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Breath of the Wild Sequel (E3 2021 Trailer)

My theories, hopes and thoughts based on trailer for the Breath of the Wild sequel released E3 2021outgoing link.


Latest iteration: November 22, 2021
Archived older versions: ver. 1 (June 16, 2021) on Internet Archiveoutgoing link; ver. 2 (later summer 2021) on Internet Archiveoutgoing link

Archive date: April 1, 2022
Archive reason: release of Launch Timing Update for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Sequeloutgoing link on March 29, 2022 deconfirmed/changed some of my thoughts.

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Zonai Connections


It seems likely the Zonai will feature in the Breath of the Wild sequel. Their ruins are everywhere in BOTW, which almost seems meant to invite speculation -- as does their name, a play on nazo (謎), meaning "mystery." (Creating a Champion, pg. 341) Zonai ruins are also very visible in the E3 2019 trailer, and appear to be where Ganondorf is sealed. Additionally, Link appears to have a Zonai dragon head weapon that shoots flames in the E3 2021 trailer, and Link's shield and the green stone creature retain swirl, splatter-like and "dots/circles within circles/squares" patterns associated with the Zonai. (See the Barbarian Armor, Lomei Labyrinths and Zonai statue pictures for a sense of Zonai style.)

Zonai ruins in E3 2019 trailer:

Zonai ruins in a cave Zonai bridge in a cave Ruins of a Zonai temple Ganon's malice touching Zonai ruins

Zonai imagery in E3 2021 trailer:

Link using a Zonai dragon weapon Link using a glider Link running Large green stone creature

Zonai imagery in Breath of the Wild:

Lomei Labyrinth Island North Lomei Labyrinth South Lomei Labyrinth Barbarian Armor Zonai dragon statue decorated with swirls

Twili Connections


Creating a Champion says that "The Zonai themselves are spoken of in hushed whispers as strong magic wielders who vanished suddenly thousands of years ago." (pg. 413) This sounds remarkably similar to the Twili, who were banished for weilding powerful magic. The magic shown off in the E3 2019 trailer and Link's arm in the E3 2021 trailer are also visually similar to Twili aesthetics. This could be a connection between the Zonai and the Twili, or just a connection to the Twili on its own.

Some have also drawn a connection between the Fragmented Momumentoutgoing link quest in BOTW and the Mirror of Twilight. In this minor shrine quest, Link must find shards of a broken oval monument near Zonai ruins with text that glows blue-green at night. I find this connection far-fetched beyond potentially being an Easter egg -- the Mirror of Twilight should theoretically be completely shattered, and the monument just has instructions to open a minor shrine.

Twili aesthetics:

Twili Twili tech Twili portal

Magic in the E3 2019 and 2021 trailers:

Link being affected by magic Link's arm being affected by magic

Sheikah Connections


The passage in Creating a Champion about the Zonai's powerful magic and sudden disappearance could also be tied to how the Sheikah were oppressed by the royal family some time after the events of 10,000 years ago because their technology could be a threat to Hyrule. (Creating a Champion pg. 101, 360, 362, 367-68; also described in BOTW) The Zonai, if an offshoot of the Sheikah, could've been destroyed as a part of this oppression, especially if they were particularly powerful and chose to break away from the royal family. There are multiple reasons to believe the Zonai were a Sheikah group that split off from the Sheikah and the royal family:

The Zonai, if an offshoot of the Sheikah, could've been destroyed as a part of this oppression, especially if they were particularly powerful and chose to break away from the royal family.

However, they could also be a precursor to the modern Sheikah tribe. As Zelda theorist YouTuber NintendoBlackCrisisoutgoing link points out in chapter one (the recap section) of their speculation video about the Zonaioutgoing link, Zonai ruins are often close to Sheikah shrines, and look a little older. The Lomei Labyrinths, they insinuate, are Sheikah recreations of Zonai architecture -- they are much larger, seemingly newer and slightly different in stonework.

Sheikah imagery in E3 2021 trailer:

Link using a glider Link running Large green stone creature Link's arm being affected by magic

Vaati Connections


While perhaps more subtle because he hasn't been relevant to a recent game in quite a while, there are potential ties to Vaati in the E3 2021 trailer. While I've connected the eye symbols used in the trailer to the Sheikah, it's also very easy to connect them to Vaati's eye symbol, as seen in his monstrous form and at the Four Sword Sanctuary where he's sealed away. As a wind mage, he may be able to lift land and buildings into the sky, as the Wind Tribe were able to do with the Cloud Tops. (Hyrule Historia, pg. 83; The Legend of Zelda: Encyclopedia, pg. 154; also described in Minish Cap)

While he was sealed away in Four Swords Adventures, The Legend of Zelda: Encyclopedia refers to him as "immortal," (pg. 210) and Hyrule Historia teases his potential return: "The evil sorcerer Vaati had become caught up in the cycle of Ganondorf the Thief [...] There may come a time when the land will have need of the Four Sword once again." (pg. 121)

This is particularly intriguing given fan speculation that Vaati has not returned in his Picori form despite his popularity because of some licensing problem with Capcom, who worked on Minish Cap. Additionally, it's not super clear to me where the developers could go with Vaati given his limited influence in Hyrule -- how would his symbol end up on shields and incorporated into stone creatures? Or could this be revealed to be a symbol of the Picori or the Wind Tribe that just happened to be attached to Vaati?

Vaati eye imagery in E3 2021 trailer:

Link using a glider Link running Large green stone creature

Vaati eye imagery in other games:

Vaati's monstrous form Four Sword Sanctuary

Features Link from 10,000 Years Ago in Post-BOTW Hyrule


The Link in the trailer is remarkably similar to the depiction of the Link from 10,000 years before the events of BOTW. The shield and creature here also bear Sheikah eyes without tears, indicating that they may have come before a split between Sheikah and Zonai, or simply before Sheikah affiliation with the royal family. Notably, the trailer does not show us Link's face at all after the shot of his arm transformation, and the Link we do see post-transformation looks much closer to the tapestry of legend that depicts the Link of 10,000 years ago.

Many people have theorized this game is set in the past, during the events of 10,000 years ago. While this is an exciting idea, the more I've considered this, the less it makes sense. What would the intent be to "redo" a seemingly successful sealing away of Ganondorf? Even if there are time travel things to fix, or even if we're just reliving memories from 10,000 years ago as they actually happened, why, narratively, would the developers step away from the very exciting, high-stakes events of "present day" post-BOTW Hyrule they've set up with Ganondorf's reawakening and Link's new arm? They could bounce around chapter to chapter, but I can't really see them doing that.) We also see the castle lift up out of the ground in that same "present day" post-BOTW Hyrule, implying that the other islands we see in the trailer have risen in this same time period and that that's when they're being explored by the Link we see.

So what if, instead of being set in the past, the BOTW sequel features the Link from 10,000 years ago, and he saves modern post-BOTW Hyrule? What if that hero reawakened when Ganondorf's corpse was reawakened? The Link of 10,000 years ago's spirit and magic may have been what was keeping Ganon sealed away down there. BOTW Link may very well have been transformed into this older form by the immense power of the arm magic.

Link's only appearances in the E3 2021 trailer after his transformation:

Link running Link falling from the sky

BOTW tapestry of events of 10,000 years ago:

Breath of the Wild tapestry showing the hero from 10,000 years ago

Parallels / Connections to Skyward Sword


The parallels to Skyward Sword are fairly obvious. The shot of Link diving into the sky in the trailer looks very close to shots of Link diving past the cloud barrier in Skyward Sword, and, of course, there are the islands in the sky. More subtly, they also share the concept of Link diving into the clouds into a new world after Zelda has fallen and must be saved. This is a stretch I'm about to make here, but the timing of the BOTW sequel reveal, on Zelda's 35th anniversary and around the 10 year anniversary rerelease of Skyward Sword (that sort of seeks to rehabilitate that game's flaws), may be very subtly intended to make us think about both of these games at the same time and encourage speculation about a connection between the two.

Link (and Zelda) falling in E3 2021 trailer:

Link falling from the sky Link falling from the sky Zelda falling into the abyss

Link falling in Skyward Sword:

Link skydiving

Return of Skyloft


Since we're back in the sky, it would be cool to see Skyloft. Did all the islands that were originally up there come down? Was it just the goddess statue? If there are still islands up there, is anyone still there? Who -- or what?

Return of Fi


Fi was actually hinted to a few times in Breath of the Wild, though not by name. Zelda makes a passing reference to a the legend of a voice within the Master Sword in one of the memories. In another, after Link has fallen in battle, Zelda hears instructions from the Master Sword, which glows and plays Fi's signature sound effect, and at the end of the game, Zelda explicitly refers to Fi again, mentioning that she "can no longer hear the voice inside the sword." At the end of the Trial of the Sword DLC, when Link unlocks the Master Sword's new power, the sword glows and makes that same noise again.

With the parallels and possible connection to Skyward Sword mentioned before, could it be possible that Fi might return? It's particularly interesting to me that Fi seems to be tied to Zelda specifically in Breath of the Wild. Since we don't see the Master Sword with Link in the E3 2021 trailer, perhaps it fell with Zelda, and perhaps they'll interact again as Fi helps Zelda escape. (It would also be very cool to see a new design for Fi if she does come back. She would have to be thousands of years old at this point and she's been through a lot -- maybe now she's fancier, damaged, etc.?)

Playable Zelda


As much as I love the series, Legend of Zelda has never been great about Zelda herself. Though she often plays an important part in the story, I've always found how little screentime and development and how much rescuing she needs despite being a powerful, vital character a little disappointing. That's why, truthfully, I can't bring myself to believe she'll ever actually be playable in a mainline Zelda game. But god do I want it, especially after she got so much love and development and agency in Age of Calamity.

For the BOTW sequel I would love a chance to play through Zelda's adventures in the underground. That said, I'm not sure if I'd prefer to do a back-and-forth chapter-by-chapter thing or a second route, and I can't really imagine a game like Zelda doing either of those things.