Two years after first confirming development on a direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, at their E3 2021 Direct, Nintendo finally showed us more of a game. It was a brief trailer, and there’s still so much about the game that we don’t know yet- it’s name, for starters. But even though it was brief, it was quite packed, showing quite a bit of new things and possibly hinting at others.
To start off, within its very few seconds, the new trailer pretty much demolished most theories fans had come up with over the past two years based on the game’s first teaser. While most had been guessing that Breath of the Wild 2 would have a sizeable underground area, it was confirmed with the new trailer that the exact opposite is true. Rather than taking us deep underground, the sequel is taking us to the skies.
We saw everything from islands floating in the clouds to skydiving to paragliding on a far larger scale than anything in the first game. And with all that, it’s hard not to draw comparisons with Skyward Sword. After all, flight sections were a major part of that game. There’s also the fact that Skyward Sword HD is coming up soon- perhaps the remaster’s launch might suggest some connections with the Breath of the Wild sequel? With the game putting such an emphasis on the skies and flight, could we see some narrative connections with Skyward Sword? Perhaps Loftwings could make a return? Even if something like that doesn’t happen, we can at least expect some references on a smaller scale to Breath of the Wild 2 in Skyward Sword HD. That’s something Zelda has been known for in the past, whether that’s with Ocarina of Time 3D and Skyward Sword or with Twilight Princess HD and Breath of the Wild.
Moving past that, however, there might be some other narrative hints in the teaser as well. Though the new trailer was focused largely on the surface and the sky sections, a few seconds in the beginning were focused on the underground once again, and putting that together with what we saw in the first trailer, we might have some hints about what’s going on in the story. Zelda and Link have clearly entered this network of caves or whatever it is to look for something- so perhaps they’re looking for the source of Calamity Ganon? It certainly seems like the two of them in the underground section is how the game begins. Perhaps they travel into labyrinths beneath Hyrule Castle to find the source of the evil they defeated earlier to ensure that it never comes back again?
Most people have come to the conclusion that that figure we’ve seen in both trailers is none other than Ganondorf. Which would make a lot of sense, honestly- perhaps Ganondorf was sealed away underneath Hyrule Castle thousands of years ago, and Calamity Ganon and the Malice that we saw in the first game were bits and pieces of his powers leaking out?
Either way, whatever it is that Link and Zelda find in those caves, it’s obvious that things are not going to go well for them. In the trailer, we see Zelda falling into a deep abyss, which might just how she gets separated from Link. And perhaps she’s going to be in need of rescuing again somehow, and we might not see her until the end of the game. That’s by no means guaranteed, but that’s the series’ go-to formula. In the gameplay footage we’ve seen so far, we’ve only seen Link alone, which throws any theories about the two of them being together in this game out the window.
It’s not just Zelda who is probably going to run into trouble underground. The very first seconds of the trailer show us Link getting caught in some sort of corruption that grabs hold of his arm and begins climbing upward. That corruption looks a whole lot like the Malice from the previous game, which is interesting, but more importantly, there’s another very brief shot in the trailer that, together with this shot, might have given us a crucial narrative detail. We also see a magical blue-white glove of light enveloping Link’s arm in the trailer, and the fact that it’s the same arm we see getting corrupted can’t be a coincidence.
What that seems to suggest is that Link is going to catch some of that Ganon corruption, but to stop it from spreading, he’s going to get this magical protection on his arm. The technology and aesthetic of that glove looks a lot like Sheikah tech, but it’s possible that it’s connected to something else- perhaps some other civilization that resides in those islands in the sky. The fact that we see that protective glove or magic or whatever it is around Link’s arm in tons of other shots in the trailer tells us that he’s going to be spending most of the game with that thing on- which would make sense, if he has some sort of Ganon blight corruption on his arm that would spread if not for that protection.
It also seems that that arm protection is going to serve gameplay purposes. The Sheikah Slate, it seems, isn’t returning, and that purpose is going to be served in the sequel by Link’s new arm protection. Or at least that’s what it seems like from that trailer. The shot where Link freezes a spiky ball rolling downhill back upwards to trample the enemies behind it clearly shows him using that power with his right arm, which is the one with the protection. He isn’t holding a Slate in that show.
Beyond that, there are a few other interesting gameplay details of note in the trailer. We’ve only seen a few brief shots that show us large portions of the world, but there weren’t any shrines in any of them. Does that mean shrines are gone, or is that just something Nintendo has done for the purposes of this trailer? Meanwhile, we also see plenty of enemies in trailer, but most of them are familiar ones (other than that weird rocky mech thing, which- who knows what that is), while there doesn’t seem to be a ton of variety, which was one of the few issues people had with Breath of the Wild. Of course, we do see some interesting variations (like Bokoblins with large spiky horns, or that Stone Talus with a Bokoblin outpost built on its back), so it’s entirely possible that there’s new things in the game that Nintendo will show later. Hell, that’s not just possible, it’s pretty much guaranteed.
At one point, we see Link using a flamethrower attached on his left arm. That raises a few questions. Is that a permanent item or piece of equipment that we’re going to carry with us throughout the entire game? Because if it is, players could do some really interesting things with Breath of the Wild’s complex physics and chemistry systems. Or perhaps that flamethrower is a new kind of weapon? If that’s true, does that mean it’s going to be breakable?
But the most intriguing thing in the trailer by far is, funnily enough, Link’s hair. At different points in the trailer, we see Link with one of two different hairstyles- one being the classic ponytail look from the first game, and sporting longer, wilder-looking hair in the second style, without a ponytail. What’s interesting is that there’s a bit of a pattern in when and where we see each style. Every time we see Link with his old hair, he’s either on the surface, or in some underground section or cave, which is technically part of the surface. Every time we see him with long hair, however, it’s in the sky sections- either diving or gliding through the sky, or on-foot on one of the floating islands.
So why exactly is that? Clearly, there’s some sort of separation between the two sections that visually apparent. Could the separation be related to time? Maybe there’s some sort of temporal distortion and the islands in the sky are flung into the future, while the surface sections are in the present? I know this one is a bit out there, and there’s every chance it’s totally off-base, but The Legend of Zelda loves its time travel, that’s for sure.
There are a few other elements in the trailer that also seem to be hinting at some sort of time distortion. There’s the ability with which Link reverses the spiky ball, of course, while we also see him reversing the fall of a water drop and somehow using it to travel to a floating island above. There’s also the fact that we’ve heard the same reversed-sounding music track playing in both trailers, which might not necessarily mean anything, but for my money, is being used by Nintendo to convey to fans that there’s some time travel shenanigans going on. Oh, and somewhat off-topic, but now that we’re talking about that reversed drop of water- could those perhaps be points scattered throughout the map that let you get to various islands floating in the sky? It would certainly be a unique method of teleportation.
Either way, whether or not time travel is involved, something interesting is going on with Link’s hair. There’s also the fact that every single shot with Link’s new hair is very carefully framed in a way that you cannot see his face. That’s something that fans have obviously noticed, and there obviously has to be a reason for that (unless it just ends up being a massive coincidence, which seems highly unlikely). It’s hard to guess at what that reason might be at this point, but there’s little doubt that there’s something going on there.
Of course, it’s entirely likely that all of this turns out to be completely inaccurate. After all, after Breath of the Wild 2’s first teaser, everyone was convinced that underground sections were going to be a big part of the game. There’s every chance that when the next trailer arrives (which hopefully won’t be too long from now), many theories we’ve had here will be dashed against the wall as well. The game’s clearly a ways off from launch (to the extent where I wouldn’t be surprised if it misses its 2022 launch window), and obviously, there’s tons that Nintendo haven’t shown us. Either way, one thing this trailer definitely makes clear is that Breath of the Wild 2 is shaping up to be a much more ambitious sequel than the iterative upgrade we were all expecting it would be.
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