The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a beautiful game. Despite the relatively limited hardware of the Switch, Nintendo was able to produce a vast, uncompromising open world that could be freely explored for hundreds upon hundreds of hours. Each discovery felt perfectly natural, with its picturesque landscapes and immaculate art design spurring us onward into each new location. It’s a masterpiece that remains unbeaten to this very day.
If anything, its sequel is likely the primary candidate to accomplish such a feat, with the recent reveal trailer unveiling an experience that isn’t afraid to be vastly different, while also remaining true to the masterful foundations it was built upon. While the Divine Beasts were grandiose monoliths and the various civilizations of Hyrule were saturated in fascinating glimpses of a wider culture, much of the real beauty was found in Link himself.
As a silent protagonist – with the exception of all manner of grunts, yelps, and screams – Link is only able to communicate in a certain number of ways. However, all of the characters around him speak fluently, expressing their struggles and motivations through eloquent dialogue as Link can do nothing but stand and watch. But he doesn’t need to talk, his baby blue eyes and determined body language saying all that needs to be said when it comes to establishing an unwavering promise to help his loved ones and save the world.
Putting all of the emotional analysis aside for a second, Link is also fabulous as hell, and pretty fly for a Hero of Time. Breath of the Wild provided a selection of outfits and accessories for our protagonist to slip into after his century-long nap. His classical green garb was nowhere to be seen, and players were expected to search for distinct pieces of clothing, armour, and items to use that were relevant to exploring certain environments, or provided essential protection against larger boss encounters.
Like the majority of Breath of the Wild’s design ethos, fashion is always something dictated by the player. Much like Dark Souls, I overlooked stats and buffs in favour of how fabulous something looks, preferring to look amazing as opposed to being a giant chunk of metal who walked with the pace of a snail being drenched in salt. Once I donned the Gerudo gear in the sunny desert sands, I seldom took it off, opting to take on the Divine Beasts in such an outfit because Link looked cute and wasn’t afraid to express an aesthetic that went against the generic definition of masculinity.
He’s one of the most iconic characters in video games, and Nintendo allowed us to shape him into something that represents us even if it goes against exactly how the canonical universe might have wanted it. All these years later, it remains one of the game’s strongest elements, and it seems Breath of the Wild 2 is not only expanding upon the potential for fashion, but providing the player with ample tools to make this version of Link into whoever or whatever they want. Obviously, I’m going off a brief reveal trailer, but there’s so much here to delve into.
The most obvious new addition is Link’s hair. This can change depending on certain outfits that are being equipped, particularly those that have our hero donning a mask or regional attire. But here, we see it flowing freely as he soars downward towards Hyrule, new airborne landmasses slowly coming into view as the true nature of this new adventure becomes apparent. We quickly shift back to vanilla Link, with his scruffy blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail so it doesn’t flop about in the wind.
One of our editors has said that Breath of the Wild 2 could be teasing two alternate versions of Link, and given how the airborne and land adjacent versions of our protagonist are so aesthetically distinct, perhaps there is some truth to that. Alternatively, Link’s newfound abilities are something that only work in certain environments, requiring an outfit change and flowing golden hair to make specific feats possible.
His shiny green arm is also fully revealed in all of the new environments, which is more than just a visual addition – it’s seemingly a mechanical one as this limb can allow him to morph through environments and fly through the air at will. I’m not sure the Switch could handle rendering two open worlds at once, so splitting them up makes perfect sense. I hope this is the case, since it would allow Breath of the Wild 2 to explore bold new ideas without technical compromise.
The fashion on display here is incredibly exciting, and has the potential to extend into a grander mode of customisation where clothing isn’t the only thing that defines Link’s hairstyle and physique. I hope we’re able to adjust the specific nature of each outfit, perhaps extending to the colour of materials, the stats and buffs provided when you wear them, and possibly specific adjustments to accessories and style.
If not, just give me more outfits to wear and more opportunities to make them my own. In terms of character design, Breath of the Wild is easily the best game in Zelda history. Link, Zelda, and the ensemble that stands alongside them were brought to life like never before, and now Nintendo has a chance to build upon that with something even more substantial. Me and millions of others are ready to lose ourselves in Breath of the Wild 2 for months, so I hope the journey is able to accommodate each of our distinct definitions of adventure, whether it be through epic battles, ambitious exploration, or simply looking fabulous.
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