Where to start: The Legend of Zelda (3D edition)

Legend of Zelda Where to Start FI

Game sequels, they are as common as ever. But with so many iterations of our favourite video game series, where do we start. ‘Where to start..’ is exploring just that. This week, The Legend of Zelda. One of the most popular video game series out there. Still, it wouldn’t be the first time we hear someone say they have never even played a Zelda game. A series spanning well over 30 years and more than 20 original games, the question really begs to be answered… Where to start!?

Note: In order to keep this article somewhat concise, we decided to only look at the 3D entries here. A 2D Legend of Zelda ‘Where to start!?’ will be posted later. Once published, it will be linked here!

General overview:

The overall story of the Legend of Zelda games is a complicated one and probably worth an entire article on itself! (Maybe some day!) But really, it shouldn’t matter. The official timeline is something we only got presented a few years back. There IS however an overall theme worth knowing before you get into the games. Not mandatory, but it might take away some questions.

Legend of Zelda - Many Links
Even though many games are many years apart in terms of story, each and every ‘Link’ you play, is a reincarnation of the Hero of old: ‘Link’. So too is each Zelda a reincarnation of the earlier Zelda’s and so is Ganon. These three characters symbolize the three parts of the triforce; namely Courage, Wisdom and Power respectively.
The struggle among these three symbolizes the balance between the three sources of power.

Where to start!?

As story is not really part of the equation, we have to take a deeper look into gameplay. With the recently released Breath of the Wild it would be easy to point there to start. Even though Breath of the Wild is an amazing game and well worth every gamers time, many Zelda veterans would point out it’s gameplay is far removed from the familiar formula. This is not (at all) a bad thing, but something worth noting when you want to enjoy The Legend of Zelda as a series!

Let’s just have a look at some contenders

The obvious choice would be both A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. Many gamers hail either of these two games as the best game ever made. Even though these games aged like fine wine, there are some decent arguments against starting with those games now-a-days. First and foremost.. they are not like the adventure games we are used to these days. On top of that, the somewhat ‘blurry’ low-res look of Ocarina and the pixelated sprites might turn of some of the more spoiled current gamers.

Then there is Twilight Princess, which is actually a perfectly viable contender. Not the best of the Zelda games, but one hell of a good game non-the-less. With the option to buy it on GameCube, Wii and WiiU it is widely available. A quest spanning well over 40 hours, a massive world to explore, great mini games and interesting characters to encounter. If you own a WiiU, we would advice getting that version. It merges the best of the original releases on GameCube and Wii and the higher resolution makes it a joy to look at!
-> See here how the Twilight Princess HD improves of the original.

Haters love to hate!

Another obvious contender, The Wind Waker. When first announced, the fans divided like red sea! The new Legend of Zelda would look like a cartoon. Many fans loved the new cell shaded visuals, many did not. History however proved the open-minded to be right as The Wind Waker is generally seen as a brilliant entry with an ageless and refreshing graphical style!

Gameplay wise, The Wind Waker stands out of the crowd as on of the best making it a prime candidate for newcomers as well. However, Nintendo made a rookie mistake with The Wind Waker… Early forced Stealth! Hardly ever does a ‘forced stealth section’ improve an adventure game, but early in the game is just mindbogglingly annoying. However, once you are past this (luckily short) part of the game, the world opens up and you will be off on an amazing adventure.
If you can embrace the graphic style and look past the forced stealth section, this might really be your best bet as first Zelda game!

A Link Between Worlds:
Even though this brilliant game boasts 3D graphics, the mechanics make it play like a 2D Zelda game. For that reason we decided to look at this game in the 2D ‘Where to start!?’ which will be published at a later date.

Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword

Odd one out

Much like Breath of the Wild, we would recommend against starting with Majora’s Mask. The game is brilliant sure, and yet another fresh look at the genre. The lack of dungeons, focus on sidequests and overall weird story makes this a great fresh entry after playing Ocarina of Time. Just not the best entry to start The Legend of Zelda series.

The last 3D Zelda we have yet to discuss, it Skyward Sword. Utilizing motion play to it’s fullest, Skyward Sword was probably the first game to make really good use of the one-to-one tracking of the Wii-Motion Plus. If motion controls aren’t your thing, you might want to stay away from this entry. However, like with The Wind Waker, for the open-minded gamer, there is a great adventure ahead if you embrace the new! Like many entries, a brilliant game with it’s own beauty and quirks. But again, not one best suited to start your Zelda adventures!


For those who did not just scroll down to the conclusion, you might have noticed a very, very mixed result. We do tend to lean towards either Twilight Princess and The Wind Waker for your first adventure though. Sadly to say, there might just not me a best place to start. Happily however, this does mean there are many possibilities. The most important however is that you simply start! The Legend of Zelda series is one of the most popular game series for a reason! Triforce

More Where to Start!?
– We dive into the confusing storyline and epic gameplay of Metal Gear Solid

In future instalments of ‘Where to start..’, we will be looking into many other series. We’ll be exploring Super Mario, Kingdom Hearts and many more. If you have a suggestion or are interested into getting into a specific series of games; please let us know. You can reach us via our Contact Page or by letting us know on Twitter!

Björn Jekel
Founder and Editor in Chief of PressQuit and the voice on our Twitter Feed. Interested in many things 'nerd' and above all madly in love with videogames of a wide variety. A year without Zelda and Final Fantasy is a sad year indeed and that is why it is my lifelong goal to yearly replay Ocarina of Time and Final Fantasy VII.