The next entry in The Legend of Zelda series must venture outside Hyrule if it hopes to outdo Tears of the Kingdom. This is because the series needs a change of scenery, similar to what earlier entries did.
While Hyrule has been the setting in most Legend of Zelda games, there have been a few other locations that have been featured. These include the lands of Termina in Majora’s Mask, Holodrum in Oracle of Seasons, Labrynna in Oracle of Ages, and Hytopia in Tri-Force Heroes. There is also Koholint Island from Link’s Awakening, though that only exists in Link’s mind.
The Incredible Scope Of Hyrule Has Been Shown Twice In BOTW & TOTK
Breath of the Wild was the first open-world entry in The Legend of Zelda series, and it’s fair to say that it has one of the most incredible settings in any video game ever made. This Hyrule is so grand in scale and filled with secrets that players could spend hundreds of hours there and never uncover all of its mysteries. It’s the kind of experience I wish that Ocarina of Time had given me as a kid, though hardware restrictions made that impossible.
Then came Tears of the Kingdom, which improved upon Hyrule, introducing the floating sky islands and the dark caverns of The Depths. This game also lets you create vehicles, allowing players to explore this grand world at their own pace, be it with a car, motorcycle, or even a plane. The grand scale is why Tears of the Kingdom is a strong contender for 2023’s Game of the Year award at many outlets.
There’s also Age of Calamity to consider, and while this game didn’t have an expansive open world, it did show Hyrule at war in a way that had never been visualized before, even in its predecessor. This Musuo game had its own epic take on Hyrule, different from what Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom accomplished, yet no less stunning.
The Next Zelda Game Needs To Step Away From Hyrule For A While
The future direction of The Legend of Zelda series is unclear, though the developers have expressed a desire to make more open-world titles. For this to work, the series must move away from Hyrule for a while and try something new.
For one thing, the Hyrule shown in Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom is going to be incredibly difficult to top. Even a visual quality bump from the next Nintendo console isn’t going to be enough, as fans will endlessly compare it to the scale and depth of the Hyrule seen in the past few games.
A new setting could be ideal if the next entry in The Legend of Zelda series wants to stand out. A new land with its own aesthetic and villains will help future titles find their identity and prevent them from being compared to their predecessors.
What Kind Of Setting Should The Next Legend Of Zelda Use?
The only question left is, what form would this new land take? Majora’s Mask proved that a darker, moodier world can be incredibly popular with the fans, and this aesthetic would help set it apart from Hyrule. While Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom’s Hyrule had a desperate atmosphere, it was also a beautiful and scenic place. A darker land with more structures, like Termina, could be the natural evolution for the next game.
The Legend of Zelda series could also try something new, such as a steampunk or Victorian aesthetic. While Nintendo is unlikely to recreate Yharnam for its next game, it could maybe show a more advanced country, one with familiar Legend of Zelda trappings in a new flavor.
The next Legend of Zelda could even be something a bit more futuristic, with Link displaced in a more high-tech land. Different versions of Link have been known to travel through time, so this could provide the concept for the game without the developers setting a concrete point on the timeline. In this world, we could see the modern version of Princess Zelda and an even more monstrous Ganondorf, who still hasn’t succeeded in his goal.
A new Legend of Zelda game could also go for something inspired by a different culture. It’s shocking that we haven’t seen an ancient Japan-inspired Legend of Zelda game, so a samurai version of Link with visuals reminiscent of Okami could make for a gorgeous game.
It’s entirely possible that the next Legend of Zelda game will continue the trend of the previous two games and return to Hyrule. As the lower (but still impressive) sales of Tears of the Kingdom have proven, there are diminishing returns for going back to the well too often, and if the series wants to continue wowing fans, then a change of scenery is in order.