Game Theory

Breath of the Wild 2 needs to make one revolutionary gameplay change

Outriders could teach BOTW2 a valuable lesson in scaling difficulty.

Outriders is a surprisingly clever game. While it may look like your standard looter-shooter, it’s loaded with smart gameplay features that make it stand out among the crowd. It’s particularly notable for its fine-tuned third-person shooting and deep customization options that let players craft their perfect build.

The best part of the game, however, is far more subtle. It’s also strangely something that could improve one of most frustrating things about Breath of the Wild if it’s applied to the sequel. We’re talking about a sliding difficulty scale.

Outriders features a “World Tier” system, which almost acts as an in-depth difficulty slider. As players progress, they’ll increase their World Tier. Each step up ratchets up the challenge levels and rewards. At any point, players can dial it back down on the fly. It’s a powerful little tool that makes sure players never get stuck or overwhelmed by difficulty while also maximizing the rewards.

The system works wonders for Outriders, but it could work in plenty of other games too. The most unlikely pairing? The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 could benefit from its own World Tier-style system.

The world tier menu in Outriders.People Can Fly

Outriders and Breath of the Wild are as different as can be. The former is a gritty, high-octane shooter while the latter is a gorgeous, relaxing open-world game. However, the two games did have a similar challenge to overcome.

How do you keep escalating difficulty without blocking player progress?

This was especially tricky for Breath of the Wild. The game is a truly open world experience, which means players can go quite literally anywhere after the introduction. That does not mean, however, that you’ll be prepared to explore certain areas. Walk in the wrong direction and you might immediately face a powerful Lynel that will destroy you. Part of the fun of the game is the joy of discoveries like this, but it can feel frustrating to get punished for your curiosity like this.

That’s where a World Tier system begins to sound appealing.

By including a more fluid, controllable difficulty level, players won’t have to worry about those moments. Instead, they can rest assured that they’re always somewhat prepared for any area they stumble into. The stronger players get, the higher they can bump the difficulty of the world around them. That could bring more powerful versions of enemies, extra resources, and better weapon drops.

If that sounds like a stretch, consider that this system isn’t exclusive to Outriders. Inspired by a similar idea in the Diablo series, lots of games have opted for its own version of the system. Most notably, Genshin Impact has an Adventure Rank system that allows players to adjust the World Level. Like Outriders, the higher the level the higher the challenge and loot.

Considering that Genshin Impact is already a bit of a clone of Breath of the Wild, that’s already hard evidence that the next Zelda game could easily make use of a system like that.

An explanation of Genshin Impact’s World Level system.miHoYo

It’s a little funny to think about. Breath of the Wild has been a massively influential game since its launch. It spawned an entirely new open world sub-genre that includes games like Immortals: Fenyx Rising. Gaming has changed a lot since 2017 and a Zelda sequel should change along with it. We’re seeing improvements to the formula in games like Genshin Impact and Nintendo should be watching closely.

Games are an iterative process and they get better when developers build on the best ideas from their peers.

So while Outriders and Breath of the Wild may not be similar games, they can still learn from one another. Scalable and adjustable difficulty can help keep exploration at the center of Breath of the Wild without removing challenge for hardcore fans. It’s a small innovation that could improve a nearly perfect experience.

Nintendo may not have the guts to give Link a gun, but it can at least give him a break.

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