One of Nintendo’s last 2017 announcements was that it had already begun work on the successor to its biggest game — and Twinfinite’s GOTY — of the year. Breath of the Wild’s follow-up is surely years away from release, so Nintendo isn’t sharing too many details about it yet, but Producer Eiji Aonuma has shared his thoughts on linearity versus the freedom to explore.
IGN recently asked Aonuma if the abundance of videos showcasing just how inventive and wild players got with the sandbox that is Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule will impact Nintendo’s approach with future Zelda games. Breath of the Wild itself was praised for taking inspiration from franchises like The Elder Scrolls, The Witcher, and Assassin’s Creed and setting a new standard for open-world games. Will Nintendo push that standard even further with the next Zelda game or return to past 3D Zelda games’ more linear progression models?
“You know, I can’t speak to what other people, other companies will do in their own games,” said Aonuma, “but I think for me, especially just in terms of the Zelda series, the incredible freedom that this game offers you and how well that’s been received…to me, it means that freedom, that level of freedom is something that needs to be maintained in Zelda games going forward. My eyes have been opened to how important that is.”
But for Aonuma, giving players the freedom to seek out creative and/or intentionally difficult solutions doesn’t mean completely eliminating straightforward gameplay options. The producer added that Nintendo wanted to make sure players always understood what the challenges they faced in Breath of the Wild were.
Many Breath of the Wild players quickly found puzzle solutions that were so easy they bordered on stupid and seeming like “cheats.” But it seems Nintendo intentionally allowed for this while also giving entrepreneuring players plenty of Rube Goldberg-esque options. Whatever follows Breath of the Wild will apparently feature more of this same Nintendo brand of freedom.