The still-untitled sequel to 2017’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild isn’t coming out this year after all. On March 29, series producer Eiji Aonuma announced in a YouTube video that the next installment in Nintendo’s landmark fantasy RPG franchise will release in spring 2023. The delay announcement video only contained a couple shots of new footage, including a new look for Link and a seemingly degraded Master Sword. And that one image may be a massive clue about what players can expect from the hotly anticipated game.
There are only about seven seconds of new footage in the March 29 video, and they’re easy to miss upon first viewing. We’ve isolated the new stuff here.
First things first: Link and the Master Sword both look different. His hair is longer, and he’s wearing a tattered green and brown outfit, with the right side of his chest exposed. His right arm and shoulder are covered in dark markings. (Some fans have speculated that these markings could be a callback to the Twili of Twilight Princess, but that’s a blog for another day.)
The sword looks absolutely busted, like Link left it in the sink and turned on the garbage disposal. The hilt remains shimmering and glorious, but the bottom of the blade has been eaten away, covered with green and a dull gray.
Between reading the subtitles and gawping at the new visuals, it’s easy to miss what’s quite literally happening here. On an island floating in the skies of Hyrule, Link stands before a golden orb of light. He reaches to remove the Master Sword from its scabbard slung across his back. As he brings the weapon closer to the orb of light, the unblemished metal of the blade begins to glow. A second source of golden light appears on the back of Link’s right hand.
The footage cuts away, but it’s easy to imagine what happens next — a flash of white light passes to reveal a small area of the sword has been repaired or “healed.”
Looking closely at this new footage, finding golden orbs in order to restore the Master Sword to its former brilliance may be a major part of Link’s quest in the skies above Hyrule. Looking back to the very first trailer for Breath of the Wild 2, something could have happened deep underground that damaged the blade, and the remedy lies in the islands of the sky.
At around the 44-second mark of the E3 2019 teaser, we see a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it burst of energy emitting from Link’s sword hand.
There’s reason to suspect these two events are connected somehow. His hair is also shorter here, so this footage may be from the game’s introduction or prologue sequence. Perhaps the bulk of the game takes place after a time skip? Here’s the full trailer.
In more practical terms, nerfing the Master Sword for plot reasons is also a very convenient way to avoid giving players access to an overpowered weapon at the start of the game.
While the connections aren’t totally clear yet, the footage hints that the energy force corrupting the sword also impacts Link’s body. His hand seems to glow as he reaches toward the golden light, and his sword hand and shoulder are covered with dark markings or tattoos. It’s as though the corrupting force emanating from the blade is slowly seeping into his body. Link’s quest may be about more than restoring Hyrule’s iconic weapon, but saving himself, too.
The sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild comes to Nintendo Switch in 2023.
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