Originally posted on Wordpress on 21 July 2023

I've been working on a full review of Tears of the Kingdom for more than two weeks now. Playing and reviewing the game - which I'm not close to being done with, by the way - has led me to think about previous Zelda games and what I did and didn't like in them. Then I started thinking about what I'd like to see in future Zelda games. So why not engage in an exercise in creativity?

Originally, this was going to be the last section of the full Tears of the Kingdom review. Since it's currently 3200 words and I suspect it will end up being over 5000, I decided this needed to be its own post to ensure the review didn't end up ridiculously long.

In no particular order:

A smaller world map. Open-world games are a double-edged sword. They're huge and there's tons of places to explore and things to find, but most of that is entirely optional. If all you do is follow the main story, you'll only go to a few places on the map and never visit the vast majority of the world. This was an issue with both Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom - lots of things in random places, but no actual reason to go to any of those places.

A smaller map would fix a lot of these issues. You wouldn't have to stray too far off the main path in order to find cool things. I'm all in favor of rewarding exploration, but too much exploration makes that tedious rather than fun.

A plot that's integrated into the game. I want more than cutscenes. I want a story. I want a plot. I want to feel like I'm making an actual impact on the world of Hyrule.

Dungeons locked behind story progression. This is perfectly possible with an open-world game. Just have things available in order. First you do the forest temple, then the fire temple, then the water temple, and so on. This would allow each dungeon to increase in difficulty with respect to both enemies and puzzles, something the previous two games lacked.

Different regions of Hyrule with different enemies, plants, weather, etc. Having regions with actual unique things helps differentiate those regions. And my enemies, I don't just mean different varieties of Keese, Lizalfos, and Like Likes. I mean I want those enemies limited to one region or two.

Different outfits for different environments. This was a thing in previous games where you needed special armor in order to dive underwater, but I also think some of the sets introduced in Breath of the Wild were pretty good. Perhaps have those sets required for dungeons so they're used instead of elixirs or food with status bonuses (which would end up being largely superfluous).

Underwater exploration and fishing. I miss actual fishing and being able to dive underwater. I'd also like to see another underwater water temple.

Overworld mini-dungeons. There were plenty of these in Twilight Princess, and the caves in Tears of the Kingdom seem to be the evolution of that. They're great and I want more of them.

No armor upgrades, or at least no ridiculous ones. Grinding for materials is awful and not how I want to spend my time. Please, no more of this, Nintendo.

Dogs that you can pet. In Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, there were animals you could pick up. That should be a thing again.

A better soundtrack. Most of the music in Breath of the Wild was too ambient, to the point where it was incredibly jarring going to Hyrule Castle and hearing an actual theme. More themes would be good.

The hookshot/clawshot. I can't be the only one who misses this. It genuinely seems like something that would be great for exploring, if the exploration focus is something Nintendo really wants to focus on for future games.

Enemies that haven't been seen for a while. Tears of the Kingdom brought back Like Likes and Gleeok, so why not some other enemies like Darknuts and Deku Babas?

The Twilight Realm. Maybe I just miss Twilight Princess and wish it would get ported to Switch.

Epona. Epona should not be locked behind Amiibo. That's Nintendo being greedy, not some game mechanic.

There are plenty of other things I could mention, but this post is long enough. It was a fun little exercise. Maybe I'll do this kind of thing again in the future.