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The future of Zelda has to be multiplayer

John Vekinis is looking forward to Zelda Wii U challenging conventions. Are you?

There isn't much wrong with Zelda. Certainly not in the critics eyes. Just look at the review scores for games such as Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. ONM gave Twilight Princess 97%, calling it a monumental slice of classic Nintendo that will be remembered for decades to come. Skyward Sword fared even better with ONM declaring that it is the pinnacle of the series.

ONM weren't alone - Games Radar and CVG awarded Twilight Princess full marks while Edge gave Skyward Sword a big fat 10, one of only 14 perfect scores the magazine have handed out in their history.

Yet Eiji Aonuma's not happy. To be honest, he rarely is. Back in 2009, before Ocarina Of Time had been remade before 3DS, the Zelda producer claimed that his N64 masterpiece wasn't that good. Now he wants to change things completely for Zelda Wii U and make a game that rethinks the conventions of Zelda.

He said: "Our mission in developing this new Zelda game for Wii U is quite plainly to re-think the conventions of Zelda. I'm referring to the expectation that the player is supposed to complete dungeons in a certain order, or that you're supposed to play by yourself. The things we've come to take for granted recently.

"We want to set aside these conventions, get back to basics and create a newborn Zelda so that the players can best enjoy the real essence of the franchise."

But given that the Zelda series is so popular with the fans and has been so criticially acclaimed, does it need to change?

Completing dungeons in a different order

Click to view larger image
Well, let's begin with the idea of not completing dungeons in a certain order.

The idea of nonlinear dungeon progression seems like something a bit out of the box for a Zelda game, but as well as talking about challenging coventions, Aonuma did also mention getting back to basics. Remember that the original Legend Of Zelda game didn't direct you to completing certain dungeons in order and although some were more difficult than others and some can only be completed using items gained in a previous dungeon, you could attempt to complete them in any order.

I recall Skyward Sword being hyped up to have an overhauled dungeon mechanic but it just turned out to be form of backtracking. I hope Aonuma is thinking about letting the players choose which temple they want to go to next instead of forcing them to go in a certain direction due to lack of equipment or the story pushing you down a set path.

It would certainly be more in line with modern gaming trends where nonlinearity, choosing your own fate and open world elements are popular. If it does follow this path, the good news for Zelda is that fantasy has never been more popular than it is now.

In a world where Call Of Duty and FIFA rule, it is amazing that a game like Skyrim can sell more than 10 million copies and despite being released in 2011, was one of the top 10 best selling games in the UK in 2012. Skyward Sword was only released on one platform but it has sold 3.52 million worldwide. Maybe that's why the developers want to challenge conventions.

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26 comments so far...
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  1. Slinkington Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 12:59

    Geez, the multiplayer in Phantom Hourglass/Spirit Tracks(?) was basic and over all an OK experience. Did get boring fairly quickly. Four Swords was entertaining for a while too, but it doesn't have lasting appeal.

    Multiplayer in Zelda could work well if executed correctly, but honestly it's just one of those games that doesn't need it at all! Not every game needs multiplayer, it's like how the multiplayer in Tomb Raider makes it looks like a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT GAME.

  2. Komodo_Wolfgang Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 13:05

    If Im honest, Im really dubious about it. The mixing up dungeons thing could be ok. But Im VERY unsure about making it multiplayer...

  3. MartinIsAwesome Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 13:08

    I still think that people are over-thinking this idea of "multiplayer". Aonuma merely said that they would be challanging the convention that you have to play alone. With Miiverse, haven't you got a whole world of fellow gamers at your fingertips? What if, like in Zombi U, players could use posts on a special community in Miiverse as a way of writing a hidden message on, say, the back of a sign which is presented in-game as documentation by previous unnamed adventurers. Hints and tips from other players that you can choose to locate in your game could certainly qualify as not playing alone.
    Or maybe I'm the one that's over-thinking it.

  4. King Slazo Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 13:10

    Multiplayer isn't the way foward. I'm not saying Four Swords or the multiplayer in the DS games was bad, but there's a reason nobody talks about those elements thesedays.

    When I buy a Mario platformer, it wasn't for multiplayer. When I pick up a Metroid game, its not for multiplayer. And by the same logic, when getting the latest Zelda title, its not so I can play against people.

    Nintendo does have multiplayer franchises. Smash Bros, Mario Kart, Pokémon. But Zelda ain't one of them.

  5. Laughlyn Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 13:14

    The main quest of zelda does in no way need multiplayer. Zeldas mechanic is what makes it Zelda, yeah you complete 3 dungeons to get the master sword, then a bunch more to get to gannon its how its been for 25yrs. Unless they gonna make a Zelda MMO then its great as it is, Look at Elder Scrolls games, not one ounce of multiplayer, maybe nintendo look at making Zelda a bit more like that, yeah there is a main quest with set dungeons but you can go do other quests for other factions in order to get enhanced techniques for weapons. goto the Knights School to learn sword attacks, goto a desert tribe to learn various techniques with the boomerang, archery school for new arrows ect. Tacking on a multiplayer in Zelda will just cheapen it, its great for handhelds but for the main console just keep it as it is, its kept the series going for 25 years whereas many many other games series crumble and become stale after just a few iterations

  6. BIGBUTTER Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 13:27

    Zelda Multiplayer is a NO!!! The games are amazing at it is.

  7. SilentDark Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 13:47

    How about instead of one teenage/pre teen boy saving the world having an actual battle party you could then impliment a drop-in multiplayer element where other players could come in at any time to join you on your adventure or you could, if you desired, play the whole thing alone using AI bots as your team mates. Link would still be the narative focus, so important elements such as gaining the master sword could still be in place but he would have friends and allies who instead of just standing at the sidelines offering advice or pointing you in the direction of the next plot device would join you in your quest.

  8. KH81314 Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 13:51

    So far Zelda hasn't been able to pull of multiplayer but maybe thay could do somthing with the Gamepad.

  9. toffeeman30 Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 13:55

    just hope they treat the franchise with respect and energy

  10. NintendoForLife Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 14:44

    I hate games that appear to be open ended because none of them actually are. They pretend that your "choices" determines the outcomes but it is still pre determined by the game what the set outcome will be, even if there are multiple choices. This means they are still linear and it's not like real life were there are unlimited decisions leading to many different outcomes. Also if there are multiple ending how can a sequel be made? The worst thing thing in games like Skyrim is the character creation portion. It's lazy development if they can't create a character that is memorable, interesting and likeable. If you create the character they have no personality and everyone looks different and there is a risk that you will not like your creation later. Imaging if Mario had that instead, it would be sooo much less interesting. Again how can you have a sequel without a main character? It doesn't add anything that a generic looking character is your creation, it doesn't make it you. i know people that don't want to play a game if they don't agree with their "ideals" but I think "Come on it's a game, you playing to complete objectives set by the game not the character." Also main characters don't usually talk but that doesn't mean character creation is needed.

    I like Zelda because you play as Link, who doesn't talk and it doesn't pretend there are unlimited outcomes or paths to take when they are not. It's linear and that's fine. Games for the most part have been linear, now cause of new tech people suddenly want "choice." Visiting dungeons in any order could be good (where would difficulty curve?) but anything else could be deadly. Change in this case could be very very bad. Zelda is Zelda and that's why it is good. I especially don't want to see a "Hero" type element from the Fable where other players can join your world. It could stop things being "stale" but ther is room for improvement without game changers.

  11. Herbert_Rarr Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 15:38

    I think a multiplayer section or option would be a good idea to add to the game. But it shouldn't go so far as being essential, or change the game significantly. Keep the same single player story, then maybe have a sort of arena match or a race mode on the side, like the battle courses in Mario Kart - they weren't a main part of the game, but were very fun nonetheless.
    And don't just give the other players Link clones.

  12. Not_Yeti Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 16:04

    I love nintendo. I mean until 5 minutes ago I was downstairs playing Skyward Sword. But unless this game is a new title in the fourswords series I doubt multiplayer will work. My main fear is that to have great multiplayer in Zelda you would need great multiplayer puzzles. I have no doubt that nintendo could pull that off but then what about single player? Do they essentially create 2 games for the different modes? Because single player puzzles in a multiplayer game just wouldn't work. So they make single player puzzles and just stick in Mario Galaxy 2's girl friend mode, or the equivalent of it, making multiplayer redundant and another reason for people to bug me while I'm trying to save Hyrule. I don't think multiplayer is the way to go unless they pull something really huge outta the bag.

  13. Xenobladeperson Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 16:50


  14. Waldy565 Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 16:53

    Multiplayer has to be implemented in a way like four swords, it just won't work otherwise. Maybe like the Nintendo Land attraction, just not on-rails... A little like the bow shoot-out in TP... but Zelda is one of those games of personal journey, well, at least for me (maybe that's because only recently my friends have started playing the series...), as for an order for the dungeons, it would be a nice touch to be non-linear, but a) it would have to be a lot more open world, a-la-Skyrim and b) it would hard to be move the story along, Skyward Sword walked a perfect line for me (so far, on the last flame,) in that you were aloud to mess around, doing side quests or just goofing in Skyloft, but there was still an over-aching feeling that Zelda beckoned for you... right, time to finally forge the Master Sword me thinks... :)

    EDIT: It will be interesting to see what happens, more at E3! On a side note, I hope Nintendo can announce SSB4 like they did SSBB... they announced with the opening from the game, right? That opening is AMAZINGLY EPIC...

  15. stealth1497 Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 17:01

    If they make the multiplayer an additional feature, so that you can play the main game through solo, then that's fine. I mean, I'd love an online multiplayer (think of all the possibilities!), but making the WHOLE game multiplayer with no choice on the matter? Nah, thanks.

  16. Bigtime Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 17:11

    EDIT: It will be interesting to see what happens, more at E3! On a side note, I hope Nintendo can announce SSB4 like they did SSBB... they announced with the opening from the game, right? That opening is AMAZINGLY EPIC...

    Without trying to go too offtrack, they revealed Super Smash Brothers with a one off cinematic trailer, it wasn't quite the opening to the game.

    Going back to a multiplayer and/or openworld Zelda, I don't know. The only way I could see that working is a game set in Hyrule but not necessarily part of the timeline as, as far as Im concerned, the games are linear and contain one character as that is how it it in the timeline. One hero fulfils the prophecy as it were, it's set in stone. But a Zelda game where you don't play as Link himself, guarantee a big bitch fest by everyone.

  17. Xenokami Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 17:24

    I think a good idea would be to enter a dungeon and fight the boss straight away, and then the majority of the challenge would be to try and escape it!

  18. Haru Waji Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 17:30


    Well spoken Xeno.

    Anyways, the only multiplayer elements I would be comfortable with would be if it was like the Dark Souls games. Something that connects all the players indirectly. But that being said, they might implement something with the MiiVerse. Which I wouldn't mind. I mean if it's something players really don't want then they could simply turn off it's feature. So it keeps everyone happy.

  19. MartinIsAwesome Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 17:40

    EDIT: It will be interesting to see what happens, more at E3! On a side note, I hope Nintendo can announce SSB4 like they did SSBB... they announced with the opening from the game, right? That opening is AMAZINGLY EPIC...

    I don't think they did. That had a mini-trailer that introduced some of the new characters like Pit, Metaknight, Zero Suit Samus and Wario with a twist at the end which revealed Snake. I think this is the one:
    People went mental when Snake popped up at the end. Hopefully we can get another reaction like that.

  20. abovethewell Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 18:47

    For visiting dungeons in a different order, you could add a Kingdom Hearts style system. You have a bunch available (E.g water, fire and forest), but after one is complete, the difficulty ups in the other two, then once the second is complete, the remaining dungeon gets even harder. Once all 3 are complete, the story advances. Or make it more intricate, so say you get to the middle of the Forest Temple, but can only get a boomerang then you are stuck. You would eventually go to a different dungeon when you get bored, and in that dungeon you find an area in which you need the boomerang. Once the puzzle is complete, you get a hookshot which can be used to progress in the Forest Temple, thereby linking the temples together.

    Another brainwave- For multiplayer, have a seperate standalone mode, much like Farcry 3, which tells the backstory to the game in question- if it was two-player co-op, you could play as two Sheikah for example, who try to to the events of the
    game happening as they are aware of the evil, but though they ultimately fail, there could be a twist where one falls into a deep sleep and becomes a sage and once that is complete, a new dungeon opens up in the single player game to rescue the sage- once you have done so, you have the option to play as him instead of Link! :D

  21. vtheyoshi Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 21:40

    The Cd-i days are gone? Ah ha ha, how ignorant you are.

  22. fluggy2003 Tuesday 29th Jan 2013 at 22:39

    Please no. No multiplayer, no co-op. We won't ave it!! Four Swords on gamecube was fun, but it certainly didn't feel like a proper Zelda game, and I certainly couldn't have got lost in it till the early hours of the morning like I did with other zeldas. The main campaign will surely be 4 soloists ..... Surely???

  23. alexkinch Wednesday 30th Jan 2013 at 14:08

    Ready for this? What if the next zelda game did not have link in it at all?

  24. sonicka Thursday 31st Jan 2013 at 18:08

    Interesting how almost every comment towards this article has basically just said "No."

    And I wholeheartedly agree. I play Zelda for the experience of it in Single player, I never want to play a game like it with my friends. Ever. I want them to enjoy it too of course, but not with me at the same time.

    Games like Four Swords Adventures and New Super Mario Bros Wii did work well for the most part implementing Multiplayer into the main campaign, but ya'know what? Single player still trumps it, and I still preferred that method of play with those types of games. And I think the reaction on here is why Zelda will continue to be single player.

    I'm not completely close-minded to the idea though. If there is one way I could possibly think of introducing that Multiplayer-type element to Zelda - it's online. And if Nintendo are able to integrate Miiverse into the structure of a Zelda game in a meaningful way then this could be a way forward. I would love to see them tackle something along the lines of how 2 players can adventure through chunks of the game - something akin to how players venture through PS3's Journey would be a delight, because it's optional, available to turn on/off whenever you want, and it never feels too intrusive to your own experience.

  25. danbish Friday 1st Feb 2013 at 10:07

    Mulitplayer in Zelda = ruin.

    Unless its just an extra mode that had no impact on the game like Phantom Hourglass, then I wouldn't mind as that was quite fun. But if they're talking about story multiplayer (aka co-op) then I'm already very worried. :(

  26. liveswired Friday 1st Feb 2013 at 18:58

    I would say it doesn't necessarily have to be multiplayer - it could be set in an open world full of large scale vistas that combine the best of Skyrim and GTA with plenty of that Zelda magic.

    Nintendo could of course could utilise the shops within Hyrule to provide DLC and tonnes of extras within the gameworld and perhaps even allow a team of adventurers to tackle quests in an ever updating world.

    Horse racing, archery tournaments, epic battles of Hylians v Moblins............would certainly add plenty of entertainment as would the opportunity to customise Animal Crossing style........

    Unfortunately I can't see Nintendo ever having the infrastructure to host such a complex game - I also believe that only the next Xbox, Playstation and PC platform have the grunt to host it such extravagant features.

    I think Nintendo will stick to single player.

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