It’s hard to think of a game that reached such widespread acclaim as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Since its release in 2017, it has been almost universally hailed as a boundary-breaking achievement, from the expansiveness of its open-world design to the ingenuity of its internal physics and its contribution to the evolution of the Zelda franchise.
It’s unsurprising, then, that pretty much the only thing anyone is talking about ahead of Nintendo’s E3 reveal on June 15 is the game’s upcoming sequel. Since an early trailer was teased in 2019, there has been widespread speculation about the follow-up, including some outlandish theories about how the game has evolved. Here’s what we know so far – and what to expect.
The only trailer so far for BOTW2 is just under 90 seconds long, and offers few definitive answers about the plot – other than that, unsurprisingly, Link and Zelda will be key protagonists. It also suggests that the technology of the Ancients, which was first introduced in BOTW, will be significant here again, as it’s glimpsed several times throughout the clip.
More tantalisingly, the trailer also seems to suggest a zombie-themed plotline this time around, as a corpse is seen being reanimated for a few seconds. That would offer a previously unexplored new direction for the series.
Is Ganondorf Back?
At present, it’s unclear whether arch-villain and primary antagonist Ganondorf will be returning. Although – spoiler alert – the player defeats him in the final scenes of the first game, he’s also been killed in almost every entry in the Zelda series so far, meaning he’s more than likely to make a comeback. As of yet, the only indication that he’ll return is a glimpse of a shadowy hand in the trailer, which rendered in the colour palette used for the villain in the original BOTW game (and which promptly set Twitter and Reddit alight).
Updated Level Design
Though praise for the first game was widespread, one recurrent strand of criticism was aimed at the repetitive and samey dungeon design in the first game. The two ‘dungeon-like’ areas in the game — namely, the shrines and the Divine Beasts – were hard to distinguish, and the bosses were all built around the same aesthetics. It made for a stark contrast to typical Zelda dungeons, which had become known for their distinctive and memorable dungeons and bosses.
It’s fair to assume, then, that Nintendo will have absorbed this criticism, and will address it in the sequel. Plus, with the previous game and its Hyrule Warriors prequel having wrapped up the Divine Beast storyline so extensively, it’d be surprising to see them be a major element yet again.
Nintendo Switch Pro
The game could be coming in tandem with an updated console: the Nintendo Switch Pro, or ‘Super Switch’. Though unconfirmed by Nintendo, it’s rumored to be a more powerful version of the 2017 original, and a release in the next 2 years would be consistent with the cadence of Nintendo’s usual console upgrades.
Speculation so far has suggested that BOTW2 would be the launch title for the console – and while this is unsubstantiated, it would follow the template for the original Switch, which launched with the first Breath of the Wild.
Early leaks suggested that BOTW2 would be released as soon as December 2020. That, of course, didn’t happen. As of right now, pundits from gaming publications are suggesting its release window is likely to sit between December 2021 and March 2023.
And at the Nintendo Direct presentation in February, Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma, clarified that the title is ‘proceeding smoothly’ – but noted that fans will have to wait ‘just a bit longer.’