×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Everything we know about the Zelda sequel to Breath of the Wild

There is many a reason as to why The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was almost everyone's game of the year in 2017. The immense world filled with breathtaking vistas that rival the painterly brushstrokes of a Ghibli film is rife with so many adventures that some players are wrapping up their playthrough years later. Seriously, as hard as we try, we're still desperately searching for the last few of the 900 korok seeds scattered throughout the game's considerable map.

Players that have climbed every tree, talked with every character, and slashed through every Bokoblin in Hyrule might be ready for an all-new adventure with Link. Nintendo has already told us to not expect any more DLC after The Champion's Ballad, so what's next? We want a new Zelda game. We want a sequel to Breath of the Wild. Although this is a tall order — how do you follow up such a masterpiece? — the people that crafted the grassy ruins of Hyrule are working on … something. As usual, Nintendo is tight-lipped on details, but here is what we know so far about a possible Breath of the Wild sequel.

When? Sooner than previously thought.

Following the release of Breath of the Wild, the man whose hand has had a considerable share in shaping the series as we know it, producer Eiji Aonuma, told fans not to hold their breath for a new Zelda game. "We have no plans for a future Zelda, we are still far from all this unfortunately for you. Today, I'm at a stage where I'm trying to gather a number of ideas for a sequel, but I cannot do it alone. It's a lot of work that will have to be done over a long period of time, and we're still far from having planned anything. Leave us a little time," he said in an interview with Gamereactor.

Aonuma was probably, and understandably, exhausted after a five-year development period that took blood, sweat, and tears. But in the time that has passed since the bombastic release of Breath of the Wild, he and Nintendo have had time to catch their breath. On an episode of Game Informer's podcast, editor Imran Khan hinted at a release coming sooner than expected. The crew speculated on if a Zelda-themed Switch would be released with the next game, to which Khan cryptically replied, "I was just thinking what I should say about that. The next Zelda will probably be sooner than we think."

He said he would elaborate further off-camera. What we would give to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

Careful, sequels have been canceled before

As exciting as the idea of another jaunt into the infinitely creative mind of Shigeru Miyamoto is, Nintendo has been known to kill his darlings. Specifically, Aomura had alluded to a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker back in 2004 at the Game Developer's Conference. However, another adventure with toon Link never came to be. Why? Mostly because, as artist Satoru Takizawa said in the book The Legend of Zelda: Art & Artifacts, "demand for a more Ocarina-like game was growing by the day." But partially because they couldn't fit little Link on a horse.

The Wind Waker sequel would be more on land than sea, and so designers struggled to get a short-legged Link onto a massive Epona. Therefore, the game called for a more grown-up Link, which lead to a more mature design and narrative. This is how Twilight Princess was born. Miyamoto said that he wanted to give players that enjoyed the game another chance to play in the world of Twilight Princess. Rather than telling an epic tale, the planned sequel would be more of a side-story in the way that Majora's Mask followed up Ocarina of Time. However, the writers got ahead of themselves and were coming up with more involved, complicated stories.

Thus we got Link's Crossbow Training for the Wii, which used assets from Twilight Princess, but can't be called a full-fledged sequel. Here's hoping we don't get a Breath of the Wild minigame instead of a sequel.

Work has begun ... we think

Although we aren't entirely sure when the next Zelda game will grace gamers, we are sure that Nintendo has already begun work on another journey with Link, and we're not talking about the adorable 3D remake of Link's Awakening. We think.

A note in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Master Works by Aonuma confirmed that development is already underway, and that was back in 2017. So much for taking a breather. Nintendo gave no official nod as to what this work involved, but fans jumped on a telling job posting as proof that behind closed Nintendo doors, work on Hyrule was well underway. The Japanese listing called upon a level designer for "creating game events, dungeons, field planning, and making adjustments as necessary."

This quick turnaround is typical of Zelda development cycles. As soon as Skyward Sword was completed and released in 2011, developers had already begun thinking of a post-apocalyptic Hyrule. Whatever the next version of Hyrule is, it will likely be in 3D because Nintendo also posted a listing for a 3D terrain designer, but has been secretive on any other details.

Freedom is all important

Breath of the Wild is one of those games where players can forget about the main questline and spend some quality in-game hours hunting, gathering, and riding through the wilds. Link can choose to ignore his destiny and climb a couple mountains or seek out the biggest horse possible. Players can choose whether to attack Bokoblins in the cover of night or with a clanging claymore in broad daylight. The wilds of Breath of the Wild offer freedom, and it inspired producer Eiji Aonuma.

"I think for me, especially just in terms of the Zelda series, the incredible freedom that this game offers you and how well that's been received … to me, it means that freedom, that level of freedom is something that needs to be maintained in Zelda games going forward. My eyes have been opened to how important that is," he said in an interview with IGN.

Aonuma said that he wanted players to be able to solve problems in their own unique way, and that watching playthroughs of Breath of the Wild where players have solved puzzles in unpredictable ways has been fun. While we're not sure if the next Zelda game will be more linear than the sprawling world of Breath of the Wild, it seems safe to assume that we will have the freedom to search out our own shortcuts.

Petting dogs is also pretty important

We appreciate the ability to tame and befriend wild horses and weave flowers into their manes, but this doesn't make up for a glaring oversight on the part of Zelda game devs. As convincing and immersive as the open world of Breath of the Wild is, the game has failed us. In this day and age, AAA games are expected — nay, required — to allow for players to pet dogs should they be featured in the game.

Director Hidemaro Fujibayashi seemed surprised that people were so determined to pet dogs, but said in an interview with IGN that such a specific action wouldn't fit in with the game philosophy, wherein every action had many purposes. "So if it came down to something like petting a dog, we would actually have to put in a custom action just for petting a dog that couldn't really be used for anything else."

In the game, standing and staring at a dog will elicit a pink cloud of love. They may just lead you to hidden items too, but we want to be rewarded for our good work with pets. After Fujibayashi heard of this, there is hope that in the next game, Link will pet a dog or two.

"Even in situations like this, talking to people and finding out that people want to pet dogs gives me a lot of motivation, a lot of ideas for things we could put into the game."

Swinging like Spider-Man

The dog-petting mechanic was cut for being too frivolous, but another mechanic was cut for being overpowered. The follow-up to Breath of the Wild might make players really feel like Spider-Man if swinging, web-slinging gameplay is revived.

The hookshot has been around since A Link to the Past. This item allowed Link to grapple onto unreachable platforms and swing out of danger. Rather than using the hookshot, Breath of the Wild allows Link to climb nearly anything and leap and glide from considerable heights. The hookshot's inclusion in Breath of the Wild would have been redundant, said producer Aonuma in an interview with IGN. "But initially when we had the hookshot [in previous Zelda games], it was always that you target something, and that was a game mechanic of itself. But that kind of defeated the purpose of what we wanted to accomplish in Breath of the Wild. With the hookshot, we always had to give it towards the end of the game, or else players could just go anywhere. But in this game, you could do that by climbing and parasailing."

Director Fujibayashi said that with the hookshot, players were practically Spider-Man. "Your mobility and your speed was just kind of incredible. We did do some tests like that." Aonuma said that there were a lot of things they wish they could have had, including the hookshot, but that the next game will offer a fresh start where old ideas can be utilized.

Will remakes and re-releases pave the way?

The announcement, unexpected and sudden in true Nintendo form, of a Link's Awakening remake has made fans hungry for more. Will we see a remastered Ocarina of Time? Wind Waker ported to the Switch? Link's Awakening is apparently the first in a long line of possible remakes and re-releases, so Zelda fans: get ready to hand over even more hard-earned cash to Nintendo.

News Editor for Eurogamer, Tom Phillips, said that as he understands it, "Nintendo is keen to have a Zelda game launch on Switch every year." This would be a welcome change to the dry years of waiting for new games to be developed, distracting players long enough to give proper attention and care to the next shiny new adventure with Link. There are plenty of games that we would love to play again, but apparently Skyward Sword won't be one of these alleged remakes and re-releases.

Director Aonuma got fans' hopes up at a Zelda music concert in Osaka, reading avid fans' minds: "I know what you are thinking, Skyward Sword for Switch, right?" The crowd went wild. Unfortunately, Nintendo was quick to clarify that this wasn't going to happen. A Nintendo spokesperson said that the company has no plans for a Switch version of Skyward Sword. This comes as a disappointment, but there are plenty of games eligible for a Switch makeover if Nintendo is so keen to give us Zelda content every year.

Director is motivated for the future, has lots of ideas

We may not know much about what the future holds in terms of new Zelda games, but one thing is for sure: everyone, including devs, are excited for what's to come. After Breath of the Wild's release in 2017, the higher-ups involved with the game are more than optimistic for their next big project.

"I can't say at this point if it will be in sequels or in continuations, or what form it will take, but I definitely have lots of ideas and lots of motivation right now," said director Hidemaro Fujibayashi in an interview with IGN. So far, the fact that the team has "lots of ideas" as to what's next is the most promising news we can hope for.

Fujibayashi is the one who sold series creator Shigeru Miyamoto and series producer Eiji Aonuma on the idea that in Breath of the Wild, you can do everything. This led to a demo session wherein Miyamoto reportedly would not stop climbing trees for about an hour. If Fujibayashi says he has ideas, then get excited, because his track record proves that they're typically good ones.

Fans are already dreaming of a new story

Although we haven't been told anything official from those actually developing the next Zelda game, that fact doesn't stop fans from dreaming. Speculation on what's possibly in store has been wildly varying, but many fans agree that they're not ready to leave the land of Hyrule that Breath of the Wild introduced.

No one wants such incredible detail in such a huge map to go to waste. The next Zelda game could easily take place upon the same fields and mountains that we explored in Breath of the Wild in the way that Majora's Mask followed up Ocarina of Time. Adding in a few more secrets, maybe some new towns, wouldn't be nearly as difficult as crafting a whole new world. That's the thing: fans aren't expecting a crazy new experience entirely different from that of Breath of the Wild. Everyone has fun parasailing around, climbing trees, and throwing bombs. Doing all that with a new story to motivate Link is all we want.

Because the game's ending dialogue from Zelda suggested a new adventure in Zora's Domain, fans were surprised when the Champion's Ballad DLC had nothing to do with that leading line. Therefore, players have speculated that the new game will start in Zora's Domain with Zelda as Link's companion and maybe even featured as player two. Aonuma said that he was interested in revisiting multiplayer, after all. But we don't know. We can only hope, and wait, and replay Breath of the Wild for the umpteenth time.

3D is here to stay

In an announcement that left many gamers pumped, and others just a little disappointed, Nintendo did its thing and dropped an unexpected remake into our laps. A fully 3D remake of the 1993 hit Link's Awakening for the Switch was one of the last things we were expecting. We were hoping for a wholly new game. But stay with us here. This is good news.

Link's Awakening is a return to the strategic top-down gameplay of Zelda games past, which some players may have forgotten after getting lost in Breath of the Wild for a couple years. The vivid, adorable remake looks to be a precise recreation of the classic Game Boy title. This should satisfy fans who wanted the classic feel, and perhaps free up Nintendo to make the next new game more like our beloved Breath of the Wild: an open, sprawling world.

This new Switch title also seems to confirm that 3D is here to stay, even when in the guise of a classic 2D experience. That, and the fact that the Zelda team has been spotted hiring 3D terrain designers. While we love the retro feel of 2D Zelda games, the future looks round, squishy, and 3D.