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《塞爾達傳說》是如何創造“傳說”的

發布時間:2021-05-07 15:26:23 Tags:,

《塞爾達傳說》是如何創造“傳說”的

原作者:James Batchelor 譯者:Willow Wu

你或許還不知道,2021年2月21日是《塞爾達傳說》的35周年紀念日。

直到今天,它依然是任天堂最經典的NES游戲之一,也是平臺上最受贊譽的IP之一。1998年的N64版《塞爾達傳說: 時之笛》是Metacritic上評分最高的游戲。

但是,就如林克的偉大冒險旅程一樣,這個系列本身的發展歷程并非是一帆風順的,他們有時會創造偉大,有時也會迷失方向。

傳奇的開端

《塞爾達傳說》跟《超級馬里奧兄弟》是完全相反的,玩家不是只能往一個方向走,初代的塞爾達NES玩家是在一個開放的世界中展開冒險的,從一開始你就能按照自己的喜好去探索,這種自由程度在1986年之前是非常少見的。

“在游戲自由度上,初代塞爾達可以說是非常大膽的,”YouTube游戲設計分析頻道Game Maker’s Toolki、Boss Keys的創建者Mark Brown說道,

“游戲并沒有試圖去控制你的流程順序或者讓玩家按照某種線性的方式展開冒險。就是把你丟進一個開放世界,讓你自己去探索。如果你一開始不太注意的話,可能還會錯過拿劍?!?/p>

the-legend-of-zelda-skyward-sword(from geeksandgames)

the-legend-of-zelda-skyward-sword(from geeksandgames)

Tequila Works(游戲Rime的開發商)的CEO Raul Rubio補充說《塞爾達傳說》讓更多年齡段的玩家上手了RPG冒險游戲——當時這類游戲的特征就是雜七雜八的數據+文字段落+冗長的菜單。

“而塞爾達選擇的是童話式的劇情,核心玩法突出,注重簡潔和易上手性,”他說?!霸谟螒蜻^程中你想的不是擊敗一個又一個的敵人,而是回歸到孩童時的那種充滿好奇與探索欲望的狀態。從各種意義上來說,《塞爾達傳說》啟發了一代又一代的開發者去追求這種簡潔性,這是個非常偉大的成就。

Brown補充說冒險和探索是塞爾達系列的共有的支柱元素——雖說從《眾神的三角力量》開始,系列就更加倚重劇情主導了。

“在古早游戲中,你是真的在冒險,因為你完全不知道自己要去哪里,只能慢慢摸索,”他說,“隨著時間的推移,這個系列從冒險變成了‘被告知你在冒險’?!?/p>

Ishaan Sahdev認同了這個觀點。他是一名記者,并且寫過一本關于塞爾達系列的書,他認為隨著這一系列逐漸偏離最初的設計理念,塞爾達游戲的人氣已經不如以前了,銷售數據就是最有力的證據。根據Sahdev的調查,基于任天堂官方數據和日本電子娛樂協會CESA 2020年白皮書的數據,迄今為止只有四款塞爾達游戲的銷量超過了500萬份,分別是NES初代游戲(650萬)、《時之笛》(760萬)、《黃昏公主》(885萬)和《曠野之息》(2145萬)。

《時之笛》《黃昏公主》《曠野之息》這三個游戲擁有某些共同點:真實比例的人物、 有更大的游戲世界可以探索,還有就是可以騎在馬背上探索(這就讓人感覺冒險的格局宏大了很多)。

“游戲只要少了這三個東西,銷量就會下滑,”他說,“人們希望在塞爾達游戲中能夠自由地探索,做任何他們想做的事——任天堂花了些時間才明白這一點?!?/p>

正如Sahdev在書中所探討的,每次失敗背后都有不同的原因?!赌芳募倜妗返拈_發非常趕,開發團隊想用一半的時間做出《時之笛》的續作。而《風之杖》的卡通畫風對很多粉絲來說是難以接受的。正如Sahdev所告訴我們的,《時之笛》之后的每一個新游戲都是在做無意義的創新,直到任天堂的青沼英二(該系列在位時間最長的決策者之一)決定把焦點放在玩家對《黃昏公主》的期待上,結果就是銷量創下了新高。

“如果沒有《黃昏公主》,你就不可能看到《曠野之息》,”Sahdev補充道,“青沼在《曠野之息》相關媒體采訪時確實這么說了。這款游戲中的許多點子都是他們在《黃昏公主》中想做但卻無法實現的?!?/p>

Rubio認為這種迭代和再創造過程其實就是這一系列的優勢所在,塞爾達在這35年中一直都是游戲設計的大師級典范。

“系列的每一部新游戲都是站在前作的肩膀上,通過增加一些新亮點再次成為市場中的佼佼者,”他繼續說道,“這就是為什么你沒辦法通過直接復制《曠野之息》獲得成功:這不僅僅是游戲基礎機制之間的相互作用,或者開放世界的設計模式,又或者是基于體力值設定的攀爬玩法——這些都是玩家見過的,但是它們組合起來的效果只能說是完美?!?/p>

在《黃昏公主》之后就是《御天之劍》,它最能說明塞爾達系列的限制所在:用戶主要是資深游戲迷和任天堂品牌的鐵桿粉絲。你能非常明顯地感受到《御天之劍》是任天堂為增加用戶覆蓋率做的一次嘗試:移除Overworld、創造更線性的旅程,并且游戲利用了Wii主機的體感功能,玩家可通過揮動控制器從不同角度攻擊敵人。

“任天堂以為他們能夠把《御天之劍》賣給那些原本不會對塞爾達感興趣的用戶,”Sahdev說,“這對塞爾達系列來說是一條錯誤的道路?!?/p>

Sahdev認為《御天之劍》也是塞爾達系列中日式特色最明顯的游戲(盡管這一系列在美國的銷量屢創新高)。它的設計理念跟《馬里奧銀河》的環形地圖是一樣的:防止玩家迷路。任天堂前社長,也就是已故的巖田聰曾討論過玩家對迷路的厭惡如何影響了當時馬里奧游戲的發展方向,塞爾達傳說也考慮到了這個問題?!队熘畡Α酚型诮衲?月登陸Switch時刷新367萬的銷量紀錄。

最終《曠野之息》回歸到了系列的初代的設計理念,也成為了系列迄今為止銷量最好的作品。游戲很好地權衡了劇情與探索自由之間的關系——這是從《眾神的三角力量》以來他們一直想努力解決的。你給玩家的自由越多,故事體驗就越容易被破壞。

“這是他們開發《曠野之息》時必須做出的一種讓步,”Brown說,“這里并沒有什么跌宕起伏的劇情,只是把過去的碎片拼湊在一起。你就是醒來,然后去跟蓋儂對戰,途中會發生各種各樣的隨機事件。

“探索和劇情,這兩個元素是往不同方向發展的,很難把它們結合在一起。有些狂熱的塞爾達粉絲就是因為劇情部分不太多而不喜歡《曠野之息》?!?/p>

Sahdev還指出塞爾達系列是任天堂的“人才孵化器”。在青沼發行第一個游戲Marvelous: Another Treasure Island(受《眾神的三角力量》啟發的第一方游戲)后,宮本茂就把他調到了塞爾達團隊。在宮本茂專注于其它項目時,青沼就負責領導塞爾達系列的工作。

除此之外,加入《眾神的三角力量》開發工作的還有田邊賢輔——后來成為了Metroid Prime的制作人,和小泉歡晃——后來的馬里奧3D系列成為了他的代表作。塞爾達系列甚至還找來了外部人才比如藤林秀麿,他負責監制由Flagship(Capcom子公司)開發的《塞爾達傳說:不可思議的果實》和《塞爾達傳說:縮小帽》。他的才華給任天堂留下了深刻的印象,2007年Flagship解散后藤林秀麿進入了任天堂,最終成為《曠野之息》的監督。

與過去的聯系

雖說直到《曠野之息》發行,塞爾達系列的玩家數量才真正達到了千萬級別,但Mark Brown認為它在眾多游戲開發者心中肯定是占據著非常重要的位置?!蹲詈蟮氖刈o者》總監上田文人和《黑暗之魂》總監宮崎英高都說過塞爾達系列是很重要的靈感來源。類似地,雖然《惡魔城》的成功是站在《銀河戰士》的肩膀上,但系列制作人五十嵐孝司之前也有說過塞爾達游戲對他的影響,尤其是《眾神的三角力量》。

在過去幾十年發行的游戲中,你多多少少都能看到塞爾達傳說的影子——從《暗黑血統》系列到Capcom的《大神》。而近年的游戲也表現出了對經典塞爾達游戲的致敬,就比如很多探索過《戰神》亞爾夫海姆區域的人都覺得它是塞爾達式的地牢。

獨立游戲似乎也從這個任天堂的招牌冒險游戲上獲得了靈感。Tequila Work的Rime最初是因為視覺風格相似而被拿來與《塞爾達傳說:風之杖》作比較,不過Rubio指出兩者的渲染和視覺引導實際上是有很大差異的。但他也指出,這款游戲的進階方式最初確實是借鑒了塞爾達系列,用新工具解鎖新領域。在這個八小時流程的游戲中能呈現的塞爾達式機制/系統都非常有限,但是你的確能看到塞爾達系列的靈魂。

“Rime重現了我們童年時代從老游戲中感受到那種探索&發現精神,從心中萌生出敬畏感和好奇心,可以盡情享受著漫游世界,不用擔心有什么艱難的挑戰在等著你,”Rubio說?!半S著探索的展開,你的視野也獲得了拓展,對背景故事有更進一步地了解。要解決謎題,互動和引導是必不可少的,還有那些能夠讓你不禁‘啊哈!’的場景……這些靈感,當然都是來源于塞爾達系列的。

“塞爾達系列的地下城設計是每個關卡設計師都要牢記在心的——包括《時之笛》中的水之神殿?!?/p>

當然,還有些游戲的塞爾達影子更加明顯。Ittle Dew的開發團隊Ludosity在介紹他們的游戲時就說了是直接致敬塞爾達,但是續作就有了他們自己的特色。根據CEO Joel Nystr?m的說法,初代Ittle Dew的目標是簡化塞爾達傳說系列從《時之笛》開始引入的“更乏味的互動”,比如開箱。

“在用戶體驗方面,進入3D時代后塞爾達系列就有點在走下坡路了,一直到《曠野之息》才被掰回來,找回了當初那種更簡練的互動方式,”他說,“但游戲質量一直都是很優秀的,用戶體驗方面的瑕疵并不會造成明顯的影響。這讓我認識到了世界、氛圍構建的重要性,有時可以讓玩家忽略游戲系統方面的瑕疵?!?/p>

類似的,獨立游戲《海洋之心》也是直接借鑒了《塞爾達傳說:織夢島》,開發者Max Mraz想要重現游戲中的那種探索體驗。

“游戲初見只有一次,”他說,“塑造出這種游戲感覺是我從事游戲設計的動機之一?!逗Q笾摹肥俏业牡谝粋€游戲,所以我想還是專注于那些基礎的元素。我知道塞爾達游戲的設計是非常成功的,因為我總是會不斷地回到游戲中,始終都不會厭煩?!?/p>

Mraz補充道,開發者可以從塞爾達中學到的另一件事是你可以把游戲做得“更奇怪”。雖然系列的大部分內容都是建立在幻想的基礎上的,但其中的一些怪異設定無疑是讓游戲變得更加獨特,比如用劍打一下會報時的石頭,或者在無意中與一位人魚公主訂婚。

“你在別人的夢里,而別人是一只巨大的鯨魚神,”Mraz說,“我希望自己也能有這種天馬行空的點子?!?/p>

最后就是銷量達到百萬級別的Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas,最出名的類塞爾達獨立游戲可能就是它了。與其他開發者一樣,Cornfox & Bros重點借鑒的是塞爾達的探索體驗,除此之外還有道具的應用,以及使用這些道具可以解鎖新技能。

“在80年代,沒有任何游戲能夠讓玩家再回到世界的某些地方,就算是同一個關卡也不行,而《塞爾達傳說》就做到了,”創意總監Heikki Repo說道,“當然,當時還有其它RPG游戲,尤其是在PC平臺。但只有塞爾達成功塑造出了這種接近真實世界的沉浸感。

“再結合游戲道具的使用,你便能夠解鎖之前無法訪問的區域,所有這些設計決策所塑造出冒險體驗,對我們來說是非常值得借鑒的?!?/p>

在2017年,得益于《曠野之息》的發行,這個系列又以一種全新的方式啟迪了開發者。

英雄之路

《曠野之息》一經發行就席卷了整個世界。這是系列中口碑僅次于《時之笛》的游戲,2145萬的銷量(而且還在增長)已經超過了《黃昏公主》兩倍之多。

《曠野之息》的設計在一定程度上受到了Bethesda的熱門游戲《上古卷軸5:天際》“隨處可去”特色的啟發,而《曠野之息》本身又對后續許多游戲產生了影響。育碧的《渡神紀:芬尼斯崛起》,還有米哈游的F2P游戲《原神》被很多人拿來跟塞爾達做對比?!度麪栠_傳說》系列再次提高了人們對開放世界冒險游戲的期待,就像1986年那樣。

“從現在開始,每一款開放世界游戲都必須能夠攀爬任何東西、去任何地方、可以點燃樹木等等,”Sahdev說?!斑@會成為一種設計標準。玩家就會希望下一代《刺客信條》或者《巫師》的世界就是這樣的,我想接下來這幾年都會是這樣。

他強調說《曠野之息》并非一夜成名,而是不斷創新所促成的果實。經過摸索之后,任天堂知道了什么是無效的,接下來自然就把注意力轉到有效的部分去。

《曠野之息》是他們未來的模板,所以現在的壓力在于如何再制作一款銷量達1500~2000萬的游戲,”Sahdev說,“唯一的方法就是了解玩家眼中《曠野之息》的閃光點——也就是應變式內容:隨機化、天氣元素,所有這些相互作用的子系統,著重打磨,只有這樣你才能實現超越?!?/p>

Brown也表示同意,說道“要是你把《曠野之息》的工作成果全都丟到一邊去,那真是太可惜了。這個游戲有很多革新的元素,感覺就像是系列的第一款游戲。新的冒險已經開始,我們就等著看他們在續作中會呈現什么樣的精彩吧?!?/p>

在上周的Direct直面會上,青沼說《曠野之息》續作的開發工作正在順利進行中,但是并沒有透露具體會什么時候發行。大家都對2021年第四季度的產品發行非常期待,有傳言稱《黃昏公主》高清重制版和《風之杖》Switch移植正在進行中——我相信這都能為這個傳奇系列的35周年紀念錦上添花。

本文由游戲邦編譯,轉載請注明來源,或咨詢微信zhengjintiao

You might not know it from Nintendo’s social media or marketing, but Sunday, February 21 was the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda.

To this day, it stands as one of Nintendo’s most classic NES titles and spawn one of the platform holder’s acclaimed franchises to date. In fact, 1998′s N64 outing Ocarina of Time remains the highest-rated game of all time on Metacritic.

But, just as Link’s sprawling adventures are often winding tales beset by setbacks and moments of triumph, the series itself has followed suit, inspiring other developers at times and losing its way at others.

The legend begins

Developed as the opposite of Super Mario Bros., which led you on a linear path from left to right, the original Zelda gave NES owners an open world they could explore at will from the very beginning, offering a level of freedom rarely seen prior to 1986.

“The first Zelda was incredibly bold in terms of how much it allowed players to go on an adventure,” says Mark Brown, creator of game design analysis series Game Maker’s Toolkit and its Zelda-inspired spin-off Boss Keys.

“It didn’t try to hold your hand or put you on a linear pathway. It dropped you into this open world and asked you to explore. You could even miss getting the sword at the very beginning if you weren’t careful.”

Raul Rubio, CEO of Rime developer Tequila Works, adds that Zelda made the adventure and RPG genres — then typified by myriad stats, passages of text, and lengthy menus — more accessible to gamers of all ages.

“Zelda bet on a fairytale for its narrative, pure core gameplay, simplicity, and accessibility,” he says. “It made you forget about beating enemies and embrace back that childhood spirit of exploration and wonder. In many ways, it has inspired generations of developers to achieve that simplicity, which is no small feat.”

The throughline of adventure and exploration can be found throughout the series, Brown adds, although this changed as the games became more narrative-driven from A Link to the Past onwards.

“In the oldest games, you truly were going on an adventure because you just didn’t know where you were going and had to figure stuff out,” he says. “Over time, the series changed from going on an adventure to being told you’re on an adventure.”

Ishaan Sahdev — journalist and a person who literally wrote the book on the Zelda series — agrees, noting that the series’ popularity has actually declined as it “strayed further and further from that original design principle.”

This can be best proven with the series’ sales figures. According to Sahdev’s research — factoring in official Nintendo figures and data from a 2020 white paper by Japanese trade body CESA — only four Zelda games have passed five million sales to date: the original NES outing (6.5 million), Ocarina of Time (7.6 million), Twilight Princess (8.85 million) and Breath of the Wild (21.45 million).

According to Sahdev, there are three common factors shared by Ocarina, Twilight, and BOTW: realistically proportioned characters, a larger game world to explore, and the ability to explore on horseback (which conveys the sense of being on a grand adventure).

“Every single time they’ve strayed away from these three things, the sales have dipped,” he says. “People want Zelda to be an exploratory game that lets them do whatever they want, and it took Nintendo a while to figure that out.”

Each dip has a story behind it, as Sahdev’s book explores. For Majora’s Mask, it was rushed development, attempting to build a sequel to Ocarina of Time in half the time. For Wind Waker, it was the cartoon art style that was poorly received by many fans. As Sahdev tells us, every new outing was an attempt to reinvent the wheel until Nintendo’s Eiji Aonuma, one of the longest running decision-makers for the series, decided to focus more on what fans expected with Twilight Princess. The result was a new high for the series in terms of sales.

“You don’t get to Breath of the Wild without Twilight Princess,” Sahdev adds. “Aonuma actually said that when he was doing press for Breath of the Wild. A lot of the ideas in that game were things they really wanted to do in Twilight Princess and just couldn’t.”

Rubio argues that this process of iteration and reinvention is actually a strength of the series, pointing to Zelda as a “masterclass in game design 35 years in the running.”

“Each new entry in the series builds on the shoulders of its predecessors, adding something new to stand out,” he continues. “That’s why you cannot just copy Breath of the Wild: it’s not the interconnection of elemental mechanics, or the approach to open world [design], or the stamina-based climbing — all that has been done before, but the combination is just flawless.”

The next entry after Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, best illustrated the limitations the Zelda franchise faces: the audience is primarily comprised of hardcore gamers and Nintendo enthusiasts. Skyward Sword was Nintendo’s most overt attempt at trying to sell to the broader audience it attracted with the Wii by removing the overworld, creating a more linear journey, and focusing on motion control gestures already employed in the Wii Sports titles.

“Nintendo was under the impression that they were going to sell Skyward Sword to this whole other audience that was never going to turn up,” Sahdev says. “That’s just the wrong approach for Zelda.”

Sahdev observes Skyward Sword was also the Zelda game most obviously designed around Japanese sensibilities — despite the fact the series has historically sold more in the US. It’s the same design principle behind Mario Galaxy’s spherical planets: preventing the player from getting lost. Nintendo’s former president, the late Satoru Iwata, even discussed how players’ dislike for getting lost influenced the direction of the Mario games at the time, and a similar approach was taken to Zelda.

Skyward Sword may have a second chance at beating its 3.67 million sales when it arrives on Switch this July — the closest activity Nintendo has come to acknowledging the franchise’s anniversary so far, although it was not specifically connected to the 35-year milestone in last week’s Nintendo Direct.

The series eventually returned to that original design principle in Breath of the Wild, by far the biggest selling entry to date. The game succeeded in striking a balance the series has struggled with since A Link To The Past: story versus freedom. The more freedom you give the player, the easier it is to break the story, and that clashes when trying to tell the tales seen in later entries like Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword.

“That’s a concession they had to make with Breath of the Wild,” says Brown. “There isn’t that strong of a story, it’s all pieces of the past you piece together. Nothing particularly happens in the present — you just wake up and go fight Ganon, and random events happen in between.

“Those two things — exploration and story — pull in different directions and are very hard to bring together. There are fervent Zelda fans who don’t like Breath of the Wild because it doesn’t have as much story.”

Sahdev also observes that the series has been a great “incubator of talent” for Nintendo, pointing to key examples throughout the series history. Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto moved Aonuma over to the Zelda team after his first game, Marvelous: Another Treasure Island — an first-party title inspired by A Link To The Past. Aonuma went on to lead the Zelda series as Miyamoto focused on other projects.

Elsewhere, development on A Link To The Past saw the introduction of Kensuke Tanabe, who became producer of Metroid Prime, and Yoshiaki Koizumi, who went on to produce the Mario Galaxy and 3D Land/World titles. Even external talent has been identified via Zelda: Hidemaro Fujibayashi was director of Capcom-developed entries Oracle of Ages/Seasons and The Minish Cap. His work impressed Nintendo enough to bring him in, with Fujibayashi eventually directing Breath of the Wild.

Links to the past

While Zelda may not have drawn in tens of millions of players until Breath of the Wild, Mark Brown observes that it is a firm favourite among game developers. He notes that Ico and The Last Guardian director Fumito Ueda and Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki have both pointed to Zelda games as a key source of inspiration. Similarly, while the Castlevania series owes much to Metroid, series producer Koji Igarashi has spoken before about the influence Zelda — particularly A Link To The Past — had on his work.

Zelda’s influence can be seen in other games throughout the decades, from the Darksiders series to Capcom’s Okami. More recent titles also carry a flavour of classic Zelda games — most people who visited Alfheim in 2018′s God of War will agree it felt much like a Zelda dungeon.

Even indie titles seem to draw inspiration from Nintendo’s iconic adventure games. Tequila Works’ Rime initially drew comparisons with Wind Waker due to its visual style, although Rubio points out the render and visual directions were actually very different. However, he does note that the game was originally designed with a Zelda-style gadget-based progression, with new tools opening new areas. Introducing these mechanics in an eight-hour game felt rushed and the system was discarded, but the spirit of Zelda remained.

“Rime recreated that childhood spirit of exploration and discovery, of awe and wonder, of enjoying wandering the world and not suffering it,” says Rubio. “Discovering entire pocket worlds — or dungeons — that expand your view and understanding of such a universe. The physical approach to puzzles where interaction and navigation are essential, and the ‘aha!’ moment… The inspiration, of course, came from Zelda.

” And Zelda’s dungeon design is something every level designer learns by heart — including the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time.”

Of course, there are titles more obviously inspired by Zelda. Ittle Dew developer Ludosity openly describes its RPG as a direct homage to the series, although the sequel takes the series in its own direction. According to CEO Joel Nystr?m, the original Ittle Dew aimed to streamline the “more tedious interactions” the Zelda series introduced from Ocarina onwards, like opening chests.

“The Zelda series went a little downhill UX-wise when it entered the 3D era and didn’t really recover until Breath of the Wild, when they started getting back into more snappy interactions again,” he says. “[But] the games were always great anyway — clunky UX didn’t really stand in the way of that. [It taught] me the importance of world building and atmosphere, which can sometimes overcome clumsy game systems.”

Similarly, Ocean’s Heart by indie Max Mraz was inspired directly by his enjoyment of Link’s Awakening and the feeling of exploration it gave him.

“But you can only play a game for the first time once,” he says. “So chasing that feeling is one thing that’s drawn me to game design. Ocean’s Heart is my first game, so I wanted to stick to the basics. I knew the design trends of Zelda games work well, because I keep coming back to them over and over and I’m not sick of them.”

Mraz adds that another lesson developers can take from Zelda is that games can always be made to be “much weirder.” While the bulk of the series is built on established fantasy tropes, it’s made all the more distinct by quirks like rocks that tell the time when hit by a sword or inadvertently getting engaged to a fish princess.

“Even Zelda’s take on the ‘it was all a dream’ trope is that you were in someone else’s dream, and that someone else was a giant whale god,” says Mraz. “I aspire to produce such viscerally bizarre ideas.”

Finally, the million-selling Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is perhaps one of the most famous indie Zelda-likes. Like others, developer Cornfox & Bros cites Zelda’s focus on exploration as a key inspiration, but also the use of items and the new abilities they unlock as ‘keys.’

“In the ’80s being able to travel back to certain parts of the world or even the same level was unheard of, and Zelda allowed just that,” says creative director Heikki Repo. “Of course, there had been other RPGs, especially on the PC side, but Zelda managed to pinpoint that feeling of offering a real-world to inhabit like nothing else.

“When you put that together with the way items have worked in the series, opening up areas of the world that you couldn’t previously visit — all these design decisions enabled that sense of adventure that was so inspiring to us.”

And, as of 2017, the series has inspired the development world in new ways, thanks to its latest entry.

The hero’s path

Breath of the Wild took the world by storm. It’s the second most acclaimed game in the series, losing out only to Ocarina of Time, and its 21.45 million sales (and counting) are more than twice the series’ previous best-seller, Twilight Princess.

Having been partly influenced by Bethesda’s smash hit Skyrim and its ‘go anywhere’ approach, Breath of the Wild has since gone on to directly inspire other games with many of its mechanics. Ubisoft’s Immortals: Fenyx Rising has drawn many comparisons to Nintendo’s masterpiece, as has MiHoYo’s free-to-play smash hit Genshin Impact. The Zelda series has once again raised expectations for open-world adventure games, just as it did in 1986.

“Every open-world game from now has to let you climb anything, go anywhere, set fire to trees and so on,” says Sahdev. “It’s going to be a standard. That expectation is going to be there with Assassin’s Creed or the next Witcher game, and I think you’re going to see that in the next few years.”

He reiterates that Breath of the Wild is not some overnight success but the product of a constant cycle of reinvention that led to the divisive Skyward Sword. Having established what doesn’t work, Nintendo will almost certainly focus on what does.

“Breath of the Wild is their template for the foreseeable future, so the pressure is on to make a game that sells another 15 to 20 million units,” says Sahdev. “The only way to do that is to double down on what people really like about Breath of the Wild, which is all the emergent stuff: the randomisation, the weather elements, all these subsystems that interact with each other. That’s the only way you top the first game.”

Brown agrees, adding: “It would be a shame to throw away all the work they’ve done with Breath of the Wild. Because so much of it is so new, it’s almost like the first game in a franchise. They’ve started their ideas, so we’ve just got to wait and see how they run with them in the sequels.”

In last week’s Direct, Aonuma said development on Breath of the Wild 2 is “proceeding smoothly” but there’s no word on when it will arrive. Hopes will be high for a Q4 2021 release, with rumours of Twilight Princess HD and Wind Waker HD ports for Switch also doing the rounds — all of which would be a fine way to celebrate 35 years of this storied franchise.

(source: gamesindustry.biz )


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