The E3 2021 Nintendo Direct has finally been confirmed, promising 40 minutes of news and announcements for all of the latest games coming to Nintendo Switch. It’s the longest presentation Nintendo has done in forever, so fans are already speculating on what exactly the showcase will bring to the table. Like many others, my thoughts immediately sprung to a single game – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2.
Its predecessor was the best game in the series’ celebrated history, so a sequel comes bearing some monolithic expectations. First revealed in 2019 before the world was engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve only seen a single trailer for Breath of the Wild 2 and have been left to speculate on exactly what the new installment will bring. If you aren’t caught up with the latest cool gamer happenings, the brief trailer follows Link and Zelda as they venture beneath what appears to be Hyrule Castle, cautiously waltzing through abandoned dungeons in search of evil left behind in the wake of Calamity Ganon’s defeat.
The walls are adorned with strange markings as Zelda and Link stop to rest, allowing their mount a drink of water before they push forward, curious to uncover the mysterious secrets that await them. It’s all shrouded in a thick aura of dread, like we’re just watching and waiting for something to go terribly wrong. As the trailer draws to a close and we’re pulled away from its gorgeous scenery, Link and Zelda stumble upon a corpse emitting a strange torrent of dark, foreboding energy.
The frames that follow are purposefully chaotic, defined by sharp cuts and musical swells that indicate a demonic evil has been awakened and our heroes are in for yet another fight for their lives. It’s not possible to define the proper sequence of events, but it appears that Link decides to investigate the corpse and is imbued with some form of energy across his hand. The ensuing reaction causes the corpse to spring to life as its head contorts to reveal its crimson eyes – Ganon has awakened, or whatever power that once ruled over him has returned.
My own optimism and the contents of Breath of the Wild 2’s debut trailer have me believing that Zelda will be the playable protagonist this time around, or at least play a much larger role in the overall narrative. The previous game saw her fighting off Calamity Ganon inside Hyrule Castle, waiting for Link to save the day as he felled the Divine Beasts and relived the memories of his fellow champions and the woman he had grown so close to. It was a heartwarming journey, but one defined by its tragedy and the nature of accepting personal loss. The sequel is poised to be a new beginning, with Link and Zelda together again as they prepare to tackle yet another dangerous threat.
Now, it seems that Link is the one in danger, with Zelda left to watch on in horror as an evil beneath the castle erupts and causes shockwaves above them. Perhaps she is forced to run away, leaving Link and Ganon behind as it becomes increasingly clear that saving them right now is impossible. She’ll need to regroup and converse with the inhabitants of her kingdom to piece together a new strategy. Sidon, Riju, and the new champions could also help, now aware of Zelda’s return and the influence the Hylian Princess has over the lands in which they reside.
The possibilities are endless, and I also think Zelda’s new haircut is more than just a fabulous fashion statement. It’s potentially easier to animate, much like Link’s twinky hairdo, so perhaps there’s a mechanical reasoning behind her new look. That’s a wild theory, but one that could hold some weight. Making the princess playable would shake up the series’ foundations, forcing us to save the Hero of Time who has become so synonymous with each new outing. A speaking protagonist, one who could provide an additional layer of agency to a rendition of Hyrule many of us are keenly familiar with would be perfect.. Zelda could revisit old friends, reminisce over lost loved ones, and carve a new future for her, Link, and the entire kingdom.
Breath of the Wild was a bold evolution of the series, a step forward it had needed to take for the better part of a decade. The sequel should continue this transformation by switching out the hero for a heroine and working in gameplay innovations that we’d never think to entertain in such a series before. I’m talking more nuanced dialogue, improved combat, and greater investment in a story where your choices actually matter.
Zelda has the qualities to accommodate all of these brave new directions, even if it means putting her entire reputation on the line – or you could opt for dual-protagonist mechanics and simply allow us to switch between them, juggling the wider campaign between two characters we already know so well. I consider Breath of the Wild a masterpiece in so many ways, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be built upon with new and fascinating ideas – and playable Zelda sits at the top of the pile. Make it happen, Nintendo.
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