The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 (or BOTW 2, for short) is without a doubt one of the most-highly anticipated Nintendo Switch exclusives there is and it's expected to release this year.
Since the game's announcement in 2019, Nintendo has been keeping its cards pretty close to its chest so we don't know a huge amount about the sequel to Breath of the Wild, including its exact release date and its true title.
Based on what we've seen so far, though, it seems to bear some similarities to the 2017 game, but with a sky-high difference; the most recent trailer below shows that floating cities are back, as is jumping through, and even paragliding past, clouds, seemingly taking inspiration from the recently remastered Skyward Sword.
What's certain is that, given it's the follow-up to what is considered one of the best Nintendo Switch games ever, expectations for Breath of the Wild 2 are astronomical. For everything we know about Breath of the Wild 2 so far, read on.
Breath of the Wild 2: what you need to know
- What is it? The upcoming sequel to 2017's Breath of the Wild
- What can I play it on? Nintendo Switch
- When can I play it? BOTW 2 is set for release at some point in 2022
Breath of the Wild 2 release date
Nintendo hadn't shared much information on Breath of the Wild 2 other than an announcement trailer and a few sparse comments but E3 2021 gave us the best look yet.
The Nintendo presentation showed off some more footage of the game, while letting slip a 2022 release date for BOTW 2.
We don't know if that's early 2022 or late 2022, but it's worth noting that the original Nintendo Switch launched with Breath of the Wild in March 2017, so a March 2022 date would prove a neat five-year anniversary. Speaking on the IGN Games podcast in December 2021, however, IGN boss Peer Schneider mentioned something about playing Breath of the wild 2 in "November 2022". Basically, it's all up in the air but it seems like everything's still on track for 2022.
Breath of the Wild 2 trailers
We got a better look at Breath of the Wild 2 in the E3 2021 Nintendo presentation, and it showed off a vast, expansive world of Hyrule – expanded even further with navigation into the skies, despite the more dungeon-crawling feeling of the original 2019 teaser.
There's some paragliding up in the clouds, along with more a freefall mechanic that seems ripped right out of Skyward Sword, and a new glove that looks to be taking the place of the Sheikah slate for Breath of the Wild 2.
There's even a short clip of a splashed puddle... reverting in time? We're not entirely sure, but it's clear that some new mechanics will be introduced into the Zelda formula, while one of the first game's sentient boulder enemies (that's Stone Pebblit to you) is shown with a Bokoblin fort on its back for BOTW 2, suggesting even more dynamic interplay between the game's many enemies. Take a look below...
We got our very first glimpse of Breath of the Wild 2 at E3 2019, though, with this spooky trailer that shows Zelda and Link exploring an underground chamber – with some mysterious runes, glowing hands, and a brand-new haircut that has set the internet on fire. Suffice it to say we're excited.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 trailer that first revealed the game is just 82 seconds long and there's no dialogue whatsoever, but there are some clues to be gathered from it.
It features a torch-carrying Link and Zelda traversing a dark dungeon beneath Hyrule (no big surprise there). Spirit-like tendrils creep around the musty tomb they're exploring, with the pair riding a large elephant-like beast. Something shocks the pair, and then we cut to what appears to be the resurrection of some long-dead (and creepy looking) warrior. Could this be the return of Ganondorf?
The video then cuts to a long shot of Hyrule Field, with Hyrule Castle in the distance. There's a tremor, the castle is smothered with dust... and that's the end.
The clip finishes with a message that reads: "The sequel to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is in development."
We wouldn't usually expect so much animation to be done so early in development, but it probably helps that Nintendo already has the in-game engine from Breath of the Wild.
Breath of the Wild 2 news and rumors
Rumors of a Nintendo Direct
The first Nintendo Direct of 2022 could be approaching according to recent rumors. Prominent Nintendo leaker, SamusHunter, has tweeted to say that they are “confident to say that it should arrive before last February direct”, which took place on February 17 2021. Though they seem to suggest an early February Direct could be likely, they add that they “don't rule out that it could also arrive in January.”
I know that there are a lot of people that are eager to find when the next #NintendoDirect is scheduled. Well, I'm hearing some announcement scheduled and launch period for games that right know makes me confident to say that it should arrive before last February direct (2/17)January 3, 2022
Now that we’re officially in the release year for Breath of the Wild 2, a Direct could be where we see more from the game or even get a narrowed down release date. As it is, Nintendo is yet to confirm its plans for its next Direct so we can only keep our fingers crossed.
Targeting the second half of the year?
Prominent Nintendo leaker SamusHunter has tweeted a list of games Nintendo is planning to release this year as well as rough estimates of which part of the year they’re targeting. In the list, Breath of the Wild 2 appears as targeting the second half of the year which would make it beyond June 2022.
-Updates for Splatoon 3 and Sunbrek-Eshop exclusive Title-Big budget unannounced game for the core audience (possible a Monolith Soft Project)-The Sequel to BotW-Casual friendly smaller budget gameThat's it, if I receive more details I will let you know.January 7, 2022
SamusHunter notes that “plans can easily change” so there is no guarantee that delays or alterations to Nintendo’s schedule won't take place. That said, the second half of the year lines up with the recent reports that Breath of the Wild 2 could be looking at a November release. Adding to this, SamusHunter also tweeted to suggest that we could see some new Legend of Zelda Amiibo launch in fall, noting that these release windows could indicate "possible launch periods of the associated games".
As it is, we should take all of this with a pinch of salt until Nintendo makes an official release date confirmation.
November 2022 release window?
IGN co-founder Peer Schneider made an interesting comment during the 591st episode of the gaming website's Nintendo Voice Chat podcast.
On the topic of a lack of open world games coming to Nintendo Switch, Schneider stated that could change "next November when we're playing Breath of the Wild 2," potentially signalling a late 2022 release for the game.
However, we'd recommend taking the comment with a pinch of salt. Nintendo has confirmed that Breath of the Wild 2 is currently on track for a 2022 release window, and a release around the holidays of that year seems realistic.
Patent hints at Breath of the Wild 2 mechanics
Three recent patents filed by Nintendo could give us an insight into the gameplay mechanics of Breath of the Wild 2. As spotted by GameReactor, the three patents have been registered with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Each patent contains a diagram of what could be Link abilities for Breath of the Wild 2, with the connection being drawn between what’s shown in the patent and what we got to see in the game’s E3 2021 trailer (that's embedded above if you need a refresher).
The first patent, for instance, describes the ability “to perform a special action” while a character is falling such as “a shooting action of shooting a predetermined object.” The diagram in the patent shows a character falling through the air with their arms wide and it’s a strikingly similar pose to Link’s at around 25 seconds into the E3 trailer.
A second patent describes “a designated object selected based on an operation input is caused to perform return movement to return to previously recorded positions and orientations, sequentially backward from the time of giving a start instruction based on the operation input.” That sounds like a way of saying Link might be able to focus on an object and reverse its trajectory. There’s a chance there’s a glimpse of this around the 44 second mark of the trailer, where Link appears to push back spiky chain balls that are rolling down a hill.
Finally, there's a third patent. This describes a scenario “in a virtual space including at least a player character and a terrain object” that’s above them. Basically, it appears the player would be able to move their character through the terrain object that’s above them. The trailer appears to show something similar to this at around the 50 second mark, where Link travels through the underside of a stone bridge to appear on top.
While it looks as though these abilities made an appearance in the trailer, none of these mechanics have been confirmed by Nintendo so it’s best to treat this with a pinch of salt at the moment.
A Nintendo Switch Pro could still be in the works
The announcement of the Nintendo Switch OLED put a dampener on those rumors of a high-powered, 4K Nintendo Switch Pro intended to launch with Breath of the Wild 2. However, according to Tokyo-based analyst Serkan Toto, a Nintendo Switch Pro could still happen. Toto has suggested that the Switch OLED might be a “dummy upgrade” before a real upgrade arrives next year.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Toto said: “This new Switch looks more like an interim model than a real upgrade to me,” Toto told Bloomberg. “This might just be a dummy upgrade until Breath Of The Wild 2 is ready and the component shortage is over next year.”
Skyward Sword HD in the meantime
There's still a wait for Breath of the Wild 2 but Nintendo has released an HD remaster of Skyward Sword in the meantime and we think it's worth playing while you wait. We think, from the mechanics and characters to the locations and narrative, both Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild 2 could share a surprising amount of commonality and we've explained why you should consider paying attention to Skyward Sword HD in the run-up to the release of Breath of the Wild 2.
BOTW 2 and those Majora's Mask comparisons
Nintendo's Treehouse is always a great place to find new info on upcoming Nintendo games, and Breath of the Wild 2 is no different. Bill Trinen, Senior Product Marketing Manager of Nintendo of America, spoke of BOTW 2 in a recent broadcast with IGN, and its much-noted comparison to the relationship between the N64's Ocarina of Time and its sequel, Majora's Mask.
"I would say it’s an easy comparison or conclusion to jump to at this point in time, just given what’s been shown so far and given the nature of it being a direct sequel. So I understand people making that conclusion, but at the same time – and I don’t want to delve too much into it – but this is its own game”.
However, whereas Majora's Mask reused lots of assets, Trinen wanted to make it clear that this is indeed a true sequel. “I think as we start to show a bit more of the game over the coming months to the next year or so, it’ll probably start to be a bit more apparent where this game stands on its own and what makes it so unique”.
"The way that [BOTW 2] builds on Breath of the Wild, which already was such an expansive game with so many layers of Link’s abilities and layers to the gameplay… I think this is going to layer quite a bit more into that”.
Ganondorf fan theory for BOTW 2
A new Breath of the Wild 2 fan theory is suggesting that Ganondorf could be a playable character in segments of the game. Barrett Courtney of Kinda Funny (via GameSpot) has suggested that the Link we got a glimpse of in the new E3 2021 trailer is actually Ganondorf and that part of the game will involve players exploring the fall of Ganondorf.
“This game will be learning about the fall of Ganondorf the man and then saving him from the evil that has been ruling over him for generations. And in doing so, we’ll break the cycle started by Demise.”
Continuing down this line, Courtney has suggested that the full name of BOTW 2 (still being kept under wraps by Nintendo) could be something like “Demise of the Wild”, making reference to Breath of the Wild and the corruption caused by Demise.
Incidentally, Demise is one of the main antagonists of Skyward Sword, which is to be re-released on Switch later this year. Courtney suggests that a Skyward Sword port was a deliberate choice, “Fujibayashi wants to connect all 3 of his major games together and getting Skyward to Switch will give first timers the back story they need before BOTW2.”
Of course, there is evidence against the theory and until Nintendo reveals more about the game, we can’t be absolutely certain about the story that Breath of the Wild 2 will tell.
The real title is being kept a secret
Nintendo revealed to IGN that it's holding back on revealing the official full title of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 because it could give away some of what's going to happen in the game.
“As for why we’re holding back on the name, you’ll just have to stay tuned because, obviously, Zelda names are kind of important,” Nintendo Treehouse's Bill Trinen explained. “Those subtitles... they start to give little bits of hints about maybe what’s going to happen.”
Trinen didn't indicate when Nintendo is planning to reveal the full title but it's likely that won't be until closer to the game's release.
More information coming in 2021
Nintendo’s Direct presentation in February 2021 didn’t bring any more details on Breath of the Wild 2 but it wasn’t completely absent. Zelda series producer, Eiji Aonuma, shared a small update during the presentation (via NintendoLife), noting that development is “proceeding smoothly” and that there’s going to be more information on the game later this year.
“I’m sure a lot of you saw me and thought there might be news to the sequel to the Breath of the Wild game.” Aonuma said, “Unfortunately, we don’t have anything to share right now. Development is proceeding smoothly and we should be able to bring you some information this year. For now, we’ll have to ask you to wait just a bit longer.”
We now have a 2022 release date thanks to E3 2021, of course, but that doesn't mean we don't hear more before 2021 is over.
Hyrule Warriors and a longer wait for news
Nintendo and Koei Tecmo Games have released a prequel to the original Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild titled Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Set 100 years before the original game, it has Link, Zelda and friends (including the four Champions, who will be playable for the first time) battle hordes of enemies in Hyrule before it was destroyed in the Great Calamity.
While it was exciting to have the chance to return to Hyrule in 2020, the release of this prequel did suggest it could be another while before we hear anything more about a sequel.
In revealing Age of Calamity, series producer Eiji Aonuma acknowledged the relative lack of news for Breath of the Wild 2 and said:
“In order to make the vast world you enjoyed exploring in the original game even more impressive, the team is working hard on its development, so you’ll have to wait a bit longer before we can provide more updates.”
Could Switch Pro rumors offer Breath of the Wild 2 hints?
There have been numerous reports that there's a Nintendo Switch Pro in the works for a 2021-2022 release date. Reports of the new console come from the Economic Daily News and Bloomberg both of which suggest a more powerful Nintendo Switch console with upgraded interactivity and improved display quality could be coming next year. Along with these hardware upgrades, Bloomberg also suggests that Nintendo has a bunch of new games up its sleeve to launch alongside the console.
Given the original Breath of the Wild launched with the original Nintendo Switch back in 2017, launching Breath of the Wild 2 alongside a more advanced iteration of the console would be some nice symmetry.
We now know, of course, that Nintendo is planning to release the Nintendo Switch OLED in October 2021 which has an improved screen but no greater degree of power, putting some doubt on these rumors. However, an analyst has suggested another console could still come down the line.
Voice acting misunderstanding
In a sign of just how much fans are looking for news on Breath of the Wild 2, an interview with the voice actors behind the Spanish dubs of Zelda and Revali in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Spanish podcast A Coffee with Nintendo was seized upon and caused some controversy (via IGN).
In the interview it seemed to be suggested that the voice actors had finished their work on BOTW 2, leading fans to think that the game might be further along in its development than originally thought. However, this proved to be incorrect. It was later clarified that the voice actors were joking and that context was lost due to translation issues. In fact, it's not even confirmed that they're working on the sequel. So we're left with no further clues as to progress on Breath of the Wild 2.
All the DLC that never was
In an interview with Kotaku, Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma said there were originally plans for more DLC content for BOTW, after The Champion's Ballad and Master Trials add-ons that came in 2017.
"Initially we were thinking of just DLC ideas," says Anouma. "But then we had a lot of ideas and we said, 'This is too many ideas, let’s just make one new game and start from scratch.'"
BOTW 2 will be a darker turn for the series
All we really know at this point is how little we know. But boy, are there rumors. The unexpected trailer sparked a huge amount of speculation, hopes and hot takes on what the next mainline Zelda title might include.
We've heard from Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma that the game is going to have a darker tone than Breath of the Wild, and will even be "a little bit darker" than Majora's Mask (via IGN).
The trailer certainly supports this, with what looks like Ganondorf's corpse being resurrected by a disembodied hand, and seemingly imagery from 2006's Twilight Princess, which saw Hyrule turned into a bleak shadow realm – largely in response to the far cheerier and cartoonish The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. That said, it won't be all doom and gloom - visually at least - as the E3 2021 trailer has at least indicated that we'll take to the skies and explore amongst the clouds.
The Twilight realm
The glowing blue hand in the trailer is the biggest clue that we'll be seeing more of the Twili – shadow people descended from Hylians who tried to take the power of the Triforce for themselves. The hand is wrapped in twisting shapes reminiscent of Twilight architecture, while the swirling magic could remind some of the portals that let Twili invade Hyrule in the 2006 game.
We know that BOTW's dev team originally toyed with the idea of an alien invasion, and seeing shadow creatures teleport out of the sky could well have been what they have planned this time around.
A clue in the audio
Showing just how far some Zelda fans will go, reddit user u/ReroFunk (via Inverse) pieced together a pretty convincing theory regarding Twilight Princess villain Zant, a Twili who served Ganondorf in the game. If you listen to the trailer's audio in reverse, there are certain notes that seem to echo the music played during your final encounter with Zant – who, while defeated, is adamant he'll return through the power of his "god".
u/ReroFunk also suggests we could see the demon king Demise return for the next Zelda game. Demise was the final boss in Skyward Sword, and revealed to be the original form of Ganondorf. The below still from the Zelda trailer also looks a lot like Demise when you think about it.
Lots of dungeons (and an extended map)
Rumors about the Breath of the Wild sequel suggest that we could be in for a treat in the form of a new map that's not like anything we've seen from Zelda before. What's more, a couple of new job listings suggest that Nintendo is looking for people to work on designing some dungeons and hidden bosses for the game – so far, so exciting.
Zelda's turn in the spotlight?
One of the favorite fan theories doing the rounds regards the Hyrule princess herself. She's shown in the trailer with a practical short haircut, and is dressed in a manner pretty similar to Link's own adventurer's gear – leading some to think she may be a playable character.
Zelda's devs have seemed pretty dismissive of the idea of a female Link in the past – sadly – but we may in this game see sections playing as Zelda, or at least with her playing a more active role in the story.
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