When Breath of the Wild launched back in March last year, its wide open world structure and sense of adventuring scope made exploring its world a big part of the joy. With past Zelda games being more linear adventures, and Breath of the Wild such a departure for the franchise, many have wondered if future Zelda games would stay open or return to the more 'classic' style – but thanks to a new interview it sounds like sprawling open design is here to stay in the series.
Speaking to IGN, series director Eiji Aonuma stated that the response to BOTW has taught him how important player freedom is to experiencing games.
You know... for me... especially just in terms of the Zelda series, the incredible freedom that this game offers you and how well that's been received... to me, it means that level of freedom is something that needs to be maintained in Zelda games going forward. My eyes have been opened to how important that is. [...] Going forward, I think we would definitely consider that way of thinking when we create something in the future.
Considering the commercial and critical success of the game, it seems like Breath of the Wild has created a new template for future Zelda games to follow. I personally like the thought of more traditional linear dungeons within a wide open world, but only time will tell where the series ends up.