A cursed Link, an injured Master Sword: what is going on in Zelda Breath of the Wild 2?
The gameplay footage accompanying the announcement of its delay was brief, but somewhat revealing.
A minute and a half. Eight seconds. These is the amount of time Nintendo needed to break fans' hearts with the announcement of the delay of the Sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild until spring 2023 - a year from now - but also to give them some juicy material, enough for them to come up with countless theories about the sequel's story line. The delay itself was somehow expected - as it was undesired, as we're talking about a usual suspect here - but we aren't here to talk about that today.
So let's hang the cork board on the wall, grab some tacks and play detective for a moment. Let's analyse every single frame of the brief footage and, while we're at it, let us delve into a few of those beloved Zelda theories. Because there's some genuine enjoyment to doing this, because we have been doing it ever since we were all surprised by the game's very first trailer at E3 2019, and because, even though the puzzle is far from complete, the pieces keep falling into place.
A wilder, damned Link
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A close-up shot, the shoulder-length hair in the wind. Even though we took for granted that the character that we saw soaring through the skies of Hyrule was Link, the new clip confirms this. It's our protagonist, the same who accompanied us for hundreds of hours in Breath of the Wild. But, at the same time, it's not really himself.
That hair seems longer, and the fact that it is indeed the same character takes us, again, to what we started wondering with the E3 2021 trailer. Because it is really suspicious that our hero is wearing those clothes, that he has grown a mane and that, to top all this, his right arm shows that disturbing look.
What if the awakening of the mummy-like Ganondorf wasn't caused by the Princess herself? What if it reacted to the presence of the Hero who was carrying the Blade of Evil's Bane with him?
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Link's arm can't be twisted
Yeah, we've seen that things aren't going fine underground and that the Malice ends up attacking the protagonist, which has an effect on the exact same arm that was wielding the Master Sword. So there's the possibility that the "mummy" (which we'll call Ganondorf for obvious reasons) wasn't there for the princess, but for the blade and its bearer. Why? The likeness in the attires between this new version of Link and what seems to be the villain are pretty clear now that we got the chance to take a closer look at both characters. In fact, Link's right arm and hand... are a carbon copy of Ganondorf's.
Or almost. Both arms look darkened, with longer-than-usual nails, quite reminiscent of wild claws. However, in Link's case, the upper limb comes equipped with a series of bracelets and attached devices, which look similar to Ganondorf, but aren't quite the same. More so, they look like the ones wore by the arm that was holding the buried body our protagonists uncovered in the first teaser in 2019.
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These similarities, these differences can't be random. But what do they mean? There might be a significant connection between both characters beyond the hero-villain tandem. Besides, it's nothing new to think that the Hero who stopped Ganon more than 10,000 years ago in Hyrule didn't look much like the Link we're used to and that, indeed, he also shared some traits with the figure of Ganondorf, above all with the red-haired mane. Perhaps that Hero was Link, a Link who would eventually end up absorbed by the Calamity to then be gradually transformed into his reincarnation.
Perhaps, at the beginning of BotW 2, Link presents himself partially cursed by the Malice that reacted to his very presence, attacking him. This would explain the Seal (the arm) keeping Ganondorf contained seeing its effect diluted. Possibly, its goal was to protect the princess first and foremost, but in the end had to let her aside to help the Hero and prevent it from falling into Evil's claws. For, who could possibly ever stop Ganon if he finally was able to control the Master Sword?
Following this theory, the Seal wouldn't limit itself to helping Link. It would even fuse into him in order to help stop Malice's spread through his body. If we look carefully, we see that on this "new" right arm, under the golden ornaments, the skin looks completely dark, but the marks at shoulder height are brown instead. A potential sign that the Seal contains Evil. The same Seal granting powers to invert the time of objects and to get through surfaces.
However, there's also the chance that Malice had a much more primitive reaction and simply tried to kill Link. Perhaps, those brownish tattoos are just the marks left from the assembly of the arm-seal to the protagonist's body, merging to it as he lost his own during the incident. The Skywalkers surely know about this.
Let's not forget that one of the first few ideas Nintendo considered when designing Breath of the Wild was having a one-armed Link whose second arm had turned into a handy multi-tool to explore Hyrule. If we ended up riding that motorbike that they apparently discarded, there's nothing preventing us from thinking that our Hero lost that limb and the magic took care of its "recovering".
With the little we've seen so far, all seem to point towards our first theory. Link is cursed and Malice hasn't only corrupted himself, but also the Master Sword. The weapon that can end Ganon has been almost destroyed and, as we've been able to observe, it somehow resonates with the protagonist's new arm and with that mysterious light sphere that showed up on the latest clip.
Again, Nintendo might have shown too little, but it gives food for thought to come up with dozens of ideas. At another time we might be able to look deeper into what's going on with the blade and why is it reacting to that orb as, for now, it leads us to imagine what could very well be the sequel's main mission: to recover the Master Sword by taking it back in time.
Back in time? We've already seen how time inversion will be one of the main mechanics of the game, and even some of the tunes we've listened to have been played backwards (again, a staple of the series). If Link's new arm is able to "rewind" dangers, why not use this power to get the Master Sword back in shiny shape?
Because it can't, because it needs help. The arm-seal's strength has weakened to a point it was impossible for it to stop the Evil emanating from Ganondorf's body. Here's where the glowing orb comes into play, another piece that seems to have a clear place in the mystery surrounding this sequel, a mystery that now seems much more intriguing after just a few seconds of vague clues.
Do you feel the same? What are your theories about BotW 2's potential story?