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Zelda producer says open world is the new series standard

If you haven't heard (and if not, seriously, where have you been?), Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is very different from its predecessors, replacing the traditional dungeon-focused structure of the series with an open world styled after Skyrim and The Witcher 3. The change has gone over very well with fans, and Nintendo executives must be pretty happy with it, too. Producer Eiji Aonuma (the man who currently oversees the Legend of Zelda franchise) says that it'll be the new formula for the series going forward.

The quote comes from an interview with long-running Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu (translated by Gematsu), in which Aonuma is asked if Breath of the Wild's "open air concept" (which is how Aonuma and crew refer to the open world map) will return for the sequel. Aonuma replies, "In the future, this will probably become the standard form."

Of course, at this point, that's probably just speculation. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a huge game, and Nintendo's Zelda team is coming off of a grueling, five-year development cycle (not to mention the downloadable content that's still in development). A full-length Breath of the Wild sequel is likely a long, long way off.

Aonuma also talked a little bit about the placement of Breath of the Wild in the official Legend of Zelda continuity, which was fully fleshed in Nintendo and Dark Horse Comics' 2011 release, The Hyrule Historia. Unfortunately, Aonuma didn't have any particularly useful answers. When asked where Breath of the Wild fits in the three-pronged timeline of the series, Aonuma said, "The history of Hyrule changes over time. As a matter of fact, there have been several times so far that once determined history has changed." He adds, "So this time, the situation is as if I found new ancient documents."

That's not going to be a satisfying answer for Zelda die-hards, for whom the issue of timelines and game placement has been a concern for years, especially given how Breath of the Wild's numerous nods to past Zelda games (even the maligned CD-i games) make a total mess out of the game's place in Zelda lore. But, y'know, it's still a fun game. So there's that.

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