Eiji Aonuma wants to keep gamers surprised with future Zelda games

Now that Breath of the Wild has landed, many gamers are citing it as a refreshing take on the open world genre thanks to the living, breathing world that Eiji Aonuma and his team created. It’s definitely a far cry from the narrow feel of a game like Ocarina of Time, which is also considered a classic Zelda game for different reasons.

In a new interview that has been translated, Aonuma admits that the design of Ocarina of Time came about because of how new of a concept 3D games were at the time of its release. Aonuma says the game feels constricting to play now, but the fear was during development that players would get lost in a broad space.

When I first created a Zelda that’s played with 3D in Ocarina of Time, what we put our attention on is: To cope with how we were still not familiar with 3D yet, we show ‘routes’ so that you could progress forward without getting lost in even broad worlds.

At that time, I thought that was the right thing. However, as we stacked on the series, ‘not getting lost’ would produce feelings of blockages like ‘cannot do anything but that’ or ‘cannot run away’, so more and more people felt dissatisfied with that.

He goes on to say that he believes the new ‘open air’ direction that they’ve gone with the series opens them to more possibilities to surprise gamers in the future, despite knowing that not everyone will be satisfied with the new direction the series is taking.

It’s not an easy thing to be able to answer expectations of all our users, but through this game, I recognised again that the significance of continuing to create the series is right there, so in the future I’d like to repeat doing “great fusses*” and provide ‘surprises’ that exceed everyone’s expectations.

I think it’s safe to say Aonuma achieved his goal of surprising everyone, since I never expected to become so engaged in the world of Breath of the Wild as I did. In fact, it took me a while to be able to go back and play Horizon Zero Dawn because I felt so restricted after having played Breath of the Wild. Both are great games in their own right, they just approach the “open world” concept a lot differently.

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