One of the most anticipated video games heading into 2022 is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, but we don’t actually know that much about Link’s next adventure. Following a disappointing no-show at the 2021 Game Awards in December, cyber sleuths have uncovered a series of patents that seemingly add context to Link’s abilities in the upcoming game. Here’s what sort of mechanics the new patents hint at.
According to the patent, there will be a mechanic in the game that allows Link to perform a “special action,” such as shooting an object, while he is falling. In this mode the virtual camera will change pitch, allowing Link to better align himself with the object he’s shooting.
This description meshes well with the opening moments of the E3 2021 teaser, where players see Link falling from the sky in a manner that’s reminiscent of the transitions between areas in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. If this description is correct, it sounds like Link may be able to shoot his arrow while he is free-falling from certain elevated locations. When he shoots, the camera might spin around to give players a better view of the projectile’s trajectory. In some ways, this reminds us of the moment from the 2014 Breath of the Wild reveal teaser where Link jumps off Epona and spins around to shoot a Guardian with a Shock Arrow.
Phasing through objects
This gameplay mechanic was perhaps the most high-profile feature illustrated in the E3 2021 teaser. Its patent uses very technical language to describe a scenario in which there’s a section of terrain above the player that acts as a ceiling. Using this feature, Link can pass up through that ceiling and stand on the other side of it.
In Breath of the Wild 2, it appears the mechanic uses a water-like effect, briefly transforming the protagonist into a droplet as he phases through the structure above.
The last of the three patents offers an in-depth explanation of a gameplay feature that focuses on “return movement to return to previously recorded positions and orientations.” With regard to the 2021 teaser, we see this action as Link takes a large spiky boulder and rolls it uphill to hit a few Bokoblins. This appears to be an expansion of the Breath of the Wild Stasis Rune that allowed objects to move based on stored kinetic energy.
Leveraged in tandem with the original Stasis mechanic, Rewind could potentially be used to revert mistakes made when using the Rune. For example, if you hit an object halfway across the map with Stasis but decide you need to hit that object from its starting point with a lighter touch instead, now you might have a more seamless option to do so.
What do these Breath of the Wild 2 patents mean?
It’s worth noting that none of the features revealed in these patents are explicitly new, but the documents suggest Breath of the Wild 2’s publishers at Nintendo take the core concepts very seriously. The original Breath of the Wild has proven to be one of the most influential games in modern times, with major franchises from Halo to Sonic leveraging ideas from the 2017 title as a source of inspiration.
With these three gameplay concepts officially under patent, it will make it much harder for other game developers to use similar features in their titles. There’s plenty of precedent for this sort of maneuver, perhaps most notoriously exemplified when Warner Bros. secured a patent for Shadow of Mordor’s beloved Nemesis System in February of 2021. Game developers can likely take artistic liberties on these ideas to differentiate them from the source material, but it’ll involve a conscious effort to be somewhat unique now that these patent filings exist.