|Here's some of my thoughts on the game after playing it for about 20 hours|
- It really does feel like Zelda. The world feels like a fully realized version of Hyrule, with subtle or direct references to all the locations from LttP, OoT, TP, etc... and the story and lore is perfect and respects everything that every previous Zelda game established.
- Even the gameplay itself, while being a major departure, cleverly takes little bits of influence from every single previous Zelda game.
- The Zelda 1 influence is obvious. You can go anywhere and the game gives you very little direction other than subtle hints, and there are many geographical references to Zelda 1 that you'll find throughout the game
- Getting rewarded with stat upgrades for completing shrines is taking influence from Zelda 2, and it's a very cool way to let you choose your own difficulty because the more spirit orbs you get the easier it will be to survive
- I get major Wind Waker vibes from exploring and finding random enemy outposts and other interesting locations with hidden treasure all over the place, and how every "square" of the map seems to have several things of interest.
- Another WW influence: flocks of birds subtly hint you to areas of interest. The wildlife in this game in general just adds a lot of atmosphere to the world and makes everything feel more alive..
- Catching bugs is a gameplay element taken directly from Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword
- Equipment/inventory upgrades is taken directly from LttP, Skyward Sword and ALBW
- The towns are very lively and the NPCs have as much personality as they did in previous Zelda games, I spend a lot of time talking to every NPC I come across and literally all of them have something interesting or useful to say.
- The NPCs even have their own schedules like in Majora's Mask
- There are even nods to all the weird experimental Zelda games, like area names taken directly from Link's Awakening or Phantom Hourglass. It really feels like they wanted pour as much references to other Zelda games as they could into this
- The game rewards you for exploration better than any other Zelda game.Every item you find is useful either for survival, to complete a sidequest, or just to sell for rupees, and unlike most other Zelda games rupees matter a LOT.
- Besides the shrines and towers, the koroks you find throughout the game reward you with extra inventory slots for your equipment, making it so you never feel like it's a waste of time when you go out of your way to investigate things that look out of place
As of now, I think that this is by far the best Zelda game yet. I don't even care that there's not as many dungeons. The overworld is so dense and treacherous it feels like the world itself is a giant dungeon without walls. It's amazing.