Bad News For Zelda Fans
Almost every hugely-successful video game has a mascot character of some kind. Tomb Raider, for example, wouldn’t work without the presence of Lara Croft. We’ve all become attached to Eillie Williams during The Last Of Us. Giving players a character to become emotionally attached to is a good way of getting those players hooked on a game. This is something that video game designers have known for decades, ever since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario. For Zelda fans, though, the character in question was Link. Link is a character that millions of players grew up adoring, so we’re so sorry to have to bring you this news. You’re not going to see Link again this year. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 has been delayed until 2023.
Nintendo already knows how disappointed fans will be with this news, which is why the company has taken the unusual step of having producer Eiji Aonuma issue a direct apology to fans who had been hoping to find it waiting for them on Christmas Day this year. Instead, Nintendo Switch owners will have to wait until spring 2023 at the earliest. This is a kick in the teeth for fans of the franchise who Nintendo has strung along since 2019. The first Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild game was released to enormous critical and commercial acclaim in 2017, and a sequel was announced two years later, but a further three years have passed since then, and fans have had nothing. We now know that the wait will extend into a fourth year. It was the heady pre-pandemic days of 2019’s E3 festival when the sequel was announced, but there were rumours that something had gone wrong with the game’s development when it didn’t appear in the 2021 December Game Awards. It’s taken a further three months, but Nintendo has finally admitted that the rumours were true.
Even in issuing a statement to confirm the sequel has been further delayed, Nintendo has declined to provide further information. We still don’t know what the game is going to be called. We still don’t have a definite release date. We don’t even have any new gameplay footage, so it’s impossible to know how far along (or not along) the developers are with the game. According to Aonuma, though, there’s nothing for fans of the series to worry about. He says that the delay will give him and his team enough time to make sure that players enjoy a “special” gaming experience and that he’d rather cancel the planned release and take a little more time on the game than rush things and release a game that he’s not proud of. In that respect at least, we can agree with him. We’ve seen all too many games released in the past few years that could or should have spent a further few months in beta testing before they hit the market (Cyberpunk 2077, we’re looking at you), and so we’d normally commend a developer for requesting more time, but in this instance, they’ve already had years.
Without further information, it’s hard to know what the cause of the delay might be, and it isn’t easy even to speculate. In theory, the sequel’s development ought to be relatively easy because the sequel should use the same assets, the same game world, and many of the same properties. In practice, there might be more going on behind the scenes than we realise. Aonuma has stated that the second Breath of the Wild game will take place not only on the ground but also in the sky, with enhanced features and new gameplay elements. This is beginning to sound less and less likely an updated version of the first Breath of the Wild and more like an entirely new game that happens to share the same name as its predecessor. After six years of waiting, that might be the only thing that eager fans now accept.
What we can say for certain is that while the wait might be long, fans will still endure it. The popularity of Zelda games is difficult to overstate. The 2017 original version of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has sold almost 26 million copies since its launch, making it one of the biggest-selling Nintendo Switch titles of all time. That’s the kind of number that gets attention from elsewhere in the entertainment industry, which explains why there are persistent rumours that Tom Holland of Spider-Man fame is set to play Link in a forthcoming live-action movie based on the classic video game. It would also explain how and why Link has someone found a second lease of life at online casinos. While the casino games Legend of Link by Top Trend Gaming and Zelda by JDB168 don’t appear to carry official licenses from Nintendo, they’ve been big hits with casino players. The rankings and reviews given by Sister Site, which is a site that monitors and reviews casino sister sites and their associated networks, casinos that carry the games are more likely to attract players than casinos that don’t. That might say something about the crossover between people who play conventional video games and people who partake in the more adult world of iGaming for money, but it also says plenty about the phenomenal popularity of Zelda and Link.
As far as we know, the reason that we haven’t yet been given a “proper” title for Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 yet is that the title will give away a spoiler about the game. The idea that there’s a huge (and yet, presumably, familiar) surprise coming has got fans of the franchise whipped up into a frenzy, which made it all the more disappointing for them when there was no official announcement about the forthcoming sequel at the awards show in December. Now we have to wait until spring 2023, and that’s a full year away. A year sounds like a long time, but in practice, it often feels like no time at all by the time you get there. We’re sure that spring 2023 will roll around faster than we realise, and we hope there won’t be any further delays to this hotly-anticipated game between now and then.