The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a revolutionary title for Nintendo. It built upon ideas for creating a content-filled open world popularized by developers like Ubisoft, and added a new spin by giving Link unprecedented freedom to climb most any surface in Hyrule. This freedom meant players could see as much or as little of the story and map as they wanted, able to take the protagonist straight to Hyrule Castle and fight Ganon after the Great Plateau tutorial area. However, Breath of the Wild 2 could take things a step further.
The Breath of the Wild 2 gameplay reveal trailer from E3 2021 offered fans their first look at how the upcoming sequel will keep things fresh. It takes some inspiration from Skyward Sword by lifting chunks of land into the air that Link can both fall down onto or phase up through. With the game's map of Hyrule changing, this offers Nintendo the chance to expand Link's repertoire so he can feel even more free than before. Based on the first game and other open-world titles that came out after, there are a few key areas to improve.
Expanded Horse Riding
Link's reliable steed Epona has been a staple part of The Legend of Zelda franchise since it broke into 3D on the Nintendo 64, making it easier for him to cross Hyrule Field in various iterations and take part in equestrian minigames. Breath of the Wild did not feature Epona (though she could be summoned using an amiibo), but horseback riding took on a larger role overall.
The player can choose to tame any horse they come across by jumping on their backs and soothing their anxieties. These horses can then be registered at one of the many Stables across Hyrule, allowing players to consistently call upon their steeds to cross the massive open world. Multiple horses can be registered in pursuit of better stats, and when players discover their favorite partner they can be groomed, given new manes or saddles, and more.
Yet, Link can ride a number of animals beyond horses; from more naturalistic deer and bears to skeletal Stalhorses and the legendary Lord of the Mountain. None of these beasts can be registered at Stables, despite the potential for similar levels of customization. Breath of the Wild 2 is also likely to put a bigger focus on flight thanks to its new floating islands, meaning the idea of collecting and customizing animals may further extend to creatures like Loftwings.
Nintendo has a long and surprisingly diverse history of including cannons across numerous franchises. Both 2D and 3D Super Mario games utilize cannons, from the Bob-omb cannons in Super Mario 64 to pipes that launch the player in the New Super Mario Bros. series. Kirby games have a recurring puzzle based on lighting a fuse with copy abilities before jumping in a cannon to access a new area. Rare's Donkey Kong Country series and its follow-ups by Retro Studios are also stuffed to the brim with barrel cannons.
The Legend of Zelda is no stranger to this, notably within the GameCube and Wii title Twilight Princess. Two massive cannons play integral roles in accessing the Arbiter's Grounds and City in the Sky dungeons. Meanwhile, the pirate themes of The Wind Waker and its sequel Phantom Hourglass afforded them lots of opportunities to play with cannons, from seafaring ship battles to Link infamously getting launched into the Forsaken Fortress.
While Breath of the Wild employs a few cannon-based puzzles, typically utilizing Link's Remote Bomb Rune as a source of ignition, they could have a more prominant role in the sequel. Like in the aforementioned Zelda titles, cannons could help Link reach some of Hyrule's new floating islands before coming into his new powers. Nintendo could also take notes from Kojima Productions' upcoming Death Stranding: Director's Cut, which cuts down on the monotony of travel with devices like a cargo catapult that helps Sam Porter Bridges' deliveries cross great expanses faster.
One reason Breath of the Wild stands out from its predecessors is the way Nintendo moved away from the series' long-standing formula of giving Link a new item in each dungeon. Link's Sheikah Slate instead has four Runes (Magnesis, Remote Bombs, Stasis, and Cryonis) acquired at the start of the game that have emergent uses throughout Hyrule. Only a few new tricks can join his moveset by the end, namely through the Champions' Blessings.
While this approach was innovative and fresh, it cut away a lot of series staples that would be fun to see in a new context. Breath of the Wild 2's E3 2021 trailer shows Link will have new abilities, from phasing through floors to reversing the movement of objects. Even if new items aren't added like in a traditional Zelda game, the Sheikah Slate could perform similar functions.
The Hookshot, or the familiar Clawshot, is one of the most useful items in Link's traditional arsenal that could translate to a new Sheikah Slate Rune. Giving players the ability to point at a destination and grapple there (likely with limited range) would be copecetic with the more open mechanics from Breath of the Wild, too. If more horse-riding choices and cannons potentially make it easier for Link to cross horizontal distances, a hookshot would make it easier for him to ascend a wall. Grappling to a higher starting point would alleviate some quirks of the stamina system, or even make it easier to bridge floating islands.
Regardless of how the upcoming sequel decides to improve upon Breath of the Wild's traversal mechanics, the differences could be one more way to help it stand out despite largely copying over the same map of Hyrule. For now, fans will just have to wait for more information about the game to find out what Nintendo has in store.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 releases in 2022 for the Nintendo Switch.