Get ready to run, climb and glide through Hyrule once again because Nintendo has confirmed that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 is in development for Nintendo Switch. 

Nintendo confirmed the sequel to its critically acclaimed Switch launch title The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at the end of its E3 2019 presentation, confirming rumors that had been circulating following the appearance of a job listing for a 3D level designer in 2018. 

Given Breath of the Wild was lauded as one of the best games of 2017 and one of the best open-world experiences in gaming, it’s not surprise that Nintendo is working on a sequel. But so much success means expectations are high for Breath of the Wild 2.

At the moment, not a great deal is known about the sequel—including its release date—but the trailer shown during E3 suggests that Breath of the Wild 2 could take the series in a darker direction. 

While Nintendo hasn’t given us a whole bunch to go on, rumors are abound and we’ve gathered up everything we know and suspect so far about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 below for your perusal.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Breath of the Wild 2 is the upcoming sequel to 2017’s open-world Zelda game
  • What can I play it on? Nintendo Switch
  • When can I play it? TBA but it’s looking like it won’t be until 2021 or later

Breath of the Wild 2 release date

Nintendo hasn’t shared much information on Breath of the Wild 2 other than an announcement trailer and a few sparse comments—which we’ll run through below. One thing to hold on to is that the trailer closed off with a line stating the game is “in development”. That doesn’t guarantee the game is coming anytime soon but it is coming. 

Last year, leaker Sabi (via wccftech) suggested that Breath of the Wild 2 is due for release in 2020, but warned that, “Zelda release dates are historically delayed, internally or publicly”.

And it seems they were right, as the leaker has since claimed that Breath of the Wild 2 has been delayed, likely into 2021. 

While it’s always worth taking rumors with a big pinch of salt, Sabi is a pretty reliable leaker. The Twitter user leaked most of the big announcements from E3 2019 before they happened – reportedly even earning a cease and desist order from Nintendo.

Breath of the Wild 2 trailers

We got our first glimpse of BOTW 2 at E3 2019, with this spooky trailer that shows Zelda and Link exploring an underground chamber – with some mysterious runes, glowing hands, and a brand-new haircut that has set the internet on fire. Suffice it to say we’re excited.

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 trailer is just 82 seconds long and there’s no dialogue whatsoever but there are some clues to be gathered from it.

It features a torch-carrying Link and Zelda traversing a dark dungeon beneath Hyrule (no big surprise there). Spirit-like tendrils creep around the musty tomb they’re exploring, with the pair riding a large elephant-like beast. Something shocks the pair, and then we cut to what appears to be the resurrection of some long-dead (and creepy looking) warrior. Could this be the return of Ganondorf?

The video then cuts to a long shot of Hyrule Field, with Hyrule Castle in the distance. There’s a tremor, the castle is smothered with dust… and that’s the end.

The clip finishes with a message that reads: “The sequel to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is in development.”

We wouldn’t usually expect so much animation to be done so early in development, but it probably helps that Nintendo already has the in-game engine from Breath of the Wild.

Breath of the Wild 2 news and rumors

Breath of the Wild 2

Could Zelda have a bigger role this time around? (Image Credit: Nintendo)

E3 uncertainty and a Mario-dominated 2020

With E3 2020 officially cancelled (physically and digitally) it’s currently unclear what Nintendo is planning to do with regards to its traditional June Direct in which it lays out its plans for the latter half of the year and beyond. 

Uncertainty has been increased by a report from GamesBeat (corroborated by VGC) suggesting that the ongoing pandemic and switch to a work-from-home model has caused complications for Nintendo, which may have to push its Direct from June to the end of the summer. 

Though Nintendo has not commented on this recent report, following the cancellation of E3 Nintendo said it will “continue to be flexible and redirect our efforts to other ways of keeping our fans up to date about our activities and products” but no specifics have been confirmed. 

Though it was by no means certain that there would be any kind of Breath of the Wild 2 news during Nintendo’s E3 Direct, fans were no doubt hoping for at least an indication of how the game is progressing given June will mark a full year since the game’s announcement with little news in between. 

Interestingly, a further recent report from Eurogamer and Video Games Chronicle has said that for the rest of 2020, the Nintendo Switch’s first-party lineup is going to be very Mario-heavy in celebration of the franchise’s 35th anniversary. 

Though this report hasn’t been confirmed by Nintendo, if it’s true then 2020 being heavily dominated by Mario doesn’t bode well for any kind of Breath of the Wild 2 release. 

It’s worth pointing out, though, that February 2021 is The Legend of Zelda’s 35th anniversary so if Nintendo does go big for Mario there’s a precedent for it doing the same for Zelda next year in some form or another. It would certainly be the perfect year to focus on Breath of the Wild 2. Of course, this is just conjecture and we won’t know anything for sure until Nintendo makes some official announcements about the game. 

Rumors spreading

It’s been a long time since anything solid on Breath of the Wild 2 has been announced and, as ever, in the absence of solid news rumors tend to creep in. 

The latest rumor has come from Tyler McVicker. Known primarily for his YouTube channel dedicated to Valve rumors, McVicker has recently announced he’s setting up a Nintendo news channel and on a recent stream (around the 11 minute mark) teased some unconfirmed information (via NintendoLife) on the Zelda sequel. 

According to McVicker, Breath of the Wild 2 will take players back to the same Hyrule layout but introduce new things like “miasma”-like corruption and dungeons to add depth and detail to the map, taking inspiration from Red Dead Redemption 2 and another unnamed game. 

Anything said about Breath of the Wild 2 that hasn’t come from Nintendo itself should naturally be taken with a huge pinch of salt.

A 2020 release date? It may be delayed
Last year, leaker Sabi (via wccftech) suggested that Breath of the Wild 2 is due for release in 2020, but warned that, “Zelda release dates are historically delayed, internally or publicly”.

And it seems they were right, as the leaker has since claimed that Breath of the Wild 2 has been delayed, likely into 2021.

Monolith recruitment
The development of Breath of the Wild 2 is rolling along and updates are very thin on the ground at the moment. But according to a report by Video Games Chronicle, the game’s co-developer Monolith Soft is looking to expand its team with adverts for a character modeler, concept art designer, map modeler and scenario planner for a new Zelda game. 

Hiring extra hands for the development of such a highly-anticipated game can’t be a bad thing and suggests that the teams are working hard on getting the game ready for whatever the as-yet-unrevealed release date is. 

Behind the scenes
Nintendo is attempting to entice developers on its careers site with images that show how the development team put together the E3 trailer for Breath of the Wild 2. The images don’t give much away but it’s interesting to look at for fans invested in the development process. 

We haven’t seen much from the game since this trailer but some are hoping that we’ll get an update sometime soon.

More hiring calls
There hasn’t been much information around Breath of the Wild 2 since it was confirmed so naturally fans have been clamoring for a hint of where the game might be in its development. 

One hint comes from a Nintendo Japan tweet regarding some job listings for a “scenario planner” and a “level designer” for the game. The fact that such core roles are still being filled suggests that the game is still in the fairly early stages of development and isn’t likely to be a 2020 release. We can’t know for certain, of course, until Nintendo confirms an exact release date but we’re inclined to say later rather than sooner. 

All the DLC that never was
In an interview with Kotaku, Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma said there were originally plans for more DLC content for BOTW, after The Champion’s Ballad and Master Trials add-ons that came in 2017.

“Initially we were thinking of just DLC ideas,” says Anouma. “But then we had a lot of ideas and we said, ‘This is too many ideas, let’s just make one new game and start from scratch.'”

A darker turn for the series
All we really know at this point is how little we know. But boy are there rumors. The unexpected trailer has already sparked a huge amount of speculation, hopes and hot takes on what the next mainline Zelda title might include.

We’ve heard from Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma that the game is going to have a darker tone than Breath of the Wild, and will even be “a little bit darker” than Majora’s Mask (via IGN).

The trailer certainly supports this, with what looks like Ganondorf’s corpse being resurrected by a disembodied hand, and seemingly imagery from 2006’s Twilight Princess, which saw Hyrule turned into a bleak shadow realm – largely in response to the far cheerier and cartoonish The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.

Breath of the Wild 2

A Gerudo corpse, possibly Ganon, is grabbed by a mysterious force (Image Credit: Nintendo)

The Twilight realm
The glowing blue hand in the trailer is the biggest clue that we’ll be seeing more of the Twili – shadow people descended from Hylians who tried to take the power of the Triforce for themselves. The hand is wrapped in twisting shapes reminiscent of Twilight architecture, while the swirling magic could remind some of the portals that let Twili invade Hyrule in the 2006 game.

We know that BOTW’s dev team originally toyed with the idea of an alien invasion, and seeing shadow creatures teleport out of the sky could well have been what they have planned this time around.

A clue in the audio
Showing just how far some Zelda fans will go, reddit user u/ReroFunk (via Inverse)  pieced together a pretty convincing theory regarding Twilight Princess villain Zant, a Twili who served Ganondorf in the game. If you listen to the trailer’s audio in reverse, there are certain notes that seem to echo the music played during your final encounter with Zant – who, while defeated, is adamant he’ll return through the power of his “god”.

u/ReroFunk also suggests we could see the demon king Demise return for the next Zelda game. Demise was the final boss in Skyward Sword, and revealed to be the original form of Ganondorf. The below still from the Zelda trailer also looks a lot like Demise when you think about it.

Breath of the Wild 2

Ganon, Demise, or something else entirely? (Image Credit: Nintendo)

Lots of dungeons (and an extended map)
Rumors about the Breath of the Wild sequel suggest that we could be in for a treat in the form of a new map that’s not like anything we’ve seen from Zelda before. What’s more, a couple of new job listings suggest that Nintendo is looking for people to work on designing some dungeons and hidden bosses for the game – so far, so exciting.

Zelda’s turn in the spotlight?
One of the favorite fan theories doing the rounds regards the Hyrule princess herself. She’s shown in the trailer with a practical short haircut, and is dressed in a manner pretty similar to Link’s own adventurer’s gear – leading some to think she may be a playable character.

Zelda’s devs have seemed pretty dismissive of the idea of a female Link in the past – sadly – but we may in this game see sections playing as Zelda, or at least with her playing a more active role in the story.