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Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel trailer, release date and rumors

It's happening. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a game that broke barriers: painterly, Studio Ghibli-esque vistas paired with an all new take on classic characters that felt both fresh and nostalgic all at once created an experience that won both awards and hearts. Nintendo couldn't have asked for a better game to launch the Switch, because this is a game that even years later is hard to put down. The vast world provides endless opportunities for open world adventure. 

Nintendo wasn't about to move on from the impressively large and detailed map they built for the game. Even for those hardcore gamers who have found all 900 Korok seeds scattered throughout the lands, there's still more to be seen. It has officially been confirmed that the talented folks at Nintendo are hard at work on a sequel to Breath of the Wild. This next installment has huge shoes to fill, but we nevertheless are eagerly awaiting what's next for Link and Zelda.

The ghostly trailer for the Breath of the Wild sequel

2019's E3 wasn't the most revolutionary. Sony was entirely absent, and for the most part, the presentations seemed to just be giving new details for games we already knew about. Nintendo's pre-recorded E3 Direct changed all that. An eerie, backwards lullaby began to play as green glyphs played in the darkness. Suddenly, we see two familiar blonde heads exploring and ancient cave Indiana Jones-style. Zelda gasps, seeing a figure at the center of a miasma of black and red goo. 

The trailer becomes chaotic, brief flashes showing something very ominous happening with the ghostly green arm holding onto the heart of a shriveled mummy. It comes to life, looking upon the princess with glowing red eyes. Outside, Hyrule Castle trembles and leaves the ground altogether. What does this mean? It means Nintendo has been sneaky, hiding the fact that the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been in development all along. We've had our suspicions, but this was the first official confirmation that rather than going to a new time and place, as Zelda games are wont to do, the next game will pick up right where the last left off.

Rumor: Ganon the mummy?

What are Zelda and Link doing down in this dark dungeon? They seem to have been looking for the ghastly sight that they come upon. Even with just the brief glimpses given by the trailer, the internet has been doing its thing and making some deductions about the true identity of the mummified corpse from the horror film-style trailer.

The number one theory is that the mummy is Ganon. Firstly, the thing is found surrounded by the evil goo associated with Calamity Ganon. Secondly, Hyrulian anthropologists have pointed out some tellingly Gerudo features on the body: the gold armor, the Gerudo markings on the dessicated cloth, and the fact that this is not a short corpse. A flash of light briefly reveals that at one point, this pile of bones had been a beefcake. And thus the internet also did its thing in making a ton of fanart of a re-hydrated Ganon. The quintessential bad guy of the series, this Ganon has been depicted by fans as a muscley, tanned giant. This more gallant depiction seems to line up with a hieroglyph from the trailer of a stout hero carrying a trident. Was this Ganon before the calamity came in?

Rumor: Link's ghost arm?

Those blink-and-you'll-miss-them flashes seem to have given us a glimpse as to what kind of Link we'll be playing as in the sequel. Ganon the mummy is held in place, perhaps sealed away, by a ghostly arm, but somehow, its hold is released when those dark eyes come back to life. Link is grabbed by the skeletal arm. The swirling green strings surround Link, and we see his arm glowing with the same mysterious light. These few seconds are seriously telling, as it turns out. 

At the Game Developer's Conference in 2017, Nintendo showed off some concept art for Breath of the Wild. Not all of it was familiar, cut from the published product. The Link shown was a one-armed stranger. Rather than using the Sheikah Slate, he was equipped with a Sekiro-esque arm that could throw bombs, drones, hook shots, and even turn into a hammer. Director Hidemaro Fuhibayashi had previously mentioned a cut hook shot mechanic that would have allowed for players to "kind of go anywhere, like Spider-Man." Maybe Link's newly possessed arm will allow for players to swing around like Peter Parker and bring down the hammer like Thor in the new game.

Everyone loves Zelda's haircut

Okay, we have to acknowledge the most notable change of all: Zelda got a haircut. When we last saw her at the end of Breath of the Wild, she was sporting the usual long, blonde hair of Zeldas past, despite her trading the princess dresses for a more durable pair of trousers. In the as-yet-untitled sequel, she seems to have fully embraced a low-maintenance look and cut her hair into a cute, short bob. She still has a braid crowning her royal head, of course. 

Fans are loving it. There has already been a slew of fan art produced, sure to be followed by some impressive cosplay. Some have wondered how exactly she cut it: did she do it herself? Ask Link to help? Did he use the Master Sword?! All fun memes aside, her haircut might actually hint at a serious change for the sequel. Long hair can create animation issues, clipping into characters and objects. Perhaps Zelda's new haircut is a result of her being made into a playable character. Playing as the princess for a change would be a breath of fresh, wild air.

Production is underway (although they tried to tell us otherwise)

The most important and definite fact that the E3 trailer tells us is that production for the sequel is underway. But we already knew that. Nintendo had been tight-lipped about what was next after the phenomenal success of Breath of the Wild, producers and directors saying that they were tired and that there were no definite plans for the next game. That turned out to be a dirty, dirty lie. And a poorly kept secret. 

Following the release of the game in 2017, a note by series director Eiji Aonuma in the book The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Master Works said that development on the sequel was already underway. In the coming years, there were a few telling job postings asking for 3D terrain designers, technical artists, programmers, planners, and designers. A few of these were outright Legend of Zelda-themed. There was definitely something to do with Link going on behind closed doors at Nintendo. While some of this hiring frenzy could be attributed to the Link's Awakening remake, we were still convinced that the big, huge Hyrule we'd come to know in Breath of the Wild still had stories to tell.

What we know about the Breath of the Wild sequel release date

The Link's Awakening remake has reawakened a fervor for Zelda games. Considering the hype it has inspired, fans have wondered if there are more remakes on the way. Tom Phillips, news director at Eurogamer, certainly thinks so: "Nintendo is keen to have a Zelda game launch on Switch every year." 

The Switch could be the new home to the whole twisted timeline of Link's adventures past, present, and future. If Nintendo does intend on treating us to some Hyrule hijinks each and every year, then we could surmise that 2020 will be the year of the Breath of the Wild sequel. 2019 will see the release of Link's Awakening, and with no other Switch makeovers of previous titles announced, we deduce that maybe it will be sooner rather than later that we'll get to experience what happens next for the Link and Zelda we've recently come to know and love. After all, the team at Nintendo isn't starting from scratch this time. Our fingers are firmly crossed.

Rumor: Breath of the Darkness?

Ever since the surprise release of the trailer for the Breath of the Wild sequel, fans have had their collective ears to the ground for any further news about its plot, release, and any other tantalizing tidbits. Nintendo has kept mum on any further information, but rumors persist nonetheless. According to a supposed leak on 4chan, a platform which has previously made some accurate predictions on forthcoming Pokemon titles, the game has a name. 

According to this unconfirmed leak, the Breath of the Wild sequel will be titled The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Darkness. Spooky. This darker title would match the horror story tone of the reveal trailer, all ghosts and mummies and glowing red eyes. Oh my! The leak tells us that we'll get a game set in a ruined Hyrule either at the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021, launching alongside a new model of the Nintendo Switch with all the power we've come to expect from home consoles. All this is, however, just whispers in the dark.

A brand new Hyrule for the sequel

One of Breath of the Wild's most impressive features is its expansive map. Not many players can say that they have gotten familiar with every single inch of the expansive BotW world. We'd understand entirely if Nintendo recycled the map for the sequel, adding in a few new features but ultimately setting a new adventure in the Hyrule we've already romped around in. After interviews with three of the sequel's game designers, however, it seems that we'll have a new region on our hands. 

Specifically, the sequel's art director, Satoshi Takizawa, emphasized that the company has been on the hunt for new terrain designers. In a special interview hosted by Nintendo, he said, "We want to borrow the power of more people to deliver new experiences that exceed the previous work. This time, we decided to recruit additional terrain designers." It seems that there will be new area in a new Hyrule. Interested in the job? The designers said that they're determined to entertain players and are welcoming in passionate designers who want to give users an interesting experience. We're excited to find out what that experience will look like.