The developers of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom have discussed how they’re no longer concerned with the older entries in the series in response to a question about whether the franchise will return to the classic formula. This is because Breath of the Wild kicked off an open-world era for the series, where it stepped away from the more linear entries of the past.
The past two mainline Legend of Zelda games were Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, which used the open-world gameplay style. If remakes and spin-offs are ignored, then the last mainline entry to use the classic Zelda style was Tri Force Heroes in 2015, and before that was A Link Between Worlds in 2013. It doesn’t feel like as much time has passed, as Nintendo keeps remaking and remastering old titles and throwing old Legend of Zelda games on Nintendo Switch Online.
Eiji Aonuma Is Looking To Zelda’s Future, Not The Past
Those hoping for a return to the classic Legend of Zelda formula might be in for disappointment. Legend of Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma was interviewed by RTL Nieuws (as translated by Nintendo Everything), where he was asked about a return to the classic formula in the future, especially as Tears of the Kingdom was done.
Aonuma: It’s hard to say anything about the future. That said, thanks to earlier Zeldas, a game like Tears of the Kingdom now exists. This game was born from the ideas we had in the past. We always try to make something that offers more than previous productions. In that respect, we are not really concerned with our old games anymore. We prefer to focus on the future.
This raises many questions about the future of The Legend of Zelda series. The Legend of Zelda series may stick to games with the scope of Tears of the Kingdom in the future, but that involves a ton of work and a lot of time to build for what will eventually be diminishing returns. There is such a thing as open-world exhaustion, where players have grown weary of the Ubisoft style of massive settings with points of interest, and giant Hyrules will only be impressive for so long.
There is still an audience for smaller-scale titles in the same series. Nintendo may have abandoned its mobile ambitions, but there is still plenty of room for first-party Nintendo games that aren’t AAA experiences. When it comes to The Legend of Zelda franchise, Nintendo has been focusing on remaking and remastering its older titles. Still, there is a finite number of them, so there will be chances to make Zelda titles in the classic formula, produced by smaller teams or third-party studios, much like Cadence of Hyrule.
Tears of the Kingdom is an incredible game with a breathtaking degree of scope for exploration and adventure. This doesn’t mean that the post-apocalyptic version of Hyrule that has been devastated by Ganon should be the constant in the future. There is room for many different kinds of Legend of Zelda games in the future, but as the success of the 2D Mario games has proven, there is still a huge audience for the classic entries in the series.