As you play your way through The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you end up becoming the catalyst for the creation of Tarry Town, a brand new settlement composed of Hylians who come together to live in the middle of nowhere because—one assumes—they’re tired of being harassed by the monsters that roam the land. This sentiment is extremely relatable.
Though there are enough side quests in the game to keep you busy for hours, there’s a distinct way in which Breath of the Wild ultimately ends up feeling like a very specific sort of sandbox despite how expansive it is. Eventually, you run out of things to do, but I’d always felt as if there was potential for the game to continue to be engaging beyond the quest to defeat evil that you’re initially presented with.
Between things like Tarry Town, your ability to cook, and the house that you are given the time to buy and outfit with whatever you like, Breath of the Wild shifts into life simulation territory when you spend enough time with it. But it somehow never quite gets around to feeling fully robust. Strange as it may sound, Animal Crossing: New Horizons feels like where Breath of the Wild should have ended up gameplay-wise.
For that handful of people who might somehow not be familiar with the franchise, each entry in the Animal Crossing series has focused on you moving to a new neighbourhood and building a life for yourself as an assortment of anthropomorphic animals follow in your footsteps to become your neighbours. The recent Animal Crossing: New Horizons leaks have suggested that in coming months, the game is set to let you begin making foodstuffs in addition to being able to construct domestic tchotchkes. Were Nintendo’s creation to go all in and let you become an entrepreneur the way that so many of your fellow islanders are, it would become a different kind of game—the sort that Breath of the Wild always could have been.
Depending on what Nintendo chooses to do, Breath of the Wild’s upcoming sequel might exist in a wholly new space that incorporates things like Animal Crossing’s core elements. You know, the ones we’ve all come to love amid the pandemic that makes the game’s focus on basic chores feel strangely comforting. It wouldn’t just be an adventure in which you’re trying to save the people from destruction, it would be an adventure that leads to you living in and appreciating the world for what it is: a place we all share with one another and can only really exist in because we’re there for one another. Doesn’t that sound nice?