Nintendo confirmed that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 was in development almost a year ago at E3 2019 but hasn't announced anything else about it ever since. Two new leaks, however, have allegedly revealed the sequel's official title and some map details that would theoretically shorten the amount of time the game would have to spend in development. Does that mean it could be released far sooner than most of us seem to think?
Unconfirmed information posted by an anonymous 4chan user on Sunday claimed that BotW 2 would be titled The Legend of Zelda: Dark Tombs. This unsubstantiated “leak” came two days after YouTuber Tyler McVicker alleged that BotW 2 will recycle the same map of Hyrule included in BotW but enhance it with subterranean dungeons. (These could be the titular Dark Tombs.)
“They’re reusing the same world [as Breath of the Wild]," McVicker off-handedly stated during a March 20 Twitch stream (at around the 11:20 mark). “They’re taking the same world and because they don’t have to rebuild that world they can repopulate that world.”
Taken together, these leaks mean that Nintendo could accelerate the game’s development to hit a release date as early as 2021, mainly because rather than build an entirely new game world from start to finish, the team will instead be refining the same world that took nearly five years to create. Aspects of these leaks also claim that Nintendo is looking to other recently successful open-world games as inspiration.
"One of the major pillars of the design philosophy of BotW 2 is actually inspired by a combination of Red Dead Redemption 2 and a game I will not mention,” McVicker also said.
His information holds more weight since he runs the Nintendo News Network channel and previously leaked that notoriously secretive developer Valve was working on a virtual reality game ... over a year before Half Life: Alyx was announced. His claims also back up aspects of the sketchy 4chan post.
In some ways, it sounds like BotW 2 will rehash the first game, but that won’t be the case according to the leaker. McVicker went on to say that the resurrected corpse of Ganondorf seen in the game’s announcement trailer will corrupt the regions of Hyrule that gamers discovered in the first game. It will then be up to Link and Zelda to purge these areas of that evil energy.
The overall layout of the map, therefore, will look remarkably similar, but things will look different. A close point of comparison might be the Young and Adult Link time periods from Ocarina of Time before and after Ganondorf's evil corrupted the land.
The YouTuber also heard that Nintendo will add full=on dungeons for players to explore in order to slowly free Hyrule from Ganon’s grasp, which would make “Dark Tomb” a fitting title. McVicker’s leak also aligns with multiple Nintendo job listings that revealed the company was looking for developers to create new “field dungeons.”
In an interview with Kotaku during E3 2019, Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma also hinted that Nintendo was brainstorming ideas on how to turn BotW 2 into more of a dungeon-crawler than the original. He suggested that the team was working to bring back the sprawling dungeons that fans loved from titles like Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword while maintaining the creative puzzle-solving that was featured in the game’s 120 unlockable Shrines that served as quick-travel checkpoints in BotW.
“One thing we learned from Breath of the Wild is that when we focused on creating a dungeon that has multiple solutions, it turned into this great title,” said Aonuma. “That’s one thing I want to polish up and use for inspiration going forward.”
McVicker didn’t list any specific dungeon examples, but a recent fan theory presented compelling evidence that an unassuming area found deep in the Gerudo Desert could be one of the many new dungeons that will be introduced in BotW 2.
The Arbiter’s Grounds isn’t much other than a monster-infested collection of stone pillars in BotW, but it was the fourth dungeon in Twilight Princess. BotW takes place many years after Twilight Princess, according to Nintendo’s exhaustive (and exhausting) Zelda timeline. That means the ancient area could have been slowly consumed by the Gerudo Desert until it was completely buried, but now Ganon’s resurrection has unearthed it
The Inverse Analysis
McVicker’s comments are as close to a monumental BotW 2 leak as we’ve gotten so far, but the 4chan post that corroborates some of his claims while also claiming "Dark Tombs" as a title could just be another wild guess.
Previous leaks have tried to do the same with little evidence, so it’s difficult to say for certain what the company is thinking. Bond of the Triforce? Breath of Darkness? And now, Dark Tomb? This latest title "leak" fits the dungeon-crawler direction that Nintendo is moving in with BotW 2, but we won’t know for sure until Nintendo issues some kind of formal announcement.
McVicker’s alleged leaks suggest that BotW 2 won’t take five years to develop like the original, so the announcement of an official title and release date window could happen in the summer exactly a year after the game’s initial announcement.
E3 2020 has been cancelled due to the global coronavirus pandemic, which means Nintendo will most likely air a Direct announcement sometime in early June when E3 was supposed to take place. We could only be a few months away from a massive BotW 2 reveal.