What to play after Zelda: Breath of the Wild?
April 15, 2017 8:30 AM   Subscribe

I love Zelda games. I LOVED Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and I’m now hunting around for my next game to play. But I'm so picky! Help me out — some more details inside.

Basically I just love Zelda, and the newest Zelda was exactly what I wanted: I loved the puzzling of the shrines and the satisfying exploration of wandering around the world and finding new shrines and other secrets.

But now I’m done (119 shrines, missing only the bloodmoon one I lack the patience for), and I’m hunting around for something that’ll give me the same feeling. Here are some games I liked and didn’t like to give you a sense of my taste:

* Zelda: Breath of the Wild
* Zelda: Link between Worlds
* Older Zeldas (particularly Link’s Awakening and Ocarina of Time)
* Ori and the Blind Forest
* Portal
* Civilization Revolution

* Sunless Sea (loved the atmosphere despite the wordiness)
* Pokemon X & Y
* World of Goo

* Okami ( :( I really wanted to like this one; but I found the dungeons kinda lame and the game a little story-heavy)
* LittleBigPlanet 3 (super linear with nothing to explore, and there’s no combat at all?)
* Animal Crossing (no computer chores please)
* Fire Emblem (too many characters, battle system got dull)

So if I were to try to generalize my preferences based on this list, I would say that I like exploration, light real-time combat, light puzzles, a sense of purpose, and a not too realistic atmosphere (but not cloyingly sweet).

I am not a big fan of story, characters, lore, etc. I find I don’t really care, and I particularly dislike unskippable spoken dialogue. Typically I play games while listening to a podcast or watching TV, and it’s hard to multitask when it comes to language. I also don’t like overly realistic violence (or super realistic graphics in general). The difficulty shouldn’t be masochistic: that’s hard to define, I know, but while I don’t mind repeating Ori’s platforming stages to nail them exactly, I’m irritated by having to redo a dungeon if the boss killed me. I also don’t want to feel a sense of purposelessness: Animal Crossing makes me feel like I’m wasting my time.

As you can see I am not very familiar with today’s open-world games. I’m trying Skyrim right now, and I’m currently finding it to be a little conversation-heavy for my tastes. I’m also trying Dark Souls, and I’m enjoying it more than Skyrim, but it is still a little frustrating. Maybe I would enjoy Assassin’s Creed, despite the bad rap it gets? GTA5?

I have a Macbook Pro, PS4, PS3, 3DS, and Switch, and I am thinking very hard about buying a Wii U just to play Wind Waker HD. Talk me out of it!
posted by crazy with stars to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
- Resident Evil 4: This might be a bit realistic for your liking (although it doesn't aim for hyperrealism), and its combat might be a bit heavy, but it's got a great sense of exploration with enough to keep you on track, it's got light puzzles, and its difficulty is forgiving (it has tons of checkpoints and it scales based on how well you're doing).

- Beyond Good and Evil: I think this probably has a PS3 port! It's a light action-adventure with a photo-taking mechanic and Zelda-style dungeons. The story is pretty tame but that's not what you say you're there for.

- Super Mario 64 DS: No story, just jumping around somewhat open-ended levels as Mario. There's a bunch of levels and they all have seven stars hidden in them with clues to find them.

- Wario Land 3 (on the 3DS virtual console): This is a game originally for the Game Boy Color, so it's tiny and compact, but it's a lot of fun! It's a platformer with a character that can't die and huge emphasis on puzzle elements. You get powers as the game goes on, which gives you reasons to go back to previous levels.

There's a lot of games I want to recommend but which you don't have a console that can play:

- Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 (for the Wii): they're a bit less exploration-based than Mario 64 but they have a similar sense of light action and light puzzles.

- Banjo-Kazooie (for the N64): Like Mario 64, a stellar exploration-based game with a lot of secrets and things to collect.
posted by LSK at 8:51 AM on April 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: FYI I have a Wii as well and am willing to emulate older consoles.
posted by crazy with stars at 8:55 AM on April 15, 2017

This could be me! Breath of the Wild just hit all the right notes.

The Darksiders games are basically heavy metal 3D Zelda clones (closer to Ocarina/WW/TP than BotW). The plot is dumb, and thus easy to skip.

The Witcher 3 is very open world-y (closest to BotW I can think of in terms of openness), but also very talk and text-y.

Since you liked Portal and the Shrines, check out The Talos Principle.

And though it needs a bit more brain-attention than Talos, try The Witness for another great first person puzzler.
posted by Wulfhere at 9:10 AM on April 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

I beat Horizon: Zero Dawn for the PS4 right before I started playing BOTW, and they both scratched the exact same itch for me (though honestly I still think I like HZD more). Open-world, exploration-heavy action-RPG where you hunt robot dinosaurs with spears and bows in a post-post-apocalyptic world. The only possible issue is that it's pretty story-heavy (tbh the story is the best part), so while there aren't too many unskippable cutscenes and the ones that there are are fairly short, it might not lend itself well to listening to podcasts while you play.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:32 AM on April 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

There aren't a ton of other games like Breath of the Wild around. There are games which resemble it in one way or another; it's actually quite eclectic. But, taken as a whole, it's completely extraordinary. Your question is hard because you're saying, recommend to me a game that is like a sui generis modern classic. Nothing wrong with that! But most of the recommendations are gonna be disappointing, just as a statistical necessity.

Among other Zelda games, it looks like you may not have played Link to the Past. You might have played too many other Zelda games to really appreciate LttP, but it's my other favorite of the series, and in some ways the best precedent for BotW. It has the same feeling of overall freedom, a world filled with secrets that you mostly explore on your own impetus, and some of the same lonely vibe. And it lacks most of the hand-holding and clinginess of the later series. (The NES Zelda can be recommended on similar grounds, but it's a bit uninviting by today's standards.)
posted by grobstein at 10:10 AM on April 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

A slightly left-field suggestion: Metal Gear Solid 5. It's somewhat open-world, very freeform, and has well-developed systems which interact in interesting and surprising ways which I really liked about what I've seen in BotW. It does get dialog-heavy in parts, and there's definitely a story (which is bananas). The violence isn't too bad, and you're heavily incentivized against killing anyone.

I've fallen hard for the latest Hitman game as well. There's definitely murder involved, but it's mostly a brief flurry of slightly detached violence as the culmination of careful planning and manipulation to put you and your target into the right place at the right time. It's a puzzle-murder game set in vast levels with a lot of moving parts that you have to learn and untangle. I tend to listen to podcasts while I play it. It also has a very forgiving autosave, at least in the main story missions.
posted by figurant at 11:28 AM on April 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you enjoyed Ori, I'd recommend Hollow Knight. Trades the whoa beauty++ and concise, simple story for a moodier, spookier world. A huge one, at that, full o' secrets, excellent handdrawn-style animation, and cute bugs.
posted by rhooke at 12:02 PM on April 15, 2017

I stopped playing The Witcher 3 to play BOTW, and while I'm savoring it and draaaaaaaawing it out, when I'm done, I am going to play Horizon Zero Dawn and then I'm going back to The Witcher. Did you try Skyrim?
posted by pazazygeek at 1:32 PM on April 15, 2017

Have you considered Earthbound? It's a wonderful game---charming, funny, and just enough of the times when you don't know what the hell you're supposed to be doing, but you can still mess around until you figure it out.
posted by interrobang at 7:45 PM on April 15, 2017

It's short, but Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons fits almost all your criteria
posted by benbenson at 8:58 AM on April 16, 2017

PS3: 3d Dot Game Heroes. Pretty much Zelda, pretty good fun.
Wii: Little Kings Story though perhaps a little twee.
posted by thingonaspring at 11:51 PM on April 17, 2017

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