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Classic Zelda Mechanics That Should Return in the Next Game

The Legend of Zelda franchise history

Classic Zelda Mechanics That Should Return in the Next Game

For all the praise and adoration heaped on both Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, the new open-world format for The Legend of Zelda isn’t without its detractors. Sure, both games are massive sales successes and surefire Game of the Year contenders, but there’s something to be said about how their changes and updates to the core Zelda formula continually move the franchise away from what longtime fans have come to expect. For those of us who grew up playing the 1987 original, the new Zelda games are phenomenal but there are plenty of older series staples we’d like to see return.

Series producer Eiji Aonuma has gone on record saying that fans can expect more open-world Zelda titles in the future. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given that Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom account for nearly half of the entire series‘ lifetime sales. Still, there’s always room for improvement, and if the next Zelda is indeed more of what fans experienced in BotW and TotK, there are some key mechanics from “classic” Zelda that should make a return.

The Hookshot

The Legend of Zelda hookshot

First up on the list is the iconic Hookshot. Making its first appearance in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on SNES, this handy tool has since gone on to feature in some form in nearly every subsequent game until Breath of the Wild. Not only is the Hookshot valuable for getting across large gaps and reaching hard-to-find treasure chests, but it’s also a great weapon in a pinch. With the key item having been a part of the franchise for nearly two decades, there’s definitely a feeling that something’s missing without it present in the newer games.

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Considering that a sequel to BotW and TotK will likely feature an open-world, it’s possible that a new Hookshot could completely transform gameplay and become a must-have implement to use in traversal. Just imagine — instead of needing to use Link’s hang glider or climb up a rock face, players could instead bring out their trusty Hookshot and zip right up to the top of a cliff or cross a chasm. Rather than breaking the open-world traversal and simplifying the adventure, the Hookshot could become yet another tool in Link’s open-world arsenal to give players choice in how they craft their adventure.

Permanent Weapons

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Master Sword

Perhaps one of the biggest gripes about both BotW and TotK is each game’s reliance on destructible weapons. Rather than have Link find permanent equipment that stays with him throughout the adventure, weapons have limited durability and break after a few uses. Tears of the Kingdom somewhat addresses most of the complaints surrounding weapon durability by increasing the amount of time weapons are viable and implementing the new Fuse ability, but permanent weapons and items should make a comeback.

There are few feelings as satisfying as fulfilling the requirements in a Zelda game to unlock the Master Sword, which is why the weapon’s appearance in the latest Zelda games is somewhat disappointing. Players can simply acquire the Master Sword at any time, providing they have enough hearts, and even then it only lasts for a short time before needing to recharge. The next game in the series should bring back permanent items not only to enhance the value of the Master Sword, but to make every item feel like the reward they’re supposed to.

Upgradeable Weapons and Equipment

A Link to the Past tempered sword

To piggyback off of the suggestion for permanent items and weapons in the next Zelda title, these same items and weapons should also be upgradeable. From the very first game in the series, players had a set of key weapons and items they could expect to upgrade throughout the course of the adventure. These were, of course, Link’s sword, shield, tunic, arrows, and boomerang. This tradition carries over through several titles in the series, but somewhere along the way the developers decided to jettison the idea.

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The next game in the series should reintroduce the ability to permanently upgrade certain items at key points in the adventure. Tears of the Kingdom does allow players to “upgrade” equipment by fusing it with certain items and both of the open-world Zelda games allow players to upgrade armor sets at Great Fairy fountains, but what would be more interesting in a future title would be the ability to bring older items back into the rotation after they receive a substantial boost. Not only that, the quests that could surround these upgrades could take players through some challenging requirements and see them learn more about the item’s lore.

Bomb Types and Bomb Bag

Legend of Zelda bomb bag

Sure, Breath of the Wild gave players the bomb ability and Tears of the Kingdom brings back the bomb flower, but whatever happened to the Bomb Bag? This key item has been a staple of the Zelda series since Ocarina of Time, appearing in nearly every game that came after. It’s almost expected that a Zelda game will feature some quest involving the Gorons in which Link first acquires the Bomb Bag and then puts his new tool to use immediately afterwards by blowing up some rocks inside of Death Mountain. Disposable bombs should make a comeback!

One way a future title could reintroduce the Bomb Bag while still retaining the improvements to the gameplay from BotW and TotK would be to allow players to craft their own types of bombs and upgrade and improve their Bomb Bag. At this point, crafting has become just as much a part of the Zelda series as the Master Sword, and instead of needing to scavenge the environment for explosives, players should be able to make and store their own.

Skyward Sword’s Whip

Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword whip

If the Hookshot makes a comeback in a new Zelda game, it only makes sense that the Whip should too. First introduced in Spirit Tracks, the more iconic version of this versatile tool comes to fans via The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. In Skyward Sword, the whip was a great means to swing across gaps but also has utility in boss encounters, being used to rip armor off of foes or even monster parts off of regular enemies for use in crafting elixirs.

Similar to how the Hookshot could feature renewed utility in the next open-world Zelda, the reintroduction of the Whip would make a great traversal and combat option to add to Link’s arsenal. Using the whip to grapple onto trees or other objects in the environment could greatly expand how Link moves around Hyrule. Further, being able to use the whip to temporarily stun enemies by stripping their armor off could make for some fun and dynamic encounters.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess artwork

Sadly, Wolf Link did not make a reappearance in Tears of the Kingdom despite his amiibo-enabled cameo in Breath of the Wild. Twilight Princess holds a special place in many Zelda fans’ hearts thanks to its unique mechanic of seeing Link transform into a wolf, and it’s a shame that no other Zelda title allows Link to assume the form of an animal (despite some armor sets in BotW and TotK that emulate as much). To help the next open-world Zelda title stand out, maybe it’s time to bring back Link’s lupine form.

Both of the open-world games in the series feature the Blood Moon mechanic, where at certain times during the day/night cycle a red moon appears and causes foes to rise from the dead and makes living ones more aggressive. This is one of the best wrinkles in the moment-to-moment gameplay of both titles, and the next game could take things one step further by having Link undergo a werewolf-like transformation into his wolf form during the Blood Moon.

Intricate Dungeons with Puzzle-Like Bosses

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Skyview Temple

Right at the top of the list is a series staple that, thankfully, has returned somewhat in Tears of the Kingdom. Since the very first Legend of Zelda, intricate, maze-like dungeons have been a cornerstone of each adventure. In fact, every Zelda game until Breath of the Wild features a formula that’s familiar to every longtime fan: Link needs to enter several dungeons, each of which are intricately laid-out structures with a compass to detect the boss, a map to reveal the dungeon’s layout, a Big Key to unlock the dungeon’s treasure and the boss’ arena, and a final boss that acts as its own puzzle-like encounter to cap off the experience.

While Tears of the Kingdom brings these dungeons back after an unexpected absence in BotW, they’re not quite to the same degree of complexity and length as one would expect given previous series entries. For all of the issues people had with Skyward Sword, its dungeons are perhaps the pinnacle of the series, and faithfully see the template that Ocarina of Time started come to fruition. The next game in the series should greatly decrease the amount of available shrines in favor of providing fans with these carefully crafted and intricately curated adventures.

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