In a recent interview with IGN, Eiji Aonuma spoke at length about the upcoming Legend of Zelda game for the Wii U–originally set for release in 2015, then pushed back to 2016–and what players can expect from the game. If you haven’t been in the loop, the video below is, in a sense, the only look at the game anybody has had, and it’s from an event in December of 2014. It’s been nearly a year since then, and the game has almost certainly been through some changes, but this video is most of what is known.
Now that you’re up to speed–open world, really big map, traversing takes time, yeah, we got it–on to the meat of the interview. Right off the bat, Aonuma addresses the overwhelming feedback from Skyward Sword, which has been criticized as mind-numbingly simplistic and linear:
We actually had some feedback from Skyward Sword, where people were saying, ‘This is not exactly the Zelda game I was looking for, I was looking for a bigger open world.’ Unfortunately, I can’t go into details but I’m hoping to put a surprise, or kind of a twist, on my view of an open world game. I hope that you’ll look forward to it.
This is the crux of the news, today. Aonuma has told IGN about his twist on the “open world,” and since then it’s been open to interpretation. The clip above gives no hints on what exactly Aonuma means, but the response seen among fans to Skyward Sword is clear to him. Nintendo, however, has never been the kind of company to reciprocate fans exactly as they ask, as is evident from one of Aonuma’s answers:
If we put all the feedback the fans write directly into the game, there won’t be an element of surprise. If there’s a comment and they’re asking for certain element, I would think, ‘Oh, why not interpret this in a different way that you wouldn’t expect?’ That’s how we create a new element in a Zelda game. I always want to implement something new and surprising into every game.
When you take a step back from the team developing the Zelda games and observe Nintendo as a whole, this approach remains consistent. When speaking to NPR in back in late June, 2015, Miyamoto mentioned this approach in his own words:
…But what we are always striving to do is to find a way to take novel technology that we can take and offer it to people at a price that everybody can afford.
Bottom line: Nintendo never does what everyone is expecting. They strive to surprise the market with every step forward. And, while that doesn’t always work, it has been successful in the past. Unfortunately for the Zelda team, they are always striving to make big changes without altering the formula at the core of those games, and some would argue they already got it right in the past and have been going downhill since titles like A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time were first released.
As of now, there is still no more specificity provided for a release date. The moment one is made public, you’ll be able to find it here at MXDWN games, but for now, Link’s Wii U iteration is still set to launch sometime in 2016.