The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 is one of the most hotly anticipated games on Nintendo Switch — even though we know barely anything about it. However, thanks to an intriguing teaser trailer, we can suss out a few details about the sequel to the best video game of the last decade.
We know that Breath of the Wild’s iterations of Link and Zelda are back, we know that the story will pick up where the first game left off, and perhaps most importantly, we know that the game is definitely in development for the Nintendo Switch.
By watching the teaser trailer and applying a bit of common sense, we can make a few educated guesses about Breath of the Wild 2’s general release window and potential story beats. For anything beyond that, though, we’ll have to wait and see what Nintendo shares — and Nintendo keeps its own schedule, as its fans can attest.
The most recent news we have about Breath of the Wild 2 comes from February's Nintendo Direct — where we learned that Nintendo has nothing to share about the game right now. We should hear more later this year, but for the moment, Nintendo is focusing its efforts on The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, which will be out in July. As the name suggests, it's an HD remaster of Skyward Sword, and should at least help ease the wait for a Breath of the Wild sequel.
A recent fan mod also showed us what the original Breath of the Wild would look like in 8K resolution. While Breath of the Wild 2 almost certainly won't have 8K graphics, it's a good way to imagine what kind of enhancements we might see in a future Zelda installment.
Breath of the Wild 2 release date
First things first: “Breath of the Wild 2” isn’t actually the next Zelda game’s name, but it’s a useful placeholder. Nintendo hasn’t slapped a number on a Zelda sequel since the experimental Zelda II: The Adventure of Link on NES, and it’s unlikely to restart that trend now. As such, when Breath of the Wild 2 comes out, it probably won’t actually be called Breath of the Wild 2.
Nintendo hasn’t discussed a release date for Breath of the Wild 2, but we do have two pieces of information that may help us glean a general window. The first is the cadence of Zelda titles over the years; the second is the average lifespan of a Nintendo console.
Not counting re-releases and remakes (even though some of them are quite substantial), Nintendo releases a new Zelda on consoles (not handhelds) every 3.5 years, on average. The wait time is sometimes as little as one year and sometimes as much as six years, but it’s rare for four years to go by without a new installment.
The other important hint is that the trailer showed off Breath of the Wild 2 for Nintendo Switch. That means the game will come out sometime before the end of the Switch’s lifespan — even if it’s also a launch title for Nintendo’s next console, as happened with Twilight Princess and Breath of the Wild. Nintendo home consoles come out every 5.5 years, on average, meaning the current Switch could stick around until October 2022, or even March 2023.
To give a somewhat broad answer, then, Breath of the Wild will probably come out between now and March 2023. A narrower window puts it sometime before October 2022. The absolute midpoint of the original window we calculated is December 2021. If I were a betting man, I’d say “holiday 2021,” but I also wouldn’t put that much money on it.
Breath of the Wild 2 trailer
All of the solid information we have about Breath of the Wild 2 comes from a trailer that Nintendo released during E3 2019. Here it is, in case you haven’t seen it:
Breath of the Wild 2 story
While Nintendo hasn’t provided any additional context for the Breath of the Wild 2 trailer, we do know a few important things from it. First, this will be a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild, starring the same iterations of Link and Zelda. This is a relative rarity for Zelda games, which tend to reimagine Link, Zelda and Ganon for each new major installment. It’s not totally unheard-of, though; Zelda II and Majora’s Mask did the same thing.
We also know that Link and Zelda will investigate some kind of strange spirit energy, which can apparently reanimate the dead. A placid shot of Hyrule with an ominous rumbling suggests that this spirit energy may corrupt the bright lands of Hyrule and turn them into a dark mirror of themselves. Traversing light and dark worlds is old hat for the Zelda franchise, in everything from A Link to the Past to Twilight Princess.
The setup, then, would seem to be that Link and Zelda set off on a new journey after Breath of the Wild, as they promised to do in the epilogue. They make a strange discovery, and this evil power threatens all of Hyrule. The only question is whether Zelda will be an active player for the bulk of the story, as in Wind Waker, or whether she’ll need rescuing right away, as in the first Breath of the Wild.
If you want to learn more about the world of Breath of the Wild in the meantime, a prequel called Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity can answer your questions. The game debuted in November, and it's a lengthy, substantial game — albeit a hack-and-slash action title, not an open-world adventure. It's not Breath of the Wild 2, but it's another chance to immerse yourself in the same setting.
While Nintendo has been tight-lipped about Breath of the Wild 2 in general, expect to see some updates within the next few months, as it’s now been more than a year since we first learned about the title.