Every Friday, A.V. Club staffers kick off our weekly open thread for the discussion of gaming plans and recent gaming glories, but of course, the real action is down in the comments, where we invite you to answer our eternal question: What Are You Playing This Weekend?
The Electronic Entertainment Expo (or EEE!, as it’s known in industry circles) ran roughshod over a healthy portion of the internet this past week, tasking all of the planet’s biggest video game companies with making the most compelling possible sales pitch for their upcoming products, or just showing off a million hours of a new Guardians Of The Galaxy game, whichever seemed easiest. Given that Sony skipped the show for the second year running, this year’s festivities left plenty of room for rivals Microsoft and Nintendo to make an impression—especially Nintendo, which finished up a pretty damn hefty roster of new games (more Metroid, more Tekken guy in Smash, more WarioWare: This Is The Only One That I, The Person Writing This, Actually Personally Care About) with the reveal of footage for the inevitable The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2.
Which is when my palms started to shake, dear reader, and the Bad Brain Dread set in. Because, sure, we’re still (probably) at least a year out from the game’s nebulously dated release. But what if it comes out, and I don’t like Breath Of The Wild 2, either?
I’ve written in brief before about my inability to love Breath Of The Wild, despite it being The Anointed One, The GOTY of GOTYs, the Chosen Game itself. I’ve never gone into details, though, at least partially because my distaste always seemed to come back to nebulous problems with feel: the controls as stilted to me as the writing, the vaunted vaulting and climbing more filler than freedom. Every effort to engage in the cooking system felt more tedious than actually going to the kitchen and cooking, and while the sense of exploration on the open plains was undeniably intoxicating, the fiddlyness of its survival elements constantly undercut my wonder. (“Ah,” I whispered to myself as the rain beat down, “Nothing more heroic than digging around in my backpack for a poncho.”) Worst of all, I just came to the damn game late; having not acquired a Switch until 2018, I was forced to trudge my way through a post-apocalyptic Hyrule that felt utterly, depressingly tamed.
So: What if it happens again? Sure, Link’s new powers look cool—spike ball powers, fire powers, goo-man powers—but what if the Pro controller still feels wrong in my hands? What if this new game makes me spend another year of my life talking to that old ninja lady, or Generic Mad Scientist Child No. 6? What if all my swords break?! (I’m just kidding; the weapon durability was actually one of BOTW’s features that worked for me—although that awful inventory system was decidedly not.)
Really, though, what I’m working through here is just the fear of another year of gaming conversation that I’ll be assiduously left out of, frozen out of all the amazing discourse about what Tingle’s getting up to in this one. (Nintendo hasn’t confirmed that they’re bringing back everyone’s favorite middle-aged balloon pervert, but I’ve got my fingers crossed.) In 30-plus years of gaming, it’s hard to imagine a game that hit so many people so hard, a title that might really have been the last of the great system-sellers. Being unable to tap into those feelings didn’t just turn Twitter into a landmine of potential disagreements for me; it also felt profoundly lonely.
I’m hopeful, though. I’ll be in on the ground floor this time, exploring a new world, breaking new swords, getting my Link-slime on, like, everything. I’ll be right in the thick of it as people find new, increasingly goofy applications for Link’s powers. I’m going to love it this time, I bet.
God, I hope so.