What Breath Of The Wild’s Concept Art Could Tell Us About The Sequel

BOTW Concept Art.jpg

By Nathan Ellingsworth

With the many years from announcement to release, it became clear to fans that Breath of the Wild was a monumental undertaking for Nintendo - releasing nearly six years on from the previous Zelda game, and even roping in help from Monolith Soft to finally complete the project. So to see Nintendo using the same engine and world again in the sequel is very welcome.

Nintendo also has a history of never letting a good idea go to waste, with many game mechanics that didn’t make it into one game, eventually showing up in the sequel, DLC or even another series entirely. Look to Super Mario Galaxy 2, the motorbike DLC in Breath of the Wild, or even the use of 3D in Luigi’s Mansion 2 first being trialled in the Gamecube version!

So if we scour Breath Of The Wild’s concept art, can we glean any information on where this newly announced sequel could end up? Let’s investigate.

Sheikah Arm?

First of all, the obvious parallels. There are two shots in the trailer that line up almost perfectly with previous concept art. The first is of Link holding up his right arm in pain whilst it’s seemingly taken over by some bright green energy. Whether this bright green energy is suggesting the twilight realm or some other sinister aspect of the Zelda universe we are yet to find out, but when we look at the importance of the blue themed Sheikah technology of the previous game this could be some sort of power.

Couple this with the concept art that shows Link having lost his right arm, only for it to be replaced with a variety of possible tools and weapons, suddenly this looks like how the new game could expand on the Sheikah slate of Breath of the Wild. By the end of that title Link had seemingly unlocked the full potential of the slate and travelled the land gaining new abilities from the Champions.

For the same Hyrule to give us any new powers, maybe this green energy is some sort of magic that Link learns to control and harness using his possessed arm?

The second shot which already seems to give us some insight, is of Hyrule Castle taking off to who knows where. Towards the end of the reveal trailer we hear a deep rumbling carrying throughout the world, before slowly the entirety of Hyrule Castle seems to lift itself out of the ground. This was alluded to in concept art for Breath of the Wild. Not only this, but the concept art also clearly referenced Ganondorf stood atop this flying landmass.

Could this version of Ganondorf not only be reincarnated, but then use his power to take Hyrule Castle completely out of reach? Perhaps he even takes Zelda and Link with him, and moves Hyrule Castle to a completely new continent, the other side of the world that we already know and love? We’ve seen a lot of Hyrule but given how prevalent the Sheikah were in the history of this game, perhaps we could see how their influence and technology travelled and was adapted by different cultures? Which leads us onto our next point…

New Divine Beasts?

Divine Beasts were one of the most astonishing and surprising elements of Breath of the Wild, and helped to add a certain sense of scale to the already massive world we could suddenly explore. The four beasts are beautiful and impressive mechanical devices made from the technology that the Sheikah tribe possessed, so if we do end up travelling to a new land, it would be amazing to see how this idea could develop for a different culture?

Concept art shows us a crab, dinosaur and even some sort of UFO/War Of The Worlds inspired tripod beasts. But most importantly is the inclusion of two beasts that would require underwater traversal. A manta ray and whale divine beasst show us that the ability to swim, or at least somehow travel beneath the water’s surface was considered, such as the use of Iron Boots or a Zora Mask in previous titles would have allowed.

Perhaps the new game can introduce a true ocean? Or at least a lake that we can explore every inch of. The ability to go under the surface and find something as imposing as the Divine Beasts would be a breathtaking new spin on the established game mechanic we know and love.

Moving on, if we remember the tripod style divine beast from before, the next piece of concept art is particularly interesting, showing some sort of UFO attack on Hyrule. Breath Of The Wild already ran with future technology as a theme, so the sequel could push this even further with true sci-fi elements.

Majora’s Mask even had a section based on aliens invading, and as many seem to see the new game as a grittier sequel based on the same engine - much as Majora’s Mask was to Ocarina of Time - maybe Nintendo would find it hard not to pay homage to it’s history while using an idea they clearly wanted to explore for the original Breath Of The Wild.

Perhaps this could even tie in with a Twilight Realm? In Twilight Princess much was made of separate technology from a different dimension, as well as enemies coming from portals overhead. If the new green energy in the trailer is linked to the Twilight Realm, perhaps it could awaken a new enemy and borrow elements of an alien invasion. Now that would certainly be an interesting spin!

Expansion of Races

One idea that seemed to get beyond concept, but not make it into the final release, is the inclusion of the Minish people. With a world as huge as Breath of the Wild, one way to make it seem even bigger would have been to include this miniature race or even offer a shrinking ability as in Minish Cap.

They were ultimately cut as the developers thought the tiny little guys would get lost amongst the vastness of Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they couldn’t be a strong contender for one of the new races we meet in Breath of the Wild’s sequel.

I’m sure the new title won’t just offer the same world and races that we already know, as the Zelda series often likes to pull the rug out from underneath us with weird fantasy concepts. Breath of the Wild played it fairly safe in terms of characters included, as most of them were from established races we already knew about. As much as the inclusion of the Minish would be fantastic, I can’t help but wonder what sort of creatures have been evolving on the other side of this world?

Finally we take a look at early designs for the most terrifying enemy from Breath of the Wild, Guardians. They already send shivers down my spine the second I hear the beep of their laser, but early concept art shows them to be more biological, and much more menacing.

This hints at a much darker tone then we eventually saw, but if these were ideas Nintendo were exploring, maybe we’ll see some of these designs returning in the form of new enemies, bosses or other beasts when we eventually dive into the latest title. These creatures seem based much more on the designs of H.P Lovecraft, an influence that would certainly bring a new element to the established whimsical fantasy the series is known for.

If the next title is anything like the trailer we’ve received so far, we could be in for a dark and stormy ride. Creepier enemies to accentuate this would be amazing. The adversaries in Breath of the Wild were imposing through sheer size, but none of them were as creepy as some previous inclusions to the franchise - such as Redeads, Dead Hands, Gomess from Majora’s Mask or even the supposedly friendly Oocca from Twilight Princess.

We likely have a while to wait before we see anymore of this title, but after the frustration of Breath of the Wild’s continual delays, perhaps the reusing of the engine and world mean we might actually see this title as early as 2020? In the mean time, we at least have some clues scattered around as to what shape it could take.

But what do you think concept art could tell us, and what do you want to see in the sequel to Breath of the Wild? Let us know below.