Nintendo’s E3 2019 Nintendo Direct presentation was packed. It’s hard to come away from a 40-minute presentation with all home runs, but I can’t think of a single announcement that wasn’t either exciting or at least intriguing. But of course, the biggest nugget of Nintendo gold was saved for the very end. While Nintendo has been being more cautious lately with announcing games too early, the madmen went ahead and dropped a teaser for a The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel. The teaser was brief, but gave us more than enough fuel for rampant speculation. So, let’s speculate.
First things first, we’ve established this is specifically a Breath of the Wild sequel, and that’s important. It means we’re pulling a Majora’s Mask here, in a manner of speaking. The difference is this seems to be a direct sequel set in the same exact world, instead of the surreal, Alice in Wonderland deal the N64 game had. That means we’re in the same Hyrule as far as things look, albeit a certain couple of details imply time has passed.
The biggest indicator of that is Link and Zelda exploring together. The two have been reunited at the end of Breath of the Wild, and what’s left in a desolate, sparsely-populated world after Ganon has been defeated? Perhaps Link and Zelda are searching the nooks and crannies of Hyrule for artifacts they can use to get the world back on track to recovery, or perhaps there are more powerful secrets buried underneath the surface.
One such secret doesn’t appear to be terribly helpful, however. In fact, it’s terrifying. In the trailer, Link and Zelda stumble upon an enormous being, bathed in sickly light and with eerie glowing from its body. As Link and Zelda investigate, the being comes to life, turning its head with an inhuman, jerking motion and screeching. The scene then cuts to a bird’s eye view of Hyrule, and a massive explosion emits from beneath Hyrule Castle. Could this being be linked to Ganon, or does Hyrule have even bigger, more ancient problems?
Another interesting detail is Zelda’s haircut. That sounds silly, but at least a portion of the Zelda fanbase has read a bit into it. Obviously, Zelda’s new do implies the passage of time, simply visually indicating this project is a direct sequel. But some fans have suggested that Zelda’s shorter hair style could be a sign that she’s a much bigger part of this game, possibly even a playable character in some capacity.
Zelda fans have been asking for the legendary princess to be a playable part of the series for a long time. While something like Hyrule Warriors delivered on that in a specific sort of context, the real goal is a playable role for Zelda in the core series. The logic behind Zelda’s haircut being a sign of playability is that her longer look in the first Breath of the Wild would have been a clipping issue were she playable in similar fashion to Link. With the shorter hair, there’s less to worry about in terms of more complex animations, especially with this engine’s physics-based tomfoolery.
For the most part, I’m about as stoked as the fans are to find out more about the next core Zelda. But like some, I’m a little concerned about how Nintendo will sell revisiting this version of Hyrule. Open world exploration was one of the biggest parts of Breath of the Wild, and going back to a world we’ve already torn to pieces isn’t an appealing prospect on paper. Nintendo’s Zelda team certainly has tricks up their sleeves though, and we’re all looking forward to learning what those are.