Forgotten Traditions in The Legend of Zelda

Breath of the Wild was the dawn of a new era for the Legend of Zelda, and Tears of the Kingdom has carried that torch high and proud. These new Zelda games have moved the franchise forward in many ways away from the linear path defined by dungeons and key items and towards an open-world where you can run, climb and skydive anywhere you want to. Today I want to take a look at some the Zelda traditions Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom have left behind, plus get your thoughts on what you’d like to see next from The Legend of Zelda.

Tears of the Kingdom has been out for a few months now, and Nintendo managed to one-up their previous title, Breath of the Wild, and seemingly do the impossible in creating a better game. While I think Tears of the Kingdom is arguably the better of the two titles, you could say Breath of the Wild is the more important of the two titles, given it was Link and Zelda’s first 3D open world adventure.

While Nintendo is striding forward with their open-world design of the Legend of Zelda, they have also left behind a few traditions of the series. Before we get into that, what do you think of the open-world Zelda, and how does it compared to prevous Zelda titles? Do you prefer it, would you like to see Nintendo go back, or can you not imagine playing a linear Zelda title again? Share your thoughts in the comments. Without further delay, lets get into the Zelda Traditions Nintendo has left behind.

Story beats

In Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom you could go through the whole game without touching the main story beats. In Breath of the Wild you found memories dotted around Hyrule, and Tears of the Kingdom served up the story via the Dragon’s Tears. It felt like Nintendo made the story slightly easier to access in Tears of the Kingdom, perhaps responding to feedback from players. As well as picking up the story in any order and piecing it back together, the story feels much richer and more alive with fully voiced cutscenes.

Green Link

Link’s had a change in fashion. Link’s outfit used to be green throughout his adventure. Sometimes his clothes would change throughout the adventure, like in A Link To The Past, to denote Link getting more powerful. However, now Link has the choice of clothes. His new colour in Breath of the Wild was blue, as the colour of the champions. Nintendo introduced many armor sets and colour dyes, allowing the player to pick and choose their own style for Link. Tears of the Kingdom added many classic Zelda outfits from the history of Zelda franchise, so if you want to don the green tunic, then you can. Personally, I like the blue, with the moden hood and the Hylian Trousers, that’s the look I like to wear in the most recent games.

Traversal

Breath of the Wild’s focus was climbing, you could literally climb any surface, jump off and use your paraglider. This instantly made all other Zelda games, and pretty much any open-world game second best to Breath of the Wild. After experiencing being able to climb any surface, I wanted this for all games. Then Tears of the Kingdom upped the ante once again and allowed us to skydive off anything. This gave us a huge sense of freedom, traveling up to the sky islands, then diving off, to the ground or down into the depths. It’ll be interesting to see where Nintendo takes these traversal mechanics next.

Companions

Link’s journey in Breath of the Wild is pretty much solo, and in Tears of the Kingdom Nintendo did add companions for Dungeons. However, compared to class Zelda adventures like Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker and Skyward Sword, Link is much more alone for his adventures. Fi was particularly chatty in Skyward Sword, but Navi lives long in the memory as a great travelling companion. Companions may have been left out of Breath of the Wild to further reinforce that feeling of a broken, desolate world, corrupted by the Calamity Ganon, but this new era of Zelda adventures Link certainly seems more alone than ever.

Linear progression

Back in classic Zelda adventures like A Link To The Past, Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess, Link sets off on an adventure, beats a series of dungeons, gathers various items and gets stronger as the adventure progresses. In Breath of the Wild, it was entirely possible to leave the Great Plateau and then head straight to Calamity Ganon and beat him. You had to have your wits about you, but some players have run straight to the final boss after the tutorial and completed the game. Nintendo serves up quests and side adventures in both Tears of the Kingdom and Breath of the Wild, but its really up to the player to decide what to do, and in what order. Will we ever go back to something linear like we had in the classic Zelda titles? I don’t think so, but would love to hear what you think.

Musical Instruments

A big part of Zelda’s past has been musical instruments, they have even featured in the titles of some of the best in the series. The Ocarina of Time was featured in the game of the same name, plus in Wind Waker Link uses a Conductor’s Baton. Link is instrument-less in Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom. Kass takes up the musical mantle in Breath of the Wild, the wandering Rito, unfortunately not found in the sequel. The Stable Trotters are found in Tears of the Kingdom, but it looks like magical musical instruments for Link have taken a back seat along side many other Zelda traditions.

Dungeons

Linear dungeons are out, and while we have seen Temples in both Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, there’s much more emphasis on Shrines. We have some classic dungeon design in the Zelda franchise, from a Link To The Past, Ocarina of Time, Twlight Princess and Skyward Sword, there were some incredible dungeons, which many Zelda fans miss. Breath of the Wild had the Divine Beasts, and Tears of the Kingdom has the Wind, Fire, Water and Lightning Temples (plus a secret one too). Shrines are dotted all over Hyrule in both Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, and this is where the majority of puzzling takes place.

Weapon Durability

This one is going to be devisive – that’s weapon durability. Breath of the Wild introduced the weapon durability mechanic, in an effort to promote open world exploration. For such a long time Link had only been using one sword, and a bow and arrow. Now, Link could use any weapon he found, even taking the weapons off his opponents. Tears of the Kingdom carried on this tradition, introducing the fuse mechanic which would alleviate the weapon durability somewhat, even though weapons still would break, you’d at least get some more time out of them.

The Trifoce

One of the biggest changes we’ve seen in the story is the lack of Triforce. In early Zelda games this was one of the reoccuring story beats you could count on. You’d have Link, Zelda and Ganon, and somewhere there you would be gathering the 3 pieces of the Triforce. Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom have done away with the Triforce. While you can see the Triforce in some design elements, it’s not mentioned by name, and in Tears of the Kingdom the powerful items to collect a the Secret Stones rather than the Triforce. Courage, Wisdom and Power are alluded to in Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, with the Zonai worshipping animals that represent them with Dragons for Courage, Owls for Wisdom and Boars for Power.

Nintendo has left many traditions behind. However, I am curious to know what you think about it. Do you miss these traditions, and do you want to see them return in future Zelda adventures? Let us know in the comments below.

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