The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2’s Delay – What Does it Mean for the Game?

The recent delay of Breath of the Wild's sequel raises several questions.

Posted By | On 07th, Apr. 2022

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2’s Delay – What Does it Mean for the Game?

History has repeated itself. The next mainline The Legend of Zelda game has been delayed. That’s happened time and time again with a consistency that’s become sort of predictable by now- Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, and Breath of the Wild were all delayed, which means that four mainline console Zelda games in a row have now been pushed back from their originally intended releases. For most Zelda fans, the delay of Breath of the Wild’s sequel isn’t entirely surprising, even if it is a little disappointing- but even so, it raises a few questions.

The biggest question that instantly popped into most people’s minds as soon as the delay was officially announced was- should we be concerned? Now, as natural as that is as a reaction to a game getting delayed, it isn’t always rooted in rationality and precedence. Delays are, by their very nature, a sign that a game’s production isn’t moving along the way it was supposed to for one reason or the other, but while that is definitely true, there is very rarely a direct link between a delay and a game disappointing at launch. There’s a laundry list of examples that prove that beyond a doubt, which, of course, includes several aforementioned Zelda games as well.

the legend of zelda breath of the wild sequel

Even so, there’s some merit to that thought specifically where Breath of the Wild 2 is concerned. When the game was announced, for all intents and purposes, it was meant to be an iterative sequel to its predecessor, using much of the same work and assets, with the first game’s Hyrule map also being repurposed for the sequel. Much like Majora’s Mask, an iterative sequel to Ocarina of Time, launched very quickly after its predecessor, it was expected that Breath of the Wild 2 would do the same. Of course, the realities of modern AAA development mean that the turnover was never going to be as quick as it could be in those days, but given the fact that this was a game that originally started life as a Breath of the Wild expansion, many expected that the gap between the two releases wouldn’t be more than 3-4 years at most.

If Breath of the Wild does indeed launch in Spring 2023 as currently planned, the six years separating it and the original BotW will be the longest gap ever between two mainline Zelda releases, exceeding the five and a half year gap between Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild. Of course, we’re not forgetting that COVID is a huge factor here that likely extended the game’s development time by some margin- but even accounting for that, six years is a hell of a lot of time to develop a game that, on paper, is supposed to be an iterative sequel. That’s usually the amount of time developers spend on games that are supposed to be completely new, where most production work has to be done from scratch.

So why exactly has Breath of the Wild 2 taken such a long time to develop? Given how little we know about the game and its development, it’s hard to answer that question with any certainty, but we can take what little Nintendo has said and draw some rough conclusions based on that. And the first conclusion that jumps to mind – especially if we’re taking an optimistic outlook here – is that the upcoming sequel is far bigger in scope than we’ve been led to believe.

Sure, Breath of the Wild 2 may have been a fairly straightforward sequel at one point in time, but knowing Nintendo and how the Zelda team in particular operates, it wouldn’t be surprising in the slightest if we found out that partway through production, they’d decided to just go all-out and make a full-fledged expansive new Zelda game that far exceeds what they’d initially envisioned for it. Until very recently, something like that would have been an assumption with very little to back it up, but that no longer seems to be the case?

the legend of zelda breath of the wild sequel

And why is that? Well, because that’s what Nintendo’s own messaging seems to suggest. In the recent delay announcement video, Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma said that not only will Breath of the Wild’s sequel feature the Hyrule of its predecessor as well as the new locations in the sky we’ve seen in previous trailers, but even go “beyond” that. That’s very vague wording and could mean any number of things- but it’s clear that there’s more to the game than meets the eye. Because what could possibly lie “beyond” the sky? Are we going to outer space? As bizarre as that may seem at first glance, it’s not completely out of the question. Concept art for the original Breath of the Wild has shown that the game was originally going to feature aliens and UFOs invading Hyrule, and though that idea was eventually dropped, Nintendo is a company that isn’t averse to revisiting older ideas and finding ways to make them work in future projects. Of course, that’s purely speculation at this point, but it might be one of several ways that the Breath of the Wild sequel looks to expand in unexpected ways. Extraterrestrial enemies also featured in Majora’s Mask, so this isn’t something that Zelda as a franchise has never played around with.

On the gameplay front, Aonuma said in the delay video that the sequel will have a “wider variety of features” and new encounters and gameplay elements. Again, that’s as vague as it could possibly be, but how much more expansive is the gameplay side of things going to be compared to the first game? Patents discovered last year spilled the beans on some of these new mechanics, including a time rewind mechanic, expanded free-falling mechanics, and the ability to phase upwards through lofted terrain, all of which we’ve seen in the game’s E3 2021 trailer. But what else can we expect beyond that? Will there be better enemy variety? Will there be proper, traditional dungeons?

If we were, say, in 2020 and Breath of the Wild 2 was just a few months way from launching, we probably wouldn’t be asking these questions. In that scenario, we’d be expecting a fairly simple and straightforward sequel. But with this game having the long development cycle that it does now, and with Nintendo implying that there’s more to it than many have expected, the expectations have certainly changed. Fighting against aliens and having full-fledged dungeons in the open world might sound like wishful thinking, but at this point, most people will be expecting significant shake-ups on that level.

the legend of zelda breath of the wild sequel

We’re not going to have clear answers until Nintendo actually decides to show the game off, but again, it recent delay has raised questions on that front as well- though here, at least, we’re not expecting huge changes in Nintendo’s plans. If Breath of the Wild 2 was still set for 2022, an appearance at a summer Nintendo Direct would more or less be a lock. That might not be as set in stone now as it was a few days ago, but even so, we would be very, very surprised if the game didn’t make an appearance with a meaty showing by Nintendo’s traditional yearly September Direct at the latest. If nothing else, we at least need to know what the game’s name is by that point.

Of course, with Nintendo, you can never be too sure about anything. Nintendo does what Nintendo wants, and while that’s not always for the better, specifically where Zelda is concerned, the company usually makes the right decisions. There’s every chance that things have gone horribly wrong and Breath of the Wild’s sequel is an absolute dumpster fire behind-the-scenes, but given the series’ track record, we’re not too concerned about its delay.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.


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