MMOs. They're all about crap, F-key combat and spending three weeks making a pair of socks, aren't they? Not so, actually. Massively multiplayer, connected gaming holds the potential for so much more than the generic, life-sucking dragon-troubling that we've all seen far too much of by now.
With MMOFPS Huxley on the way, MAG announced at E3 and online cops and robbers sim APB coming too, we're finally starting to see the true variety of fun that the MMO approach can bring about. Inspired by said games, we've had a look at which existing franchises would benefit from a massive number of multiple players and detailed our plans for exactly how we'd make them work. Read on, and get those credit cards ready for your inevitable subscriptions. We'll keep them reasonable, honestly we will.
Why would it be good?
An online Zelda game wouldn't just be a damnably fine experience. It would also solve all of the franchise's problems in one fell swoop.
How would it work?
Beautifully. Think about the set-up of Hyrule as it exists right now. Multiple races with unique abilities, characteristics and territory. Ancient mystical artifacts (read: Loot) scattered about the place as if there's been an explosion in a Holy Grail factory. A whole kingdom perpetually on the verge of geological collapse due to the sheer number of caves and dungeons riddling its make-up. And this MMO-perfect tapestry is lavished upon a single hero on a rigidly linear story path? Wasteful, Nintendo, very wasteful.
Above: Imagine if every one of these people was a real, live player.
Let's have an immense and detailed Hyrule which we can explore indefinitely from the perspective of a self-created Goron, Zora, Fairy or Human. Let's turn the franchise's obsession with dungeon-crawling into an advantage by packing Hyrule with single-player and co-op instances set in said caves of puzzly death. Let's get rid of those walking signpost NPCs and repetetitive fetch quests and replace them with real, living allies and dynamic adventures. Let's have online play give the Zelda franchise the tooth-rattling shake-up it needs, and enjoy the full potential of Hyrule's richness in a way that a single-player adventure can only hint at.
By all means keep the dungeons and temples, but give us tons more - with multiple levels of quest objectives in each - and keep expanding the world through DLC. Fill the towns and cities with real people on their own, specific sub-quests. Give us puzzles which require a partner or a party to solve. Hell, even make partnering up a part of the puzzles by having some tasks require a specific combination of race-based character abilities. That would be a very Nintendo way of doing things. It would only take a few tweaks to the game's design to reinvent Zelda as an MMO, so stubborn series diehards wouldn't need fear abandonment, and the co-operative angle would fit Nintendo's philosophy down to the ground.
The more we think about this, the more it seems like the best idea we've ever had in our lives. If the next Zelda game turns out to be just yet another better-looking facsimile of its predecessors, we're going to be printing this page off and stapling it to Iwata's forehead, the first opportunity we get.
Will it ever happen?
Not with friend codes, a lack of Wii hard drive and Nintendo's policy of safe-bet similarity in its Hyrule-based games. But a more online-focused Nintendo would make this one sing.