Since the first trailer for Breath of the Wild 2 back at E3 2019, fans have speculated we could be about to play a Legend of Zelda game where we can play as Princess Zelda herself. Today I am going to look at the evidence we have so far from trailers, plus try to map out exactly what playing as Zelda might look like in the upcoming sequel to Breath of the Wild.
We haven’t got to play as Princess Zelda in a mainline Zelda game before, and this could be the best time to give it a go. Nintendo really sent the rumour mill into overdrive with the first trailer, where we see Link and Zelda traveling through underground caverns together. Zelda was sporting a new haircut, and looked like she was ready for an adventure, rather than taking on regular Princess duties.
Although we immediately got very exicted that Zelda was underground with Link, Eiji Aonuma neither confirmed or denied a playable Princess Zelda in a series of interviews after E3 2019.
“It’s kind of interesting that you bring that up because in Breath of the Wild, you see Zelda and Link together often too, so to go straight into the thought of co-op is very interesting to me.”Eiji Aonuma, 2019
Aonuma is absolutely correct, we did see a lot of Link and Zelda together in their memories back in the first game, and we didn’t get to play as Zelda then. Aonuma did a good job of not shutting down the rumours, and he left it open to interpretation.
While the first trailer sent Legend of Zelda fans into overdrive regarding playing as Zelda, the second trailer at E3 2021 cooled off that theory somewhat, as we see Zelda falling into the dark below. We actually saw a few seconds of this in the first trailer, but it was cut so quickly it was difficult to see. However, in the second trailer the shot of Zelda falling backwards into the dark depths is lingering on for a few seconds, meaning Nintendo wants us to notice this, and Zelda has once again gotten herself into some trouble.
I do think it would be a good change to the series to play as Zelda. For years and years we have been saving Zelda as Link, although in the original Breath of the Wild we didn’t really save Zelda, we acted as support to defeat Calamity Ganon. Ultimately, Zelda is a very powerful being, and Breath of the Wild is anything to go by, she doesn’t need saving at all, she just needs a little bit of help to weaken Ganon, while she deals the final blow.
But given we have just past the 35 year anniversary of the series and we have traveled Hyrule in so many ways, it would be a nice change of pace to play as Princess Zelda and see the world from her perspective. There are so called Breath of the Wild 2 leaks out there, and two of them points to Zelda as a playable character in the sequel.
- Zelda plays a role in character swap mechanic, she’s in another dimension and you have to switch characters for puzzles to influence the regular hyrule overworld and vice versa. Lots of teamwork between Link and Zelda.
- Zelda has the Shekiah slate, no real combat for her from what was played, mostly stealth and puzzle solving for Zelda. No gear, inventory is just materials and quests.
I do think the swap mechanic could be feasible, although having her in another dimension seems odd. I could imagine her being underground, and Link being overground based on what we’ve seen so far.
As for Zelda having the Shekiah slate, Link appears to have new abilities related to his arm. One version of Link has long hair, and his right arm appears to be corrupted, plus in another scene we’ve seen him with an attachment on his left arm. If Zelda is going to be playable, then it makes sense for her to use the Shekiah Slate… However, it says here she doesn’t have items and she can only engage in stealth, which seems a little bit limiting to me.
It does appear as if Link and Zelda will start the game together. The E3 2019 trailer shows Link and Zelda on an adventure together, both dressed in similar clothes they have at the end of the original Breath of the Wild. From what we’ve seen so far it appears as if Link and Zelda are then split up by the earthquake, where Zelda is shown falling down a cavern, and Link’s right arm is attacked or effected somehow by the energy shown in the trailer.
In the first Breath of the Wild game Zelda was much more prominent than she has been in other Zelda games. Through the memories we saw back story, happiness, loss, suffering. She also spoke, a lot. This is the most character development we’ve seen from the Princess in pretty much the whole series. We had been hoping that this build up and development meant we wouldn’t just be saving the Princess once again in traditional Legend of Zelda fashion, but we’d be teaming up with her together on an adventure.
What would a playable Zelda actually look like in Breath of the Wild 2? I think we have a few options.
Switching between Link and Zelda
If Zelda is going to be playable, then I think this could be the most likely outcome. Link has been the protagonist for all the Legend of Zelda games, if Nintendo allowed swapping between them, then they wouldn’t take that away from fans, they would be adding to it. I can imagine playing some of the game as Link, and then switching to Zelda and playing a portion of the game as her, and then switching back.
Given we have seen Princess Zelda fall underground, it’s not a massive stretch of the imagination to think we could play as Zelda in the undeground sections of the game, and Link in the above ground and sky sections of the game. Perhaps Link and Zelda could have different objectives. For example, Zelda is focused underground, solving puzzles with the Shekiah Slate and uncovering new information that could then be passed onto Link above ground. Meanwwhile Link is busy restoring the Master Sword by gathering resources and solving puzzles above ground.
Co-op with Link and Zelda
Co-op play would be a dream mode for me personally in a Legend of Zelda game. I think this is probably less likely, as designing puzzles for two characters would in theory be much harder, for example, adapting to the number of players, or forcing co-op play. I very much doubt Nintendo would want to force co-op play, as that would be very restrictive, but having the option to play co-op would be incredible.
It Takes Two, which one game of the year in 2021, was a great example of co-op puzzles, although that game had to be played with two players. Super Mario 3D World is an excellent Mario game, re-released on Nintendo Switch in 2021, that’s a great example of Nintendo doing co-op play well.
How it would work in a Legend of Zelds game, I don’t know. But I’d love to see Link and Zelda, inhabit the same space, have roughly the same skills and abilities and just have adventure round Hyrule together. I am no game designer, but I am sure it would add exponential complexity to the game. But who knows, maybe that is what they have been working on this whole time? It’s been 5 years since the release of Breath of the Wild. They had the engine, they had the character models and environment. Yes, they added some new gameplay mechanics through time manipulation and aerial combat… perhaps co-op play has been one of the reasons for the development time and delays.
Zelda is the main hero
This option is probably the least likely of them all, given Link has featured in the trailers, particularly the e3 2021 trailer and the 2022 delay trailer. However, it would be good to flip the formula on its head, and simply play through the game as Zelda. She could have similar abilities and skills as Link, although I would like to see more of a focus on magic, rather than melee combat. I’m not sure how this would go down with the Legend of Zelda fans out there, but it would be good to have Zelda as the main character in a Legend of Zelda game.
Zelda as a helper
We’ve had Fi, Navi, Tatl and Midna. Perhaps in the Breath of the Wild sequel, Princess Zelda is Link’s partner character. Strictly speaking this isn’t playing as Zelda, but it’s an option. We do see a glowing yellow orb in the delay trailer in 2022, this could be Zelda communicating with Link when he’s repairing the broken master sword, and perhaps Nintendo plan to expand on this idea throughout the game.
Let me know in the comments if you want to see a playable Zelda in Breath of the Wild 2.
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