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Breaking Down the Major Update About ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2’s’ Release Date

We've been waiting forever!

Screenshot from Breath of the Wild 2 release update trailer of Link and the Master Sword

UPDATE: The sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is now officially called The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and it’s releasing on May 12, 2023.

I did not wake up on a random Tuesday in March expecting a major announcement about the long-awaited sequel for The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of Wild, but here we are. The BotW sequel is arguably Nintendo’s most anticipated game. When it was announced at the 2019 E3 conference, I lost it. When we got another trailer at the 2021 E3 conference, I lost it again. That trailer boasted a 2022 release date. However, when the February 2022 Nintendo Direct didn’t mention BotW, and when a Pokémon Direct announced Pokémon Scarlet and Violet for winter 2022, things began to feel off.

Turns out, that feeling was justified. Today, series producer Eiji Aonuma graced our screens for a brief, crisp 90-second announcement. And we finally found out what the deal is. Aonuma apologetically explained that, in order to give the game’s development the time it needs, the team has pushed back BotW2‘s release date to spring 2023. “In order to make this game’s experience something special, the entire development team is working diligently on this game, so please wait a little longer,” Aonuma said.

This is not the first time Nintendo has pushed back the release date of a highly-anticipated game in order to honor the creative process and health of the creatives behind the project. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was pushed back for similar reasons, and that turned out to be quite fortuitous. As such, the Zelda fan community poured out to express support for Aonuma’s decision. I, personally, feel quite assured that the sequel to BotW will be an even better game for this delay. Nintendo is beginning to stand out for all the right reasons—in a brutal industry known for pushing its workers much too hard. And as hot dumpster fire launches (like Cyberpunk 2077) have taught us, no one wins when a game is forced into release before it’s ready.

But we do have some new, tasty morsels of information!

Before you get too disappointed, Aonuma’s presentation did slickly slip in new details about the game. Aonuma reiterated that the sequel will take place in Hyrule and the sky above, and then added, “However, the expanded world goes beyond that.” What does that mean?! The game’s first teaser featured Link and Zelda wandering through tunnels beneath Hyrule Castle, so perhaps this is an allusion to an underground element? Or perhaps this is a sly wink to a fan theory that the game will involve time travel antics?

Additionally, Aonuma’s enumeration was underscored by a visual of Link taking out a warped, semi-melted Master Sword. This is the first time we’ve seen the Master Sword in any of the trailers! What the hell happened to it?! It kind of looks like it’s been eroded by Calamity Ganon goop?! Additionally, eagle-eyed observers pointed out a mysterious glowing insignia on Link’s new hand. As something of a, ahem, Zelda expert, I can tell you that symbol has not existed before in the Zelda universe. In other words: I have no clue what it is.

Honestly, my immediate reaction to the announcement of Breath of the Wild 2‘s new release date was relief. Because, legitimately, TOO MANY GAMES are coming out in 2022. Even now, I have Kirby and the Forgotten Land and Triangle Strategy vying for my attention when, in ten thousand years, I finally finish Elden Ring. And in September through December, there’s Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and Bayonetta 3—and that’s just Nintendo Switch exclusives. I want the sequel to my favorite game of all time to come out when other huge titles aren’t also vying for my attention. I plan on sinking 150 hours of my life into BotW2 in peace, thank you very much.

Another bright point here is that we don’t just have a year for the game’s release—we now have a season. That, to me, feels like Zelda fans are now walking on much more solid ground. Unless Calamity Ganon strikes, I don’t think the game will get pushed back again. Plus, I still think it’s likely that we’ll get the sequel’s official subtitle at E3. “Breath of the Wild 2” is a placeholder shorthand used by the media. Nintendo itself has been very carefully calling the game “the sequel to Breath of the Wild.” And it would sure be nice to be able to talk about the game with its real title before spring 2023.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

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Kirsten (she/her) is a musician, audio person, writer, and nerd. When not talking about One Piece or Zelda (among other anime and games), she's finding surprising ways to play the guitar.