While The Legend of Zelda games don’t make story or storytelling their central point, the plot in each of these games is an important piece of the overall puzzle- there is a reason that the exploits of the Hero of Time, or Link’s journey with Tetra’s band of pirates, or the fate of the doomed people of Termina or Koholint Island, all remain resonant with so many people. Zelda games manage to tell good stories mostly well, if without ever doing anything special with them.
However, that might be about to change with the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The upcoming title is already slated to be the most open and free form Zelda game ever- but where this kind of openness and free form structure can detract from the focus of the storytelling, according to Zelda producer Aiji Aonuma, Breath of the Wild employs a certain trick that balances the game’s openness with telling an affecting and emotional story.
“We really are focusing on the idea of freedom in this game, but even with all that freedom, there’s a really strong, really tight story that goes along with it,” Aonuma said in an interview on Nintendo Minute. “When you think of a story, it has a beginning and an end, it has a time axis. But if that’s the case, then when players come in at some random point, the story starts to lose cohesion and crumble. But we have a little way to make it all work, but you’ll have to play the game to find out what that is!
“Even though there is a very strong story, you can enjoy it however you want- the game is set up that way,” he added, as if to emphasize that the focus on storytelling will not take away from the game’s much vaunted freedom.
Aonuma also shared that the story is sad, and that the ending may elicit some tears from players. “You will definitely cry, and [especially with regards to Princess Zelda], there will be tears at the end,” he said, though he slyly refused to divulge anymore.
So… what are we looking at here? Zelda dying? Link dying? The possible flooding of Hyrule by the Great Flood as Link fails to actually defeat Calamity Ganon, with the game leading into Wind Waker and its post apocalyptic take on the Zelda mythos? I don’t know anymore, but everything Aonuma said makes me excited. I can’t wait to see where this new Zelda game goes.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild launches on Nintendo Switch and Wii U on March 3 worldwide.