August 29, 2019
It was the 11th of June, around 5:40pm here in the UK. Gamers all across the world were already stunned by the sought-after reveal of beloved characters Banjo-Kazooie as upcoming DLC additions to Smash Bros Ultimate. However, nothing could prepare them for what they were about to witness next. There was hyperventilation all over the place the moment Link and Zelda appeared venturing into a dark and mysterious abode. This went into complete overdrive when the menacing figure of a decrepit corpse was seen turning it’s head and giving a deathly stare back at the viewer. The excitement was then vindicated with the words: “the sequel to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is in production”. Thus came the dawn of theories, speculation and predictions.
No doubt that Breath of the Wild was a gaming masterpiece. It has revolutionized gaming for many years to come. But that hasn’t made it immune to criticism. For me, I’ve always had a hunch that Breath of the Wild is a setup for something much bigger, a hunch justified by the recent teaser to the sequel. Now I am going to explain why I believe BOTW 2 will become the juggernaut it is destined to be and subsequently, the greatest Zelda title ever created (well, until possibly the next big Zelda game after that).
We saw many new gameplay mechanics introduced, including jumping on command, sprinting, gliding and stylish moves such as the perfect guard and dodge. As a sequel, we can expect to see a return of these abilities, but given the inevitable time-skip since the first BOTW, Link will have had ample time to further develop his combat abilities and we may see swordsman skills similar to those seen in Twilight Princess (what I would give to see the Hero of the Wild strike down a Lynel with the Mortal Draw!). In Majora’s Mask, we saw Link display a newer set of agility skills such as forward and backward flips when jumping between platforms. Given that it will be the same Link from BOTW, we may see him with new paragliding tricks and more robust climbing chops.
The new open-world style was widely acclaimed. The Zelda team have pretty much confirmed that open-world will be the way to go for the foreseeable future. So we can look forward to exploring another large world. But for sure, it won’t be the same as the first BOTW. Hyrule was an overworld with gorgeous and breathtaking scenery (for the most part). The teaser has not-so-subtly hinted towards a much darker Zelda game. Exploring a new overworld with more unnerving and creepier areas is certainly something to get the mouths of Zelda fans watering. Link will certainly need to have developed his exploration skills that’s for sure!
Breath of the Wild saw the introduction of many new forms of equipment used by Link to aid in his quest. The paraglider was the first time since Skyward Sword where the player could freely travel in the air. That, mixed with sprinting, horse-riding, teleporting and even motorcycling made the player spoilt for choice when it came to exploring the vast overworld. I would very much expect these modes of transport to make their comeback in the sequel.
The Sheikah Slate gave Link the ability to throw unlimited bombs, freeze water, use magnetism and even freeze time for a few seconds. However, these came at the price of more traditional items, such as the much beloved hookshot. In fact, something like the hookshot would undoubtedly be indispensable in exploring an overworld. Therefore, I firmly believe the hookshot will make it’s much requested return in the successor of BOTW.
Moreover, I also expect there to be more robust and durable weapons for Link to use in combat, given that it is implied that Link will be facing much tougher assignments in this potentially new and darker Hyrule, or wherever he finds himself.
Puzzles and Dungeons
BOTW received a lot of stick for the lack of traditional dungeons in the game. Instead, we got four Divine Beasts along with 120 Shrines acting as mini-dungeons. The Divine Beasts came in for a lot of criticism for being too similar and mundane in nature. For certain, the game producers will have taken these criticisms on board and reintroduce dungeons more traditional in nature. We’ve already seen a precursor to this in the Champion’s Ballad DLC, where the newer and more unpredictable content within the shrines and fifth Divine Beast were phenomenal. Given that the idea of a BOTW sequel was born out of several new DLC ideas, we can expect to see dungeons and puzzles similar to those of the Champion’s Ballad, which in my opinion were some of the best ever seen in the series.
With the expected return of traditional dungeons, we will also surely see these dungeons have mini-bosses and big bosses. The Blight Ganons were universally unpopular for being mundane and extremely repetitive. With brutes such as Stone Taluses, Lynels and Hinoxes found in the wild, the potential for some fantastic dungeon bosses is certainly there, so there’s no doubt that this potential will be on display in BOTW 2.
Rightly so, BOTW’s story has received a lot of criticism. I felt that the story really lacked an edge and a biting twist to it. It was rather orthodox and predictable. However, I am absolutely certain that the game producers will have acknowledged this criticism, and from the teaser, we can already see the makings of a darker, more complex story. And based on what we’ve seen, I am going to go into a rather dark theory which I feel changes the perception of everything we know about BOTW and the forthcoming sequel, so potential spoiler warning coming up!
Many people have been quick to point out that the ancient tapestry depicting the events of the First Calamity 10,000 before BOTW shows a hero who strangely has more of a visual similarity to Ganondorf than Link. This has led to a popular theory that the Hero on this tablet is indeed Ganondorf. I am in complete agreement with this theory. But understandably, people are skeptical, especially questioning why would Ganondorf be a chosen hero to essentially be trying to defeat himself? My answer? The monster depicted on the tablet is not Calamity Ganon at all. I believe it to be the return of Demise. A Demise who, after experiencing his host, Ganondorf, fail to vanish the reincarnation of Hylia and the chosen hero time and again, gave up on using a host and came back in his physical form. But as fate had destined it to be, a hero was born at that time. However, instead of being a Hylian, this hero heralded from the Gerudo tribe. Free from being a slave of Demise’s curse, this incarnation of Ganondorf grew up to be a kind, brave and heroic individual blessed with immense fighting talent. When Demise’s malevolence surfaced, Hyrule needed an exceptional warrior to aid the Princess in defeating this threat. And none was better than this phenomenal fighter of the Gerudo. He, along with the Princess and aided by the brilliant technologies created by the Sheikah tribe, achieved a glorious victory to push back Demise. Hyrule celebrated this victory and it’s heroes. However, the Royal Family were in a state of unease and restlessness. It was true that the Princess played her part in winning the battle, however, they sensed a rise in popularity of both the tribe who created the technological marvels, but more troubling, the absolute adoration of this Gerudo hero. They feared that one day, both the Sheikah and Ganondorf could pose a serious threat to their position as rulers of the land. They quickly rid themselves of one threat, that being the Sheikah and their technology, compelling them to discard all of it and return to a life of simplicity. Reluctantly, most of the Sheikah complied with these orders, some rebelled and created their own faction, however, the Royal Family saw them as nothing more than bitter savages who no longer had any power. However, the main threat to their power proved to be more problematic. Given his reverence with the people of Hyrule, they feared that one day, he would usurp the throne. Exiling him for no apparent reason would prove to be an overwhelmingly unpopular decision with the people of the land, especially after witnessing his heroics. The thought of assassinating him came to their minds, however, his impressive prowess as a warrior would make him a very difficult man to kill. Moreover, even if they successfully put him to death, murdering such an asset to the kingdom in cold blood may have disastrous consequences, especially if another threat were to rear it’s head. This is what gave rise to a most nefarious plan. Ganondorf would instead be lured under the castle, promised a ‘great reward’, but instead, be violently sealed in a state of consciousness. It would kill two birds with one stone. The threat of Ganondorf’s popularity rising and subsequent usurping of the throne would be prevented, but killing him wouldn’t be necessary. Merely sealing him would keep the window open to use him again should Hyrule ever need him. Thus the deed was committed. The people of the kingdom had been told that their hero had “met a valiant death in another battle outside Hyrule”. Therefore, with this threat sealed under the castle, the Royal Family would keep their strong grip on power for generations to come. However, should they require him, Ganondorf’s mind would be wiped clean so as to not remember his horrendous fate, but his skills as a warrior could still be of use. However, Hyrule was fortunate enough to never be faced with such a threat. As a result, Ganondorf’s heroics were completely forgotten as the generations came and went, but in cruel twist of fate, given that Ganondorf had before been notorious for being the thorn in Hyrule’s path to prosperity in previous eras, the great, menacing figure on the tapestry was assumed by later generations to have been just another incarnation of the ancient King of Evil and not who it truly was, Demise. The hero was merely passed off as a man of mystery whom no one ever knew.
Although Ganondorf was sealed under the castle, he was still breathing. Albeit his body weakened more and more over the years, his mind was still sharp. Why, he thought, after everything he had done for the kingdom, for the Royal Family, was he consigned to such a miserable state of existence? He only ever wanted good for not only his own people, but for everyone of the land. Millenia passed with these thoughts, Ganondorf got more and more bitter, more full of hate. Suddenly, a dark spirit visited him. Ganondorf immediately recognised it. The same demon he had played such a major role in defeating all those years back. It had returned. It convinced Ganondorf that he had for himself experienced the treachery of those whom he had sworn to protect. Now the time had come to have his revenge against that land, his humiliation consigned to history. All that was needed was for this spirit to merge with his body and manifest his hatred into a physical form. Thus came the birth of malice. Ganondorf’s body couldn’t escape the seal, but this malice could. And once it manifested, it launched the most brutal assault in the history of Hyrule. And the source was a being who had sworn to give his life to protect the land. Hence the tragic events of BOTW were as a result of the greed, jealousy and arrogance of the Royal Family 10,000 years back.
In all previous Zelda games, it was always common knowledge that the Royal Family was benevolent, brave and something to be protected at all costs against the evil of the time. But BOTW has already hinted at a not-so-noble Royal Family existing during the First Calamity with their well-documented poor treatment of the Sheikah after that event. If my theory (or something similar) were to be realized in BOTW 2, how would Link and Zelda react? What would they do knowing that the very source of the horrors they experienced in their lives, the destroyer of their civilization came about due the treachery of their ancestors against an innocent soul who only ever meant well? It would certainly make for an exhilarating climax to the game. And we thought Ganondorf from Wind Waker was a sympathetic villain…
In conclusion, it is inevitable that BOTW 2 will use its same, critically acclaimed open-world format as its predecessor. However, with the undoubted return of traditional dungeons, improved gameplay mechanics and most of all, a more coherent and darker story in the same vein as the hugely popular Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess, I firmly believe that BOTW 2 will achieve what its predecessor could not, and that is become the widely-accepted greatest Zelda game of all time!