To kick off the new year, we’re shining a spotlight on some of the biggest and most anticipated games of 2022 across all platforms and genres, today looking at Nintendo’s untitled The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel (“Breath of the Wild 2”). We’ll be looking at its journey so far, why we’re so excited for it, and what we expect out of it in the new year. Here’s everything you need to know about Breath of the Wild 2, including its history, known gameplay mechanics, and release date info.
It takes a special game to make a “most anticipated” list without even having a proper title. That said, the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an event worth making an exception for. There’s a lot riding on Nintendo’s follow-up to what many folks believe is not only the game of the generation, but one of the greatest games of all time.
The sequel to Breath of the Wild was revealed with a short teaser trailer back at Nintendo’s E3 2019 Direct. The trailer was heavy on atmosphere and light on details, challenging countless internet sleuths to attempt to glean as much information from it as possible. We see Link and Zelda making their way through a subterranean cave system, finding the mummified corpse of what may or may not be Ganondorf, some kind of mysterious green energy infecting Link’s arm, and a final shot of what seems to be the Hyrule Castle we knew from Breath of the Wild slowly rising into the sky.
In typical Nintendo fashion, the company went silent for nearly two years on this project, only for Breath of the Wild 2 to reemerge during its Nintendo Direct at E3 2021 with a new trailer packed with amazing gameplay details and even more mysteries. It appears that the sequel is going to focus heavily on islands floating high above the skies of Hyrule, which lines up with the aforementioned ending of the first trailer. In addition to this, time as a concept is a big part of the trailer, including a song that’s played backwards, droplets of water floating up from a puddle, and Link having what appears to be the ability to rewind time on certain objects and enemies.
The trailer also immediately sparked discussion over Link’s new look, assuming that it even is Link. Theories range from the footage being doctored to hide Zelda’s new role as the player character, to it actually being a young version of Ganondorf that we’re controlling. (Maybe the mysteries are part of why Breath of the Wild 2 is among the most anticipated games of 2022.) And if you’re wondering why Nintendo still hasn’t given us the game’s full title yet, it’s because it’s purposely keeping it close to the vest. Nintendo’s Bill Trinen told IGN that they’re keeping the game’s full title a secret for now, explaining, “those subtitles… they start to give little bits of hints about maybe what’s going to happen.”
The trailer ended with confirmation that the game would be releasing sometime in 2022, but if you know Nintendo’s history, you know that’s not set in stone. There’s a chance that Breath of the Wild 2 could be delayed into 2023, which would put it in line with the hypothetical release of whatever 4K Nintendo Switch successor Nintendo must be working on. We’ll have to wait and see whether this ends up being a similar situation to that of the original BOTW, which helped launch the Switch while also still appearing on Wii U. Regardless, expect the game to be a big part of Nintendo’s annual E3 Direct.
Nintendo knows it can take its time with this game, given how well the previous one was received commercially and critically. Breath of the Wild had sold more than 24 million copies as of September 2021, making it the fourth bestselling Switch game, only behind mega hits like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
And while the game has seen massive critical and commercial success, it’s clear that the industry loves it as well. Breath of the Wild has gone on to inspire elements of countless games, including Genshin Impact, Immortals Fenyx Rising, and Horizon Forbidden West. In fact, it’s probably the most genre-defining the series has been since Ocarina of Time helped usher in the era of the 3D adventure game back in 1998, another reason why Breath of the Wild 2 is one of the biggest and most anticipated games of 2022.
Last year saw the Zelda franchise celebrate its 35th anniversary with the release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD on Switch, and reports point to more classics heading our way, including the much beloved Twilight Princess and Wind Waker — both of which received Wii U remasters. In addition, Ocarina of Time launched as a part of the inaugural batch of Nintendo 64 Switch Online games, with Majora’s Mask confirmed to follow sometime in the near future.
Nintendo has a bright 2022 ahead of it. Pokemon Legends: Arceus is coming out at the end of January, and Square Enix’s Triangle Strategy is slated for March. Past that, we have projects like Advance Wars 1+2, Splatoon 3, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, Bayonetta 3, and the long-awaited Metroid Prime 4 in the works. All of these point to Nintendo having yet another stellar year. Breath of the Wild 2 just adds to the hoard.
Check out the full list of our biggest, most anticipated games of 2022:
- Elden Ring
- Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
- Horizon Forbidden West
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2
- More to come!