Looking Forward to 2015: What I Hope To See In The Next Zelda Game

If you're a Zelda fan like me, you were no doubt excited to see some actual gameplay footage from the upcoming Zelda Wii U game at the recent Game Awards. Ever since that admittedly brief demonstration, I've been thinking a lot about what features I would like to see in the next installment of my favorite game franchise. So, here are five things that I think would be great to see in the next Zelda adventure.

1. A Massive Open World

When I think of a large world in a Zelda game, I think back to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on the GameCube. That game felt very open, and it was as if I was free to travel almost anywhere I wanted. In addition, the traversal was seamless; never was there a loading screen when sailing from one island to the next. If they can capture that open-world feel and seamless traversal in Zelda Wii U, then this game will be great. From what I saw in Aonuma's gameplay demo at the Game Awards, we might not be disappointed in this regard. The world of Zelda Wii U looks enormous! I was stunned when I saw them zoom out on the map, and then zoom out again to show how huge this incarnation of Hyrule could be (if it does indeed take place in Hyrule).

2. Non-linear Progression

In A Link Between Worlds on the 3DS, the Zelda team dipped their toes into the concept of non-linear progression. In that game, once you got to a certain point in the story, you could complete any dungeon in any order you wished. That was a great start, but in the next Zelda game, I would love to see them take that concept even further. Instead of holding my hand and telling me what to do and where to go, let me figure it out for myself. I want to feel like I am Link, exploring this massive world, discovering new things, battling evil, and overcoming impossible odds. Far grander would it be if each individual player's story changed based on his/her decisions.

3. Interesting Puzzles

One of my favorite aspects of any Zelda game is the puzzles. The masterful puzzles in The Legend of Zelda series strike a delicate balance in that they are interesting and engaging, but not frustratingly difficult. I'm confident we'll see more of the same with the next installment. The difference, perhaps, could be that the puzzles are not just confined to the dungeons. It would be fun if some of the collectibles in the over-world required you to solve puzzles in order to obtain them. That would make for a greater sense of accomplishment when you finally nab that elusive heart piece or rupee chest you've been eyeing.

4. An Engaging Story

The Zelda franchise has always been more interesting in terms of narrative than, for example, a Mario game. Any Mario fan knows that you don't play those games for the story. Zelda games are different, though. Link doesn't always have to save the princess. There might not even BE a princess (see: Majora's Mask). The last two Zelda games, Skyward Sword on Wii and A Link Between Worlds on 3DS, made great strides in terms of narrative. I would love to see Zelda Wii U take those building blocks and craft an even more intricate and endearing story for fans to get lost in. That leads me to my final — and probably most unlikely — hope for the next Zelda game...

5. Voice Acting

This might just be wishful thinking, but it would be amazing if they finally included full voice acting in a Zelda game. No, I'm not saying that Link should talk. Quite the contrary; I believe Link works well as a silent hero. But I want to hear the voices of the supporting characters — including Zelda and Ganon — rather than read page after page of text, only being able to imagine how each character might sound. This is something they've already done in the Metroid series. Metroid Prime 3 included voice acting for the first time in that franchise. Samus remained silent, but everyone around her spoke, and in my opinion it was done quite well. That's exactly what they should do in the next Zelda game. Voice acting adds that extra little spark to flesh out the supporting characters and make the world feel more alive.

These are a just few of the things that I would love to see in the next Zelda game. I'm sure the game will be great, even if some of these hopes aren't fully realized. What about you? Are there any other features you hope to see? Let us know in the comments below!