Okay, don’t freak out, but it’s happening: The follow-up to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is coming out next year. Or, at least, that’s what Nintendo is planning for. Never mind. It’s okay to freak out. We are.
At today’s much-hyped E3 presentation, Nintendo saved its entire last segment for Link and his pals. Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma led the segment with another look at Skyward Sword HD, a remake of the Wii game we first got a look at during February’s Nintendo Direct. The new footage isn’t all that different from what we saw in February — but Nintendo made sure to hammer home the point that you’ll be able to control Link with button input instead of motion controls. Thank goodness.
As expected, Aonuma saved the biggest announcement for last: a brand-new trailer for Breath of the Wild 2, along with a tentative release date of 2022. Since its first announcement two years ago at E3 2019, we’ve seen zero footage of the game itself, with Nintendo pleading patience from fans.
Today we finally have a solid look at what Breath of the Wild 2 will provide for players — and holy shit, Hyrule Castle is floating in the sky?!
IT’S ALL HAPPENING — With a runtime of just over a minute-and-a-half, the Breath of the Wild 2 trailer is more of a teaser than anything else. But who cares! There’s actual gameplay footage here.
The trailer opens with some Calamity nonsense and a brief look at a distressed-looking Princess Zelda before the sky opens up and suddenly Link is falling from on high. Then he’s running through the open-world Hyrule players have come to love, with some new Sheikah Slate power-ups and enemies.
The big question for players leading up to Breath of the Wild 2 is how Nintendo could expand upon an open world that’s already so expansive. The answer: open up the skies. Hyrule Castle (once again taken over by Calamity Ganon, it seems) is floating on a rocky outcrop high above your head. There are a bunch of other sky-islands scattered around Hyrule that Link can somehow leap up toward and explore. The sky’s no longer the limit!
CLASSIC ZELDA, TOO — Breath of the Wild 2 is certainly Nintendo’s biggest announcement out of E3, but the gaming giant would be nothing without nostalgia, right? Long-time fans of the series are eating well this year, too. Skyward Sword HD comes to the Switch on July 16, promising an improved experience from the original Wii game’s touchy controller issues.
Nintendo is also releasing a Zelda-themed Game & Watch. Like last year’s Super Mario Bros. G&W, this one will package several classic Zelda titles in one pocketable handheld, including the original The Legend of Zelda game and an interactive digital clock.
NO SWITCH PRO, BUT LOTS OF GAMES — Notably absent from today’s presentation was any mention of an updated Switch console, rumors of which have been gathering for years now. The Switch Pro is said to have a larger 7-inch built-in display as well as an updated Nvidia graphics chip capable of 4K output.
After years of anticipation, Nintendo has revealed a new trailer for the still-untitled upcoming sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at E3 2021, along with a 2022 release date.
Breath of the Wild was a launch title for the Switch, and it reinvented the now-35-year-old franchise with an open-world model that broke new ground in the genre and is wildly considered one of the most acclaimed games of all time.
That’s a long way of saying that there’s a lot riding on the sequel, which Nintendo announced over two years ago at E3 2019 with a surprise teaser trailer. It featured the return of Link and Zelda from Breath of the Wild, along with what appeared to be longtime series villain Ganondorf.
The Breath of the Wild sequel isn’t Nintendo’s only major Zelda project in the works: the company is also working on an HD rerelease of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which was originally released for the Nintendo Wii, planned for release on July 16th. The Skyward Sword port offers improved graphics and a new control scheme to allow players to play the Wii Remote-focused title with a traditional controller.
Nintendo told us ahead of time that today’s presentation would focus exclusively on Switch software, but many fans were still holding out for a surprise Switch Pro announcement. Some analysts expect the Switch Pro to be available as soon as September — in which case Nintendo still has a couple of months to make a formal announcement. Perhaps the updated console will be held for a holiday season release.