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The starting order to prevent becoming biased towards the series/franchise as a whole

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If you're a Zelda newcomer who has not played a single entry in the series, and follow what I'm posting below, you won't become biased.

Although as you approach lower positions, in terms of play order, you will be biased from game #4 onward, it will be appropriate, so that you are not biased towards the series as a whole.

You will have respect and appreciation for every game, I have carefully determined it.


1. The Minish Cap
2. Link's Awakening (DX)
3. Ocarina of Time
4. A Link to the Past
5. The Wind Waker
6. Skyward Sword
7. Twilight Princess
8. Majora's Mask
- - Any Other - -


If you wish, you can only follow the top 3 or 4 games listed, as that won't take away much from your own personal choosings.

If asked, I can provide all of the main reasons for why the games stack up the way they do.
 
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DarkestLink

Darkest of all Dark Links
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Personally I think games like OoT and TP are the best starters. It's basically just vanilla Zelda. Games like MM, tWW, and SS are kinda like...vanilla Zelda but with flavoring. If you start with one of these, you might grow accustomed and biased towards the flavoring. I.e. MM setting the standard for a sidequest focus and no other game ever being able to meet this standard.
 
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Personally I think games like OoT and TP are the best starters. It's basically just vanilla Zelda. Games like MM, tWW, and SS are kinda like...vanilla Zelda but with flavoring. If you start with one of these, you might grow accustomed and biased towards the flavoring. I.e. MM setting the standard for a sidequest focus and no other game ever being able to meet this standard.
Yes, OoT and TP are pretty much the 'faithful standard' type of games, with Ocarina being the one that solidified the standard for the future installments.

In reality, Link's Awakening set that standard, improving the core formula of A Link to the Past, though it didn't get truly noticed by the public, so this remained invisible.

- Back on topic -

The problem is.. is that if you play Ocarina of Time first, it's pretty much the best there is, and there is no doubt that you will be spoiled by it, making you compare the others by its immaculate grandiosity.

And Twilight Princess, it indefinitely feels like a vanilla experience, I compare it to A Link to the Past by how extensively it focuses on quality dungeons, making you biased there.

TP certainly has good overworld exploration, but lacks in the other departments.

Whereas Ocarina, Link's Awakening and A Link Between Worlds are the only 3 Zelda games to date, which are 'balanced' in-between the aspects (Dungeons/Sidequests).

Even the items are pretty solid.

For overworld, I like ALttP, ALBW, Ocarina and TP, but nothing comes close to Link's Awakening (best overworld, by far) and Majora's Mask (of course).

Here's why I won't recommend A Link Between Worlds or Breath of the Wild -

They are both highly non-linear and open for exploration right off the bat.
You have to get used to restraints before you open up to something bigger.

Going from high to low may be a better idea than going from low to high (in most cases), but it certainly has never proven to be overall better than going from middle to high to low.

And that is, in terms of open-endedness and exploration.

You're right about Majora's Mask.
It set a standard that was never followed.

As for The Minish Cap, it's just a small little beautiful game, which is also set in Hyrule, making it suitable for an introduction to the series.

The difficulty for Minish Cap is the lowest out there, making it highly-accessible to beginners.

Such a charming and clever pleaser.

Wind Waker makes you somewhat biased, due to being a 3D Zelda experience that has some of the best sound effects, in synch with Link's attack moves from the extremely satisfying combat it has, and the sidequests are fun-fun for sure, it also offers very bright colors and a cel-shaded visual presentation for the graphical art design style, you would definitely notice a difference if you later go back to something like ALttP or TP (assuming you will be playing them for the first time).
 
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Castle

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I agree with @Farore's Chosen . To truly be unbiased you have to play in release order to see how the series has evolved over time. Compare how the series began, conceptually, with how it changes, where it deviates, and how it is today. Keep in mind Miyamoto's stated inspiration for the series as a general standard:

Wikipedia said:
With The Legend of Zelda, Miyamoto sought to make an in-game world that players would identify with, a "miniature garden that they can put inside their drawer."[7] He drew his inspiration from his experiences as a boy around Kyoto, where he explored nearby fields, woods, and caves; each Zelda title embodies this sense of exploration.[7] "When I was a child," Miyamoto said, "I went hiking and found a lake. It was quite a surprise for me to stumble upon it. When I traveled around the country without a map, trying to find my way, stumbling on amazing things as I went, I realized how it felt to go on an adventure like this."[16]:51 He recreated his memories of becoming lost amid the maze of sliding doors in his family home in Zelda's labyrinthine dungeons.
 
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Based on my own experience I’d suggest totally different playing order. For a newcomer, I’d say start from BotW. After that, I’m not sure. Perhaps vanilla games OoT and TP and then in release order. Or first all 3D games starting from BotW and then in release order. This is quite unpopular suggestion I know so let me explain.
The future of Zelda is going to be more open and it’s not likely the series ever going to be the same than in the past. By starting from BotW, a newcomer might appreciate Zelda games in the future more instead of getting disappointed and leaving the series. But this works only if newcomer has not played too much modern open world games. BotW is not an unique open world game, but it’s unique Zelda game. In addition, in BotW the story starts as Link has lost his memory so if the player has no idea of Zelda games in general, it suits perfectly. Furthermore, the player is able to experience everything fresh.

By starting from BotW player get biased, yes, but the gaming experience might be better and that’s more important. Player do get sense of the roots of the series by playing all previous games later. As a newcomer, I would try to max out the experience with BotW by any means necessary.

I started from OoT but I was a little kid when I played it so I wouldn’t count that. In practice, BotW was my first zelda. Then played OoT again, MM, WW, TP and then in release order. I wouldn’t change my order even if I could. That order really hooked me with the series and made me play every single Zelda game. I appreciate all of them I’ve played so far. And I’m really happy that the series is going to stick with BotW’s formula. And that’s due to fact that I started from BotW instead of traditional Zelda games. So BotW would be my suggested game to start with.
 

A Link In Time

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Pretty good list. Basically, if someone is to not become biased in a particular direction, I think they should stay away from A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, or Breath of the Wild as their first Zelda games. Anything else is fine.

A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time are the prototypical examples of the old formula with three dungeons, followed by a plot twist, and then some more dungeons before the finale. I think playing either of these games first will bias people towards that style of Zelda.

Playing Majora's Mask first will lead players to expect more in-depth side quests which no other Zelda game is able to deliver.

Meanwhile, playing Breath of the Wild will lead players to be biased towards the more open world formula that will likely become standard from now on.

I think all other Zelda games not mentioned don't adhere perfectly to any one template but take some aspects from all of them and create a more balanced experience coming into the franchise.
 
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Pretty good list. Basically, if someone is to not become biased in a particular direction, I think they should stay away from A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, or Breath of the Wild as their first Zelda games. Anything else is fine.

A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time are the prototypical examples of the old formula with three dungeons, followed by a plot twist, and then some more dungeons before the finale. I think playing either of these games first will bias people towards that style of Zelda.

Playing Majora's Mask first will lead players to expect more in-depth side quests which no other Zelda game is able to deliver.

Meanwhile, playing Breath of the Wild will lead players to be biased towards the more open world formula that will likely become standard from now on.

I think all other Zelda games not mentioned don't adhere perfectly to any one template but take some aspects from all of them and create a more balanced experience coming into the franchise.
Finally, someone who gets it.

Seems that you've really thought about it or it just sparked in you that some of these games are not really appropriate for starting out with.

I've chosen The Minish Cap and Link's Awakening for a lot of reasons as the first two.

They come off as preparation for what can be considered, the 'essential' Zelda experience - ALttP and Ocarina.

But Ocarina before ALttP for particular reasons.

Playing Ocarina second, makes you compare how the pace has dramatically turned slower (although if you look closely, there's more of an effect for reward you feel upon the mark of any actual point of progress, like acquiring an item inside a treasure chest, all appointed and strengthened this time by sound and visual cues).

A Link to the Past reminding you how 'down-to-the-point' it was, which can strike an impression in some players.

As for Wind Waker, you can play it at any point after the initial 4 I've mentioned, not necessarily having to be the 5th.

It just feels more like what Zelda should be like in a narrative-driven kind of way if it stays faithful to what was already previously established in a core sense, but like someone said - with flavoring.

And I like the backdrop with the bright and sunny weather and the great sea.

Skyward Sword is just bad for starters, it had the sky, which obviously could not replace a quality central hub area, like the previous fields, and there is too much backtracking and filler fetch quests.

Twilight Princess feels like Zelda, but it doesn't have an identity of its own and does not satisfy with sidequests outside of the heart pieces you can get in the overworld, bug sets, cat fetch mini-game in Hidden Village, and maybe the Cave of Ordeals.

I think Twilight Princess is an epic Zelda game, it makes you biased purely for what it visually represents, the relationship with Midna, and for how the dungeons are most consistent for quality.

And last, the Oracle games are simply of higher challenge, especially Ages.
 
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DarkestLink

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Go through it in chronological release order. That way you can see how its evolved, gain an appreciation for old and new.
A fair point, though I personally think it's better to play the older games later after you've learned to appreciate the series. I recently played the older games after a long time and realized how muddied my (and most people's) memory of them were. One common belief I see is people assuming puzzles have always been a core part of the series...but to be honest, puzzles didn't start showing up frequently until Aonuma joined the team.
 
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I really can't understand why everyone loves OoT so much besides nostalgia. It's fine sure but there's much better zelda games imo including in this list. Even Majora's Mask which is basically the same but so much more unique and interesting.
 

DarkestLink

Darkest of all Dark Links
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I really can't understand why everyone loves OoT so much besides nostalgia. It's fine sure but there's much better zelda games imo including in this list. Even Majora's Mask which is basically the same but so much more unique and interesting.
People praise it for being perfect. I think a more apt phrase is "flawless". Does OoT have sidequests of the same quality of MM's? No. Does it require you wait around a lot or put you on a time limit? Also no.

Is OoT's story as good as tWW's? No. Does OoT leave you sitting around doing nothing while you wait to arrive at your destination? Also no.

Most Zelda games have at least one or two controversial element that causes fans to turn their noses up and potentially even hate the game. OoT lacks these controversies.
 
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Moe the Moblin

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I really can't understand why everyone loves OoT so much besides nostalgia. It's fine sure but there's much better zelda games imo including in this list. Even Majora's Mask which is basically the same but so much more unique and interesting.
I talked about this point a bit in the shoutbox- it has nothing to do with nostalgia. It's just an incredibly special game, even if it isn't the best Zelda. Right now I think it has something to do with the way Ocarina of time delivers on classic fantasy archetypes in a way that Zelda typically doesn't. Earlier Zelda games were a bit too limited by hardware but for oot the visuals, gameplay, music, story, characters, while not necessarily great on their own, they all happened to align for this one game in such a way that made it deeply resonant with our western familiarity with fantasy tropes. Newer Zelda games since then have strayed off the beaten path and found their own cool little gimmicks to make them great games by their own merit and not just "another oot" which I am grateful for. I don't think they'll make another "oot" game again. This is all just speculation on my part though, I'm not a philosophy major

As far as op I legitimately think playing them in release order is a good enough way to do it cause most people will understand that early ones are iffy and if they don't really like it they just move on to the next one
The only problem I might see with this is that it makes alttp look a little bit better than it actually is lol
 

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I feel like no matter what way you start you'll always be biased in favor toward your first Zelda games. I know a kid who admits Skyward Sword isn't that great, but it was her first Zelda game so she has a soft spot for it.
 

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