Swordless Zelda from Echoes of Wisdom isn’t about canon – it’s about good gameplay


This is massive, massive news announced for Zelda during Tuesday’s Nintendo DirectThe Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom — players will take control of Princess Zelda, not Link. For the first time ever, you’ll be able to play the full game as the title character (unless you count the exceptionally terrible CD-i games from director Eiji Aonuma it is not considered canon). But there is one key point of intrigue: v EchoesAonuma said that Zelda never fights with a sword.

Some long-time gamers like myself may initially find the lack of a sword in Zelda a bit disappointing. After all, he possesses several swords at various points in the series: Zelda’s sword with twilight princess is definitely hers; wields rapiers in the Hyrule Warriors games; and Breath of the Wild, clings to the Master Sword to protect him while Link takes a 100-year nap. Typically, like Zelda herself, this weapon only appears in cutscenes and other videos, and we only see a few moments of her defending herself with a sword.

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Zelda holds the Master Sword in her hand Tears of the Kingdom cutscene.
Photo: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo

However, I have a feeling that it wasn’t just the canon of her character that kept Aonuma from giving her the sword. Echoes. Sure, it’s true that some aspects of other Zelda stories would fall apart if Zelda suddenly became a master swordswoman. IN Ocarina of Timefor example, when disguised as a sheikh, she uses a harp instead of more classic weapons. And he certainly can’t employ the Master Sword, which only works when Link wields it.

That said, it also serves Echoesgameplay – and the potential for future games with both Link and Zelda as playable characters – for the heroine to abandon swordsmanship for this game. The decision clearly distinguishes Zelda’s mission to harness “the power of her wisdom” from Link’s regular searches for a variety of weapons and, ultimately, the Master Sword.

According to the Nintendo Direct, the Zelda character will employ a wand to wield Echo’s power, which she can employ to duplicate items in the game environment to solve puzzles and fight enemies. (Polygon senior editor Oli Welsh noted in our internal Slack that this mechanic essentially comes from Ultrahand from Tears of the Kingdom.) Players can employ Echo to copy a table or trampoline, for example, and paste those items into the world when they need them to jump over walls or climb a tower.

A screenshot of the Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom trailer shows Zelda placing three water cubes next to a cliff.

Image: Nintendo

Trailer for Echoes includes a clip of Zelda stacking several water cubes, then entering them and floating to the top, where she emerges into a previously inaccessible area. It’s gameplay like this that makes me fully trust Nintendo’s decision to keep Zelda swordless. IN Echoesshe has the power to replicate items she can employ to defend herself, not to mention the fact that she can replicate enemies and employ them to fight on her behalf (like any good princess should).

All in all, Zelda’s lack of a sword doesn’t seem to be a ploy to make her less powerful or more frail than Link – instead, it’s a reminder that the series isn’t just about the Master Sword. Furthermore, it serves as a reminder that Zelda’s greatest power is her intellect, which she uses repeatedly throughout the series to deceive her enemies, empower her friends, and lead with compassion.

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