The Nintendo E3 2021 Direct ended on a high, showcasing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel gameplay in a dazzling new trailer that also confirmed a 2022 release window. While the sizzle reel was fairly snappy, it tucked in glimpses at a number of new features, areas, and mechanics coming to the long-awaited JRPG, including a few things you may have missed on first viewing. So you'll want to keep reading for our full Breath of the Wild 2 gameplay breakdown
We've gone through the new Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 trailer, frame by frame, to discover what we can from our latest look at the upcoming Nintendo Switch exclusive. We've tried to pick out as much as we can in this Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 gameplay trailer breakdown but, if you reckon we've missed something, let us know in the comments below! Otherwise, stay tuned to our E3 2021 guide for all the details on the latest announcements and reveals from this week.
You'll be exploring the skies above Hyrule
When The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 was announced in 2019, director Eiji Aonuma said that the reason Nintendo was making a continuation, rather than introducing a brand new subtitle to the series, was because he "wanted to revisit that Hyrule again and use that world again" as the backdrop for new gameplay and stories. We got our first look at that in the new Breath of the Wild 2 gameplay reveal. Hyrule itself looks incredibly familiar until, that is, Link gets a little air. There's a whole new world to explore above the clouds, floating islands that you'll likely be navigating as you attempt to gear up before an inevitable showdown with what appears to be a mummified (and energized) calamity Ganon.
Oh, and at least we know why Nintendo has been pushing the The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD for Switch so hard this year...
There may be two sequel time periods
The Legend of Zelda has a history of messing around with timelines and dark mirror worlds, so it's no surprise to see Breath of the Wild 2 doing the same. If you pay close attention to the new trailer, it's clear that we're seeing Link from two different points in time. In the first, we see our intrepid explorer running around Hyrule with his feet on the ground, all while wearing his iconic BotW clothing and ponytail. In the second, Link is sporting a more breathable ensemble and has shaggier hair – although, to be fair, it's hard to keep hold of a hair-tie while flying through the air. Expect the fallout of Breath of the Wild's ending, and the opening hours of Breath of the Wild 2, to have some impact on the state of play for Link, Zelda, and whatever remains of Hyrule.
There are great heights and free-falling
In Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Link gets to soar through the skies with a nifty paraglider. While we do see this make a comeback in the upcoming sequel, we also see our hero free-falling through the sky. Why or how you're able to do this remains to be seen, but perhaps there's a new way to travel around the open-world. Even when Link does appear to use a paraglider, it looks to be from great heights. As the gameplay teaser confirmed, the upcoming adventure has been expanded to include the skies above Hyrule.
Link's glider has an upgrade
Check out those two talon-like objects protruding from Link's glider, which very much weren't a part of the equipment during the events of the first game. This alteration surely can't be cosmetic alone, suggesting one of our favourite forms of transportation in Breath of the Wild is about to get an upgrade. Could they increase our glide distance and speed? Or offer something else completely unexpected? I can already hear the Zelda speedrunners going mad at the very prospect of it.
Link can seemingly teleport through rocks now
There's definitely some kind of new power you'll be able to play around with in the world of Breath of the Wild 2. During the gameplay teaser, we see Link shoot up through a rock via some kind of watery portal, and as if he's being propelled by his arm. Interestingly, just before this happens, the water seems to go in reverse – the whole thing looks very much like the odd watery way in which Link received updates to his Sheikah slate in the original game, just set in reverse. With the adventure taking us up to the clouds, this new mechanic will no doubt help us reach the sky islands above Hyrule. It's definitely one of the most intriguing elements of the gameplay that was shown.
The sequel introduces new powers
In the Breath of the Wild 2 gameplay, it's clear that something is going on with Link's right arm (that's his sword-swinging arm in Breath of the Wild). We see corruption wrap around it in the opening beats of the trailer and then, later, it appears that the hero is able to wield the powers of the Sheikah Slate just by pointing his palm out at enemies – he's using Statis, and there's no Slate in sight. This will likely have massive implications for Link and how the action unfurls around him throughout the game. We also appear to see his arm bandaged in Sheikah technology, and offer a telling green glow – expect that to be an reoccurring sight as Link finds, unlocks, and upgrades new abilities throughout the adventure.
Old enemies are teaming up
As if Link's adventures through Hyrule weren't troublesome enough, his roster of enemies are now teaming up against him! It appears as though Bokoblins have figured out how to ride, and develop camps atop of the Stone Talus giants that presented mini boss fights during the original game. Link will likely have to take out the Bokoblins shooting at him from the Talus before taking out the giant itself, but we can already imagine having some fun tinkering around with the game's emergent physics systems to turn this Bokoblin-Talus hybrid against itself.
We'll be fighting with fire
As well as implying the prospect of more classic, longform dungeons, the shot of Link fighting an enemy underground also shows him wielding some form of flame shield in combat. This could be a new weapon, Hyrule's answer to the flamethrower, or it could actually be a new Sheikah Slate ability entirely – it's hard to distinguish the arm from the power amidst the action of the scene itself to definitively confirm anything at this point. Either way, anyone who's played around with fire in Breath of the Wild will know the kind of havoc this can cause across the landscape – this new ability will only amplify the carnage.
There's a new release date!
The first glimpse of the upcoming sequel initially came back in 2019. At the time, it only revealed the game was in development, and there was plenty of speculation surrounding when we could expect to see it launch. This latest gameplay teaser closed by officially revealing that Nintendo are aiming to release Breath of the Wild 2 sometime in 2022. While we still don't have an exact date just yet, it at least confirms a timeframe after many rumors pointed to an expected release this year.