Why Aren’t The Previous Legend Of Zelda Games Also Considered Open World?

Why Aren't The Previous Legend Of Zelda Games Also Considered Open World

You’ve embarked on countless adventures in the land of Hyrule, solving puzzles and battling monsters as the brave hero, Link. The Legend of Zelda series has long been popular because it lets players explore vast, creative landscapes.

Breath of the Wild fully embraced the open-world concept, letting players explore and overcome challenges in any order.

Why is Breath of the Wild an open world game and what makes it different from previous Zelda games?

In this article, we’ll dive into the intricacies of game design and discuss the distinction between open-world and linear gameplay.

We’ll examine The Legend of Zelda serieslinear structure before Breath of the Wild’s breakthrough open-world gameplay.

We’ll also discuss fan responses and Zelda’s future: will it stay open-world or get linear? So grab your Master Sword and go on this thrilling voyage through the Legend of Zelda franchise.

In a hurry? Here’s a quick & short answer that will help you out!

While previous Legend of Zelda games possess vast, explorative elements, they’re not classified as ‘open world’ due to their more structured, linear progression. They often require specific items or abilities to advance or unlock new areas, contrasting the free-roaming, non-linear gameplay typical of open-world games like Breath of the Wild.

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Defining “Open World” and “Linear” in Video Games

Why Aren't The Previous Legend Of Zelda Games Also Considered Open World

So, what makes a game “open world” and how it varies from a “linear” experience? Open world games let players freely explore a big, linked world with few limits.

Players may complete goals, tasks, and quests in any sequence, offering a more free-form and dynamic experience. Linear games, on the other hand, lead players through a planned series of events or tasks.

Player agency determines whether a game is open world or linear. Open world games offer players a lot of freedom to design the plot and scenario. They may follow the game’s story or explore at their leisure, customizing their playstyle.

Linear games, on the other side, have a more linear storyline and less player control.

The Legend of Zelda blurs open world with linear gameplay. Breath of the Wild is a well-known open-world game, but Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess may not be.

These games provide some exploration and flexibility, but the plot and setting are more organized. There’s usually a continuum between open world and linear games, thus it’s crucial to consider player agency and flexibility.

The Legend of Zelda: An Overview of Game Design

The Legend of Zelda’s game design reveals a sophisticated web of features that paved the way for open-world gaming. The franchise has gracefully straddled the divide between linearity and open-world exploration, making each installment a unique and memorable experience.

Early games in the series were linear, while later titles have pushed the limits of open-world adventures. The sense of wonder and excitement when first stepping into Hyrule Field in Ocarina of Time.

The freedom to tackle dungeons and challenges in any order in A Link Between Worlds. The thrill of discovering a hidden cave or secret passage in the vast landscape of Breath of the Wild.

The satisfaction of solving intricate puzzles that connect beautifully-designed game worlds. The emotional connections forged with memorable characters throughout the series.

Breath of the Wild changed the balance between linearity and open-world design in The Legend of Zelda franchise.

This game pioneered open-world gaming by giving players the freedom to explore, solve puzzles, and interact with the universe.

The series’ rich history and inventive game design have produced a gaming experience that resonates with fans’ desire for freedom and exploration.

Linear Gameplay in Early Zelda Games

Early Zelda games were linear, but their vivid settings and interesting gameplay still captivated gamers. These games’ linear format limited exploration beyond the main mission to finishing dungeons in sequence.

It let the creators to create detailed tales and tightly organized gaming experiences, which helped the brand succeed.

Early Zelda GameLinear Gameplay Aspect
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the PastPlayers must complete dungeons in a specific order
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of TimeStory progression is heavily tied to the completion of dungeons
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s MaskTime-based mechanics limit exploration opportunities
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind WakerSea exploration is restricted until certain story events are completed
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight PrincessLarge portions of the game world are locked until specific tasks are accomplished

Early Zelda games have flexibility and exploration despite their linearity. Side missions and surprises allowed players to explore the game universe.

Additionally, the series’ iconic puzzles and creative dungeons kept players engaged and challenged, even within a more structured framework. These games have a good mix of exploration and plot, albeit not as much as later ones.

The Legend of Zelda series has evolved over time, with more recent titles like Breath of the Wild embracing a truly open-world experience.

This shift in design philosophy allows players to explore the world at their own pace and engage with the game’s content in any order they choose.

However, it’s important to appreciate the early Zelda games for their ability to expertly blend linearity with exploration.

These classic titles laid the foundation for what the series would become and demonstrated that even within a more structured framework, players could still find engaging experiences that fostered a sense of freedom.

The Problem with Calling Previous Zelda Games “Open World”

Why Previous Zelda Games Aren't Considered Open World

You may be wondering, given the exploring elements in the original Zelda games, why they aren’t classified as open-world adventures.

The reason is because their linearity and planned advancement prevent them from completely embracing the freedom and grandeur generally associated with open-world games.

Open-world games allow players to explore, solve puzzles, and find mysteries at their own time. The original Zelda games included plenty of adventure and discovery, but players had to follow a fixed path to advance the story.

The early Zelda games pioneered action-adventure, puzzle-solving, and exploration, inspiring many later games in the genre. When compared to Breath of the Wild, older games’ mechanics were clearly constrained.

Players ended up with a more linear experience since they couldn’t have the same degree of flexibility and immersion as is now standard in open-world games.

That being said, we can’t discount the influence the original Zelda games had on the video game market.

They established exploration-based gameplay and a rich, immersive universe for future open-world experiences.

Even though they don’t meet the contemporary definition of “open-world,” those early Zelda games inspired many later open-world games.

While these games may not meet the technical definition of an open world, they were crucial in establishing the groundwork for the massive, immersive worlds we enjoy today.

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Transition to Open World: The Case of Breath of the Wild

Let’s examine how Breath of the Wild overcame such constraints and completely embraced the open-world notion. The earlier Zelda games were more linear and story-driven, so players had to follow a set route and accomplish chores in order to continue.

However, Breath of the Wild provided a wide, dynamic world with many options and invited players to explore, experiment, and make their own path.

  • Non-linear progression: Players can choose their own path and complete objectives in any order they wish.
  • Exploration-driven gameplay: The world is filled with secrets and side quests that reward players for going off the beaten path.
  • Dynamic environment: The game world is affected by time, weather, and player actions, creating a living, breathing ecosystem.
  • Freedom of choice: Players have the ability to tackle challenges in a variety of ways, utilizing a vast array of weapons, tools, and strategies.

Breath of the Wild’s open-world design allows players to experience a true sense of freedom and adventure.

Players aren’t herded along a predetermined route but given the freedom to explore the large and colorful world of Hyrule at their own speed, making their own choices along the way.

This innovative approach to gameplay has garnered widespread acclaim and has undoubtedly set a new standard for the future of the Legend of Zelda series and open-world games as a whole.

Fan Reactions to Zelda’s Open World Transition

Breath of the Wild enthusiasts must have been awestruck when they first entered Hyrule. The newest Legend of Zelda game’s open environment was refreshing for aficionados and newcomers.

The move from more linear gameplay to an open world format allowed players to explore and experience the game at their own pace, giving them the freedom they’ve always craved. Players’ responses to the shift to an open world structure were largely favorable.

They loved the ability to traverse Hyrule in any direction, uncovering secrets and solving puzzles at their leisure.

This new-found freedom invigorated the Zelda community, sparking countless discussions, fan theories, and shared experiences.

The open world design also added depth to the storytelling, as players were able to piece together the history of Hyrule through exploration and discovery.

This change in format revitalized the series and reminded fans why they fell in love with the world of Zelda in the first place.

The Legend of Zelda’s successful transition to an open world format is a testament to the power of freedom in gaming.

By giving players the ability to choose their own path and explore a vast, interconnected world, Breath of the Wild managed to capture the hearts of fans and critics alike.

This bold move by the developers has redefined what it means to be a Legend of Zelda game and set a new standard for future installments in the series.

The Future of Zelda: Open World or Linear?

Why Aren't The Previous Legend Of Zelda Games Also Considered Open World

Now that we’ve delved into the fan reactions to The Legend of Zelda’s open-world transition, it’s worth considering the future of this iconic franchise.

Will we see more open-world entries like Breath of the Wild, or will the series return to its more linear roots?

As a fan with a subconscious desire for freedom, this question is undoubtedly on your mind. The overwhelming success of Breath of the Wild has shown that an open-world format can breathe new life into an established series.

Players have enjoyed the freedom to explore Hyrule at their own pace, uncovering its secrets and taking on challenges as they see fit.

This non-linear approach to gameplay has resonated with fans, and it’s hard to imagine Nintendo abandoning this successful formula.

After all, the gaming industry often looks to innovation and creativity to keep players engaged, and the open-world design presents a wealth of opportunities for storytelling and gameplay mechanics.

While it’s difficult to predict the exact direction the Zelda series will take, one thing is clear: Nintendo has proven that they’re not afraid to take risks and innovate.

Whether the future holds more open-world adventures or a return to a more linear storytelling approach.

The Legend of Zelda will continue to bring captivating stories, memorable characters, and exciting gameplay to fans around the world.

Embrace the freedom of exploration and let your imagination run wild, for the future of Zelda is as boundless as the open world itself.


In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether or not earlier Zelda games fit the open world mold. But one thing’s for sure: Breath of the Wild’s groundbreaking shift was a game changer for the series.

So, as you explore the vast, breathtaking landscapes of Hyrule, remember that the beauty of Zelda lies in its evolution.

After all, who knows what incredible adventures await us in the future of this legendary franchise?

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