Breath of the Wild broke ground in terms of how a Legend of Zelda game was played. Open world, free choice and scope to go straight to Ganon for the showdown. A daft choice, but hey that’s down to you. Nonetheless, the game really gave players the freedom to discover and investigate. Hyrule was in tatters and the people were a shell of their previous selves. The hillsides were littered with ancient shrines and the technology to look into them was lost. Worse than that, the kingdom was being decimated by four Divine Beasts. All plot points to give players freedom and challenges. The hype of Breath of the Wild 2 being announced was monumental. but after watching the trailers and the ending of BoTW, people now question whether Zelda will be a playable character? My question… does she need to be?
The Breath of the Wild 2 Trailer
What We Know…
Breath of the Wild ended with Zelda and Link standing over a picturesque scene. Zelda choosing their next move to rebuild Hyrule with Link, as the silent protagonist, obediently waiting for direction from the woman he is sworn to protect. It opens the direction up for the sequel to be Link and Zelda galavanting on a grand adventure together. Hand in hand and the first time she has had the freedom to choose.
The information confirmed from trailers tell us that Ganondorf’s mummy is found by the pair, the manifestation of evil that was Ganon’s power appears to be emanating from it and it’s somehow making chunks of Hyrule float. Also, there’s speculation on the new powers obtained by the Sheikah Slate enabling the characters to manipulate the world around them. One scene shows Link “rewinding time” to send spiked balls to the enemies throwing them. Another shows Link ascending upwards to one of the islands and phasing through it! Other than that, everything’s a theory… and Nintendo love to shock and surprise in a Zelda game!
Zelda as a Present Protagonist?
Breath of the Wild featured Zelda throughout without needing to allow Link to interact directly with her. Through memories, word of mouth and a general knowledge that she needed saving, she guided Link to his goal. It left a lot to player discovery which meant the weighting she had on the story differed from play through to play through. She was always there, dutifully fulfilling her role. But for this sequel, she’s clearly there at the start and filled with powers – though dwindling as she can’t hear the Master Sword anymore. Still, her Sealing Powers were what held Calamity Ganon at bay (the force that decimated Hyrule in an instant) so they must have some weight to them.
With Zelda being present at any occurrence in Breath of the Wild 2, I see four reasonable possibilities as to what could happen should she be there during an encounter.
1.Zelda runs outside the combat zone.
3.She simply vanishes.
4.Or is controllable by the player.
One and three seem cheap escapes. The issue with option four for me is that there’s the risk of her being either all omnipotently powerful with her magic, or graded as the same calibre with a weapon as Link (all be it with adjustments). This is a wasted opportunity in my eyes! For there is an alternative…
Zelda: The Shaker of the Sword and the Sheikah!
Believe it or not, there’s an alternate reality version (caused by some classic Zelda game time travel) of Zelda which boasts some insane skills. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity’s Zelda is outstandingly skilled at using the Sheikah Slate to dish out some real damage. However… giving any playable character this level of destructive power as it is would be unreasonable. It definitely shouldn’t be a pure transplant of this almighty Zelda into the Hyrulian wilderness of Breath of the Wild 2, but a diluted rendition would be ideal.
To make her entirely viable, she’d need some ability to use some weapons to balance out her use of any ranged/magical systems. Hyrule Warriors’ Zelda was able to make use of some simple weapons and could even use a bow whilst riding horseback. Of course, she’d never keep up with her knight in terms of a physical fight, but having her being able to finesse her way out of a blade’s way and deal a strike with her own would at least give her function. Then creating a balance where she could utilise the different Sheikah functions whilst also dealing some damage would certainly make her an interesting character, whilst also giving an alternative in how they both approach combat.
Zelda has form for combat, disguised as Sheik
Contrary to my ideals on what an appropriate Zelda character would be like, I don’t want (or think we’ll get) Zelda as a playable character. I feel it would entirely remove the function and purpose of the princess from previous games. She was there to guide, to keep balance, to seal evil and to be Link’s purpose. She shows the way and gives reason for his quest; he is her knight.
Now don’t go getting me wrong, I don’t want her to be a damsel in distress. She’s far from it! Without her, Hyrule and Link would have been consumed by the Calamity 100 years ago! She is, in reality, the true hero. But giving her centre stage as the playable protagonist takes away from who Link is and what he does. Making her a choosable character may remove him from the equation, and having her playable only in specific sequences opens up the longing for having her throughout.
To be the perfect accomplice during the new adventures, I’d want Zelda to be the support character. Someone you return to for guidance. The mastermind on how we’ll return Hyrule to glory and the voice that Link doesn’t have.
Peak Performance Zelda
Historically, Zelda doesn’t get involved during a Zelda game. I do feel that needs changing, but I don’t feel she should be at the forefront of combat and player action. She sits as the cause and the purpose: the reason to adventure and want to save the day. For me, I’d want Zelda to accompany us and say what’s on our minds as we venture into the world. Those gasps, that background knowledge and the wonder that Link doesn’t put into words could be uttered by her beautifully. Words of longing for what the world was and shock for how it’s changed. She’s articulate and learned – I feel she’d do a wonderful job.
With that, I’d want her to accompany us. There may be quests where she sits back with some other NPCs or operates some devices in puzzles and background elements. But for the majority, it would be amazing to have her joining Link on an adventure. After all, she’s fulfilled her purpose as far as the kingdom is concerned. Having her free to lead Link on another quest to save Hyrule ensures she’s been empowered to make that choice. No longer shackled to fate and her destiny, she leads this quest because she wants to. Not because she has to. I feel that would be a poetically just outcome to Breath of the Wild leading into the next Zelda game.
Olly Smith is a content writer and lifelong player of board games and video games. He’s on a mission to bring tabletop gaming back to the masses. When he’s not writing, playing, or thinking about board games, you can usually find him listening to a true-crime podcast or watching Norwich City F.C.