While The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 got a decent showcase at E3 2021, much about the upcoming sequel is still unknown - including any kind of concrete release window beyond "2022." A Legend of Zelda announcement is rumored for The Game Awards 2021 as part of the franchise's ongoing 35th anniversary, and this could very well be news about Breath of the Wild 2 if it turns out to be true. Even if more is not unveiled by Geoff Keighley on December 9, Nintendo should hopefully have more to share about its anticipated game soon.
The full scope of Breath of the Wild 2 is still being kept under wraps, with Nintendo not even sharing its official title at risk of spoiling some important aspects of the experience. However, fans do know the game takes place soon after the original Breath of the Wild, focusing on Hyrule under a new threat that sends chunks of its land skyward. With many aspects of the game's map changing to coincide this focus, something interesting will have to be done with the Great Plateau.
The Great Plateau: Breath of the Wild's Multipurpose Tutorial Area
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild threw a lot of series conventions out the window, making room for iconic settings, story beats, and gameplay mechanics of its own. Among the most iconic places in Breath of the Wild's Hyrule is its starting area. The Great Plateau is essentially a closed-in tutorial stage, one that serves as a glimpse at Hyrule in miniature. It's full of steep cliffs so Link can try out his new climbing abilities, ingredients for cooking, and enemies around every corner - including optional minibosses like a Stone Talus.
All four Shrines that contain the runes Link needs to conquer Hyrule's challenges are also on the Great Plateau, introducing puzzles that require Magnesis, Remote Bomb, Stasis, and Cryonis proficiency; as well as smaller Guardians to battle so players are acclimated to this mechanical threat. These abilities also open up physics-based puzzles all across the plateau, from discovering various ways to cross a frozen river to accessing treasure above bottomless mud pits.
This section of the game culminates in Link learning the backstory of Hyrule's war with Calamity Ganon 100 years prior, after which King Rhoam sends him off with a Paraglider that finally lets the hero go wherever he pleases - including straight to Ganon. It's a pretty brilliant stroke of game design to give players a sandbox within a sandbox so they can be prepared for anything, and the Great Plateau accomplishes this task with style. However, its notoriety has only grown in the years since 2017.
How Breath of the Wild's Great Plateau has Changed
Nintendo's first major revisit to the Great Plateau came in Breath of the Wild's The Champions' Ballad DLC. With this expansion active, Link can return to his starting point after taming all four Divine Beasts. There he discovers the Shrine of Resurrection is actually housing a fifth Divine Beast meant for Link: The Master Cycle Zero. After completing four new Shrines across the Great Plateau using the One-Hit Obliterator, Link is able to take on four tasks based on each of the Champions of Hyrule, after which he completes Monk Maz Koshia's Shrine that culminates in a unique boss battle.
That content alone is enough to add a lot of depth for the Great Plateau, which fans have even recreated in VRChat. Then in December 2018, Great Plateau Tower became the newest Legend of Zelda stage in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which also revamped the platform fighting series' version of Link to better fit his Breath of the Wild counterpart. Fans got one more look at the Great Plateau in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, a hack-and-slash spin-off purportedly telling the story of Hyrule's war with Calamity Ganon 100 years ago. This take on the locale is a thriving spiritual center with huge walkable structures and multiple buildings around the Temple of Time.
Breath of the Wild 2's Great Plateau Needs Another Shake-Up
Aforementioned changes to Breath of the Wild 2's map on account of its evil force, likely to be Ganondorf, uprooting chunks of Hyrule should mean fans get an entirely new perspective on the Great Plateau. Cutscenes of Link and Zelda investigating underneath Hyrule Castle as shown in the game's E3 2019 and 2021 trailers are currently believed to be inciting moments for the adventure, so Link may start under the wreckage of Hyrule Castle rather than in the Shrine of Resurrection.
If so, it would make sense to have the Great Plateau be one area pulled into the sky so it can embody the seeming darker tone of Breath of the Wild 2: a once-pristine tutorial area becoming more of an endgame challenge. The negative space left behind on Hyrule's surface could be a clean cut-out compared to the turmoil elsewhere because it's already built to stand on its own, which means whatever fills that space could be more structured.
It's hard to say what the Great Plateau would become while airborne, especially given Nintendo is being cagey about all of the upcoming sequel's mechanics and themes. One interesting possibility might be exposing the great expanse underneath the Shrine of Resurrection, creating something more intimidatingly mechanical - especially for fans who did not play The Champions' Ballad DLC.
However, there's also room for Nintendo to stick by its roots and make the Great Plateau one of the only areas not uprooted. It could serve as an early game tutorial-like area again, with Link having to make his way there from Hyrule Castle and learn whatever techniques allow him to phase through matter and reach floating islands. Whatever happens, Breath of the Wild 2 just needs to do justice to one of the first game's most iconic regions.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 releases in 2022 for the Nintendo Switch.
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