How Zelda Could Learn From Fallout 3
The Legend of Zelda series is in need of change. This mindset is shared by the majority of Zelda fans out there. The formula has remained basically the same ever since the first game with the exception of The Adventure of Link.
Of course there has been progress in the series, otherwise people would have stopped buying Zelda games years ago. This progress however has been very subtle and just enough to keep us coming back. Since The Ocarina of Time was released in 1998 we have yet to have any major changes to the series. The Ocarina of Time went on to sell 7.6 million copies and got one of the highest reviews of any video game in history. This was because Nintendo took the already popular Zelda series in a brand new direction and the result was absolutely amazing.
So where should Nintendo go now? How can they make the Legend of Zelda fresh and new for its fans and other gamers? In my opinion they should make the game more like the popular Fallout 3 series. Fallout was a well established PC gaming series but it had never appealed to a large gaming base. However, Bethesda Studios took the reins in making Fallout 3 and the end result was a huge success. Fallout 3 shipped about 4.7 million copies in the first week alone and many more with the release of the Game of the Year Edition.
So now, you are probably wondering what Nintendo should take from Fallout 3. For those who have not played Fallout 3 I will briefly explain the game. Fallout 3 is a massive game in which the playable character has one main quest and many many side quests. Though it is a shooter game, it also has a lot of RPG elements including skill training and leveling up. It also features a massive overworld with hundreds of map locations for gamers to explore. In total, the game easily had 80 to 100 hours of game-play.
So with this in mind, I will now explain how The Legend of Zelda should be like Fallout 3. First of all, in Fallout 3, gamers could interact with and take almost anything. Every item on a desk or floor could be picked up and or used in some form. This simple concept has never made it into any Zelda game to date. Now I am not saying that I want Link to be able to walk around and pick up every single item that he comes across as, a lot of it would end up making him a thief, and we all know how that ends.
But I am wanting Link to be able to interact with his environment and be able to use things around him. In Fallout 3 you can pick up almost everything. Some items are useful such as ammo and medical supplies and some are pointless and serve no point. Nothing forces you to pick these items up, but having the ability to is a great feature that should be implemented in more games. Imagine walking into an abandoned house as Link and being able to take any book off the shelves and being able to open cabinets and desks to find arrows, Rupees, and more. This is something that is so simple but at the same time it adds so much more depth into the environment and game-play.
Next, is the idea of side-quests. Most of the Zelda games have had a hand full of optional quests to complete, but most of them have been very trivial and do not really help Link in the long run. Sure you will get a larger quiver or a bigger magic meter, but honestly, none of these are vital and ever actually needed. I never run out of arrows or bombs because they are found all over creation. To me this has made the Zelda side quests to be on the whole very pointless. The quests are also very dull and repetitive as most of them focus on some form of collecting. In The Ocarina of Time there was the Giant Poe side quest and the Golden Skulltula side quest. Both of these were based on collecting things. In the most recent Twilight Princess, Nintendo pretty much repeated the same side quests. There was again a Poe collecting quest and a Golden bug collecting quest. What gives?!? Now there is nothing wrong with these side quests. They can certainly be fun and will add on extra hours of game-play, but I know Nintendo is capable of more. In Fallout 3 there are easily 20 to 30 extra side quests. Some can be completed in a few minutes while others will take much more of your time and they range from simple exploration tasks to more in depth things like solving a town’s problems and clearing a region of an enemy infestation. What if the next Zelda game had a plethora of quests like this? Instead of two or three collection based quests they could have Link saving a town from an unknown threat. They could have Link clear Kakariko Village of Moblin uprising. They could have Link settle a dispute between neighbors. Maybe have Link test out new equipment so the developers know their effectiveness. Have Link infiltrate an enemy stronghold and take them all out or rig the place. Have Link find a missing person or track them down to lend a hand. There are just so many different possibilities out there.
But having these quests is not enough. There needs to be worthy rewards. No quiver upgrade and no bigger wallet. Every quest in Fallout 3 will reward the Lone Wanderer in a unique way. Sometimes it will be Experience Points and sometimes money, aid items, and new weapons and armor which is even better. Nintendo should find ways to reward gamers for their work. In a lot of the Fallout 3 side quests there was also quests that would have optional chores which would give the gamer a better reward if they chose to complete them. If a system like this was implemented then the Zelda experience would be much richer and add on so many extra hours of quality game-play. Just think about it. The land of Hyrule is being taken over yet you never see people that need help or is in danger. Just that scenario alone opens up so many different ideas. Think Nintendo! Come up with some side quests.
Lastly, the Fallout 3 world is just humongous and as well all know the Legend of Zelda overworlds have never been too immerse. The land of Hyrule, in general, is a largely empty region. You can get around all of Hyrule field in the matter of minutes in Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess. In Ocarina of Time you could even cross the entire field without running into any enemies or people whatsoever. The Wind Waker was a complete different situation, but again, the Great Sea was mostly devoid of enemies. And finally, Twilight Princess was a bit better, but the enemies posed no real threat and it was still empty in many places.
Now I do not want to see Hyrule swarming with enemies at every inch. But Nintendo needs to make the world more interactive. In Fallout 3 harder enemies will appear in various areas based on your level and progress. Why can’t the Zelda series be like that? Throwing a PeaHat at you once every 2 minutes is worthless and especially when you have 12 heart containers. The enemies in the over world needs to reflect your skills and progress in the game. And there needs to be more then one enemy. If Ganondorf is trying to take over Hyrule then he really needs to get serious about his security and actually get some enemy forces out there.
And finally, what is the deal with the landscape being so boring? Nintendo will display gorgeous terrain in their teaser trailers, but by the time the game is released they are nowhere to be found. Has Link ever been through a forest? Not really. Yes there is the Lost Woods and the Forest Temple. But I mean a real forest. Why have we never had to travel through a forest to get to the village on the other side? Why do we not get to interact and fight enemies? Why don’t we get to go through a real cave. Not some three room “cave” that we are used to. Nintendo needs to expand on the overworld and finally allow us explore. Do not make everything so straight forward and simple.
These three simple suggestions would take The Legend of Zelda to the next level. As Nintendo has realized with the Wii and DS, gamers like interactivity. Now they need to implement the interactivity into their games. Gamers would develop a much deeper connection to the world and overall have a much better gaming experience.
If you liked this article, please sign up and discuss it on our Legend of Zelda forums.