Many Nintendo fans crossed their fingers and prayed for something related to Breath of the Wild 2 (BOTW 2) to be shown at this year’s E3. The brief sign of life shown during February’s Nintendo Direct only set Zelda fans on a trajectory course for total meltdown and implosion if nothing was shown. Thankfully, all is well with the universe as the audience got not only a new teaser but an estimated launch window.
However, on top of getting some answers, we were left with a lot of questions in tow. With BOTW 2 looming in this distance, here are the top five questions we want answered regarding the follow-up to one of Nintendo’s most legendary titles of all time.
5. More Specific Release Window
What gamers are often equally concerned about for new games on top of features, mechanics, and so forth, is the release window of a given title. A game could promise a whole swath of amazing material but if its release is delayed or worse, held in limbo, it does not bode well for the game’s future. Metroid Dread is a good example of an ambitious game whose development was halted due to limitations of technology and subsequently thrown into development purgatory. Thankfully in Dread’s case, it was revived and slated to be released later this year.
BOTW 2, which doesn’t have a working title yet, at least provided a year for when the game should be ready for launch. The release window Nintendo is aiming for is the vague year of 2022, with no particular season or quarter attached.
It seems the development team is trying to give themselves ample breathing and working room to craft their game while also providing fans a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Nintendo using a non-exact answer could also be to cushion against potential backlash in case delays do happen. If they gave too much of a specific answer and did not meet the deadline, it would be akin to throwing themselves to the dogs.
We are most likely looking at a Q3 or Q4 release window for BOTW 2, to give developers ample time to iron and polish the game to the same level of quality and design its predecessor was given. Though we would have preferred a more exact estimation of when BOTW 2 would be released (specific months or season), a vague answer is better than no answer at all.
4. Which console is the game designed for?
Rumors of an alleged updated and upgraded Switch console were steadily rising as we approached E3. From datamines, store page leaks, and insider comments, an updated rendition of the Switch is looking more and more like a possibility. It is also an inevitability, given the pace of the current console generation, with Sony and Microsoft touting their next-gen machines and hardware. It is only a matter of time until Nintendo plays its hand.
It leaves us to wonder if BOTW 2 is being developed with that mind. It will definitely release on the current iteration of the Switch, just as the original BOTW still released for the Wii U console. However, the Switch in its current state isn’t exactly the most optimal platform to release a game on, as video games, in general, are growing in scope, ambition, and technological feats.
An updated Switch console will definitely have the hardware necessary to make BOTW 2 a next-gen experience if the rumors regarding it are true, and technological steps up from its predecessor. However, focusing development primarily on this supposed console (which may not even exist) could potentially alienate an entire crowd of people from even playing, given that the Switch is Nintendo’s current console.
Nintendo could plan for a dual release, for both the Switch and the updated model, but that could potentially limit the heights BOTW 2 could reach due to the technological limitations of the older model. Whatever Nintendo has in mind, hopefully, it is a decision made taking both product and consumer in mind.
3. Link’s Arm
A big focal point in the teaser we received during E3 was Link’s new glowing arm. We saw from the teaser back in 2019 that Link absorbs some sort of green energy into his right arm (though whether this was consensual or not is up for debate). It is undoubtedly the same energy from the hand that was holding down the mummified husk in the underground chambers Link and Zelda ventured into during the 2019 teaser, which also rescues Link later.
The E3 2021 trailer revealed that Link absolutely has a new arm in the sequel game. Wrapped in the same strange straps the green hand from 2019 was, Link’s new arm is encased in black, with grayish paint-like markings reaching up to his torso. Beyond its unique appearance, the arm’s most important feature is how Link is able to perform a variety of new abilities with it, presumably.
From the trailer, we see Link performing a move similar to Stasis granted by the Sheikah Slate, knocking a boulder backward in a set outlined trajectory without having to batter it like normal. We also see Link phase through the underside of a stone outcropping, popping out from up above, surrounded by a brief swirl of the same greenish-blue energy.
We want to know how Link gets this new arm and whether it replaces the Sheikah Slate in any official capacity, with the latter being one of Link’s foremost tools in the original game.
2. Zelda’s Fate
Fans were hyped to see Link and Zelda in the original 2019 teaser starting off an expedition together, hinting that the two would be able to adventure with each other. Many wanted Zelda to be more involved in a game (and legend) about her after all.
However, we clearly see our short-haired princess fall into a chasm alongside some rocks in the newest trailer, rendering the hope of a game with Zelda as our companion, or being playable for that matter, to tatters. It is up to Link again to save the day all by his lonesome, albeit with some usual assistance.
What happens to her next? Was her fall due to the ominous red tendrils shown off in the trailer? Or perhaps she fell due to Link not being able to reach her in time? If the former, then she has been taken by enemy hands once again. If the latter, then her fate is much more up in the air (though, let’s be honest – she’s probably not dead. This game is called the Legend of Zelda, after all). If she does survive, will she end up as an amnesiac, instead of Link this time around? It’s interesting to consider.
To show such a pivotal scene in a trailer, Zelda’s fall must happen early in the game, with some sort of time skip accompanying it. This can be inferred by how vastly different Link looks throughout the subsequent footage. He no longer ties his hair, instead letting it flow wildly and freely. The small snippet where Link obtains his new arm also briefly shows him shirtless and probably injured, lying on a metal platform laced in runic letters.
Though this confirms that Zelda will be out of the picture for a while in the game, we wonder how much involvement she’ll have throughout the story. She maintained a semblance of a presence in Breath of the Wild, thanks to recovered memories, flashbacks, and the overall state of Hyrule, but it is doubtful BOTW 2 will pull the amnesiac Link shtick again. With her out of the picture so soon, we hope she’ll still be just as involved, even if it is just in spirit.
1. Timing of Skyward Sword and Sky Motif
There was a lot of falling down going on, both in the 2019 and 2021 trailers. However, an interesting thing to note was the focus on things falling from and floating in the sky. It is unlike anything we’ve seen in the original, with entirely floating cliff sides and rocky outcroppings basking in the sunset and sea of clouds. Even Hyrule Castle itself was ripped out of the ground and made to float ominously above, enveloped in a brooding red aura. There seems to be a major focus on the sky and things heading skyward.
It makes us wonder if Skyward Sword being remastered was sheer serendipity or on purpose with BOTW 2’s theme in mind. If it was done entirely on purpose, then it would tie together the first chronological game in the series with the game practically at the end of it all.
BOTW is already chock full of references to past Zelda games, from the Koroks, goddess statues, NPC comments, and more. Having this connection be divulged later in the game would be a neat way to tie the games full circle and a great nod to the franchise’s timeline, regardless of how convoluted it is.
Would make for a nice 35th-anniversary gift, eh?