Nintendo hasn’t revealed much in the way of information regarding The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, but concept art from the original BOTW could provide some key details. With only two E3 trailers, Nintendo has so far given up very little information about BOTW2‘s story ahead of its 2022 release date. However, concept art from the first BOTW could provide some clues as to some of the features the long-awaited sequel may include, ranging from new abilities for Link, to the introduction of new Divine Beasts.
Nintendo has released several books containing BOTW concept art since the game’s launch in 2017. While much of the art in these books ended up being directly incorporated into the game, some images show monsters and Guardians that, while interesting, never found their way into BOTW. This unused concept art may come to life in Breath of the Wild 2, though, as parallels between the art and the BOTW2 E3 trailers suggest that just because they didn’t make the cut in the first game, doesn’t mean they won’t feature in the sequel.
While the concept art doesn’t offer definitive proof of there being a playable Zelda in BOTW2, it does provide further opportunities to theorize about the game when comparing the images to the E3 trailers. One of the most exciting possibilities coming to the game is a Sheikah Arm for Link that could be part of a dark story in BOTW2. However, other details, like the floating islands in the trailers, are closely tied to previously published concept art of new Divine Beasts and locations, meaning pieces of concept art could influence various aspects of BOTW2.
BOTW2’s Link Could Gain A Sheikah Arm (And Be Cursed By Malice)
One of the most popular theories regarding BOTW2 is that Link will be receiving a Sheikah Arm. In the 2019 E3 trailer, Link and Zelda are seen rummaging amongst the ruins of Hyrule Castle after Link has defeated Calamity Ganon. The two come across what appears to be the corpse of Ganon, from which green magic spirals upward. Ganon’s corpse suddenly awakens, and his magic attaches to one of Link’s forearms, making it glow green and lose control.
Previously published BOTW concept art may confirm this theory, as one of the most circulated images of concept art shows Link with a cybernetic arm. In fact, Link appears entirely consumed by Shiekah technology, as his face has been replaced by the eye of a Guardian Stalker. While Link may not end up being the cyborg the concept art depicts him as, there could be a high possibility that players will get to use a Link with a Sheikah arm in BotW2.
Fans may also play as a darker Link plagued by Malice in BOTW’s sequel. Many fans who watched the E3 2019 trailer for BOTW2 were quick to compare the game to Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke. In that film, the protagonist Prince Ashitaka’s arm is cursed by the anger of a forest god, in turn granting the arm extreme powers while making it uncontrollable and ultimately a death sentence for the prince. Link will certainly see an ominous fate close to Prince Ashitaka’s, as to be cursed by Ganon cannot be a good thing. Further tying BOTW2 and Princess Mononoke together is the fact that the byproduct of Ganon’s magic in the first game is called Malice, a dark substance that hurts players when they touch it. That BOTW2 shows Link with an arm cursed by Malice in a similar way to Prince Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke, there could be a chance that the concept art of Link with a Sheikah Arm will find its way into the game.
BOTW Concept Art Hints At New Divine Beasts In BOTW2
BOTW concept art also shows possible new Divine Beasts, one of which seems to be related to the sky islands of Breath of the Wild 2. In the E3 2021 trailer, the rise of Ganon causes Hyrule Castle to float into the air along with numerous pieces of land that become islands in the sky. These seem to be traversable areas that diversify the map and will make BOTW2 different compared to BOTW.
However, concept art from the BOTW books shows that there might be an abandoned Divine Beast idea that inspired these islands. In the image above, one of the Divine Beast concepts shows a robot with very long tentacles that support what appears to be a glowing, golden city. As to how this Divine Beast would have functioned within BOTW is unknown. But in BOTW2, this large city of a monster would make a perfect enemy for players as they travel across a Great Plateau of floating islands.
Another Divine Beast featured in the concept art could point toward an underwater sequence in Breath of the Wild 2. While the original game had Vah Ruta, one of Breath of the Wild’s Divine Beasts, as the water-based boss battle, the fight never completely submerged Link in water. However, original concepts for BOTW show that a fish was considered as a potential Divine Beast. Such a Beast could feature in BOTW2, with Link potentially being pitted against one in a battle sequence in the sea surrounding the Great Plateau.
Not Every Unused BOTW Concept Should Be Saved For BOTW2
While looking at the Breath of the Wild concept art books to see what could have been and what could be coming is fun, some ideas that did not make it into the original game may have a good reason for going unused. The conceptual stage of game development requires lots of drafts, edits, and scraps of art to determine what might be best for a given project. Breath of the Wild also had lots of concept art that didn’t end up influencing the game, and sometimes arguably for the better.
One of the more notable unused design choices seen in BOTW’s concept art is of Link dressed as a rocker with a guitar and motorcycle. While the idea itself could work in a less traditional Legend of Zelda title, the idea of Link as a modern, relaxed rockstar who drives a motorcycle would have felt out of place in Breath of the Wild, and is highly unlikely to appear in Breath of the Wild 2.
Nevertheless, although Link’s hoodie and jeans combo didn’t make it into Breath of the Wild, his vehicle did. Link’s motorcycle found its way into BOTW in the form of the Master Cycle Zero. This illustrates how even minor elements of concept art can end up materializing in a given video game. Even if the wider concept itself is discarded, there are sometimes elements that can be salvaged and implemented.
With much of BOTW2 remaining a mystery, sifting through scrapped designs from the Legend of Zelda team and theorizing about the E3 trailers is one of the only ways for fans to predict what could be coming next in the sequel. Previously published Legend of Zelda artbooks provide plenty of potential Divine Beasts that could appear in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, and even a Link consumed by Malice and Sheikah technology.
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