How Can Nintendo Top 'Zelda: Breath of the Wild'?

Spoiler: It doesn’t even need to

Key Takeaways

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild might be the best game ever made.
  • ‘Breath of the Wild 2’ is not the official name of the sequel.
  • The game will go on sale in 2022.
Link skydiving above floating islands in the sky in the Breath of the Wild sequel

Nintendo

Nintendo has released a new trailer for the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BOTW2), and it looks fantastic. But how on Earth (or in Hyrule) can Nintendo improve on the best video game ever made?

The sequel will arrive in 2022, and may well be a launch title for Nintendo’s OLED Switch upgrade, which is rumored to have improved graphics and a 4K TV output. The original BOTW is widely regarded to be the best game ever, and if you’ve played it you’ll probably agree. The only problem is, how can you possibly top it? 

"Although the first version of the game was a masterpiece [it can still be] improved by the creators," gamer and jeweler Hitesh Patel told Lifewire via email. "Weapons in the older version break easily, for instance."

How Can Nintendo Top BOTW?

The easy answer is that it doesn’t have to. For most fans, more of the same will be more than enough. BOTW departs from the historic Zelda formula with a new, open-world design where you can complete missions in any order, or not complete them at all. You can just wander the world, cooking, hunting, and taking selfies. If Nintendo did nothing but add new missions to the old game, that would be fine for many players.

Nintendo’s teaser trailer gives little away, but the Japanese gaming giant did make one disclosure: Breath of the Wild 2 will not be called ‘Breath of the Wild 2’. Apparently, the actual name gives away too much of the plot, so Nintendo is keeping it secret for now. 

Up in the Sky

Hyrule, the world of The Legend of Zelda, is already pretty much set, and already quite vast in BOTW. To expand the game, Nintendo has chosen to soar into the sky. In the trailer, you can see floating islands in the clouds. How do you get to these?

"If Nintendo did nothing but add new missions to the old game, that would be fine for many players."

Previous Zelda games have played with two worlds. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past had dark and light versions of the same world, and you had to warp between them to reach some locations. A 2019 BOTW 2 trailer took place underground, so that’s another direction that may expand Hyrule. 

Perhaps the warp tiles concept will return. Perhaps, as the trailer seems to show, you will "swim" to these sky islands. Or, perhaps, as one theory goes, you will use time travel. 

Time Travel

The Zelda series is set in a magical fantasy realm, but there’s also plenty of "ancient" technology, from giant robots known as the Divine Beasts, to drone helicopters with lasers. One gets the feeling that Hyrule was once an advanced technological society.

Link stopping a spiked ball before it hits him

Nintendo

Zelda expert Triforce Trends has speculated on the time travel aspect. It gets a bit wild, playing parts of the teaser trailer soundtrack backwards to support his theory, but there is some solid evidence, too. The style of the architecture is more ancient, for one. Also, Link, the hero of the game, and the character you play, seems to exist in two versions, one younger than the other. 

The original BOTW has plenty of flashbacks to Link’s adventures from 100 years prior. Perhaps he’s going back there? Or disappearing even further into the past?

Weapon Durability

If there’s one way to gin up a forum fight about BOTW, it’s discussing weapon durability. Weapons break constantly, and you have to find new ones. You might shatter a sweet flaming sword, then have to do battle with an old chunk of wood or bone instead. Some folks hate this, and want everlasting weapons in keeping with previous Zeldas. Others love it, or at least tolerate it.

"I don’t understand people’s gripe with weapon durability. It forces you to actually actively search for more weapons instead of hoarding them from day one," says commenter infamousbach on Reddit.

A new enemy type revealed in to be in the Breath of the Wild sequel

Nintendo

"As much as the break mechanic frustrated me at times, it was an excellent balancing tool and I'm sure that whatever they do it'll be fair to the player," replies mvanvrancken in the same thread.

A change here seems unlikely; unbreakable weapons would break the natural-world feel of the game. 

More Gear

This IGN video examines the minutiae of the trailer. There’s redesigned armor, new shields, and new enemies to fight. Also, lending more credence to a time-travel theme, Link has a robotic arm that appears to be able to freeze and reverse time, albeit on a local scale. 

It seems, then, that Nintendo really is just giving us more of the same. There’s a whole new plot, a new floating world, and lots more, but the underlying mechanics and world appear to be mostly unchanged. And that’s great news.

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