So, The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild is pretty damn awesome.
Its already (rightfully) seen as the new Ocarina of Time and could very well be my and many others favorite game of this generation!
But like all Games I ever played, and all games in general, it is not perfect. Breath of the Wild has flaws, missed potential and opportunities to go further which simply weren’t utilized properly!
While there have been some posts about this and that missing feature or annoyance, there hasnt been any comprehensive collection of things to improve, so, I went ahead and gathered 10 of those for the inevitable Majoras Mask to BotW!
No technical stuff! Better graphics or a more stable framerate or faster loading are obvious points that could be made in similar fashion about pretty much any game. As such they don’t count!
Improvements to existing content, not completely new features! I am going to focus and BotW and how to improve what already is there, not trying to pitch a new Zelda altogether. Every improvement has to be based on something that’s already in the game!
With that out of the way, let’s get started!
Its Dangerous to go alone!
There will be spoilers about locations and parts of the story!
1. Improved UI
BotWs UI is relatively simplistic and pragmatic, especially if you compare it to previous entries in the series. And while it isn’t bad, it could, given what needs to be done, be quite a bit better. Due to the way Items work in BotW you will enter your Inventory a lot. So why do I have to go through every page of ingedients whenever I try to get from weapons to cooked meals? Couldn’t there be a category switch mapped to one pair of shoulder buttons? Currently both pairs switch between menus.
While there are quick-menus for weapons and runes they are far from optimal, showing only a small amount of content and requiring aome finger acrobatics to access. As soon as you get a bigger bag this will become annoying, forcing you to scroll to dozens of weapons to find the one you are seeking. Arranging the Items in a semi-circular fashion, or just using the screen size and showing MORE of them could already help.
Talking about quick-menus we could really use those for cooking and armor, though in case of the latter the option to assign favorites could be even better! That way you don’t have to stumble through several screens every time you enter a new climate/start climbing/go swimming/etc…
And dont even get me started on cooking and eating! Long story short, we need more and better quick-menus in there!
2. An option to regain/repair Items
A LOT of people are irked by the breaking weapons. I am actually quite ok with it and see why they did it (I wont explain it here, better people than me already did that!).
BUT I agree that it can be annoying because it can make you hesitate when it comes to use a really cool weapon: “Will I ever find this weapon again? When? Where? How?”
Being able to register weapons (and being able to Scan for them that way) helps a little, but not much.
While many people seem to want a repair shop, I think that would be a problematic solution, as we would run back to it every two minutes to fix our favorite weapon.
Another option would be a limited number of items that preserve weapons that need to be found first (think Bottles in old entries).
My favorite approach however is a special kind of forging system: You are able to craft every weapon that you registered with your camera prior. This is only possible at a specific forge (Hateno Institute?), costs quite a bit of rupees, and a lot of valuable ressources, similar as to how you craft the ancient weapons.
For a Thunderblade you would e.g. need some Ore, probably a stick for the grip and some electrical components. This way it would be hard to regain a weapon, but, knowing that you can do so whenever you need to, will put a lot of minds to rest! This system could even get similar treatment as the cooking system: adding more and higher quality ingredients could result in a stronger version of the weapon with better durability and special traits! Imagine the magic of the cooking system put into weapon crafting!
3. More armor and more ways to obtain it
While we are at the topic of equipment, lets talk armor! I was incredibly exited when I learned that BotW would feature a lot of armor options. When I started finding my first pieces of armor in the game it got better, just to slowly dissipate: After finding several pieces towards the beginning of the game I looked forward to an increasing stream of interesting armor choices. Instead of said stream I never got more than a slow trickle, nearly drying out at times. The fact that some sets are just buyable is actually worse. I would love to gather the pieces in an interconnected Questline or gather materials for an eccentric Craftsman who promises me a special armor. Instead I may find something in every 100th chest if I am lucky. The rest? Just buy it. There is no need to go all Witcher 3 and bury us under tons of armor we are never going to equip, but at this point the selection feels somewhat shallow. Dont get me wrong, I like that every armor has its on specific use, but again, a little bit of variety could go a long way here. Why cant I have the same armor that some of the other adventurers are wearing? There is nothing wrong with having a few more sets in that are mainly used for, well, armor!
4. More Runes/Rune Upgrades & Physic Shenanigans
The Runes in BotW give room to some crazy experiments, but I think we could go further. New runes could be fun, but I would actually be happy with more upgrades for the existing ones!
The current upgrades mostly improve runes in a direct way, hardly changing their use and function. What if you could unlock alternate versions of those runes?
Bombchuus, Stickybombs, Clustercharges, or Elemental-charges come to mind for the Bomb rune.
Cryonis could simply get new shapes: A wall (Mei from Overwatch?) form to block/control enemies or create longer walkways, or a flat, floating(!) ice sheet to better cross large bodies of water!
Stasis could get an alternate that simply allows to put more than one object in stasis, or link to bodies momentum, in a Domino effect: the Force used on one is also transferred to the other!
Magnesis could gain the ability to magnetize several objects with a positive or negative charge for a certain amount of time!
And those are just the idea I got on top of my head. What about better Octoroc balloons, or more items with specific use like them in general?
Not to mention old Items like the grappling hook! Apart from the obvious combat use, it could introduce some more depth in climbing and gliding in a similar vein as Just Cause!
Bottom line, we want more crazy physics shenanigans Nintendo!
5. The ability to take notes
There is a ton of stuff to discover in BotW, and if you plan to ever finish the game you’ll have to skip some of those things you keep noticing on your travels. And that’s not even talking about things that seem out of reach or too difficult for your current status. One help here are the many map markers that you can set yourself. Instead of cluttering your map like a stock Ubisoft game, BotW leaves it to yourself to decide what you mark. The Problem? After dozens of hours of play you often forget what exactly you marked there. This gets worse when it comes to hints by NPCs. Nearly every NPC has something interesting to say in this game, often helping you to find shrines to complete quests. But if you don’t know what this person is talking about at that moment its easy to forget it. I received some cryptic hint about a scale and a dragon(?) at a random pond I found quite early in the game. When I finally came to the part where this is of importance I wasn’t even sure if this was the actual point of reference because I had forgotten most of the hint by then. I had marked the location on the map, but that didn’t really help me while I was busy on the other side of hyrule.
So, yeah, long story short, give us some kind of notebook, and the ability to link entrys to map markers, quests, and the like. Think of it like a deluxe version of the scribbable dungeon maps in the DS games!
6. Better Swimming & Diving
Despite the laughable amount of freedom in Breath of the Wild, there is one major omission: Link cannot dive anymore, an ability he had in nearly every console Zelda apart from The Wind Waker!
Add to that his pretty limited swimming capabilities, even with (basic) Zora Gear, and you see where my frustrations stem from. I am ok with the Stamina Gauge being used for just about any physical activity in BotW, but the way it limits swimming is still confounding. Its not like there is some kind of gating happening here, where the player is kept from advanced content: With Cryonis and the Rafts everywhere the player can easily cross most water-masses. The problem is that the obvious choice, just swimming, is also the worst due to rapidly shrinking stamina. This can be especially frustrating if you are climbing over water: You get careless, after all the water is gonna break your fall so you’ll take no damage, until the moment you fall, you look at your empty stamina gauge and realize:
You f*cked up!
Swimming shouldn’t consume so much stamina, or maybe the Zora Armor should reduce it to a negligible amount or something similar, and I still haven’t talked about the laughable low speed with which you swim or, again, the fact that there is no diving!
The latter could be due to metal chests being hidden in water that you are supposed to find using magnesis, though my theory is that it just was too much work to get big into underwater areas, items and mechanics after all those delays. Bottomline, I want more watercontent! Put some caves and areas only reachable by diving in there while you are at it. The Witcher 3 used those pretty well, just to give you an idea of what I am thinking about!
Oh, and while we are talking about the Zoras, I have another gripe with them.
7. More Stories and Questlines around the four tribes.
After hours of amazing discoveries the unavoidable happened:
BotW disappointed me for the first time.
Allow me to explain. (Story Spoilers ahead!)
The first Titan I got closer too was the Water Titan in Zoras Domain. Arriving at the village I am flabbergasted: Pretty much everyone here knows me from 100 years ago! With Zoras being able to grow very old, nearly all townspeople had memories of me and treated me like a long lost son. In front of the TV, the real me felt incredibly guilty. Those people thought me dead, and they are so happy to see me, and I don’t even remember their names!
A Guard shared a memory of me teaching him how to swim!
And then he said something else. About the older Zoras, and how they wouldn’t like me being back.
I quickly discovered what he was talking about:
The elders blamed Link for their beloved princess’s death 100 years ago, when the calamity struck. Not knowing how exactly We/I had failed back then, I felt even more guilty.
This conflict among this long-lived people was fascinating due to nearly all of them having experienced those events themselves.
It quickly got serious as the king was pressured by representatives of both factions about what to do with me. The young one wanted to enlist my help in defeating the rogue titan, the elders wanted nothing more than to throw me down the next waterfall, or at least out of the village.
Unfortunately I would need the Elders help, as only they knew from where to procure the Thunder-Arrows that were needed to defeat the Titan.
So how to you pull a bunch of stubborn hard-headed, embittered old Zoras on your side?
Equip a Zora Armor and talk to them again.
That’s literally all it takes.
Here I was expecting a dynamic and complex line of quests, allowing me to learn more about both factions and the Zoras in general, while having me work my best to finally gain their approval! And then its nothing.
The Rito are even more disappointing:
Enter the village, talk to two people, glide somewhere, do a simple bow challenge and boom, of to the titan it is!
Its similar with the Gorons as well!
Only the Gerudo offer slightly more, but with them being my last stop I already had lowered my expectations quite a bit.
If you don’t talk to the village people you could actually miss the facts that the titans only showed up a few days ago, and often were considered some kind of guardian deity by the locals. I cant even say how much missed story potential there is in this one sentence!
Just look at The Witcher 3 for a second. After completing the introduction area you are given three main objectives before the endgame starts: Check out Ciris whereabouts in Velen, Novigrad and Skellige. And while The Witcher guides you with the recommended levels you are free to tackle those in any order. Except that in every location something else is happening as well: The Barons Family woes, Triss and the mages fleeing persecution, and of course who should ascend the throne in Skellige. Those tasks have nothing to do with your search for Ciri, and you are not forced to complete them to finish the Ciri quests. But they give you a fascinating insight in the current situation, the culture, the people and whatnot. Often completing them will award you some aid in your further search for Ciri, give you the possibility to influence the war-torn realms for the (hopefully) better and are simply wonderfully engrossing stories to experience!
No, I did not expect something on this level from BotW, but at least something that goes in this direction! Definitely more than what I ended up getting!
There are already so many interesting Details about the tribes ingrained in the World Narrative or the Side-quests, I cant imagine what they could have done with a proper, bigger pre-titan questline aimed at teaching you more about the current tribe!
8. More Voice-Acting
There was a lot of anticipation for the fact that BotW would finally feature voice acting. Having played the game I can happily say that our fears were unfounded. While not all characters are perfect, the german(!) synchro I experienced was, imho, done quite well. Unfortunately this becomes even more apparent as soon as you realize how little of the game is actually synchronized. Apart from the Memoires there are only a handful of scenes in key areas that feature voice acting, and that as well quickly switches back to the good old textboxes.
We can discuss the issue if Link should talk for as long as you like, but if you have quality voice acting there, please don’t unnecessary hold back on it. Not saying that you should go full Witcher 3 here and synchronize everything and everyone, but if even games like Bravely Default (or Second) have a higher percentage of their dialogue fully voice acted, then you have some work to do!
And about Link: Yes, giving him a voice could make it harder for players to identify as him, but at some point it just gets awkward watching him silently stare into the distance while everyone else is talking. It worked for Kid Icarus Uprising, why shouldn’t it work here?
9. More Minibosses/World bosses
While the regular combat in BotW is nice, there is something else to waking one of those (literally) sleeping giants, only to have new music start, a life-bar appear, and realizing that you are probably about to be reduced to the size and shape of a bloody pancake.
And those are the easy fights, if you want to truly test your mettle you lock horns with a Lynel or face one of several merciless variations of guardians, be it inside or outside a Shrine.
Which also begs the question, WHY those are not classified as bosses with their own big healthbar and battle-theme, but whatever.
I relish in preparing and planning for those encounters, only for something I overlooked to completely mess up my plans and force me to improvise before I am reduced to the aforementioned pancake.
The fights are tense and exhilarating, the enemies follow intelligent patterns, going through several phases and give room for a lot of experimentation.
More variants of this would be very welcome Nintendo!
Also talking about enemiesm those could need a bit more variation as well. Aside from the trash enemies (keese, chu-chus, etc...) you have mostly bokblins, moblins and lizalfos. And yes they all come in several variations but still.
10. Bigger & more challenging Dungeons
First up: I enjoy both the Shrines and the Titans! Both have some nice variation and clever ideas. Unfortunately both also rely on having one major puzzle or variation of puzzle, which leads to intriguing but relatively quick challenges. No Titan took me more than an hour, often far, far less. The puzzles still were interesting, but the Challenge as a whole felt short and simple, and the interior ended up being much smaller and straightforward than I expected.
I want bigger and longer dungeons! Not saying we have to go all the way back to the perfectly structured dungeons with exactly one way to solve them. There are actually two perfect examples of how I could imagine the next Generation of Zelda Dungeons could look like:
First, the obvious one: Hyrule Castle.
The Castle is equally huge and open, giving you countless ways of entering it and fighting all the way through to Calamity Ganon. Additionally there are tons of secret areas and challenges spread throughout the castle. The at least half a dozen different ways to enter the castle are amazing in themselves! Arguably if this would become the new standard of dungeons, it would probably have to be streamlined a little bit, but in general its a good framework. It reminded me of the open nature of some of Skyrims keeps taken to the utmost extreme. (In a very good fashion!)
But theres another possible template:
The Lost Woods and Korok Woods.
Entering this area is a challenge in itself: you have to figure out where you can go to actually reach the center of the forest without being brought back to the starting point. The way this is done, and how the game hints at the solutions is ingenious. If you didn’t notice it: There is actually an old man at the nearby stable that gives an ambiguous hint about Lost woods that helped me solve it! Not going to spoil any more here!^^
Once you are in there is a handful of challenges:
Three Quests leading to Shrines, another Shrine by itself and an additional Quest. (Yes, there are more quests in Korok Woods, but those all involve things from outside, so I am ignoring them for now!)
You have a resting place in the middle of the woods that also shows you the ultimate reward and the freedom to tackle all those tasks in whatever order you prefer. There is also a quick exit to instantly leave, some shops and similar amenities, NPCs that give you helpful hints and fill out the story and whatnot.
I think improving on this could lead to a completely new formula for Zelda Dungeons:
- Locating the Dungeons from the Overworld via suspicious Landmarks.
- First Hurdle: Enter the Dungeon. The Entrance is neither obvious nor unlocked!
- New Addition: Clean out the central Hub: Like in Witcher 3, Enemies likely infest the Central Hub of the Dungeon. Clean them out and you unlock the aforementioned amenities and Information about the Dungeon, your goal in it, and its Story.
- The Paths open up: The different paths and challenges are shown. Some of them may be optional. They all differ in content, from puzzles, over fighting, to completely different challenges.
- The final part opens: After completing all necessary challenges the final part of the dungeon is unlocked. A final gauntlet of puzzles and smaller fights leading up to the climactic boss battle awaits the player, think of a slightly smaller titan for scale.
- Completion: The player has fulfilled the main requirements of the dungeon. He Is free to re-explore any parts of it. Maybe the Shops (if they exist) unlock drops from the enemies in the dungeons as new buyable items?
In a way this kind of dungeon would end up being smaller and carefully micromanaged areas that lie somewhat secluded and separated from the rest of the map, without being completely removed from it. Just like Korok Woods, the Thunder plains, Eventide Island, etc...
We would get a bigger coherent challenge without sacrificing the freedom BotW finally gave us.
The whole Hub-inside-the-Dungeon could easily be made into a storypoint as well: The Dungeons are old towns/fortresses/whatevers that used to belong to the tribes of Hyrule and Link leads the effort to reclaim those lost bastions. Upon securing a foothold his allies set up shop to help him free the rest of it and send out scouts down the different pathways that later give Link the quests and challenges for those parts of the dungeon.
Talking about dungeons, the game could also do with a few more caves and underground areas, but I am starting to get carried away, so let’s end it for now.
So, that’s it! Those are my ten improvements for Zelda BotW or whatever comes next!
What do you think? Feel free to leave any impressions/critique/additions/whatnot in the comments!