Polishing off the last few shrines and giving Calamity Ganon what-for in the final battle of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a bittersweet act. After such a wonderful, rich journey it was time to bid farewell to Link, Zelda and the largest, most expansive iteration of Hyrule we’d ever visited - what were we going to do with ourselves?
Of course, we returned to devour the DLC and burn across the kingdom on our motorcycle while vacuuming up several hundred Korok seeds, but then began the wait for the next 'proper' Zelda game. Sure, Cadance of Hyrule and the Link’s Awakening remake are helping tide us over - and there are plenty of Zelda-like games available for Switch - but there’s nothing quite like a full-fat Zelda experience, and that’s what Nintendo teased with its reveal at the end of last year's E3 2019 Direct presentation.
Yes, a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild is in development and below we’ve collected every last scrap of information on the game, starting with a breakdown of the trailer, and then moving into other details and speculation. We’ll be updating this article periodically with new information as we get it.
So, grab that Master Sword and let’s get lost (in the woods)...
Breath of the Wild 2 reveal trailer breakdown
So, what did the reveal trailer... reveal? Well, you can watch it above to refresh your memory, but let's have a closer look:
It appears to start off underground, presumably beneath Hyrule Castle. Green 'magic' spirals upwards from a point below the castle. Carrying torches, Link and Zelda pass wall paintings depicting a figure who appears to be Gannondorf. The King of the Gerudo is shown riding a horse with his trident.
Zelda is seen riding on a bison-y, oxen-y animal with horns. It's not the only animal we glimpse in the trailer - a cute rat also runs into shot, although the poor guy isn't around for much longer.
As Link and the Princess explore the caverns for the source of the magic, we see that Zelda's had a haircut and both characters have got natty new capes. Link's already got the Master Sword, too, which makes sense - this is a direct sequel. We catch a glimpse of the figure in the pit from which the dark energy is eminating, but it's all a bit murky. Zelda and the animal are seen getting water from a pool which Link loads supplies.
Black and neon red Calamity-like tendrils then engulf the poor rodent and we get a shot of a big bridge. Perhaps this advanced architecture indicates an underground city, or 'Old Hyrule' buried underground.
We then get a better shot of the spiralling green magic as Zelda and Link look on. The spiral culminates in a glowing green hand holding the figure in place and apparently 'suppressing' the evil emanating from it, although dark tendrils still billow out. The figure has long hair and a jewel-like object in the centre of its forehead, not unlike a certain King of the Gerudo...
We then get a quick montage of various shots. Link's right hand seems to absorb the light in some way and the figure. The evil Calamity tendrils shoot up towards the castle (presumably causing it to rise later). Ganon's got form with floating castles - think of Hyrule Castle's transformation for the finale of Ocarina of Time. We then get a shot of what may be a dungeon entrance (are dungeons making a return?), or the entrance to the caverns.
The cavern shakes, presumably after the pair have disturbed something. While Link ascends (presumably with the rest of the castle) Zelda is left below. Zelda turns round and is understandably uneasy to find that the figure - let's just call him Gannondorf because that's who it is (look at the Gerudo symbol) - has woken up with glowing red eyes (rarely a good sign).
We then cut to Hyrule Field as the castle blasts off. Where's it headed? To the moon? 500 feet above its previous position? Do we follow Link away from Hyrule? Or, perhaps, we might stay below and play as Zelda! That short haircut would avoid long locks clipping through objects during strenuous activities like saving the world and whatnot. Questions, questions...
And that's it! Anything else is pure speculation, although we're all for that.
What's been confirmed about Breath of the Wild 2?
Not much, although a few tidbits slipped out at E3 2019:
- Eiji Aonuma talked about the team's desire to return to the established Hyrule from Breath of the Wild and to incorporate new gameplay and story in that world; this grew from an overabundance of ideas for DLC. He specifically called it a 'continuation' of Breath of the Wild, so this is definitely the same Zelda and Link we've known for the past four years.
- The sequel is being directed by Hidemaro Fujibayashi, the same man who took the wheel on the previous game (as well as several previous entries in the series). Fujibayashi reportedly took inspiration from Skyrim while developing Breath of the Wild, and series boss Aonuma confirmed that many of the younger staff on this sequel have been playing Red Dead Redemption 2, although how that will manifest in the final product is still unknown at the moment.
- Eiji Aonuma also said this entry in the series will be darker, so more Majora's Mask than Minish Cap.
So, what are people speculating about Breath of the Wild 2?
- That short haircut suggests that Zelda might be getting in on the action this time around - as we said above, a neat bob won't get caught on swords or scabbards strapped to the character's back. Playing as the princess would be an easy way to put a fresh spin on the formula (and also address fans who were disappointed that she wasn't playable in the previous game).
- Speaking at E3 2019 with both IGN and Kotaku, Eiji Aonuma artfully dodged questions regarding Zelda as a playable character, whether in solo or co-op mode. When asked, he replied with this vague statement: "It's kind of interesting that you bring that up, because in Breath of the Wild, you see Zelda and Link together often too, so to go straight into the thought of co-op is very interesting to me." Is co-op interesting to him, or simply the notion of that occurring to the interviewer? It's not much to go on, and Aonuma has had to become adept over the years at deflecting lines of questioning and giving cryptic responses. All we can really deduce is that he's familiar with the concept of co-op (obviously), and heard the fans hoping to play as Zelda in the previous game.
- Playing the reveal trailer backwards for clues reveals that, although it certainly sounds creepy, findings are inconclusive for anyone hoping to discover a hidden message.
- With those cave paintings referencing pre-Calamity times, we'd love to hop back in time and see Hyrule before it fell; to see Castle Town and all the outposts and farms from Breath of the Wild at their peak, bustling before their ruin. It would certainly be melancholy to return to the past knowing what the future has in store. That's just our wishful thinking at the moment, but with very little confirmed or denied, right now we're free to dream!
- Some images showing behind-the-scenes motion capture for the Breath of the Wild 2 trailer have surfaced via Nintendo's Japanese recruitment website, although they really don't shed any light on the game.
- Tyler McVicker, who runs the Valve News Network YouTube channel and has a Nintendo channel on the side, has detailed a number Breath of the Wild 2 rumours. Here's a full summary via the Gaming Leaks and Rumours subreddit:
- Unlike the first part, the game will be linear at the beginning. Canonically, Link already knows Hyrule, so there is no point in climbing the towers again
- Instead, the developers have filled the world with a miasmic version of Ganon, and until the infection is cleared from location to location, it will be impossible to move around the entire Hyrule
- In this regard, the locations are worked out much deeper than in the original. At the very least, McVicker hints at the appearance of dungeons, strongly inspired by one game that knows a lot about spreading dungeons around the open world
- In general, while designing the world of Breath of the Wild 2, developers was inspired by Red Dead Redemption 2 (officially known) and another unknown game
Although none of that information sounds implausible, it's important to note that nothing is confirmed. Still, more traditional dungeons were arguably about the only thing missing from Breath of the Wild, with the four Divine Beasts not quite scratching the 'proper dungeon' itch and the bite-size Shrines being just that.
When is Breath of the Wild 2's release date?
Despite our hopes, it's likely not this year. The original game was revealed at E3 2014 and that didn't launch until March 2017, so it seems unlikely we'll see the game in 2020, especially given the inevitable delays across the industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the other hand, Breath of the Wild 2 is building off an established base. Zelda boss Eiji Aonuma was behind Majora's Mask - a game similarly built using the engine of its predecessor - and that only took a year to develop. Of course, that was a long time ago and game development has become a much more complex beast.
In July 2019 Nintendo posted job listings for scenario development and level design, which suggests there was plenty of work still to be done, and Aonuma has stated that the short development cycle of Majora's Mask is not something he'd put himself or his staff through again. With the increased complexity of modern games, it simply wouldn't be possible.
That said, the developers - with the help of Monolith Soft - have been working on this for a while now, and assuming the main overworld of Breath of the Wild is being reused in some capacity, that's one hell of a springboard to begin with. That's not to diminish the huge amount of work still left to do - we imagine Hyrule will undergo some pretty radical changes - but the dev team isn't starting from scratch. Could this realistically be a Holiday 2020 game?
Well, possibly, but we wouldn't get our hopes up. March 2021 would be exactly four years after Breath of the Wild, and 2021 seems like a safer bet. Stay tuned for updates.
So, that's it for now. We'll be updating this guide as and when we get new information, but for now feel free to leave a comment with your hopes, dreams, fears, speculations and generally excited exclamations regarding the next brand new game in the Zelda series. Seeing as it's anyone's guess when BOTW2 will arrive, you might also want to check out our picks of games to play after you've finished Breath of the Wild if you simply can't wait for your next Zelda fix.
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