Breath of the Wild 2 - Everything we want from the next open-world Zelda

Breath of the Wild 2 ended E3 2021 for Nintendo with more questions than answers. What features are going to define the next open-world Zelda?

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There was a lot to unpack in the long-awaited gameplay trailer for the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a name that Nintendo is sticking to specifically so there isn’t too much revealed about its plot. We got to see some potential new abilities for Link as well as different locales set in the sky, but we were also left with many inquiries.

With a release date tentatively set for 2022, there’s still a lot of time left to wonder what Breath of the Wild 2 will hold for everyone waiting to continue the adventure that reshaped The Legend of Zelda forever. Everyone has a wishlist of additions, changes, or would-be improvements they would make to BOTW, I’m certainly no exception. Here’s a handful of features I would like to see added or possibly removed from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2.

Down with durability

Weapon durability has long been a decisive sticking point for Breath of the Wild and there are a lot of fans who would welcome its removal from the direct sequel due next year. Having your weapon break in the heat of battle without a suitable backup can be a considerable problem, especially in the early game. With a new open-world to explore, many Switch owners at launch found themselves frustrated by the encounters that could be triggered by an ill-equipped and inexperienced Link.

This is where the great divide in degradation lies, between players that want to experience this adventure on their own terms and players willing to accommodate the intended game design. For those on the former side of the debate, I would implore them to embrace those moments of improvisation that are thrust upon the player. The emergent moment-to-moment chaos that interrupts normally serene exploration provides a contrast that is lost once given a de-facto ‘best’ weapon.

The Master Sword is locked behind so many hours of gameplay exactly because using one regular sword in the meantime would get boring. The different weapon types in BOTW not only give the player something to use when that sword eventually breaks, they also give Link an entirely new style of attack between types, with effective uses against different enemies. One problem for players that might welcome the removal of weapon durability in Breath of the Wild 2 is the requirement to collect Korok Seeds so they can carry more weapons. Perhaps the extermination of tedious collectible hide-and-seek would make them happy, or maybe some would be thrilled if there were even more bits and bobs to find.

Kill the collectibles

The first time you watch Hetsu perform the Korok Dance in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it’s so adorable and hilarious, it seems like it could never get old. Some players, like myself, might find themselves skipping this ritual after sinking dozens of hours into the vast open-world of Hyrule. I don’t know if I’ll ever find all 900 Korok Seeds in BOTW, but I do know I’ve experienced every different mechanic there is in finding them. It was fun uncovering a cute Korok at every conspicuous crevice or outcrop in the map, at first.

Once your inventory is expanded enough to hold a moderate selection of weapons and shields, the thrill of finding new Korok Seeds is diminished to a been-there-done-that affair. I’m sure many people would relish in the eradication of such bothersome fetch questing altogether, but I think there’s room for improvement here rather than outright dismissal. Maybe detaching your weapon carry limit from your willingness or availability to explore every nook and cranny would be a start.

I enjoyed trying to find different components of recipes and armor upgrades throughout my trek in Breath of the Wild, but not everyone has the time or inclination to invest in the ultimate loadout. Sometimes you just want to go on a well-crafted journey that equips the player fairly during their adventures against varied and balanced bandits. Several things sorely needed for Breath of the Wild 2 that I can’t imagine anyone being upset about their inclusion would be more enemy types.

Bring out the brigade

I don’t think anyone can argue that Breath of the Wild was more than a basic look at the extensive cast of opponents introduced in the 35 years of Zelda games. For dozens of hours, it looks like Bokoblins, Moblins, and Lizalfos are just about all you’ll ever fight. There are variations of each enemy type thankfully, with each naturally inhabiting a different part of Hyrule or attacking Link at night. Of course, this is also a simplification with Lynels, Hinox, Keese, Chuchus, Octoroks, and more making regular appearances.

Even with the new Guardian enemy-types, it’s easy to see that there’s still something lacking in the variety that is encountered during the protracted playtime of the game. Even the first 3D outing for The Legend of Zelda with Ocarina of Time seemingly had more interesting and miscellaneous misfits to mix it up. The Zelda franchise has a storied and vibrant past catalog of foes for Link to fight in Breath of the Wild 2 and I say the more, the merrier. Bring back the Tektites, the Red Bubbles, Leevers, Skulltulas, Deku Scrubs, and Floormasters. Let’s capture Poes and push Armos statues.

That’s just a small sample of returning enemies that could populate the new landscape of Hyrule in Breath of the Wild 2. The first game has few flaws when it comes to objectively judging its content, but the lack of different things to fight is one that can’t be ignored. I could see entirely new enemies being designed for the upcoming adventure of Link and Zelda, and the teaser shown at E3 2021 hints at least one. A great way to bring a diverse cast of baddies to contend with would be the comeback of proper dungeons, giving a reason to populate each with its own set of adversaries.

Putting the fun back in dungeons

Before Breath of the Wild, The Legend of Zelda and dungeons were like a homogenous mixture, unable to be separated without fundamentally altering the core ingredients. Nintendo caused a small controversy with the transformation of the traditional dungeon structure to shrines and Guardians in BOTW. While this was necessary to fit within the new open-world that harkened back to the very first Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild 2 could do with a little more dungeon variety.

Since you are granted with every ability that would act as acquirable items and weapons in previous Zelda games in the form of the Sheikah slate, the usual progression needed an overhaul. I wasn’t necessarily upset by this change, but the repetition in setting and aesthetic for every shrine, Guardian, and boss fight in the game wore tiresome after a full romp through BOTW. A return to bespoke and unique dungeons would be entirely welcome for Breath of the Wild 2, and I eagerly await the day when we get to explore themed Temples again with a core mechanic and clever ability-inspired puzzles that feel offbeat and diverse rather than rote and overused.

We still don’t know if every ability will be available to Link at the start of Breath of the Wild 2. If so, the return of classic dungeons might not be on the table. We do know that there is a new arm sleeve that bears resemblance to Sheikah technology and Link utilizes it in the latest trailer to reverse a rolling spiked ball back up its path, maybe even backward through time. With a reversed BOTW theme acting as the score for the teaser, some sort of time reversal is greatly hinted at. Another huge hint revealed is the potential to play Breath of the Wild 2 as someone else altogether.

It’s dangerous to go alone

One thing that has long been a staple of most games in The Legend of Zelda series is that you don’t play as Zelda. It’s hard to imagine anyone that has played a Nintendo handheld or console that didn’t know about Link being the actual protagonist of the games with a girl’s name. Fans have long desired to be able to adventure as Zelda and not just the Hero of Time and there have been some spin-offs or notable times where the princess of Hyrule makes a playable appearance.

Breath of the Wild 2 would be the perfect time for Zelda to take up arms alongside Link and make her debut as a playable character or companion. The teaser trailer shown at E3 2021 had some very interesting and thought-provoking glimpses of the action centering around someone that might not be the hero we take for granted. One is the scene where the Sheikah-looking arm sleeve is being affixed to the player, the fingernails and hand are quite feminine but this is a stretch. There’s still one more notable piece of evidence teased with the hair length of Link shown throughout the short trailer.

Link does have longer hair than his 2017 outing, but pay close attention to the hair on the character that passes through the solid rock outcropping at the end of the video embedded above or on Nintendo's official website. Their hair is considerably longer than the cut Link was sporting in the minute previous. The outfit on this long-haired individual is also different from the Champion’s Tunic shown just seconds before, but the mane is the real evidence. I think having Zelda as a playable character is overdue for her franchise and I would be surprised if she is still relegated to only furthering the plot in Breath of the Wild 2.

The final breath

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild not only helped launch the Switch into the sales stratosphere but also altered the way we think about 3D Zelda games. BOTW is so massive that many players are still finding new surprises and uncovering secrets to this day after playing the game for a hundred hours or more since it was released. Breath of the Wild 2 will most likely offer a similar amount of content or perhaps more. It might even be the last we see of open-world Zelda games for the remainder of the Switch’s lifespan. There’s no telling where the franchise will go after Breath of the Wild 2, but it’s easy to say that players will be enjoying these two games for generations to come.

What do you want to see from the next open-world Zelda game? Do you think Zelda will continue its new open-world formula for the foreseeable future or will we get something entirely different after these two monumental adventures? Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts on Breath of the Wild 2. If you’d like to stay up to date on any announcements or news about Breath of the Wild 2, keep a tab on our topic page for the game. The Sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is currently set for a release window in 2022 for the Nintendo Switch.

Contributing Editor

From the test launch of the NES in New York to 4K gaming in his living room, Bryan Lefler has been immersed in video games his entire life. Battle tested in the arena shooters of the turn of the century yet kind to all animals that may cross him, Bryan enjoys a breadth of games but strives to be the best in any contest of digital skill. He is a former esports competitor and has been part of the Shacknews community for over 15 years. You can also catch him on skankcore64 streams on the Shacknews Twitch channel where he plays through the N64 library.

From The Chatty
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    June 30, 2021 12:00 PM

    Bryan Lefler posted a new article, Breath of the Wild 2 - Everything we want from the next open-world Zelda

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      June 30, 2021 12:58 PM

      I think the main reason I hate the brittle weapons is the need to spend more time in the inventory to make sure the weapon/shield collection is solid. I really hate inventory management.

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        June 30, 2021 1:00 PM

        Yeah, frequent inventory management has no place in Zelda. I can't remember well; were most fights more interestingly solved with environmental (and bomb) approaches, rather than weapons?

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        June 30, 2021 1:16 PM

        If you dont have brittle weapons, then what are you gonna put in treasure chests?

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          June 30, 2021 1:24 PM

          Money, so you can save up and build a castle for Tarry Town!

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          June 30, 2021 1:38 PM

          I think this is what a lot of complaints about the weapon durability system fail to recognize. Without that system, the sense of joy at finding something in a treasure chest is greatly reduced. I do think there is a compromise in there somewhere though. Maybe have some rare materials mixed in that let you upgrade or repair a favorite weapon. They're just rare enough so that you're not finding a hundredth "repair material" and being bored, but not so rare that you have the current problem.

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            June 30, 2021 1:49 PM

            On the contrary I think the people complaining about the weapon durability are complaining about the entire set of interlocking systems that make the whole experience bad. The weapon durability system supposedly is to encourage creativity but frequently it just involves switching to another identical weapon to finish the fight. So it's just annoying in combat. On top of that it's exposing you to UI/inventory stuff all the time (mid combat or otherwise) which isn't fun. On top of that it creates a 'loot' system where you're largely just finding replacement loot for your existing weapons (which disincentivizes you from even engaging in combat).

            Like even if you buy that the durability system creates creativity in combat the interlocking systems around it to support the concept are all still pretty bad.

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              June 30, 2021 1:58 PM

              I get where you're coming from but I still disagree. The game is built around exploration and discovery to its very core. Weapons break frequently, therefore finding new ones is important and satisfying. A small inventory exacerbates the issue, so they give you the option to upgrade your inventory size. To do this, you explore some more and find korok seeds by doing little puzzles/mini games in the environment. Again giving the player a constant goal to work towards no matter where they are in the world. The frustration of the weapon durability system is there to make those things more satisfying and give a sense of reward/accomplishment. If you get rid of the weapon durability system then the world becomes what some people already think it is - too open and lifeless.

              I also don't think it creates a 'loot' system, at least not in the traditional sense. Loot systems to me just turn into constantly sifting through garbage until you happen upon a quality item. In Zelda, every item is important because you constantly need to replace them.

              Like I said though, it's clearly not perfect because enough people complain about it (I found it a little too annoying too). Just have to be careful to maintain that sense of reward every time you find a treasure chest or korok seed.

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                June 30, 2021 2:13 PM

                I think you can make a game about exploration and discovery that adds new layers of fun on top instead of starting from a point of making annoying systems you can slowly make less annoying. I don't think 'wow combat is finally less annoying' or 'wow finally I can interact with the inventory UI' is a good reward system for players. Like a very basic example of positive reinforcement is a game like Control doing the very basic videogamey/Metroidvania thing of giving you new powers as you explore the world. Combat gets more creative because the game starts giving me more options as a player, not by constantly forcing me to stop using what was fun before. At the same time it gets more fun not because I stop having to do things that were once annoying like inventory management but rather because I have new things to do that add options to my combat choices (pre combat in choosing loadouts and during combat with options).

                I use 'loot' system loosely to describe the process of finding new stuff during normal gameplay (ie not only via bosses or quests). Zelda clearly has a loot system, it just isn't a Diablo style +% damage type item set. There're many ways to make a boring loot system. One is constantly making you grab crafting materials for dumb crafting systems (many games do this). Another is having a million +% items that are imperceptively different in gameplay (most ARPGs do this). Another is having you constantly find items that are imperceptively different from what you already have (Zelda does this).

                On the whole I found Zelda's systems making me think I shouldn't be fighting things unless I have to. And not in some cool Dark Souls 'you aren't ready for this' or 'it's too risky' way but literally 'it's not worth it'. I'll just have to spend a bunch of time flipping through items to fight another set of monsters I've fought before only to be rewarded with more identical weapons to replace the ones that just broke.

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                  June 30, 2021 2:21 PM

                  I think those are all valid points! The difference with a game like Control and BotW is that the latter tries to be completely open, meaning you can theoretically get to almost anywhere in the world immediately. You can tackle most challenges right off the bat. This has its ups and downs compared to a Metroid style system, like giving you the runes from the beginning rather than unlocking them as you go as in past Zeldas. You also have this weapon issue. I think we're probably actually on the same page where I'd rather they mix the two a bit more. The difference is I think I enjoyed every second I spent with BotW as its systems didn't bother me as much. That doesn't mean I don't think it can be better though. To each their own and all!

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                    June 30, 2021 2:35 PM

                    yeah I think a more direct comparison is something like Horizon: Zero Dawn. The game is quite open and largely rewards you with more stuff instead of taking away annoyances. It does have inventory limits and ammo capacity limits but they're reasonably generous early in the game where you do want to increase the limits sooner rather than later but aren't constantly up against the limit encounter to encounter. It certainly has its own problems in the loot system with too much garbage (crafting items or otherwise) but for the most part you want to engage in combat for the rewards.

                    In general Horizon far more often encouraged creativity in combat for me than Zelda by virtue of having numerous diverse weapons always at your disposal and a variety of enemies whose design forced you to engage them completely differently.

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                      June 30, 2021 2:44 PM

                      That’s an interesting comparison. I think we just have a difference in taste there. HZD is exactly the kind of game that Zelda improved upon (for me). I found the world extremely boring to traverse and would just get from A to B as fast as possible. In Zelda I was constantly engaged in my surroundings, which I’ve always attributed to the points I made above. Funny enough I also found myself getting more creative in combat in Zelda vs HZD. That said, I never finished HZD, it just couldn’t hold my attention. I hope to go back to it because I did like the lore and story.

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                        June 30, 2021 3:03 PM

                        HZD’s world design is very cookie cutter Ubisoft fare compared to Zelda but the mechanics/enemy design actually encouraged you to do fun things. I was mostly referring to how much better the combat/UI/upgrade loop is compared there to the weapon degradation based one.

                        But Zelda had similar mechanical problems making world exploration boring to me too though. Most overworld combat should be skipped because all it did was replace broken weapons with identical ones and combat was very rote early on. And the mechanics of the dungeons meant the game was just telling you to get to a high point, mark dungeons, then go to them to get upgrade points for your character since little else mattered (unless you’re into Korok seeds which are basically Ubisoft type world exploration quests)

                        Whether or not you found exploring HZD fun to uncover lore is up to you. Obviously folks who love Zelda tend not to be as focused on character/story since the game is very light on that stuff compared to most open world action/RPG stuff.

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                          June 30, 2021 3:27 PM

                          The overworld combat is fun because you don't have to brute force your way around with weapons, especially given the prevalance of bombs and the mobility of the glider. If a player only uses rote combat, then yeah, it can get pretty old. It's also fun to sneak around when your weapons are broken.

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                            June 30, 2021 3:56 PM

                            The combat really comes into its own in Trial Of The Sword and Eventide Island, areas with fairly defined paths/flanking paths, environmental hazards to experiment with and exploit, and a very limited arsenal at your disposal.

                            It shines when the survival aspect is pushed to the front or when they present Dark Souls type scenarios with bosses or Lynels.

                            There's also people who perma-stunlock enemies with spells or hit trickshots from a kilometer away, but that speedrunner aspect is whole different thing :)

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                              June 30, 2021 4:09 PM

                              Eventide was the best, except for the rewards. I really hope they can design many more overworld puzzles in the sequel with unique but not gatekeeping items. Maybe things like a small speed boost, or longer glider hang time. I hope there are some gatekept overworld areas, too, like Metroid/OG Zelda.

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                            June 30, 2021 4:24 PM

                            If the player can successfully only use rote combat then the game design has failed. The goal of a game designer is to make sure the most successful game actions are also the most fun ones. Expecting players to do something otherwise to maximize fun at the expense of utility is a failure of design.

                            I didn't sneak past enemies just because my weapons were broken. I snuck past them because there's no reward to fighting them and the combat is not fun for most of the early game.

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                              June 30, 2021 4:30 PM

                              Part of the early game design intentionally wants you to sneak around in fear, I think. Descending from the initial plateau after acquiring all your powers is daunting. It's epic, and the enemies are strong, and you are weak.

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                                June 30, 2021 4:34 PM

                                In the first moments sure but pretty early on they're easily dispatched as you grind through sticks and other uninspired weapons and encountering a group of enemies in the wild is not a scary sight but rather something you try to avoid so you don't waste your time in combat

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                                  June 30, 2021 6:00 PM

                                  By the time sticks weren’t a thing I was trolling most enemies except for Lynels. I accidentally got the Master Shield early though. It’s very easy to get powerful weapons early, IMO.

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                              July 1, 2021 12:38 AM

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                        June 30, 2021 3:17 PM

                        "In Zelda I was constantly engaged in my surroundings, which I’ve always attributed to the points I made above"

                        This really is the difference between BOTW and Assassin's Creed/AC clones like HZD. In the former you are constantly engaged and present with your surroundings while in the latter its a race between waypoints while focused on the HUD

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                      June 30, 2021 2:51 PM

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            June 30, 2021 2:05 PM

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              June 30, 2021 2:08 PM

              Yeah I mean I guess my argument assumes you already liked exploring in the game.

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                June 30, 2021 2:27 PM

                Agreed. If someone doesn't deeply enjoy the exploration of new landscapes, they'll never like this game. Exploration as a means to an item-finding end is not what this game is about. Of course it could use much more diversity, and hopefully the sequel will bring that.

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                June 30, 2021 2:56 PM

                I liked exploring in the game a lot. I just hated fucking with my cache of backup weapons instead of exploring. Stopping a fight to swap my stupid broken weapon. Stopping X to swap my stupid broken weapon or take stock of my stupid replacement weapons.

                It was a distraction from an otherwise satisfying game loop.

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            June 30, 2021 4:05 PM

            There was no sense of joy to finding weapons because finding ammo is boring.

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        June 30, 2021 1:39 PM

        The game is clearly designed with the Wii U gamepad in mind. I think had they kept the inventory management on the gamepad as originally intended it would be a much smoother experience. As someone who played it on Wii U first and had been looking forward to it for a long time, it was very disappointing to have that stuff removed in favor of parity with the Switch version :(

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          June 30, 2021 2:26 PM

          Exactly. totally missed your post and repeated your point below.

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        June 30, 2021 2:23 PM

        Those brittle weapons were SOOOOOOOOoooo FUCKING stupid considering how fucking awesome that game was.

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        June 30, 2021 2:25 PM

        I've said this in every one of these threads, but I'll say it again: BotW's systems were designed around the WiiU's second screen. The intention was to be able to instantly switch weapons in the middle of gameplay by tapping on your gamepad screen. They ended up removing that function entirely from both versions in order to match the experiences - but as a result, that whole system feels janky.

        They'll likely redesign the inventory management system to take in to account the Switch's capabilities for BotW 2.

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          June 30, 2021 2:53 PM

          Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. BotW2 will be the true Switch Zelda game.

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          June 30, 2021 4:01 PM

          yeah, if you could switch weapons super fast like you can in Doom Eternal I think I'd dig it.

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      June 30, 2021 5:32 PM

      Increased enemy variety is my #1 pick for improvements to the sequel. I got so sick of fighting the same Lizalfos and Moblins mobs after 150hrs of the game.

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        June 30, 2021 6:01 PM

        I wish they had more attack patterns instead of different colors for scaled to your level difficulty

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