The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild remains one of the most influential games in recent memory with its beautiful open world and traversal mechanics, but one PS5 launch title improves upon the same formula in two crucial ways.
By the time the Breath of the Wild sequel is released — which could be on the Switch Pro sometime in 2021 — a plethora of games inspired by its open-ended framework will have arrived, delivering unique mechanics and innovations on the same formula. So Nintendo could learn a thing or two from them to make adjustments for Breath of the Wild 2.
One of the best looking Breath of the Wild inspired games scheduled for release soon is The Pathless. Created by Abzu developer Giant Squid, this PlayStation 5 launch title will be released alongside the new console on November 12, 2020. The game introduces two creative new mechanics that Nintendo should take into account for future Zelda games like Breath of the Wild 2.
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Despite being an open-world adventure The Pathless doesn't have an in-game map, and it makes the experience that much more immersive. And the aim-free way it handles firing a bow and arrow is refreshing and invigorating for a weapon that so often feels clunky in a game. Inverse went hands-on with The Pathless in early October, and these mechanics already appeared to be game-changers that might vastly improve Breath of the Wild 2.
Not only would they make the game more immersive, but it would be much more accessible to all kinds of gamers.
Remove the map
The Pathless is able to pull this off thanks to a Spirit Mask that the main character can wear. Players unlock this ability early on in the game, and it highlights key points of interest around the environment when active. So rather than having to reference a map in some kind of menu, you can just see where you need to go within the environment. Its more useful the higher up players are in a map where their field of vision is longer. It even indicates where players have visited with by making those areas a lighter shade of blue.
These nuances were, according to developers, a direct response to their critique of the first Breath of the Wild.
"All [open world games] have this idea of using the map to navigate," The Pathless Creative Director Matt Nava explained at a press event. "It's a super useful tool, but what we wanted to do was to try and keep you in the world as much as possible. You're not reminded that you're in a game as much as you would be when dealing with the UI and switching your thinking between 2D and 3D."
Nava also thinks this system means players will have to get to know the environment of the world in greater detail, which should immerse players even more. Instead of pulling out a Sheikah Slate and tagging a Shrine in the distance like players do in Breath of the Wild, you use the Spirit Mask in The Pathless to simple move towards a highlighted destination you can see in the environment.
While removing a map might be considered a step down from Breath of the Wild, the Sheikah Slate could serve a similar function as the Spirit Mask and even do things like incorporated HD rumble to let players know when they are by an important area.
Make shooting the bow and arrow easier
The Pathless also uses an unconventional method of firing a bow and arrow that might fit right into Breath of the Wild 2 as an optional control method.
Instead of having to slow down time and aim a cursor in Breath of the Wild, players simply press and hold a button until a bar fills up so they can fire an accurate shot. Players can constantly be moving and don't have to worry about stopping everything else in order to line up a shot correctly.
"The timing mechanic there was really invented to enable that fluid motion through the space ... moment to moment," Nava said.
Combat in Breath of the Wild is relatively simple, and slowing down time to aim or stopping movement outright only slows down the combat. This kind of change would speed up the pace of combat and even make the game more accessible to those who have trouble handling the bow in the game
While Breath of the Wild 2 might be too late in its development to take any real cues from The Pathless in terms of gameplay, this is definitely a game that Nintendo should keep an eye on. It introduces these interesting mechanics in a Breath of the Wild-style world, and neither the lack of a map nor the arrow shooting innovation would feel out of place in the Zelda game.
We've yet to see what gameplay innovations Breath of the Wild 2 will bring, but we'll see how gamers react to these particular mechanics from The Pathless when it launches alongside the PS5 in November.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 is in development for Nintendo Switch.