The sequel has a lot to live up to- here’s what we’re hoping to see from it.
It’s rare to see a game that is a little over three years old being heralded as one of the all-time greats- but Breath of the Wild was just that good. Hell, it was being heralded as one of the all-time greats the day it came out. It was a much-needed shot in the arm for The Legend of Zelda, a massive and instant boost for the Switch right at launch, and paved the way for a new approach to open world design that will likely be hugely influential to all developers in the industry for many, many years to come.
Given its success, it’s not much of a surprise that Nintendo are working on a direct sequel, even though that isn’t something Zelda does too often. Following up on one of the most highly regarded games of all time is not an enviable task though, and Nintendo certainly have their work cut out from them. Everyone has a lot of expectations from the sequel- and that includes us as well, of course.
To that end, in this feature, we’ll be talking about ten things that we hope Nintendo will incorporate in Breath of the Wild’s highly anticipated sequel.
With previous sequels such as Majora’s Mask and Phantom Hourglass, even though Nintendo was creating games that were acting as direct narrative follow ups to their predecessors, they still took players to completely new locations. With Breath of the Wild 2, however (or whatever Nintendo ends up calling it), that’s not going to be the case. Back in June 2019, series producer Eiji Aonuma confirmed that the sequel would be set in the same Hyrule as the first game.
Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule was, of course, a vast, beautiful, exquisitely crafted open world environment, so we’re not going to complain about revisiting that map again. But a big part of the experience was that sense of wonder and discovery we felt on a near-constant basis during our first playthrough, which, of course, would be lost if we’re simply revisiting the same Hyrule. As such, we’re hoping Nintendo will still find a way to include new locations and areas to Hyrule that weren’t included in Breath of the Wild, to make the map a little larger than the first game. Perhaps some older areas could even be remixed, so that even locations that are familiar have a new twist to them.
DUAL WORLD MECHANIC
One of the ways Breath of the Wild 2 can stave off a feeling of familiarity in spite of reusing the same map from the first game is by giving players two overlapping worlds to explore. This is, of course, something that Zelda games have done many times, in several different ways. The time travelling in Ocarina of Time, the Dark World in A Link to the Past, the Twilight Realm in Twilight Princess, Lorule in A Link Between Worlds- all of these were really smart ways for Nintendo to allow players to jump back and forth between two unique perspectives on the same world.
And that’s something that we would love to see in Breath of the Wild 2 as well. For starters, it would make sense for Nintendo to do that, as we already mentioned, since it would help them introduce new locations and areas while still reusing the same Hyrule. More importantly, there are definitely things in the sequel’s reveal trailer that do hint that something like that might happen. The entire trailer sees Zelda and Link travelling through what seems like an underground location- so perhaps there is a buried, ancient kingdom beneath Hyrule that players will also be able to explore in Breath of the Wild 2?
Breath of the Wild changed up the age-old Zelda formula radically, and many things that had been staples of the series for a long, long time were either altered significantly, or removed altogether. Dungeons have been a Zelda mainstay since pretty much the day the franchise was born, but in Breath of the Wild, they took on an entirely different form. The Divine Beasts were dungeons, technically speaking, but the traditional dungeons one usually expects to see in Zelda games were not present in the game.
That is one thing that many fans of the series have been hoping to see in the sequel- us included. Breath of the Wild’s systemic open world approach is definitely the way to go for the series, but that approach and traditional dungeons don’t have to be mutually exclusive. A massive open world game like Breath of the Wild that also has traditional Zelda dungeons would honestly be the perfect combination. A rumour earlier this year suggested that dungeons would indeed be making a return in Breath of the Wild 2, and while you can never be too sure about any rumour related to anything Nintendo, we certainly hope this one was true.
MORE VISUAL VARIETY IN SHRINES
Of course, even though Breath of the Wild did not have traditional dungeons, it did have hundreds of little mini dungeons called shrines. Traversing the world, looking for that instantly recognizable glow of a shrine in the distance, and heading straight to it to solve various puzzle and combat challenges was one of the core pillars of the game’s loops, helped infinitely by the fact that the design of these puzzles was not only typically strong, but also incredibly varied.
It’s more than a little likely that we’ll see more shrines in Breath of the Wild 2, especially seeing as the game is set in the same Hyrule as its predecessor, but as much as we loved the shrines in the first game, there’s still room for improvement there. More specifically, the aesthetics of the shrines could do with a lot more variety. Every shrine in Breath of the Wild pretty much looked the exact same, and it didn’t take long for fatigue to set in. For a game that was as beautiful and visually varied as Breath of the Wild was, that was a bit of a disappointment. Hopefully, Nintendo will make the needed improvements with the sequel.
BETTER BOSS FIGHTS
As with dungeons, the Zelda series is also well known for its excellent boss battles, with each of the bosses you face in these games usually having a very specific mechanic or gimmick as the core of the encounter. That, too, was missing in Breath of the Wild, and that, too, is one area of the game that gets criticized often.
Sure, there were still plenty of boss fights in the game, but they all felt a bit too bland, a bit too easy. None of the really ever stood out, which is quite disappointing in any game, but especially in a mainline Zelda title. Breath of the Wild 2 has a stellar base to work off of as far as traversal, exploration, and world design are concerned, but it also needs to make improvements in areas where improvements are needed- and boss fights are definitely one such area. And once again, just like with dungeons, we hope to see boss fights that are more in line with traditional Zelda games.
As far as storytelling is concerned, The Legend of Zelda has a rather solid track record. Games such as Majora’s Mask, The Wind Waker, Ocarina of Time, and Skyward Sword tell legitimately excellent stories, and tell them very well, while others like Link’s Awakening, Phantom Hourglass, and Twilight Princess also have more than a few narrative moments that stand out. Breath of the Wild certainly had the potential to join the upper echelon of the series in terms of storytelling, thanks to its fascinating post-apocalyptic setting more than anything else, but it’s fair to say that most of that potential was squandered. Nintendo showed us glimpses of some really good cutscenes in pre-release trailers, but when the game launched, it turned out that those glimpses were very nearly the whole story.
But here’s the thing- Breath of the Wild’s story, setting, and characters still have incredible potential for memorable storytelling. The game ends on a particularly fascinating note, with Link and Zelda setting out to rebuild Hyrule following the destruction of Calamity Ganon, and the sequel’s reveal trailer also hints at some really interesting plot threads. The return of Ganondorf is a real possibility (hell, it’s almost a certainty), and it’s clear that the sequel is going to have a much darker tone than its predecessor. Given all that, we’re not only hoping for a better story (and a better told story) in Breath of the Wild 2, we’re pretty much expecting it.
MORE ENEMY VARIETY
On paper, if you were to make a list of the various different kinds of enemies encountered in Breath of the Wild (and the several variations of each of those enemy types on top of that), you’d end up with a decently long list. But Breath of the Wild is a massive open world game, one that every player likely spends upwards of fifty hours in (if not way, way more), and within that context, that list starts seeming rather small.
Since we’re going to be revisiting the same Hyrule, like with many other things, it seems likely that mot (if not all) of the enemy types we encountered in Breath of the Wild will be making a return in the sequel as well- but this is a great chance for Nintendo to add even more new enemy types. Link and Zelda are going to be facing entirely new threats, they’re probably (or at least hopefully) going to visit completely new locations, and all of that would definitely warrant new enemies to fight and take on as well.
MORE BALANCED DURABILITY
Breath of the Wild’s weapon durability mechanic is one of its most controversial aspects. There are many who swear by it undyingly, saying that the very point of the game and its combat is to keep switching things up with different kinds of weapons, to keep juggling your arsenal and cycling through your weaponry to ensure that the punishing durability never backs you into a corner. And there’s definitely merit to that argument. But then again, there are many who argue that weapons in Breath of the Wild feel like they’re made out of glass, that they break too easily, that the constant breaking of weapons and the consequent need to find replacements is more an annoyance than anything else. And there’s merit to that argument too.
There’s an easy way for Nintendo to please both sides, of course. Removing the durability mechanic entirely would surely not be ideal- it’s an important part of Breath of the Wild’s combat loop, after all, and without the durability mechanic, players would have every reason to just stick with a single weapon throughout the game, which sort of defeats the purpose. But perhaps the durability could be a little less punishing? Maybe the more powerful weapons could last a lot longer than they do in Breath of the Wild, thus incentivizing players even more to seek out weapons of that kind? A more balanced approach to durability should surely be one of the things Nintendo brings to the table with Breath of the Wild 2.
One way or another, most of the traditional items one associates with The Legend of Zelda can all be found in Breath of the Wild. You have your bows, you have bombs, you have boomerangs. But one very notable item that has appeared in multiple Zelda games is missing- the hookshot. What’s interesting is that at one point during development, the hookshot was a crucial part of the traversal loop Nintendo had envisioned for Breath of the Wild. In fact, players would be equipped with dual hookshots, and would use them to aim at surfaces and climb and cling to them, like Zelda’s own take on Spider-Man-style traversal.
That never made it into the final game, but perhaps Nintendo could bring it back for the sequel. It definitely sounds like an exciting idea. As we discussed earlier, underground environments might end up playing a prominent role in Breath of the Wild 2 (at least if the reveal trailer is anything to go by), and using two hookshots to swing about like Spider-Man in underground environments would make a lot of sense. This way, in fact, Nintendo could have two very distinct methods of traversal for overground and underground areas. Traversal is a core pillar of Breath of the Wild, and if Nintendo do want to up the ante with the sequel – as most sequels do – this seems like the way to do it.
The Legend of Zelda fans have been begging for Zelda to be made a playable character for many, many, many years- hell, the series is named after her. And those requests have fallen on deaf years until now. Sure, we’ve played as Zelda in quite a few spinoff titles (most recently in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity), but perhaps it’s finally time to make her playable in a mainline entry as well.
And honestly, it would make a lot of sense from a narrative perspective. As we mentioned earlier, at the end of Breath of the Wild Link and Zelda set out on a quest to rebuild Hyrule together. In the trailer for the sequel, we see them exploring these ancient ruins together. Zelda had an important role to play in the first game’s story (and she’s prominent in Age of Calamity’s narrative as well), and it looks like that role is only going to expand with the sequel- so why not have her be a playable character as well? Come on, Nintendo. It’s time to finally give in.