An Open Letter To The Makers Of 'Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2'
Dear Nintendo and the team behind the Legend Of Zelda series,
I'm older now, and while Ocarina of Time's map would probably fail to impress me with fresh eyes, Breath of the Wild's size has managed to scale alongside my age. I think what makes the series so beloved is that when at its best, you provide juuuust enough backstory to make the world feel real, but also enough ambiguity to allow us to project ourselves into the story. The reason Link never speaks isn't that he's shy or because of a tragic oral sex accident. It's because his opinion on a topic would get in the way of our own. You know this, so you focus on enriching the world around Link, and BOTW does that beautifully.
Every pixel feels alive and vibrant. Every random monster encounter or animal encounter feels real. There is no quest (to my knowledge) that requires you to tame and ride a bear. Still, I spent an hour trying to do it anyway because riding a bear is fucking awesome and the game lets me do that which Yellowstone National Park's restraining order has banned me from attempting. I found myself getting lost again and again in BOTW's map. And while there are so many "video game things" that you could nitpick about, like simple combat mechanics or a janky title screen, I think it's that feeling of immersion that left so many publications drowning you in awards.
So, congratulations, Breath of the Wild 2 has been announced ...
... but so has your intention to reuse the BOTW map. This worries me, as by now I have explored every nook and cranny and crystalized shit left from a Goron's anus that the BOTW map has to offer. There is no threat of me getting lost anymore. Perhaps you have realized the potential of this problem and perhaps you are already on your way to working on a solution that doesn't involve a Men In Black-style memory wipe of everyone who loads up your game. But in case you haven't found an answer, then allow me to pitch some suggestions that will help you use this massive and beautiful, yet thoroughly uncovered map, in an entirely brand new way.
Again, this trailer gives me mixed feelings. On the one hand, it's a hook-shot right in the feels as we see Link and Zelda having a little archeology date together. But it's worrisome that the magic they uncover looks exactly like Ganon's magic from BOTW. So if we are destined to fight Ganon again on the same exact map, then we have to make the map feel as original as possible. The first way is to lean on the time travel elements that your series has become so famous for. Have us jump 100 years back into the past before "the Great Calamity" and let us see the ruins that litter the current map be rebuilt. If Breath of the Wild was about serenity and wilderness, then let Breath of The Wild 2 be about bustling cityscapes. Imagine, Link riding his horse along the busy streets as he nearly crashes into a teleporting Sheikah assassin. "Hey, I'm appearin' outta thin air ovah here." You could even travel back further in time and have entire landmasses change. Maybe Link climbs glaciers on his way to battle Dinosaur Ganon. Maybe Link fights a meteor.
However, you could be weary of leaning so heavily on Time Travel. The Zelda continuity is already convoluted enough to give Doc Brown an aneurysm. So maybe what you can do is take the series underground. It already looks like that can be the direction you're headed in as, in the trailer above, Link and Zelda stumble upon some type of evil magic in an underground cavern. The worry here is that while the open expanse of the above-ground world offers limitless varieties or terrain, like snowy mountains, sandy beaches, etc., the underground world pretty much just offers dirt, ruins, and bat poop. But I think there are also ways to offset that. The world can be flipped, like how Stranger Things uses "the-upside-down," or it can even be something basic like an ancient civilization thriving below the surface.
Whatever you choose to do, I hope you can maintain the same sense of scope you did for Breath Of The Wild and Ocarina of Time. I don't think the map is the be-all and end-all. For example, who could discount the boners my seven-year-old self got as I watched the weird sexual chemistry between Link and the bratty, humanoid fish-person, Princess Ruto from Ocarina of Time? Certainly, not my therapist, but I think that's all part of the gaming experience. So, best of luck to you, Nintendo, because sometimes recreating a world can be tougher than creating a new one.
Top Image: Nintendo