What I Want From Breath of the Wild 2

This article was originally featured in Issue #1 of META GEAR FILE, which you can download for free right here.

Details are currently scant for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, which is good. It means less feedback from the community, which means less chance of muddying the concept. I’ve recently enjoyed replaying the original, and it reminded me of how many things BOTW did right. This time I used a much more head-on and aggressive approach than the first time I played it, and I realized that despite being a big sandbox world with physics and trickery, it functions just as well as a hero simulator. So with that experience and the (true) ending fresh on my mind, let me explain what I want for the upcoming sequel.

The first thing I’d like is a change of tone, which is pretty much confirmed already. The original game was subdued, understated, and oddball. As a huge fan of Link to the Past for the SNES, this isn’t my fantasy of what a Zelda game should be. In BOTW I felt that the music especially was lacking for a grand adventure. The garbled, non-melodic action music for most battles did nothing for me. However, this time I really took note of Hyrule Castle itself, and how its soundtrack finally gives Zelda fans what they’ve wanted the whole time. It finally feels like you’re living up to the legend and confronting the heart of evil. They reward you with one of the best renditions of the Zelda adventure song you could ask for, to the point where I left the castle and went back into the wild with a new desire to return. I missed that heroic tone. I started to feel I should go back, that’s where my destiny is.” Hyrule Castle is where you remember that you are Link, the hero of the franchise. This gives me hope for the sequel.

My bigger gripe with the original, however, was about the quality of NPC writing, which felt way too full of modern Japanese clichés for what is fundamentally a western fairy tale world. Giving personalities to NPCs is great, but it seems like Nintendo is addicted to splashing in “quirk” where it’s not needed. Having fat MILF fairy goddesses who lust after Link, or a stereotypically homosexual architect trying to teach Link a stupid new dance for no reason shows that the developers were getting bored with their own world, and forgetting the value of “timeless” design. Nintendo properties like Zelda and Mario should always stick to straight-faced heroism and adventure, and play into the stereotypes we already know and love. Super Mario RPG was a glorious example of Square expanding the tiny conception of the Mushroom Kingdom with aplomb, turning every race into its own subculture and constantly reinforcing—not subverting—player expectations. If BOTW2 can ditch the eccentricities and stick to an earnest tone, it will be all the more satisfying.

The underworld featured in the short teaser trailer for BOTW (here) suggests a lot of tunnels and caverns, with a dark and lonely tone, obviously beneath Hyrule Castle. The last game explained that there was a deep underground system where all the ancient technology was buried, so it’s clear they were already hinting at going subterranean in the first game. That’s a good sign. I assume the whole game will take on a more Twilight Princess sort of tone as a result, where you can switch to a spooky dark dimension at will to fight hidden threats and solve puzzles that most people can’t see. Twilight Princess was the second highest selling Zelda installment before BOTW came out, so Nintendo has a big motivation to revive it. If BOTW was their callback to Ocarina of Time, BOTW2 will probably be a callback to Twilight Princess. I’m okay with that.

I’m also okay with the idea that we play as Zelda instead of Link. BOTW’s true ending, when you collect all the memories, paints a picture that she was the main character the whole time, and was meant to be leading the way. Link is just her bodyguard, and that’s what he remains after saving her. In this trailer Zelda has short hair, a cape, and is taking care of herself and her beast of burden. We see a moment where Link and Zelda are separated, however, when the ground beneath her feet collapses. That’s when Link reaches out to grab her hand, and does so at first, but this doesn’t seem to last long because his right hand becomes possessed in the trailer, glowing brightly. He’s seemingly taken over. The same ghostly arm is seen grabbing the chest of Ganondorf (or whoever the central evil dude is they find in the underworld) and I can only assume this means Link is going to be fighting off possession the whole game, while you carry on as Zelda and try to find a way to cure him.

If Zelda is the playable character, it would explain why you start weak, and why you wouldn’t have access to all of the hearts, stamina, and abilities that Link did. You could explore the same world again as a different character and it would feel fresh. If you combined this with the “dark world mode” of Twilight Princess, you could revisit all the old locations with new twists. And since the castle and the ground around it will be lifted up into the sky—as seen toward the end of the teaser—you’d have a central area that is very different and probably leads to an underground series of dungeons. That’s right, proper dungeons. I’m expecting to see full-scale dungeons leading deep underground, rather than little trials scattered everywhere. Zelda will have Goddess Hylia powers of some kind, and these will be steadily awakened to fight the darkness. Maybe a kind of flashlight to banish the encroaching darkness, a weapon of light, etc. At the very end of BOTW she bestows the Bow of Light (or whatever it was called) to Link, so she definitely has the power to create weapons of pure radiance when she’s at max power.

All of this is welcome, but it could be ruined if they don’t add a heaping variety of enemy types beyond shadow monsters, creepy insects, and freaks. The Yiga Clan was a good start towards building human enemies with interesting powers, but I want to see a more worthy assortment of foes that come out to play. Bokoblins, Moblins, and Lizfalos got tiresome by the end of the first game, and now I want cool enemies like corrupt knights, wizards, and warriors. Make them zombified if you have to, in order to explain why they don’t behave like normal humans from day to day, I don’t care. Maybe Zelda can’t wear armor and carry heavy weapons like Link did, so they don’t have to worry about the concept of looting the badguys as much.

Lastly, I wouldn’t mind some kind of pocket companion or central gimmick, but the Sheikah Slate proved its worth by simply being a utility, not an obnoxious side character. If Zelda ends up being able to command other creatures, summon things, or manipulate her environment in new ways, I’ll be more than happy.

What do you want to see in BOTW2? Is there something I’m missing? Let me know at metagearsolid@gmail.com

FOXDIE x SOP nanotech in real life?

Doctor Carrie Madej has released a video explaining the possible medical and ethical dangers of technology currently being planned for mass deployment on the human population. Whatever you think of the current pandemic and the government reactions to it, this is extremely interesting and shows how the technology in the Metal Gear series isn’t so far-fetched after all.

Mass production of injection and tracking tech underway

The US Department of Defense released a statement on May 12, 2020 about new partnership plans to produce billions of RFID-enabled pre-filled syringes that will be used to aggressively inject “every man, woman, and child” a mere “thirty days after a vaccine becomes available”. They say every human in America will “likely need two to four injections” and the syringes themselves will have a tracking device to report exactly when and where the injection took place.

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Announcing A Stealth Game: The Kojima Code, Part II

Giant Sequel to the Best Hideo Kojima Analysis in The World.

Over 350 all-new pages of world-class analysis by yours truly. Coming this Summer, on paperback, hardcover, and e-book, just like the first one!

For the first time ever, a deep dive into the most popular but critically overlooked game in Kojima’s career: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Not even my website has touched this gem with any depth before, but now you’ll get well over a hundred pages of dot-connecting goodness. The hidden meaning behind the game is guaranteed to surprise. I can honestly say that I didn’t even realize how amazing this game’s commentary was until I dug into it for this book, so you won’t want to miss out. It forced me to even go back to earlier games and notice things I’d never seen before.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots also gets the major spotlight treatment, taking this website’s famous analysis and taking it to the max. The true intention of the project is exposed, with many examples analyzed.

The Twin Snakes makes its appearance in the grand puzzle of The Kojima Code, and surprising contributions of smaller projects flesh out a pattern that perfectly builds on what the first book established. It stops before Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker but it is packed with insight that has far-reaching implications for the entire career of Kojima!

This book is a personal triumph. My writing style has gotten stronger, my topics more balanced, and my understanding of Hideo Kojima has expanded to a whole new realm of appreciation. You will absolutely think about his work in a new way by the time you’re done.

Buy it now:

Amazon  (link) (hardcover may not be available yet)
Barnes & Noble  (link) (hardcover available now!)
Kobo (link)
Smashwords (link)
Apple Books (link)

Update: Whoops! I got blacklisted from Metal Gear Mondays!

In a perfect world, everybody gets to have their own opinions and stand up for what they believe in, but as we’re finding out more often these days, everything is politicized and people are forced to choose sides. I think that’s a bit of a tragedy, because agree or disagree, we learn by sharing our views, talking things through, and hashing out differences. I know that’s challenging for people who want to maintain a certain image, protect their reputation, and limit their associations.

As everybody knows who has listened to my repeated interviews on Metal Gear Mondays over the course of the last year, I am a fan of those boys and took great joy in discussing my book with them, along with Kojima and Death Stranding. I know they enjoyed it too.

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2020 Board Game: Can You Escape The Trap? (Video)

Let me discuss a hypothetical board game based on hypothetical events of 2020 and beyond. Could be a fascinating game!

* Virus
* Economic collapse
* Political shocks
* Terrorism, hoaxes
* Martial law, FEMA, United Nations, protests, unemployment

Tons of interesting strategy to discuss! I might update as I get more ideas for this 2020 board game.

Surprise! Stick beats rope (Game Awards)

At Geoff Keighley’s 2019 Game Awards show, Death Stranding was represented in many categories. It won three of them: Best Game Direction, Best Performance, and Best Score & Music. What it did not win is Game Of The Year, which went to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

This is a defeat for Kojima, because even though he won smaller awards, everybody knows that unless you’re competing in a specific genre (Best Fighting Game, Best Racing Game, etc.) there’s only one award that really matters, and it’s Game Of The Year. Any publication or website can have their own GOTY award, but this is an industry award show, meaning that it is voted on by fellow developers and professionals. Fans could vote online for their favorite game in a separate category.

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