy.”

Traditional Zelda games require users to complete dungeons and collect items in order before proceeding, but with the advent of Breath of the Wild, the series opened up dramatically and allowed for almost total player choice. This design led to some of the best games ever made.

The new formula is also massively commercial successful as both Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom have now sold over 50 million copies combined.

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Aonuma goes on to say that he understands the rose-tinted nostalgia for games of old, but gamers can still adhere to a more centralized approach to the newer games:

“I do think we as people have a tendency to want the thing that we don’t currently have, and there’s a bit of a grass is greener mentality.

“But I also think that with the freedom players have in the more recent games in the series…there still is a set path, it just happens to be the path that they chose. So I think that that is one thing I kind of like to remind myself about the current games that we’re making.”

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