Wrestling with Breath of the Wild design sensibilities.

My situation:

Why it just works:

  • It plays the open-world very safely. The game doesn’t try anything particularly fancy with the formula. There are no overly complicated outposts, no super fancy systemic.
  • All the things you would expect from an open-world game are still there, but they are not in your face. You stumble upon them if you decide to explore.
  • Everything is interconnected. All game systems tie together to lead to a cohesive tapestry of choice.
  • The game doesn’t slap you over the face with a ridiculously convoluted story. All NPCs are cute and likeable (even the bad ones). The narrative moments are brief and don’t detract you from the rest of the experience.
  • Quests are simple and challenge you to think.

The world

  • Shrines
  • Koroks
  • Camps
  • Open World Locations

Consumable Content

Death Stranding
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild


  1. Having a long list of “completable” content activities has the benefit of allowing engagement faster; this does lead to some burnout, unfortunately; also, the “limited” range of solutions for those activities becomes apparent eventually.
  2. Having no list of “completable” content activities can seem daunting initially, making the agents a little “directionless”. Perhaps more reticent to engage with the game, but tied into the “gear breakdown and re-supply” system, tends to lead to the same kind of engagements happening more organically in the open world.
  1. They need the goodies.
  2. It’s fun to do it

Encounter distribution

MGS 5 → Enemy Soldiers get updated reactively based on player approach styles — (Armor, Headgear, etc.)
Breath of the Wild: Color Shift.

Consumer mindset

  • You find an excellent item
  • You get to use it
  • It breaks, and you lose it, being forced to rely on other means of surviving an encounter.


The player is introduced to the “unsafe space.
The player conquers the space but discovers more unsafe spaces beyond.
The system pushes back, and the player returns to previously conquered zones to resupply
With multiple areas, the choices become “complex.”
  • What you need to do
  • What resources do you need
  • What direction to approach
  • Where/Why, I died
  • Where/Why, I ran out of ammo
  • Is the enemy too strong for my skill level

Unsafe Zones

Green, safe areas are not connected, forcing the player to take risks.


  • It serves a new Biome to the player alongside unique weather patterns and conditions that, as a player, you need to deal with (somehow):
  • Lush and Green
  • Jungle
  • Mountain and Lava
  • Mountain and Cold
  • Arid
  • Some areas go a step further and reinforce gameplay themes:
  • Lighting Areas
  • Dark Areas
  • Fog Areas
  • Rain Areas
  • Robot areas
  • Wizard Areas
  • Corrupt Areas

Player Pulls/System Push

  • Can I stress this Unsafe border using the tools that I have available?
  • Would Having a buff + meal + flame sword + warm coat be enough to explore this area?
  • How long can this buff last?
  • How many peppers can I combine for maximum effect?
  • What other ingredients can I use?
  • Fish here
  • Apples here
  • Red Peppers here

Gameplay Pockets



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Iuliu-Cosmin Oniscu

As a level designer I am not a creator, I am a facilitator. Senior Open World Designer. #Leveldesign #Open World #Design @notimetoulose.