Zelda: Breath of the Wild Sequel Could Be the New Majora’s Mask – E3 2019
Ever since I finished Breath of the Wild, I’ve been saying that Nintendo should pull a Majora’s Mask on it (just look at the bottom of some of my articles). Just as the developer did with its sort-of sequel to Ocarina of Time, why not use the same world, the same engine, the same base mechanics, to create a brand new game at a much higher pace than traditional development?
I never expected them to actually do it.
Today’s announcement of a sequel to Breath of the Wild appears to be exactly what I’d wished for – we see a familiar (if not identical) Link and Zelda, still cel-shaded, lit beautifully and dressed in Champions’ garb. The one shot we see outside of the underground location much of the trailer takes place in confirms that there’s an identical Hyrule too – the Field, Death Mountain, and the castle are all in place (for now – the castle appears to be about to lift off). It’s everything I hoped Nintendo would do with what, to my mind, is the greatest game it’s ever created. But somehow it doesn’t just look like my wish has come true, but it become more like Majora’s Mask than I could have expected.
From what we’ve seen so far, this isn’t just the Lego-like rearrangement I’d asked for, it’s directly following in Majora’s tonal tracks too. Like the tale of Skull Kid, this looks dark, odd, melancholy: the trailer’s haunting reverse-voiced soundtrack, subterranean locations, murdered rats, and reanimated mummified remains lend a much grimmer tone than you might expect of a follow-up to Nintendo’s pastel colour masterpiece. This could truly be Nintendo riffing off one of its oddest and most beloved experiments.
There’s one more hope I have based on all of that – that we’ll get this game sooner rather than later. Majora’s Mask arrived just two years after Ocarina of Time, a frankly absurd turnaround. We’re already beyond that with Breath of the Wild, but I’m hoping it might not be too much longer before we see release.
Besides the fact that, by reusing assets, it inherently has much of the early work already done, recent events could point to the sequel being well into development already. Nintendo infamously never formally announced that it had finished with Breath of the Wild after its second expansion, Champions’ Ballad. The prequel missions in that DLC filled out elements of backstory, but never advanced the game’s True Ending tease that Zelda and Link were heading out together on new adventures, in the hope of rebuilding the fallen Hyrule, which many expected to see at least hinted at in further releases.
It now seems likely that that silence was specifically because work on this sequel started once Champions’ Ballad was through. Both Nintendo and its BotW development partner MonolithSoft publicly began hiring for a new Zelda project within the last year and, given the latter’s work on level design (often a later-stage part of the development timeline), it may be that this project is already quite advanced.
As for what the sequel will actually be, that’s far less clear. Majora’s Mask substantially reworked the fabric of Ocarina of Time, and it may be that Nintendo has similar plans here. I’d be surprised if we don’t see some BotW staples – the chemistry engine, for instance – but the wider structure is far more up in the air. The underground sections in the trailer could point to a more dungeon-heavy game (which would help tackle one of BotW’s biggest criticisms), and Zelda’s prominent appearance could mean she’s our playable character, even a co-op character.
I fully expect Nintendo to draw on Majora’s Mask for this sequel – but the beauty of that comparison is just how wide open that leaves the possibilities for what we end up getting. The weirder the better, I say.
Joe Skrebels is IGN’s UK Deputy Editor, and he doesn’t know what to write in these bits anymore. Follow him on Twitter.
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