Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Will Unlock A Higher Difficulty After First Playthrough

By Ishaan . October 19, 2013 . 9:30am

In an interview with German site Gamewelt (via: Nintendo Everything), Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma has revealed that over 90 staff members worked on The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.


Additionally, Aonuma also revealed that, after your first playthrough of the game, A Link Between Worlds will unlock a higher difficulty level. Just what changes this harder mode will include has not been specified.


The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds will be available November 22nd.

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  • Probably less walls to phase through, higher rental prices for the items while being unable to buy them for keeps, more HP for the Bosses, Link taking double damage from everything. You know, the basics of a higher difficulty. But I’m sure there are more things that would make this more difficult! I hope. Like, say, more dungeon Puzzles that would require the items needed to normally travel the other dungeons, while this time, required to reach the dungeon’s boss! A minimum of two rented items should suffice, right?

    • Tom_Phoenix

      More (dangerous) monsters to fight would also be nice.

    • Armane

      Are you seriously expecting actual effort to be put in to a “Hero mode”? It’ll be the same as Skyward Sword; lose more hearts, no hearts appear, keep some of the items (probably will be able to rotate freely between items without additional charges).

      • GH56734

        Maybe with 90 staff members, it’s possible they’ll alter the room layout in minor ways but making it harder with different enemy placements, like in OoT Master Quest?

        • Exactly.

        • Armane

          They might add more enemies, but room layout changes like those of Master Quest just aren’t likely.

          As you said the room layouts change in minor ways, but they make a big difference. In 2D Zeldas though, it would be akin to starting from scratch. You couldn’t change the design of a puzzle without changing the room layout (outside of a few exceptions which may or may not appear in ALBW anyway).

    • British_Otaku

      My favourite hard modes also speed up the enemies and/or giving them more attacks on top of introducing the tough ones earlier… I wish more games would go that far. >_>

      It takes less work I think than designing more puzzle which unfortunately most players will never see as they don’t play aside from normal difficulty.

    • Asturias_Knytt

      PLENTY THEY COULD DO – Less player health/higher damage taken, smarter enemy AI, less item drops [pots/grass/chests], higher enemy speed, randomised enemy movement, higher enemy count, more bombable walls [as opposed to open doorways], lower amount of rupees, lower count of Fairy Fountains, faster depletion of magic meter and lower rate of infinite ammo meter ‘re-charging’, tougher bosses, less time in timed puzzles/altered order of puzzles…


  • Guest

    As long as the higher difficulty isn’t forced on you when you start a second playthrough because I sure as hell won’t be choosing it

    • Guest

      I agree with you, I just get games for the enjoyment, not the challenge,
      I never played the Second Quest in the original LoZ or Master Quest in OoT due to randomization with dungeon items and increased difficulty

  • Minos

    It should be there from the beginning.

    • Aaron K Stone

      They included Hero mode from the begginning on WWHD and now their going backwards again.

    • Actually, if Hard Mode is added from the beginning, wouldn’t it be considered “Normal Mode”, while “Normal Mode” would be considered “Easy Mode”?

      It is better this way.

      • Unless the first playthrough is a breeze to get through then yes, if not then no. Normal is still normal and hard is hard. Having the option to choose between the two at the beginning isn’t a bad idea.

        • Crevox

          Yeah, I dunno why it’s not a choice from the start. The only reason I could see is if the game changes drastically enough to the point that you need knowledge from the first playthrough to be able to understand/handle the mechanics of hard mode.

          Lightning Returns is doing this whole “have to play through the game once first” thing too, kinda annoying. I guess it might be due to the fact that people play on the harder difficulty, fail miserably, and then quit playing the game? And this gives people more likelihood to keep playing and see it through?

          I shrug.

          • FlyingPony

            Its better that way.

            It can be overwhelming for a new player to understand the mechanic and get used to it.

            Slapping a hard mode from the beginning can be frustrating, especially when there are story to be told and you get stuck and cannot proceed, and left in wondering on what is going to happen to the plot.

          • Asturias_Knytt

            That’s why there’s this thing called an ‘option’ Jesus Christ, have I teleported to dumbsville or something?

          • Exkaiser

            Then… don’t pick Hard Mode if you’re not ready for Hard Mode?

      • Sergio BriceƱo

        It’s just that usually in a Zelda game, the further you go, the harder the dungeons get. In this game, after a certain point you will be able to tackle the dungeons in any order and they haven’t been too specific in exactly how this affects the difficulty progression.

        That is the reason why I would have liked the hard mode to be there from the beggining. Actually, I’d go as far as say I think that is the very reason why they are making a hard mode in the first place, because it will most certainly feel like an easy game, even for Zelda standards.

        But speaking of Zelda standards, I know I will play this at least 2 times in the first month after I get it, so it doesn’t affect me that much, to be honest…

        • Asturias_Knytt

          You bring up a good point. I am interested to see how they have balanced the difficulty in tandem with the non-specific dungeon progression and whether they’ve toned it down wholesale so as to avoid frustrating players. Making this entry as accessible as possible seems to have been one of the key motifs. However, this is where it is suggested that the item hiring comes into play as they are critical in tackling said dungeons as per usual, only the way in which we attain them has changed. Still, I do have some gripes with the game and I’m still unsure how certain aspects will play out. Classic Zelda was all about fast-paced arcade combat and even without a packed inventory full of items it is arguably fun throughout.

          Aonuma came along and decided that puzzles were the way to go and as Classic Zelda was fun all the way through and his formula is fun only when you get all the items [IMO] the mission statement with ALBW is to take Aonuma Zelda and give it a Classic Zelda spin. You cannot have challenging puzzles at the start of a game as it simply won’t work therefore this is a faux-strategy and the game could potentially become stale really quickly. As history has proved recent entries in the Zelda series have largely had difficulty spikes near the end. That’s poor game design, in my opinion and is a display of a lack of nous when it comes to game structure. Arcade combat is always fun, Aonuma disagrees. Another thing is that I have to question how fun it’ll be to traverse to a dungeon only to realise that you’ve brought along the wrong item with you. Oh how very fun indeed. Moreover, I don’t know about you guys, but one of the best things about Zelda for me is the exploration and finding new items in dungeons and within the over-world. Having them conveniently placed in a shop kind of defeats that purpose, wouldn’t you say?

  • Storm

    People are claiming that Aonuma says it’s not another Hero Mode in this video interview (somewhere in the middle of this video). I don’t know German though, so I can’t confirm it for myself. http://www.gameswelt.tv/insert-coin/sendung-189,36802

    Edit: Some translations in here http://gonintendo.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=125272

  • NimbusStev

    In all honesty, if you have to beat a game to unlock a new difficulty mode, I will probably never touch it. With all of the games I have in my backlog, it’s very rare that I will ever play a game more than once within a 5 year period.

    • Well, difficulty settings aren’t made for people who play it once and drop it later. Meaning, this isn’t for you.

      • Travis Frazier

        Difficulty settings are made for people that like to change the difficulty of the game mean its for everybody. Its certainly not hard to give it in the beginning so that everybody can play as they wish. Even the recent Wind Waker HD allowed you to adjust the difficulty before you started the game.

        • Sure, but what’s the point of having “options” if not that many people explore them all? Not “everyone” will go through them, right?

          • Travis Frazier

            What you are saying makes no sense. The point of options is so that people can choose. EVERYBODY gets to choose between the normal experience and the hard experience. Whether someone wants to work their way up through the difficulties, jump straight to the hardest, or stick with the easiest, there is no correct way to play games and forcing a way onto people only leaves some people a little bitter.

    • FlyingPony

      You still can enjoy a game if the normal mode provide some degree of challenge.

      • NimbusStev

        Oh trust me, I’ll still enjoy the game. But given the amount of hand-holding most recent Nintendo games have had, it just kind of irks me that you have to play through it on beginner mode before unlocking the hard option.

  • Asturias_Knytt

    Nintendo’s backward logic strikes again! Make skilled players work harder to enjoy a game the way they want to. Should be an option from the off. Stupid decision.

    • FlyingPony

      Isn’t Zelda game play differently in each version? The skilled player from the older Zelda still take time to grasp the new game mechanic, hence still able to enjoy learning the new thing.

      • Asturias_Knytt

        You’re clutching onto cuccos. You’re referring to core gameplay mechanics that are unchanging. I’m talking about enemy and player health, item drops, enemy numbers/tactics/speed, puzzle arrangement etc. You have no idea what you’re talking about and I’m about done conversing with such idiots on this site.

  • Asturias_Knytt

    I’d much prefer an optional in-game levelling up system whereby if you do choose to collect XP drops of some kind then enemies gradually become tougher, but if you’re a noob you can just ignore them.

    • Guest

      No Zelda game has ever had a system like that, I doubt one ever will

      • Asturias_Knytt

        I severely doubt you know what the future holds.

        • Guest

          When you think about all past Nintendo made Zelda games, only one used an exp system and had side scrolling gameplay

          If you want an exp system like that, you’d be better off looking for another game series

  • malek86

    I’m still not sure why harder difficulty levels aren’t unlocked from the start. Are they afraid some clueless player will start on the hardest mode? Just put on a notice at the selection screen or something.

    It’s probably to artifically increase the game’s length.

    • FlyingPony

      I don’t know about Zelda, but for DarkSoul, the increasing difficulty in the NG+ proven to be increase the game’s length.

      The first play-through is always about exploring, the plot, learning the enemy and trap, while the further gameplay is all about testing the newly acquired skill to the extreme as many enemy can easily kill the player. Because of this, there is players that on their 7th play-through, just for challenge.

      Perhaps that is what Eiji Aonuma aiming for.

      • malek86

        In Dark Souls’ case, the first playthrough was already difficult enough that you don’t actually need to make it any harder (if they did, people would just give up). This is usually not the case for recent Zelda games.

        The second playthrough in Dark Souls also is not quite an “increase in difficulty”, since you get to keep your gear and levels. In fact, for many people, NG+ ends up being easier. It’s not the same thing as an harder difficulty mode from the start.

  • Jrocy247

    Will “Unlock” higher difficulty after first playthrough….*siiiiiigh*….Have you learn NOTHING from games that allow you to choose the difficulty from the beginning on your OWN FREE WILL…Not Everyone want their game to be easy on their first run, some of us actually like challange y’know.

  • SolarisSpell

    If we take the first Zelda as a reference, then we wouldn’t be talking about only stronger enemies, but a complete reconstruction of the game with harder puzzles and items replaced where you would less expected.

    It was indeed much more difficult. Do you remember that secret door that didn’t open with bombs but you had to ‘push’ the wall for a few seconds until you finally could walk trough it?

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